Month: April 2015

By Alison Feller

When Lyons Den opened its doors in November 2013, there were immediately quite a few “regulars.” Two of them were Michelle Swiatkowski and Andrew Bass. Michelle and Andrew—both now instructors at The Den—met on the mat. And eventually they talked to each other, which led to them spending time together beyond the studio, which led to a first kiss, and an eventual “I love you.” And on March 6, Michelle and Andrew got engaged! We are so excited to share their full love story here. (And hey, next time you catch eyes with that cute yogi a few mats down, strike up a conversation after class—love is in the air at The Den!)

We know you two met at The Den—who sparked the first conversation?
Andrew: I remember one day I arrived early for class, and Michelle set her mat up right behind me, so I just turned around and started talking to her.
Michelle: I was talking to someone about attending Baptiste Level 3 training the following week, and Andrew chimed in that he had attended Level 1 earlier that year.

What were your first impressions of each other?
Andrew: I thought she was nice, and she was definitely a yogi. There was a part of me that thought she may be a bit of a “yoga snob”—after we first met, she continued to set up her mat away from mine…even when we were the only two people in the room!
Michelle: I thought, “This guy is cute, he wants to talk to me, and he’s at yoga all the time. Score!” The more I talked to him, the more I realized I had a crush on him. Soon I started to get nervous when I saw him before class, and one day I remember him being the only one in the room, but I was too nervous to talk to my crush, so I put my mat kind of far from him. That made it awkward!

Tell us about the first date.
Andrew: She asked me out on Facebook! We planned to have a pre-game drink or two before the Super Bowl, but we ended up getting dinner and staying out together until way after the game ended.
Michelle: Our first date was after Sunday Service at The Den! We went to Coffee Shop in Union Square, drank Malbec, missed the entire Super Bowl, went next door for noodles, and—five hours later—Andrew walked me home.

And the first kiss?
Andrew: It was on our second date, at a bar in the East Village. I figured I should make the first move since she asked me out.

What’s it like both being teachers at Lyons Den?
Andrew: We take each other’s classes and provide feedback. Being in a relationship, taking constructive criticism from Michelle has taken some getting used to on my part. There’s no logical reason for that! It’s a story in my head that I need to let go of.
Michelle: I love having Andrew in class! He takes nearly every class I teach, and is the most supportive man ever. I take his class, too, but not as often as I would like—by Wednesdays at 8 PM, I’m tired!

New Year's Eve at The Den - toasting 2015!
New Year’s Eve at The Den – toasting 2015!

Do you practice together at home? We imagine you two waking up in the morning and doing sun salutations together in your PJs¬—yes?
Andrew: I’ve sat on the couch and watched TV while Michelle has done a home practice…does that count?

Andrew, when did you know you were going to propose?
Andrew: I had tentative plans as far back as November. It became real when I went home to Ohio with her for Christmas and asked her family if they wanted to be involved in the engagement surprise. Once her mom said yes and told me what weekends worked, it became real for me! Then the plan all came together pretty quickly. We picked the date—March 6—and they quickly arranged flights. And my family came in from New Jersey and Boston. I wanted to come up with a way to propose that would allow for us to be by ourselves when it happened—before we met up with our families—so I thought of doing it in a limo. I figured Michelle would see the proposal coming once she saw the limo, but the families being there would be the real surprise.

She said "YES!"
She said “YES!”

