Yoga Belly Blog

Committed to delivering the 𝖌𝖓𝖆𝖗𝖑𝖎𝖊𝖘𝖙 yoga experience.


Ergonomics and Alignment

June 7, 2012 / Aaron

You can look at my bio and know that one of the reasons that I do yoga is because I want to be prepared for anything that life wants to throw my way, both mentally and physically. It's good to be stretched, grow, and build strength. Yoga can teach you ways to do this safely including things like proper alignment and helping to build proper posture. Practicing yoga makes you (whether you want to or not) become very attuned to your muscles, movements, and your body. The body naturally wants to be a certain way and aside from yoga, I take the principles of alignment and muscular cues into other areas of my life like driving position, bike riding position, desk position.

Working at a desk all day I'm a little fanatical when it comes to ergonomics. Knees, hips, shoulders, wrists, neck, eye level - they all have a place. The downside to practicing a lot of yoga is you can absolutely tell when something is not right. Working from home forced me to work from the couch, the coffee table, and the kitchen bar. My neck and shoulders are now killing me. I do yoga to be prepared for anything - except apparently working from the couch.

I wasn't prepared for that!

Proper Ergonomics


June is Refer-a-Friend month at Yoga Belly

June 2, 2012 / Aaron

We just love a good competition at Yoga Belly. This month we have decided to take it easy on you all after the hard work that you put in during the 30 Day Challenge in May. Its time to focus on building our community and sharing the gift of yoga with your family, friends and co-workers. We decided to dig deep into the prize vault and come up with a few prizes that I think you are going to love.
" First Prize will be a 25 class pass for a members who purchase by the class or a 3 month unlimited pass for subscription members.
" Second Prize will be an outfit from Lululemon. Please see our very own Lululemon ambassador William for more details on the outfit and what it includes.
" Third Prize will be a Microdermabrassion Facial from our friends at Khuu Dermatology, conveniently located down the street from the studio at 889 Castro Street. If anyone has any questions about the procedure please let me know and we will get some more details from Duke (the owner and YB member).

Referrals must enter Yoga Belly referee name on the check-in form and purchase the $40 for 30 or Drop in to qualify to count towards the prize. Good luck everyone. I hope to see you in the winner circle at the end of month.

Much Love,
Aaron


The Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge Results are in!

May 31, 2012 / Aaron


The results are in and the winners of the first ever Yoga Belly 30 Day challenge are Stan Novak and Anna Petrochenko with 49 classes a piece. Nicki Chin takes 3rd place with a more than respectable showing of 43 classes. Honorable mention to everyone that completed the 30 Day Challenge:
Kalb, Kathleen 35
Moore, Lorraine 35
Rostamian, Eli 34
Diaconescu, Sorina 32
Duong, Ton 31
Mok, Stan 31
Strojny, Katherine 30
Van Schaack, Leslie 30

Amazing work to everyone that took the challenge and made it happen. You should be really proud of all the hard work that you put in. The yoga that we are serving you up in all the classes is designed to challenge you physically and mentally. To do 30 classes in a month is a serious amount of work. Take the day off…you deserve it!
Much Love,
Aaron


