Community Update: Meet Tarole Harris

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Community Update: Meet Tarole Harris

The first time I met Tarole was when she came to my noon Yoga Build class just a few months ago. She had driven up from Charlotte, NC to check out some local Richmond studios as she prepared to move to Richmond full time in August. Her impressive resume as a personal trainer, yoga, and spin instructor was not all that made Tarole stand out.  From the minute you meet her, you are drawn to her high energy and supportive spirit.  Moving from Hawaii to North Carolina and now to Richmond (with a couple of stops along the way), her dedication to her passion of working with others in the wellness community is apparent. 

I'll never forget when Tarole told me that she was moving to Richmond only to turn right back around to teach one more class at her home studio in Charlotte and then returning to Richmond.  Her dedication to the communities she works with combined with the fact that I was sore for 3 days from her 30 minute Yoga Build demo, made me realize she was a perfect fit for Humble Haven. If you have already taken one of Tarole's classes, you know how interested she is in getting to know you and her new home here in Richmond.  Get to know her a little better by reading her teacher spotlight below and then come practice with her Wednesdays 8-8:45pm and Thursdays 6:15-7pm for Yoga Build.  

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

I love teaching yoga with weights the most. Being a personal trainer, weight training of any form is very important to me and with Yoga Build, you get the best of both worlds!

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

I love helping people change their lifestyle for the better. If I can inspire just one person to make a healthy change, my goal will be fulfilled. 

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Fun, energetic, sassy.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

It's a toss up between dancer pose and any pose where I'm upside down (headstand, handstand, etc) :)

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Having just moved to the city, I haven't had much time to explore. So far I've enjoyed walking my dog around my neighborhood and learning about the area.

What’s your favorite food?

Fresh Asian cuisine of any kind.

Tea or Coffee?

Huge fan of both, but I must say I drink way more coffee than I should!

Favorite quote?

"It does not due to dwell on dreams and forget to live." -Albus Dumbledore

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

From the moment I stepped into the studio I felt welcomed. In my opinion, it's important to have a community vibe in the workplace and with HHY, I felt just that. I'm excited to be a part of a growing yogi community that practices not only the fun part of yoga, but the true meaning behind the practice as well.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

Yoga Build - anything I can dance to. Vinyasa flow - anything from Trevor Hall.

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Community Update: Meet Andrea Gruber

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Community Update: Meet Andrea Gruber

It doesn't take long after first meeting Andrea, to realize that this is someone who lives yoga.  She is honest, humble, and mindful in all aspects of her life. Whether it is the food that she prepares for herself or those she cares about or the commitments she adds to her schedule, she is intentional with each step.  

Andrea first started coming to Humble Haven Yoga in August of 2016 after relocating to Richmond from Charleston, SC.  After practicing with us regularly, we were lucky to have Andrea join our first 200-hour teacher training program.  Andrea moves with admirable grace on and off her yoga mat and her steady energy and teaching style encourages her students to do the same.  Her intense-yet-easy presence gives you the confidence that she is right there with you, whether that is in conversation or as you are exploring your personal edge in a Hot Power class. I look forward to learning more from Andrea as a teacher on and off the mat. Join her for class, Thursday 4:45-5:45pm, Hot Power Yoga and learn more about her below. 

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

My favorite style of class to teach is Hot Power with intentional breath & movement cues; while guiding a class through tension/release flow and backbending focused on spinal health and heart opening. Breath to movement pairing allows one to connect deeper with their body and be in that present moment. And who doesn’t love a good backbending series to rid the body of toxins? Ok, not everyone does. But it is my hope I can guide fellow yogis so they are able to approach the series with ease, gratitude, and an open mind. And maybe one day even like backbending!

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

I loved the time I dedicated to my practice and the tools I learned on the mat for life outside the studio. Moving deeper into my own practice, I was eager to learn more and share that knowledge with others.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Peace, fire & balance

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel)

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Riding bikes & evening river outings

What’s your favorite food?

Cornichon pickles

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favorite quote?

“Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.” E.V.

