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6:51 pm

A Yoga Teacher's Journey

A physical therapist and a former gymnast, Allyson has always been fascinated by the body's endless capabilities. This passion led her to yoga, and as her practice continues to grow, so does she. In this blog, she shares her yoga journey. Read More

7:38 pm

Michelle Miller: Om Teacher Spotlight

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1. What is your go-to mantra?

OM Mantra  

Pronunciation A-U-M
 
Om is said to be the first sound heard at the creation of the universe. When each syllable is pronounced fully, you should feel the energy of the sound lifting from your pelvic floor all the way up through the crown of your head. The droning sound of the Om is said to unblock the throat chakra, which can lead to more attuned communication with others.
 
2. What is your favorite part about summer?

I love being with my family, and I love the warm weather. Growing up in Canada they called me the Orchid - I was always cold. I love warm weather, hot yoga, warm summer night, sun showers, and hot baths.  
 
3. Your favorite yoga memory?

Taking class in Kawai with my best friend. It was a super serious group of very practiced yogis. We found ourselves in a deep posture as my friend gave me that look like, "what are we doing here?" She lost balance, crashed into the wall, and I laughed (without sound for most of the class). I try to always remember how silly you can feel at times. Even though my practice has become my favorite sacred space, we must always approach our mat with a child-like sense of wonder, and maybe laugh at ourselves a little. It’s just yoga. ;-)
 
4. What's something yoga has helped you learn to do off the mat?

Yoga has allowed me to learn to be still, and to find joy in my stillness and the present moment. Taking my yoga off the mat, I have learned to be still in the crazy, avoid chaos, and breathe. I've learned that there is power in not always reacting to everything around me, but simply observing and seeing it for what it is. I embrace the moment and try to connect with those around me in an authentic way. I realize we all have suffering, and I embrace my own, as well as reaching out to help others. Yoga has allowed me to serve others, as well as heal my own life and heart.

5. What is your favorite song?

Us and Them by Pink Floyd
 
6. Aside from necessities, what's one thing you could not go a day without?

I love my practice and staying hydrated. I love my beauty products and enjoy my baths.
 
7. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?

Scuba dive: 200 hundred feet with Navy Seals - and then I got caught in a wreck and had to cut myself away from fishing line, ran out of air, and free floated to the top. This experience taught me that life is precious and we are not in control. What is control? All we can do is trust that we are ready to know what to do, and be lucky enough to see the next day.
 
8. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?

I am a superhero ;-) FLY!
 
9. Who is your hero?

My sister is my hero; she taught me everything and had the most courage of anyone I have ever known.

 
10. What is something you're currently working on in your yoga practice? 

I am addicted to Rocket Yoga! I recently finished my 50-hour Rocket Yoga certification with Patrick McCleaf and Jaimis Huff Flynn. Rocket yoga is a series of postures based on a modification of the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga primary and intermediate series. This style of yoga makes advanced postures accessible and lifts your energy, allowing you to be playful and experiment with core building arm balances, and maybe take flight! I just love the way I feel when I practice Rocket Yoga, and that is why I teach it! I am full of energy and I feel the growth and transformation within my practice. You should always go towards what feels good, and after years of practicing yoga, I know this is where I want to be.
 
11. What is your greatest accomplishment?
Grateful to be a mom!

 

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May your practice help you on your journey and connect you to your heart xoxo


Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, may the thoughts, words and actions of my life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”


Be your true self and shine on!

Namaste,
Michelle Miller
 


9:33 pm

Erin Falls: Om Teacher Spotlight

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How long have you been practicing yoga? 

Since early 2009, when my sister-in-law tricked me into going to a hot 90-minute class for my first ever yoga experience. We had just finished lunch. I regretfully had eaten a huge bowl of tomato-basil soup. I definitely felt like I was going to die during 95% of the class, but it got better…obviously.

 

A few important takeaways: 1. I do not recommend soup as a pre-fuel option for hot yoga, or any fitness-related activity. It is a very bad choice. 2. It is a good idea to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new every now and then. You never know what doors it may open!