Day 30: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 31, 2012 / Aaron


Its Day 30 of the 30 Day Challenge and I have just completed my last class of the challenge. I can’t help but think back to when I thought about having a 30 Day Challenge and where I was at personally when we decided to do something different at the studio. I had been teaching yoga Thursday mornings and was finishing up my 200 hour RYT certification. We took Rainbow Flow off the schedule and had our very first Rainbow Flow Workshop at Groove Yoga. Attendance at the studio was sparse during the day and in the 4:15 classes. I had become focused on my journey as an instructor and things were starting to slip between the cracks behind the scenes. Our blogger Tristan moved to San Francisco and we were in a position of change. It was time for us to switch gears and change with the times or continue down the road that we were headed to an unknown conclusion.
I had to have a hard look at myself and be tremendously honest regarding my motivations. I had become so focused on my personal journey as an instructor that I was allowing my personal practice to fall to 5th place in my life behind work, running the studio, teaching and my personal life. Looking back now I can honestly tell you that it was a blow to my ego watching William shine in the studio and receive credit for Yoga Belly considering the amount of work that goes into maintaining a full time studio behind the scenes. I had become jealous of the amount of free time he enjoyed (my perspective even though we had chosen this path together in order to move more into alignment with the vision we had for our lives). On many occasions people would tell me, “Oh I thought William owned the studio.” I pushed myself to contribute more on the front end of the studio in part to play a more significant role in our customers personal development. In an argument with William I took myself off the schedule and went back to what I had been doing prior to teaching. Behind the scenes guy. I nurtured the 30 day challenge and decided to blog about how I returned to my mat and made it my first priority in my personal development.
Almost as important as the return to making myself a priority and making sure I got my practice in everyday was the decision to sit and reflect on my day and how I got to my mat. The yogic journey is not an easy path. It is a daily decision to return to your mat and spend time re-focusing and centering your mind while strengthening the body. At several points in the past 30 days major chaos has erupted and I could have made the choice to quit or give up. I pride myself on being a man of my word and seeing through the verbal commitments that I make and cannot allow myself to let you down. I realize now that by not making myself a priority and finding time to refresh myself I was burning the candle at both ends. I tried to honestly share with you all in my blog my personal journey to my mat despite of how I felt physically or mentally.
I think some people look at my life and only see the successes. I am a successful business man, happily married, own my own business, live in a prominent community and share my life with friends and extended family. Laughter is a huge part of my existence. No one sees the blood, sweat and tears that have gotten me here. The loss I have suffered through the passing of loved ones, the rejection of family because of my life style, the car that was repossessed, the house that was foreclosed, the decade spent in the throes of addiction. The 30 pounds I put on dealing with the state of the union. All I could focus on was dealing with the decisions that had gotten me to where I was in my life. I yo-yoed up and down in my weight in my 30’s trying to deal with the things that I let happen in my 20’s.
It was a big deal to put myself first. After coming out to my family in 2010 and the tragic aftermath of those decision I threw myself into the creation of Yoga Belly. After leaving my parents church in 2004 I threw myself into developing a community of like minded people. After discovering yoga in 2005 my life had been transformed. 5 years later the full expression of that journey was set into motion with the birth of Yoga Belly. Trying to understand my place in the journey 2 years later after the creation of Yoga Belly has been another struggle that I did not anticipate.
Without understanding what I put into motion, I decided to put my practice first at a moment in my life where I just needed a break. I needed a little bit of introspection. I needed to understand my place and my contribution better. I hope that as I have shared this journey with you in my blog or in the conversations that we have had in the studio you understand that my journey is not greater or more tragic than yours. We are all on this journey that we call life and share in the time that we decide to make ourselves a priority. Its me time at Yoga Belly. I hope it helps to hear how the struggle to prioritize appropriately makes a difference. I hope that it helps to hear about the transformative journey that a yoga practice can bring into your life. I hope that you have pushed yourself outside your comfort zone and gleaned something unexpected from the journey. I hope you had the opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone and experience unexpected moments of bliss with teachers that you don’t normally practice with. I hope being a part of this journey with us makes a difference in making the burdens that are unavoidable a little lighter. I hope you learned something about yourself on your mat, in the studio and the moments that we have to share in each other’s lives.
Thank you for indulging me and allowing me to share my personal journey with you.
It’s a big day tomorrow. Winners will be announced and I will push myself to practice on day 31….just cause I will not be pigeon holed into just 30 days of yoga. It’s a daily choice to come to my mat and tomorrow is just another step in the journey to the best me possible. Thank you for sharing your life and practice with us. I am amazed by your dedication and the journey that you share with us.
Much love,
Aaron