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

Teaching at Humble Haven Yoga will be such an honor. I’m most excited about continuing to be a part of a growing community that extends support and love for fellow yogis throughout each step of their journey.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

It’s Alright 2 Cry by Francis and the Lights

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Community Update: Meet Rachel Knight

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Community Update: Meet Rachel Knight

I remember when Rachel Knight (aka "Virginia Tech Rachel") first started coming to the studio in June 2016.  As an attempt to remember her name, I associated her with a t-shirt she wore on one of her first visits.  Virginia Tech is also my alma mater (Go Hokies!) so this was an easy association, but turned out to be an unnecessary one as Rachel quickly became an integrated part of the community.  As a practitioner, Rachel really showed up; immersing herself into the community whenever possible and we got to know her beyond just where she went to college. 

When our first teacher training rolled around, Marisa and I held an open house to meet anyone interested in joining us and answer any questions.  Rachel walked through the door that evening, list of questions in hand! Rachel's thirst for learning transfers from her mat to an informal open house to diving head first into her first Yoga Teacher Training.  It's what makes you know that when she's present in any situation, she's with you 100% and it's what already does and will make her an amazing teacher.  Read more about Rachel on and off her mat below and practice with her Fridays at 5:30pm and Saturdays at 9:30am.  

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

Hot Power! I love how the power practice combines tension and ease, allowing the practitioner to approach challenging postures with grace and calm focus. I find it so cool that the same practice can be both strong and relaxing at the same time, leaving you totally mentally and physically refreshed.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

Once practicing regularly started influencing the way I live off my mat, I realized that yoga was not just something I do at the studio. Yoga has flipped my world upside down in the best way, and shown me how to accept my true self. I want to teach so that I can help people find what makes them strong and so they can let go of what doesn’t.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Let it go.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Ardha Chandrasana, Half moon pose

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Kayaking and exploring local restaurants

What’s your favorite food?

Any kind of cereal

Tea or Coffee?

Both! I’m a fan of any hot drink.

Favorite quote?

“In this place of love all things are possible.” - Baron Baptiste

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

The community at Humble Haven is so special. When you’re here, you’re with family -- it truly is a safe and welcoming space where you are loved no matter how you show up.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

Explosions in the Sky is my all-time favorite band for powerful instrumental tunes.

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Community Update: Meet Bekah Holbrook

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Community Update: Meet Bekah Holbrook

Can we all just take a moment and acknowledge the zen firework that we all feel in our hearts after taking one of Marisa or Mackenzie's restorative or vin/yin classes? Needless to say the bar has been set pretty high when it comes to putting teachers on the schedule to offer these energetically harmonious classes.  That bar was seamlessly met the first time I took one of Bekah Holbrook's classes. 

I first heard Bekah's name when our fellow yogi and friend, Anna Strahs Watts, was in a bind and needed subs for a 9pm and 12am class. Yeah, you read that correctly, 12am.  Since Anna is one of the most helpful and reliable friends and teachers I know, I gladly scooped her 9pm and she informed me her friend Bekah was teaching the 12am class. My very-much-a-morning-person brain immediately thought, who is this super hero, Bekah?! I soon learned of and got to experience Bekah's unique ability to combine alignment based instruction with a consistent focus on presence and body/spacial awareness. I'm thrilled she will be sharing and teaching at Humble Haven.  Come practice with her on Wednesday evenings in Vin/Yin 8-9pm and read more about her below. 

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why? 

I love teaching alignment-based restorative classes. We rarely take the time to slow down and tune in and I love that restorative classes give people the tools to calm the nervous system, quiet the mind and gently and safely move the body.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching? 

I felt this inner tug to start teaching yoga. I remember sharing that feeling with my sister as sort of a secret desire. I went through some major life changes that were really emotionally challenging and thought, now is the time to do this for myself. Teacher training was a two year process of transformation, healing, and learning that self love isn't selfish. I love teaching because it allows me to share the tools yoga has to offer help us live our lives more fully, compassionately, and with love.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say? 

Calming, mindful, empowering.

What’s your favorite yoga pose? 