 

What is your favorite thing about practicing yoga? 

Yoga was really challenging to me at first, because I realized I couldn’t rush through it. I had to find a lot of patience to focus on things I used to ignore - like breathing, and the direction of my thoughts. It gets me out of my head, helps me to eliminate distractions to reset my thinking patterns, and teaches me to find gratitude in the simpler things. The very best part about yoga is that it gets better with time. The more we practice, the more we learn, the more we grow, the better we feel, and we see it start to positively impact all areas of our lives. It’s just too good.

 

Tell us about your favorite yoga pose.

My favorite pose changes as I work to advance my practice. I usually gravitate towards something that I barely have a grasp on, or can't quite figure out.  Right now, I am loving pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) because I can feel the progress even though I still use a backboard, aka the wall. I have been practicing weekly and feel everything becoming stronger and my back starting to straighten out. I added strength training back into my weekly routine about a year ago to help me get stronger because I kept pulling muscles in my back and shoulders when trying to get into inversions and arm balances. This has helped me tremendously!

 

Tips I have learned through my own practice and other teachers’ help: squeeze legs together, look forward, reach through balls of the feet, tuck hips, hug core in, sound effects help…

 

Physical benefits of the pose: strengthens upper body (shoulders, back, arms), helps with balance and core strength, stretches chest, shoulders, neck and belly.

 

Mental/emotional benefits: calms nervous system, helps to relieve stress, and builds concentration.

 

What is your favorite thing to do other than yoga?

An unusual answer: my job! I get to interact with amazing people all day long who are seeking to improve their lives through nutrition, yoga or making some other healthy change. All of my energy goes towards helping others find their healthiest selves, and it’s inspiring and uplifting. My clients and students amaze me daily – I am truly lucky. Aside from that, I enjoy catching up with friends, cooking while blaring Spotify (it’s a great way to learn new music, unwind and it definitely makes cooking more fun!), being outside as long as I’ve taken my Flonase, and I’m still waiting for the day when I get asked to play pick-up basketball at the Dowd Y when I’m passing through. Before yoga was my “sport,” it was basketball, and I miss it often. Maybe I will see if Maria can set up a hoop in the parking lot behind Om.

 

Where are you from?

Winston-Salem, NC *home of Krispy Kreme & Texas Pete!

 

What is your favorite food?

Pizza…from Mellow Mushroom. The Magical Mystery Tour if we are getting specific! 

 

Do you have any pets?

Chewy! He is part mini schnauzer, part Rottweiler. I did a DNA test because I kept getting asked what kind of dog he was. Sometimes I still think he is part goat. Here’s a picture so you can see him for yourself!

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What is your favorite color?

Olive green! Fun fact: I am partially colorblind. I have a difficult time telling differences between certain shades of reds/oranges and blues/purples. Now that you know this, please refrain from pranking me at the studio.

 

What is your favorite TV show?

Beverly Hills, 90210 - the original series. Dylan and Brenda forever, and I’m so glad Donna Martin graduated. 

 

What does the “yoga lifestyle” mean to you?

Being mindful of your thoughts and actions, having compassion for others, and approaching the practice with as much open-mindedness and humility as possible. That is where the growth happens, and things seem to fall into place with minimal effort. When we force the growth, we tend to get stuck. We have to let our practice unfold as are bodies and minds are ready. Yoga is a metaphor for life in my book. It can be so counterintuitive sometimes, but the more we practice it, the more we see the magic that happens on our mats also show up in our lives. It’s pretty incredible. 

 

What is one thing you want all of your students to take away from their practice?

There is always some place to take your practice regardless of how you are feeling. Some days you will feel “off” and it feels like your practice just isn’t going how you’d like. Then other days you will surprise yourself and wonder how you got so strong and skilled. This is the practice – yoga is both empowering and humbling. We find that sweet spot and understand the practice the more we come to our mats. I want my students to have fun, learn to love themselves a little more and find peace each time they come to their mats. At the end of the class, I want them to leave feeling better than when they walked in the door. Those are my objectives as a teacher.  Also, we have all been beginner yogis at some point, and it is ok to start at anytime!