Day 27: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 28, 2012 / Aaron


Its Day 27 of the 30 Day Challenge and we are so close to the end I can taste it. 27 days in and I am feeling fit and generally happy with my progress over the course of the last month. Today I woke up and decided to start my day by taking Jeff’s class. We have been making arrangements with Jeff to transition his Sunday morning class from Power to Yoga Tune-Up but have been delayed in making the switch officially on the website and on the schedule due to some delays in getting all the permissions in place since Yoga Tune Up is owned by Jill Miller. Jeff is the only certified Yoga Tune-Up instructor at Yoga Belly and with Fiona, Edna and Tim doing Power on Sundays and Barbara continuing to serve you up Yoga Belly we should have everyone’s needs taken care.
Big difference between Jeff’s Yoga Belly class on Tuesdays, Power class on Thursdays and Tune-up on Sundays. Sunday we spent a lot of time against the wall rolling out all of the issues that I spent putting into my body during the last 27 days. I’ve had this spot in my left shoulder blade that has been like a knot in my back and I have had this slight headache for the last few days. I’ve been trying to roll it out on my own at home between my lacrosse balls and my foam roller but apparently it pays to get training because today is the first day that it hasn’t been an issue in the last week. I’ve been learning that in order to maintain the high level of yoga workout at such an intense pace over the course of the last 27 days that a certain amount of maintenance is required in order to keep this body moving at optimal performance. You are more likely to find me stretching and rolling around against the wall in the evenings than ever before. There is also a significant change in my sleep patterns. I have been getting a deep restful sleep with clear dreams that I remember vividly when I wake up. Asleep by 10:30pm and up by 6:30am with no alarm clock. That’s about as good as it gets for a restful night’s sleep.
Thank you all for being patient with us as we get everything together to make the official switch on Sunday mornings. I noticed a lot of people doubling up classes taking Fiona and then having a little therapy at the 9:00am hour or getting your therapy and staying for a little core-gasm with Barbara at Yoga Belly. I hope that you are receiving fulfillment from your Yoga experience at Yoga Belly. William and I put a lot of time and effort in order to ensure that you have the best Power Yoga experience available. I am proud of everyone involved in the experience that is going on at YB. From the amazing instructors to the gracious check in team to the hard working cleaning crew. There are so many people involved in order to make your time at the Belly worth your hard earned money.
William and Edna have dedicated their summer weekends to training the next generation of amazing Yoga Instructors. We look to the future with a sense of hope and delight. Every day feels like an adventure worth taking when the endorphins fire up and you get that sweaty funky workout on. Hang in there Belly-ites….4 more days and we announce our winners in the very first Yoga Belly 30 Day challenge. Congrats to everyone that has taken at least 27 classes at Yoga Belly in the last 27 days (presented in alphabetical order):
Chin, Nicki
Diaconescu, Sorina
Duong, Ton
Kalb, Kathleen
Mok, Stan
Moore, Lorraine
Novak, Stan
Petrochenko, Anna
Rostamian, Eli
Strojny, Katherine
Van Schaack, Leslie
Much Love,
Aaron


Take Ownership of your Practice

May 26, 2012 / Aaron

I'm going to start with a quote to spin it in another direction. John F. Kennedy, "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." That sentiment is just as applicable to many other things in life, including yoga. Ask not what yoga can do for you, ask what you can do with yoga. Sure, I've taken certain liberties with "for" and "with" but I'd say that by doing something with yoga, you are in affect doing something for yoga.

Let's skip past the semantics though. The important thing is to take ownership of your practice. We are guides, nothing more. You know better than anyone what's right for you, how you want to use yoga in this particular moment as a physical, mental, or emotional tool. Granted, sometimes yoga uses you.

It's your practice. You are the owner, you are the explorer of your Self. You have to figure it out. Take ownership. Control what you can, and the rest will follow. And as Will would say, "Right! I love that!" Happy May Challenge. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Day 24: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 25, 2012 / Aaron