I love trikonasana!

What do you like to do around Richmond?

I love spending time on the river with my boyfriend and our two dogs, treating myself to a dirty chai at Blackhand coffee, and playing music with friends.

What’s your favorite food? 

Sweet potato anything.

Tea or Coffee? 

I wish the answer was tea, but it's coffee.

Favorite quote? 

This quote encapsulates what I am trying to do through yoga and mindfulness practices. "Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me at my making." -- George Appleton 

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga? 

I'm excited by the opportunity to meet and work with new students and to offer alignment-based vin/yin and mindfulness classes in a hot power studio setting.

What’s your favorite song to practice to? 

I actually prefer to practice in silence! But if I had to choose one it would probably be Om Arya Sumati Dharma Dhara Hūṃ by Osel.

 

 

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Community Update: Meet Gina Settimio

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Community Update: Meet Gina Settimio

The first time I met Gina, we were sitting at a table at En Su Boca among mutual friends swapping stories how each of us was connected and how we got to that particular moment of meeting.  It was in this first conversation that I learned of Gina's love for hot power yoga.  Since moving to Richmond, Gina had yet to find a yoga home.  It was spring of 2015 and I was hunting for a potential space to open Humble Haven. When I shared the vision and offering for the studio, Gina was my first big supporter of a downtown location.  A downtown resident herself, she saw a need for a heated practice space.  Luckily, for us both, the stars aligned on Humble Haven's current location. 

When Humble Haven opened their doors, Gina jumped right in and became a part of our work exchange program, learning the ins and outs of the studio.  After strengthening her practice and presence in the community for the first year, Gina joined our first 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. Gina is a powerful presence in and out of the studio.  She has become an integral part of our Humble Haven family.  Practice with her on Tuesdays at 6pm while she steps in for Rachel North and read more about Gina below.   

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

Hot power.  Baptiste style is what my 200hr training was focused on.  Watching the fluctuation of energy from class to class is pretty cool.  The same power sequence could be taught in 10 different classes and the challenges, personal victories and the focus of the room will rarely be the same.  The fluidity and personal change going on inside one room is crazy to watch and feel, not to mention the heat of the room preparing the muscles to stretch is clutch.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

After seeing the benefits as well as the challenges yoga had on me both mentally and physically, I wanted more.  When the teacher training program was announced it just made sense to sign up, like the obvious next step.  I think the decision to not only do the training but wanting to teach had a lot to do with timing as well as Humble Haven being such a supportive/rad place filled with so many knowledgeable and down to earth teachers.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Just be here.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Currently, Ragdoll – the tension release in the neck is incredible.

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Listen to live music, river activities, eat at all of the amazing restaurants and attend open houses.  Richmond has so many unique neighborhoods that open houses are a fun way to check out (and dream about) the different architecture and character that adds to why Richmond is so awesome. 

What’s your favorite food?

Caprese with balsamic.

Tea or Coffee?

Hot Chocolate, always.  Tea when I’m sick and coffee on hard days

Favorite quote?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”  – Plato

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

Humble Haven has a such special place in my heart, the energy is electric and the feeling of happiness is contagious when you step inside the space.  I’m somewhat in shock and honored that I get to experience the studio not only as a forever student, but also as a teacher alongside so many individuals I admire. 

What’s your favorite song to practice to? 

Anything, Head and the Heart.

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Community Update: Meet Jennie Ray Hart

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Community Update: Meet Jennie Ray Hart

I had the pleasure of getting to know Jennie Ray soon after we opened our doors at the beginning of 2016 and she has been gracing us with her supportive, fun-loving, strong presence ever since.  If you have practiced in one of our early evening classes or Saturday morning, you have probably practiced alongside Jennie.  Her dedication to being a student of yoga is noticeable and her dedication as a teacher is no different. Jennie has completed two 200-hour teaching certifications and is well versed in Vinyasa, Power Vinyasa, and Restorative practices.  We are excited to have her join our team of teachers where she can continue to share her thirst for learning from both her fellow teachers and students.  Read more about Jennie below and practice with her on Monday evenings during Warm Power Basics, 8-9pm.