 


5:34 pm

Allyson Rooney: Om Teacher Spotlight

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1. What is your go-to mantra?

"So Hum, which translates to “I am that."
“I am” represents the connection to myself, and "that" represents the connection I have to the universe.

This mantra symbolizes the fact that we are all connected to the universal energy that is constantly supporting and nourishing us. This mantra has the same spirit the concept of  “oneness” or being one with the Universe and all creation. 
 
2. What is your favorite part about summer?

 Taking time off from work and spending time with my daughters, Maddy, age 9, and Olivia, age 11. 
 
3. Your favorite yoga memory?

Over 20 years ago, my dancer friend brought me to my first yoga class at a studio in NYC. I sat in the back as I was told that is where “newbies” should go so they can follow along. As class began, it got very quiet, the instructor opened with an “ahm”, a chant, and then a sutra - all totally foreign to me. Then we started to breathe...OUT LOUD. I thought, “What am I doing here? I thought I was here to work out." The Asana practice was next, and then we closed with a call and response chant. I tried to respond in the best Sanskrit I could, because I never heard it before. I copied the other students, bowing my head and saying “Namaste,” even though I really had no clue what it meant. At the end of the class, I told my friend that I had no idea THIS was yoga. I felt at peace, relaxed and energized all at the same time. I felt like I had a workout, but totally different to my regular routine. It was amazing. I felt great. I was hooked, and I still am, more now than ever. :) 
 
4. What's something yoga has helped you learn to do off the mat? 
Yoga has helped me off the mat in so many ways. The two greatest lessons I have learned are to (1) PAUSE, take a BREATH, and think BEFORE responding, and to (2) BE PRESENT.

It is still a work in progress, but I have caught myself in so many situations saying "pause, take a breath, think," in my head, and ultimately choosing a response or an action in a completely different way than I may have in the past.

Secondly, I have tried hard to be present. I know we hear this all the time, but when I was in teacher training, I realized how much I was missing because I was trying to do 20 things at once (thinking I was the greatest multi-tasker ever). Later, I realized I was missing the important things I was trying so hard not to. I pay more attention now, and try to fully attend to and enjoy even the simplest of things. I am learning not only to say it, but to truly appreciate and enjoy every moment. 


5. What is your favorite song?

I like all kinds of music. Lately I get recommendations for my yoga playlists from my 11 year old. Ha! :) 
 
6. Aside from necessities, what's one thing you could not go a day without? 

Seltzer water, no flavor, just plain ol' seltzer; however, lately I have been on a La Croix kick. On a vanity scale, I would say mascara. I love mascara.
 
7. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?

Moving to NYC after college, and working in a large hospital where I didn’t know anyone.
 
8. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?

Definitely FLY! 
 
9. Who is your hero?

The underdog is always my hero. Being a physical therapist, I work with people of all ages, and for all different reasons, who face various kinds of physical challenges. I am amazed everyday at the inner strength, determination, commitment, and fearlessness I see in my patients. I am constantly inspired by, and rooting for, those very people who give it their all, do their best, fall down, and get back up. My patients are my heroes as they work to overcome obstacles day after day.
 
10. What is something you're currently working on in your yoga practice? 

Currently in my practice, I am working on ROCKET VINYASA!!! I recently finished a 50-hour training with Patrick McCleaf. It was totally awesome. I am trying to incorporate rocket-inspired teaching in my power mix and hot vinyasa class. I am hoping more people become interested, as I would love to teach a true “rocket class." Stay tuned ...my daughter helped me put together a movie clip of a few pieces of the rocket practice. It might get you hooked…:)
 
11. What is your greatest accomplishment?

Being a mom. I feel so blessed and grateful for my girls. They truly are everything to me.
 