Its Day 24 of the 30 Day Challenge and I made another date with Tiffany to practice with Jeff at 5:30pm. I’m reminded of the joy that Yoga can bring you if you allow it to. If you are at Yoga Belly and all you are getting out of the experience is a workout you are selling the experience short. When I walk in and see those smiling faces. A kiss hello from Tiffany. A few minutes on the couch with Logan talking shop about mobile apps and his practice. Hello’s from Ton, Therese, Edna, Stasha, Jeff walking around with his headband on. Venya and I say hello again. We met for the first time last week. Friends old and new…. About to go on a journey through movement. A physical expression of the mental and emotional journey that I am going to share with 25 other people. I’m such a fan of Jeff’s yoga practice. Having the chance to call him a friend now and knowing the man that he is my feelings for his insight has only grown deeper over time. He finds a way to push me in ways that I do not expect. I’m moving through my practice and he calls out a clapping push-up and I feel my upper body push up from the floor move into the air and my hands clap. I’m so thrilled with the fact that I can do it that I do it again. I am a 38 year old 220 pound man, how often in my adult life do I put myself in the position to do a clapping push up. Here is the brilliance of Jeff Lang. Hes not teaching your mothers yoga class. It’s a blend of unexpected movement, yoga asana, his insight….pushing you physically and mentally. I find myself at my edge and something that has only happened a few times in my yoga life. I am emotional. I find my eyes welling with tears as I realize how much I need this release from the tension that I have been holding. I’ve been pushing myself to practice every day and come home and blog about the journey that has brought me to my mat. There have been some major things going on in the background of my life this past month. Every day I sit and reflect on how I chose to make myself a priority and re-center myself on my mat. Yes my physical practice is changing and growing but more importantly I feel like I understand myself better. How I operate, how I communicate, what drives me to keep on going. The simple choice to put my practice first and meditate on my day everyday has brought more insight and helped to allow me to move smartly through some difficult situations. I peel my sweat soaked self off the mat from Shivasan. I talk with Venya about how much he is enjoying the studio. I say goodbyes to my fellow practitioners. I greet Jen, Stephanie, Matt getting ready to start their journey. I walk out with Jeff to share a parting conversation and try to catch up on how we are doing since we haven’t seen each other in a couple of weeks. I float home on a high. I have shifted my minds eye to not focus on the problems but on the hope that life only gets better if you invest the work to make it that way. Day 24 yoga….check!
Congrats to everyone that has completed at least 24 classes at Yoga Belly in 24 days (presented in alphabetical order):
Chin, Nicki
Diaconescu, Sorina
Duong, Ton
Kalb, Kathleen
Mok, Stan
Moore, Lorraine
Novak, Stan
Petrochenko, Anna
Rostamian, Eli
Strojny, Katherine
Van Schaack, Leslie
Viskic, Ines