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

Vinyasa flow and Power. I love movement with breath.  It’s like a dance.  The Power practice allows us to dedicate the merit of our strong energetic efforts toward something or someone. Meeting that “edge” with all that we have, helps us be all that we are and at peace with all that we do.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?  

The practice of yoga is more than the mat work for me.  Teaching is a deeper way to “live” my yoga.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Nurture the alignment!

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Tadasana/Mountain...the pose from which all others are formed.

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Walk my Whoodle, Rayven, and listen to live jazz whenever and wherever I can.

What’s your favorite food?

Anything from Kim Baker’s cookbook Workin’ it in the Kitchen

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favorite quote?

“Never draw conclusions that can’t be changed” E. Zaller

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

HHY is my yoga home.  I am looking forward to giving to others what has been given to me; Space to grow.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

The sound of my Ujjayi breath!

 

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Community Update: Meet Melanie Tran

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Community Update: Meet Melanie Tran

Melanie Tran has been a member of the Humble Haven community since we first opened and a supporter of Humble Haven from even before then.  Melanie and Suzanne met in Arlington, Va while Melanie was practicing at a studio where Suzanne first started teaching.  The stars aligned when they both realized that they would be relocating to Richmond and could continue their yoga journey together .  Melanie has been a friendly face at the studio, helping us keep it all together during the busy evening rush for the past 18 months.  Join her on Sundays at 11:30am as she steps inside the classroom as one of our newest teachers.  

Learn more about Melanie below and come practice with her Sundays at 11:30, Hot Power with Music. 

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

Power – I love that it offers balance in the mental vs. physical and edge vs. ease and non-attachment to the past or future with a focus on the present.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

I wanted to be able to share how life-changing yoga was to me with others. The lessons learned in your practice 100% align with lessons that can be applied in life.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Direct yet supportive

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Trikonasana/Triangle pose – that side body stretch is EVERYTHING when you’re sitting at a desk all day.

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Eat at all the restaurants, drink all the coffee, visit all the craft breweries, and frolic around river!

What’s your favorite food?

That’s a tough question…I can’t name one favorite food but I love any dish that masters the perfect umami flavor.

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee all the way – French pressed black coffee (I love trying locally roasted beans) or an almond milk dirty chai from Black Hand.

Favorite quote?

“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it”

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

The energy of the community and sense of openness at Humble Haven is so unique and refreshing and the fact that I get to be a part of that is such an honor.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

Right now – I love practicing to anything by Odezsa.

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Guest Teacher: Meet Justin Blazejewski

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Guest Teacher: Meet Justin Blazejewski

We are so honored and excited to host guest teacher Justin Blazejewski at Humble Haven Yoga for three awesome events! Justin will be in studio the second weekend in July for ARToga (a fun fusion of painting and yoga), Yoga Nidra (a deeply relaxing meditative practice), and VEToga (a donation based practice to raise awareness and funds for Justin's nonprofit providing healing arts to veterans). Read all about Justin's journey below and learn more about the classes he's hosting at Humble Haven!

Justin’s introduction to yoga began in 2007 while he was searching for different exercises that would help with a back injury he sustained while serving in the Marine Corps. Soon after his first class he dove into a daily yoga practice, quickly realizing the physical benefits of yoga when his back pain began to disappear after only a couple of weeks.

Justin was in his 4th year of monthly travel to Afghanistan and Iraq as a government contractor when he devoted himself to a daily yoga practice.  Over the last 10 years he served as a communication engineer with a total of 41 temporary duty assignments.  After years of constant travel, Justin realized the effects of the war zone were taking their toll, but he also noticed how the benefits of yoga were offsetting these effects.