1:20 pm

A Love Letter to Yoga

Clare Battle began her yoga journey at Om in 2015, looking for a hobby to connect with, and a way to change herself. As it does with so many of us, the incredible impact of yoga surprised Clare, and changed her life in more ways than she could’ve imagined. Above all, it taught her to show love and compassion not only to others, but to herself. While we are sad to say “see you later,” we’re beyond excited for Clare as she starts an exciting new adventure in Phoenix! She sent us beautiful note, explaining how yoga impacted her life. Clare is an inspiration, and we’d love to share her letter with you:

 

As I embark on a new chapter in my life I can’t help but think what brought me here. Over the past 3 years, I have developed a sense of well-being that is indescribable. I remember deciding to begin yoga because I wanted to find a hobby, something that I can connect with. I had no idea I would begin to feel things that had been suppressed for so long, the intense level of all emotions. I have learned so much about myself while practicing in the studio. My practice has allowed me to support others, especially in my job, by connecting with individuals on a deeper level and approaching every situation with compassion at the forefront. I have seen proof of the powerful effects that compassion can have, and that would have not been possible without my practice at Om. 

For the longest time, I found myself practicing because I felt like I needed to change something about myself, because I disliked myself, my body. It is a continual practice, however I have begun to move towards practicing because I love myself and I know that whatever may come my way, I will be okay. 

It has been an honor to learn from you, and the amazing teachers and students alike. Your intention in what you want to share with the people around you, about your studio shines through always. 

I am so grateful for your guidance and continued efforts to change the world through yoga. 

 

We are incredibly grateful for you, Clare, and every single one of our students. Our yoga community is a beautiful thing, and it wouldn’t exist without you. Each of you are stronger than you know, and we wouldn’t trade being a part of your yoga experience for anything.

 

Namaste,

Your hOM


7:29 pm

Janice Groves: A Dedicated Warrior

unnamed-49_copy1Meet Janice Groves, one of our incredible, committed, STRONG yogis. Not only is Janice a dedicated yogi, and a big part of our Om community - she is also an inspiring educator and fitness motivator.

 

Janice is a cycle fitness instructor, a math teacher, and a runner. You've probably already seen Janice flowing her heart out in our Hot Vinyasa classes right next to the heaters. Saying Janice loves a hot, sweaty yoga class is an understatement.

 

 

Janice often practices with her awesome daughter, Skyler, a gifted dancer about to head to college!

 

Below, see what Janice has to say about practicing at Om: 

 

"Some people shy away from yoga studios because they think they will feel out of place. I have always felt welcomed at OM Yoga. The instructors are very knowledgeable and personable. They encourage you to enjoy the moment, challenge your boundaries, listen to your body, listen to your heart, and breathe. The hot vinyasa classes are my favorite! The temperature is perfect: hot. The cold lavender-scented cloths are such a treat during savasana. The studio is very clean and the location is great. There is a shower available which is important for travelers or people like me who need to run errands after yoga class."

 

"Practicing at OM is the bright spot of my week. Even my daughter can see how excited I am each time I head to the studio. OM is the gift that I give to myself. The staff is always welcoming. The instructors encourage you to own your practice and not be afraid to go to your edge. The studio is clean and inviting. It is my OM away from home!"

 

Take it from the amazing Janice Groves! ;) 


9:09 pm

Alexa Slezak: Stronger Than Ever

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Alexa Slezak is one of our amazing, dedicated students. We asked her for some insight into her yoga journey. Read on to be inspired by this beautiful warrior! 

 

1. How long have you been practicing yoga?  Since September 2015

 

2. Where are you from? I've lived in Charlotte for almost 7 years, but grew up in Tennessee.

 

3. Can you tell us how you found Om? I signed up for an inversion workshop with Jaimis (the inversion queen!) in February 2017, and became an Om regular that same week. Likely the best decision I made in 2017.

 

4. What is your favorite thing about practicing yoga? Yoga has taught me that both in yoga and in life, there's always something new to strive for and achieve, and that even if it seems far out of reach to start, eventually I will get there. I remember taking my first yoga class - I couldn't wrap my head around ever being able to do an arm balance or inversion. Now those are my favorite poses and completely accessible to me!

 

5. What is your favorite thing about Om? From my very first class at Om, everyone has been so welcoming and open, teachers and fellow yogis alike. I felt like a "regular" right away and love how Om really is like its own little community. 