Day 23: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 23, 2012 / Aaron


Its Day 23 of the 30 Day Challenge and I have had a heck of a day today. Of course I am having family drama…as per the norm. Some people believe that blood is thicker than water, you can’t choose your family, family comes first…. Etc..etc…etc. I believe that as an adult you share your life with people that you love and love you back. It’s not because of obligation but because you work on a healthy relationship with friends and family that contribute to the success of the relationship you share. I have had to cut myself off from several unhealthy relationships and create boundaries for myself in order to maintain healthy nurturing relationships with people that do the same for me. I’ve clocked more than my fair share of time on the couch in therapy, meditating, on my mat, talking, sharing and thinking things through to come up with what my boundaries are.
I would consider myself to be a survivor. A survivor of child abuse. A survivor of religious abuse…meaning we were raised that the only way was accepting Jesus Christ as our personal savior and the sole source of direction in our lives. The bible being the one truth; the literal interpretation. Speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, prophetic words from God through men. The fear of hell being the main motivator in defining our actions and reactions. When we all get to heaven, what a place it will be. We will finally get our just reward for being a follower of Christ. In the meantime 10% of your salary goes to the church and Gods work. Doesn’t sound like abuse? Consider having to attend church 3 or 4 times a week for various reasoning and only socializing with other Christians outside of that and you have a recipe for an unbalanced upbringing. I survived this childhood and was kicked out fairly young, around 19. I was unprepared to deal with life’s temptations because of this sheltered upbringing and soon fell into the traps of Drugs, Sex and Rock n Roll. A decade of my life passed that was lost to various drug addictions and the inability to settle down in a relationship. Experimenting with my sexuality and coming to terms with what I believed to be my truth.
Some doctors believe that some religions produce a childhood dominated by fear – a real fear of hell, of disapproval in the present and of eternal damnation. This is a trauma which has effects lasting well into adulthood. As an adult I have recognized this as a form of abuse in my life and have gone on a quest of self discovery to counter act this trauma and understand what it is that I believe to be true. I’ve had to re-look at the things that I just inherently believe to be true because the teachings are so ingrained in my psyche. Walking away from the concept of Heaven and Hell is more easily said than done. I am grateful for the teachings that I have exposed myself to outside of western culture. There is no concept of heaven and hell in eastern philosophy (that I have been exposed to) and this has profoundly changed not only the way I look at the big picture but the way that I view my world around me. I believe that what you put into something you should get out of it. I believe that the Divine in me recognizes and honors, the Divine in you. That does not make me a door mat for other peoples dysfunctional love. Even if we are related. I choose to share my life and light with people because of my inherent hope in the good will of all people. My love of laughter. My mental, spiritual, emotional and social needs.
I love my life and I love the people that I have filled it with. I am open to meeting new people and consider it an honor to be able to make new friends as I get older. It seems like as we get older it becomes more difficult to make connections with other people. You have to be really open and vulnerable to making that connection with people. You take a risk that you will be hurt. I’ve been hurt in the past by people that I have loved. My goal is to allow myself to remain open to the possibility of sharing love and light with people.
Sometimes you have to look at people and be honest and say, “I am moving on.” Today was that day for me. I reluctantly released myself from the obligation of maintaining a unhealthy relationship that was not working out. Break-ups are hard for everyone involved. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love the person but it means (for me) that in order to move forward and continue to grow and prosper I have to release you in order to maintain healthy boundaries.
I ran to my mat and had the world’s worst practice. I was in a desperate situation mentally and just wanted to work through my thoughts and mind-set so I forced myself into the non-heated 12:30 class even though I had a 1:30pm conference call. I left early to get dressed and get onto my call. Its only in this moment as I write these words that I realize that I am okay with my decision and have done what is best for me and my family. Instead of getting worked up and emotional I feel rationale about the idea that you have to have boundaries that you operate in. I feel like Gandalf on the bridge screaming, “You shall not pass.” ….How cute…I made a joke… Day 23 yoga….check!
Much Love,
Aaron