Michelle, did you see it coming?
Michelle: I had no idea! We had plans to go out to dinner after my 6:15 yoga class. Like a normal Friday night dinner. I took my time getting ready and talking to students after class, and eventually Andrew said we needed to leave. We walked out and I started walking to get a cab when he pulled me toward a limo that was waiting on the street. He said we were taking that car!
Once we were on our way, he pulled a ring out of his pocket, and I was excited and confused. Were we getting engaged or going out to dinner?! I shouted, “Yes!” Then I had lots of questions!
About 10 minutes later, Andrew and the driver got out of the limo, and I was wondering what was going on. I looked at the ring, realized my hair was in the same sweaty ball it was in during class, and realized I had no idea what to do or what was going on. A few minutes later, he got back in and a whole crowd of people with giant posters stood outside the door: my entire family and Andrew’s dad! I had no clue! My nieces had bouquets of flowers and my step-dad started pouring champagne. I was shaking, in total shock.
When we arrived at dinner, Andrew said something to the limo driver, and I heard him say his name: George. I immediately started crying. My dad, who passed away 10 years ago, was also named George. It was too coincidental. At that moment, everything felt right and perfect and exactly as it should be.

Tell us about the ring!
Michelle: It’s beautiful! I find myself catching its sparkles often during the day. I love that Andrew took the time to pick it out. And I can’t believe it was hiding in a drawer in his apartment for weeks!
Andrew: It’s insured.

Want to see the ring—and all the infectious happiness—in person? Go take class with Andrew or Michelle!


guest blog by: Zovig Garboushian

I was asked to do this blog post because of something I shared on Facebook as part of participating in the 40 Days to Personal Revolution (or 40 Days at the Den, as we called it) at Lyons Den. It was about a massive overhaul in my thinking about something I thought could never change—a love/hate, conditional relationship with my body. Here’s what I said:

GIRL TALK: As a result of doing so much yoga, my physical body is changing. I’ve lost weight and tightened up. The beauty of this is that I WASN’T EVEN TRYING.
I am proud to say that for the very first time in my 36.5 years, I have barely given thought to what my body is NOT and instead, TRULY BEEN LOVING what my body IS because of all it CAN DO:
• a 90-second wheel
• push-ups in wheel
• planks for days
• relentless dancers poses that go higher with each iteration
• high-plank/low-plank like nothin’, AND,
• enjoying the falling out
The voice has calmed. This b*tch is strong. Can I get a AMEN??

Yogis, can I get an AMEN?
Yogis, can I get an AMEN?

I ACTUALLY GOT IT. It finally clicked. The key to loving my body—not just on a ‘skinny’ day, not just in that one dress, not just when I’m wearing heels—is to USE IT, ALL THE TIME. And, I discovered this by doing yoga.

Listen up y’all: Yoga is hard. I know, because I do it almost every single day at the Den. But what I have witnessed each time I lay out that mat is that my body does exactly what I tell it to precisely as I ask. Contrary to my life-long internal dialogue, my body is not out to ruin my life. This knowledge is brilliant and life changing and revealed power I didn’t know I had.

Do The Work.
Do The Work.

In the Program, I have made some definite physical changes—lost a little weight, gained strength, lightness, more grace and flexibility. But that wasn’t the overhaul I shared about. Instead, I recognized an incredible “shift in vision” about my body—I saw it from an utterly new place and purpose.

OLD VISION: My body’s purpose was to impress others, prove my value, and gain praise.

NEW VISION: My body is a powerful machine that I control and it does whatever I request; it’s my tool to express myself as I choose (side note: unleashed self-expression was one of my goals in the 40 Days program).

40 Days at The Den. #CrushedIt
40 Days at The Den. #CrushedIt

Through yoga, I have developed a new body awareness that is positive, nurturing and grateful, compelling me to honor it, not tear it down. Before 40 Days, I liked my body when it was “good” and scolded it when it was “bad”. Now, I have a growing appreciation for how powerful my body is and I want to fortify that power by using it as much as I can, and doing yoga that pushes me to my limit and then double-dog dares me to go beyond it.

Sure, I have moments where my bra feels tight or my cellulite rears its dimply head, but they seem to roll over me like water and not stick like they used to. Yoga has created a ripple effect that extends beyond my physical being. It facilitates and feeds my awareness, fearlessness, and power, and it just happens that I look better naked. So I’m just going to keep showing up and doing the work and let the rest just fall into place.

Zovig rockin' wheel pose, like a boss.
Zovig rockin’ wheel pose, like a boss.