 

6. Tell us about your favorite yoga pose. Crow pose was the very first arm balance I was able to do, about six months after I started practicing yoga. To this day, it remains my favorite pose. I love arm balances and the way that, to me, they symbolize so much about fully supporting and having trust in yourself. Seeing my progression in crow and my advancing ability to do many variations of it reminds me of my own strength and determination! 

 

7. How has your yoga practice at Om impacted your life? I love practicing yoga at Om alongside fellow yogis who are so strong and dedicated. I prefer studio classes over a home/solo yoga practice and I love how supportive everyone is of each other in classes. It feels like we push each other in a really motivating and healthy way. 

 

8. What does the “yoga lifestyle” mean to you? To me, yoga translates to life in the form of acceptance -- accepting where you are at any given moment. Be it stuck in the "modified" version of a pose or stuck in some aspect of life that doesn't fulfill me, but knowing that it's not permanent. Nothing good or bad remains forever, and we need both in order to appreciate the other. A "bad" class doesn't make an overall practice, a bad day doesn't make a bad week, a bad month doesn't make a bad year, and so on. 

 

9. When you walk out of a yoga class, what do you take with you? Strength and confidence in my own abilities. I practice yoga as more than just a workout, but I'm now physically stronger than I've ever been, and yoga is the only form of "exercise" that I do. Seeing what my body is capable of is incredibly empowering.

 

10. What do you do outside of yoga? I work full-time in marketing but am back in grad school studying to become a registered dietitian -- I love being a student and am passionate about my studies and nutrition science. I also enjoy cooking, reading non-science books any chance I get, and relaxing with my lazy pup, Holly.


10:55 pm

Unpredictable

I attended a yoga class several weeks ago, the day after a relationship ended as suddenly as it had begun. That morning in class, the teacher spoke of the unpredictability of life. I don't remember much else from that class – not what poses we did, what music she played, or even what more she said in particular, just that word: unpredictability. It has rung in my ears since that morning. Read More

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10:51 am

"If you wanna be whole, you can’t just work on the outside, you’ve gotta work on the inside too!"



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Many years ago, a colleague challenged me to try yoga. She was older than I was but looked absolutely fantastic. One day I asked her if she lifted weights and did aerobics. Her answer shocked me. “No, no weights or aerobics. I only do yoga.” I looked at her with the side-eye and said, “Yeah right!” She said, “No, really; that’s all I do. You should give it a try.” At the time, I thought (like so many who’ve never tried it do) that yoga was just “stretching.” Months later, I changed jobs and never saw my colleague again, but I never forgot that conversation. Years later, I gave yoga a try.

My first experience came in the form of one of the P90X workout DVDs (“Yoga X”) and honestly, I wasn’t a fan at all. I only did it because it was part of the routine, but to me, that DVD session was difficult and boring. Years later, I was diagnosed with “The C Word,” and after undergoing abdominal surgery to remove a tumor, I had lost a considerable amount of core strength, which severely affected my ability to play tennis without having lower back pain. One day, my wife (who loves bargain shopping) found a Living Social coupon for 10 classes at Om, and figuring that a live session had to be better than the pre-recorded tapes, I decided to give it another go. The rest is history! 

When I started, my core was so weak I could barely bring my knee off the floor to do a single cheetah pose; but through the guidance, gentle assistance, and constant reassurance of instructors like Maria, I eventually gained full abdominal strength and cheetahs were no longer a problem. Also, practicing an average of three days a week sharpened my focus, which resulted in a drastic improvement in my tennis game. Learning to take my mind “off the pose” and focus on breathing has carried over into other areas of my life. Now, whether I’m lifting weights, playing tennis, or doing my occupation (writing), when things get difficult, I just breathe. 

Today, yoga is a part of my regular wellness routine, which includes eating healthy, taking supplements, learning how to rest, and regular strength training. I’ve practiced at Om now for five years, and if there is any advice I can give to anyone, it would be to give Om Yoga a try (not only are all of the instructors patient, kind, and very good at what they do; I absolutely love everyone’s playlists)! Finally, of all the forms of exercise and physical activity I’ve ever tried, yoga is the only one I’ve found that massages, and perhaps even strengthens and tones the internal organs; so if you wanna be whole, you can’t just work on the outside, you’ve gotta work on the inside too!