Day 22: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 22, 2012 / Aaron


Its Day 22 of the 30 Day Challenge and I have so many things going on at the moment it isn’t funny. They have re-structured my group at my job and today was the big team announcement so I headed into the office early in order to attend in person and show my support to management for the new vision that is being presented. Change is not something that I fear and am excited regarding the possibility that this new structure holds for my corporate career. I took a new job at the beginning of the year and it has blossomed into more responsibility than I thought that I would be having to manage in addition to my responsibilities at Yoga Belly. Managing my career, owning a yoga studio, finding time to engage in my practice, being a husband, being a friend, having a family and as of late having to write a blog about my experiences has turned into a 7 day a week commitment. A lot of times in the past I have skipped my personal practice in order to complete my long list of daily chores that need to be taken care of. Lately as I prioritize my practice higher onto the list of things I must accomplish and sit down to reflect on the road that got me to my practice it has helped me to become more efficient and organized in order to take care of my person first and let the rest of my responsibilities fall into place. I look forward to finding the time to practice and make myself a priority. Its so easy to become complacent about my own personal needs when I am driven to please my boss, my family and the community of people that I serve at Yoga Belly. I’m learning more and more that in order to live a life of service you have to re-fill the tank and have something to offer others first and foremost. As I reflect on the last 22 days I have realized that there is a lot of drama in my life in areas that I had turned a blind eye to in order accomplish the things that I felt I needed to accomplish. I realize there is more there than I thought was there. A simple restructuring of my priorities has made a huge impact on the way I operate.
I was helping a friend of mine at work today trying to understand a problem that she was facing in her job and she was frustrated in her lack of understanding and began to cry. I stopped explaining the solution and we started to talk about how it okay to feel frustrated. Its okay to not understand. The only pressure that is reasonable is the pressure to bring awareness into our lives and bring ourselves into a place of understanding. Allowing ourselves to be understanding that we may not know everything so that we can absorb the knowledge that we are trying to obtain. I recognized that I have learned this lesson on my mat. It’s not about being able to do everything or not being in the kind of shape that I want to be in. It’s about making the journey everyday to a place where I can learn and grow as a person. If I compared myself to other yogi’s and their Asana practice it would be extremely disheartening that I am not “the best” after working on a yoga practice for 7 years. I am not the skinniest, most fit person in the room. Some people have it easier than others and are more naturally inclined to excel in their physical practice. I have to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race. Its not about how you succeed but the attitude with which you participate. The big picture is really about being in the right frame of mind in order to be the best me that I can be. To be in a frustrating situation and not be reactive. To understand the problem and set the intention of coming up with the solution.
I made myself a priority today and on a day that life was changing, and I was having to re-structure the way I do things, I found time to make it to my mat. I practiced with Jimmy today and he met me in the middle of a crazy day and guided me through an amazing workout. I re-set my intention for the day to accomplish all the things that I wanted to do. I left refreshed and invigorated in life and I was able to share my knowledge with someone that needed it and make a difference in someone else’s day. What a beautiful concept…Refill my cup in order to share with someone in need.
I just love Yoga Belly and I love the moments I share with its members and its instructors. Even when Leslie is telling me to not be chump and take the second lunchtime class… lol. I take on the responsibility gladly to work my job, own a yoga studio, practice yoga, be a family man and share with you all my journey through this 30 Day challenge. Day 22 yoga….check!
Much Love,
Aaron


Day 21: Yoga Belly 30 Day Challenge

May 22, 2012 / Aaron

Its Day 21 of the 30 Day Challenge and we have passed the 2/3 marker and the end is right around the corner. I’ve been trying to find the time to visit each and every one of the teachers in my personal 30 Day challenge. Matt decided to switch with William (who was subbing for Adam) so he taught the 4:15pm class. Quite a special treat for the 4:15pm crowd to have Yoga Belly primetime serve it up to the early bird crowd. I breeze into class and catch eyes with Kathleen who flags me down to practice next to her. Such a sweet gesture until I realize 10 minutes into class when the heater is blowing directly into my face and I think to myself….Why am I practicing directly in front of the heater? Oh the things you do for the people that you love. It’s all worth it as I sweat out the days frustrations while trying to crack jokes with her and not be rude to the instructor.
It would be an understatement to say that being in Matt’s class is a special experience. He has this way of making you feel like you are here sharing your practice with him when the fact of the matter is that he is the one guiding you through the experience. He brings something unexpected and genuine to Yoga Belly. There is a peaceful grace in his presentation that is only equaled to the kindness in his mannerism and sincere love in the way he treats everyone . I come up from Shivasan feeling worked out, refreshed and recharged and ready for my evening.
After a day of light practice yesterday, lots of stretching and two full body ball rolling sessions I was excited to practice in the studio with other people. There is something about harnessing the group energy to correct your form and push you to new levels of understanding and strength. I wonder what I will do when the challenge is over. Will I continue to push myself to practice daily? Will I blog? I have to set some intentions for when this is over. I don’t know if I can go back to practicing part time when this is over. I can’t imagine not embracing the openness that comes with a daily practice. The freedom that comes with embracing movement. The daily practice of discipline both physical and mental. I would be interested to hear how the challenge has impacted the way that you practice. Will it impact your practice post challenge? Just wondering… Day 21 yoga….check!
Congrats to the Yoga Belly family members who have practiced at least 21 class in 21 days. We salute you:
Chin, Nicki
Duong, Ton
Kalb, Kathleen
Mok, Stan
Moore, Lorraine
Novak, Stan
Petrochenko, Anna
Rostamian, Eli
Strojny, Katherine
Van Schaack, Leslie
Viskic, Ines

Presented in alphabetical order