By Matt Talford author of From Fear to Faith: A Survivor's Story 

In 2010, at the age of 37, Matt began feeling a “constant ticking” inside his body, not knowing that what he was feeling was a virtual “time bomb” that could explode at any moment. Seven months later when he was diagnosed with a rare and malignant form of “The C Word,” he quietly reassured himself that time was his ally, while constantly battling against the growing tide of external voices whispering, “don’t procrastinate; time is not on your side!”

In From Fear to Faith, author Matt Talford takes you on a journey through his personal war on cancer and shares the physical, mental and spiritual tools that inspired him to reverse what he referred to as “a slow death,” and how he courageously fought to overcome a dreadful condition that to this day, he refuses to take ownership of, choosing the words, “I was diagnosed with…” as opposed to “I had…”

 

1:29 am

Yoga's Greatest Gift: A Present Mind

unnamed_copyWhen I think of what yoga and living a yoga lifestyle means to me, many things come to mind. I always think back to my first yoga class in Manhattan over 15 years ago.  A former dancer friend who practiced yoga regularly asked me to go to a class and I thought, “Sure, I’ve got this.” I was a competitive gymnast growing up, and I can never remember a time when I didn’t work out – I thought I knew what to expect.

So I walked into this beautiful, quiet room packed with yogis. It was a little dark; a lovely painted tree on the wall, and a single burning candle in the front. The teacher introduced herself, gave a brief talk (which now I know is called a sutra), and began the class with an Om and a chant. I thought, “What did I get myself into?”  I sat quietly and listened to the resonating sound of all the voices. Next, we were on to breathing, and I found myself thinking again, “What is this all about? I know how to breathe.” Next was movement, what I know now as the Asanas. Despite not knowing the names or really any of the poses, I looked around and followed. I loved the flow, the balance, the challenge, the strength, and the flexibility. At the end of the class we lay down on our backs (aka savasana), and again, I found myself thinking, “What?”  This calming, still ending to a workout was completely unexpected and unfamiliar to me.  We ended the class seated, with our eyes closed, a cleansing breath, and an Om – and that is when it all started for me.

I have to admit that my initial draw to yoga was the physical practice. It was a different kind of work out for me; however, over the years I’ve found myself seeking yoga, not only for the physical benefits, but also for the effects I was experiencing as a whole person. I can only describe it as a sense of “awwhhhh” after every practice.

I sought out yoga teacher training in 2014 to learn more about the physical practice, but mainly to learn more about living a yoga lifestyle, especially when it came to raising 2 young daughters. It is very important for me to be a role model in their lives. I want to lead by example based on so many of the wonderful, guiding, inspirational sutras and lessons I have heard in my many yoga classes. I really wanted to practice “taking my yoga off the mat and into my life.”

Now, at this moment, if I were asked what it means to live a yoga lifestyle, my immediate answer would be to be present, as cliché as it may sound. This concept of truly being present was the biggest and most life-changing lesson for me in teacher training. Being a working mom, raising 2 young daughters, and juggling all other aspects life, I began to realize that my mind was constantly in a state of chaos. I was always trying to get everything done, planning for the next event, and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. This constant multi-tasking (which I thought was just what every mom was supposed to do) was in fact a distraction. It inhibited me from completely enjoying all the special moments that I intended to savor forever. Time was just passing me by. When I really sat down and thought back to various moments, I was actually having a hard time recalling details, as at the time, my mind was not present. This was eye opening and quite scary!

I believe I have made progress when it comes to being present, but I still have a ways to go – and I can’t wait to see the outcomes of an increasingly present mind. Through my efforts to become more present, I have already noticed a greater joy and sense of contentment in all aspects of my busy life, as well as a greater connection to what it means to really be in the moment. Remember this, as it is so true: ”The best gift we can give each other is our presence.” xx Allyson Rooney

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