During the first year of his yoga practice he observed how yoga helped heal the physical, mental and emotional burdens he carried traveling in and out of war zones.  In 2008 he attended his first yoga/kirtan retreat in Bali, Indonesia, which proved to be the turning point in his spiritual practice. Soon after, Justin began to find clarity, calmness and intuition in his life. This led him to find his Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra at a small humble yoga studio in the heart of NYC. He immediately enrolled in the "DMY Life of a Yogi" teacher training to solely deepen his practice of yoga and self-healing. After graduating from the 200 hour teacher training program, Justin immediately realized he was given a gift. A gift he could share with those around him, especially those who were carrying similar burdens of war. Since 2008 he has completed his 200, 500, and 800 hour Dharma Mittra Yoga, Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra, and Acro Yoga teacher trainings.

His mission is to help others and share the powerful healing benefits of yoga and meditation. He strives to share yoga to those who need it most in life, especially his brothers and sisters of the armed services and veterans who still carry the encumbrance of war with them every day.

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Guest Teacher: Meet Atticus Mooney

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Guest Teacher: Meet Atticus Mooney

We are so excited to introduce our next guest teacher, Atticus Mooney. This radiant beam of light will be visiting Humble Haven on June 16 to lead a Sound Healing Workshop. Atticus curated this workshop to heighten your awareness, restore your energetic balance, and rejuvenate your state of being on a cellular level via a 60 minute asana class followed by a 60 minute soothing and meditative sound bath.

Atticus believes magic lies within the grey area of transitions and unknowns that propels us into transcendent opportunities for self-reflection, connection and growth. Movement and sound are her portals to spirit; as a formally trained dancer, an intuitive and yoga teacher she synthesizes her understanding of form and appreciation of the formless to curate transformational events. As a 500-hour RYT she facilitates yoga classes and yoga teacher trainings internationally; she has taught for the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center and US Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC. She is the visionary founder of bhAva, a community organization that aims to promote conscious connection with substance-free dance parties, Mayan cacao ceremonies and sound healing meditations. Additionally, she is the founder and producer of Ecstatic Dance DC and Baltimore, chapters in a global network of free form conscious dance communities. No matter the form or place, she continues to to be amazed by the power of the human body and spirit. 

The workshop she is bringing to Humble Haven is open to all levels of asana and meditation experience. Crystal singing bowls, which correlate with the chakra meridians in the body, are utilized to guide participants on a deep aural journey.

We are so excited to host her and attend this workshop ourselves! Let's spend the evening together feeling electric and radiant.

Read her full bio below and reserve your space now! 

 

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Community Update: Meet Lindsey Patton

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Community Update: Meet Lindsey Patton

The first time I had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey, I instantly felt happier. Her energy and presence is so bright and upbeat that it's impossible to walk away without some of that rubbing off. After spending a bit more time with Lindsey, I have witnessed that bright light shine in her teaching and in her own practice. She is truly a passionate student of yoga and enthusiastic about sharing her teachings. Within her classes, that brightness shows up in her encouraging words and her excitement shows up in the form of arm balances and inversions. Best of all, that is all balanced with a grounded energy and warm spirit (both from Lindsey and her sequencing).

We are very excited to warmly welcome Lindsey to the Humble Haven team! You can practice with her every Monday evening from 6:45-7:45pm for Warm Vinyasa 2!

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

Vinyasa, with an emphasis on breaking down inversions and arm balances.  I like to guide students through a nice flow to connect movement with breath, then challenge them to explore options outside of their comfort zones.  Inversions are scary for everyone when first exploring the sensation of being upside down.  I enjoy breaking down this fear barrier and making inversions safe and accessible for all shapes and sizes. 

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

I’ve always had a lot of respect for my teachers who helped me develop my practice and get to where I am now.  After becoming a Health & Wellness Coach in 2016, I realized my love for yoga and helping others would pair nicely with my new career path.  Timing met opportunity for me to complete my teacher training earlier this year and to pursue my desire to teach others.  

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Let’s get upside-down

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Pincha Mayurasana AKA Forearm Balance

What do you like to do around Richmond?

I enjoy trying new local restaurants, going to concerts, and boating on the James River.  

What’s your favorite food?

I love Japanese food.  I can’t ever turn down sushi or fried rice.

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favorite quote?

“Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity. Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt.” — Jon Gordon, The Energy Bus

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

I love the staff, students, and styles of yoga offered at Humble Haven, and how I immediately felt welcome. The studio schedule offers a great balance of power and restorative classes, allowing each student the privilege of giving his or her body what it needs.  I am so excited and thankful to begin my teaching journey at Humble Haven!

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

Gooey — 

When can you practice with Lindsey?

Mondays @ 6:45pm

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Community Update:  Meet Amy Walter

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Community Update: Meet Amy Walter

Joining Humble Haven in April 2017 to lead the workshop and YTT training course, Basic Anatomy for Yoga Teachers, Amy Walter comes to Richmond for the Northern Virginia / DC area with a wealth of knowledge to share. Read on to learn more about Amy, her background, and why you should take advantage of her being in Richmond April 8 & 9.  

Amy Walter is a vinyasa yoga instructor, a specialist in the muscular system, and a yoga anatomy instructor.  Amy’s passion about how the human body moves is contagious.  Her anatomy workshops for yoga teachers and students are dynamic interactive explorations of how the body moves and works in asana. She teaches with an appreciation for the diversity and individuality of each human body and how, with the proper modification, anyone can practice and benefit from yoga.

Amy has worked as a specialist in the muscular system since 1995. She began as a personal trainer and became a Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) Specialist in 2003.  MAT addresses joint mobility limitations by improving muscular function via highly specific isometric exercise. Amy has practiced yoga for over 20 years. She was inspired to teach after taking a power yoga podcast from Philip Urso in 2009.  Power vinyasa yoga spoke to her, but the thought of teaching was way outside her comfort zone.  In spite of her fear she followed her intuition and completed a 200-hour registered yoga teacher certification in 2011.  She is now completely certain she has found her calling.

Amy’s extensive training in the muscular system and biomechanics comes from a number of exercise physiologists and physical therapists including Greg Roskopf, Gary Gray, Dr. David Tiberio, and Tom Purvis.  Amy conducted a complete cadaver dissection under the supervision and instruction of Gil Hedley in March of 2015. She is a 500-hour registered yoga teacher (RYT 500) and an Experienced-RYT 200. She has completed Level 1 and Level 2 Yoga Bootcamps under Baron Baptiste, yoga anatomy training with Ray Long and multiple advanced teacher trainings with Deborah Williamson, Philip Urso and Stacy Dockins.  She currently teaches in Northern Virginia.

Credentials and Trainings: 

  • RYT 200, 2011
  • ERYT 200, 2013
  • ERYT 500, 2015
  • Cadaver Anatomy 2003, 2004, 2015
  • Baptiste Level 1 Bootcamp, 2010
  • Baptiste Level 2 Bootcamp, 2011
  • Certified Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist, 2003-present
  • Resistance Training Specialist Program, 2003
  • Fellow, Gray Institute for Functional Training, 2007

She has studied under Ray Long, MD, Gary Gray, PT, Greg Roskopf, MS, ExSc, Baron Baptiste, Philip Urso, Deb Williamson, Stacy Dockins, Paula Baake, and Tom Purvis, PT

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LINC - Philip & Areatha's Story

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LINC - Philip & Areatha's Story

To ignite the celebration of community surrounding FlowFest, we are offering donation based classes the entire week before FlowFest (starting 06/20). All money raised will be donated to LINC, a Richmond based non-profit dedicated to helping cancer patients, survivors, and their families with the business side of cancer.  Please join us for any of the donation classes next week in support of this wonderful organization (you are welcome to donate whatever you are able, no maximum or minimum). Below is Keith's story, one example of the tremendous gift that LINC offers.

 Phillip’s daughter, Areatha was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the young age of 31. Areatha was strong and brave, but she knew her life was coming to an end, and she turned to LINC to draft life-planning documents and to make arrangements for the custody of her 6-year-old daughter, Myana. Myana’s biological father was completely absent from her life, had a violent criminal history, and didn’t have a permanent address.

 During Areatha’s illness, it was Phillip who took Myana to school, made sure she did her homework, and tucked her in at night. Areatha knew that he was her best option to provide Myana with a stable and loving home in her absence. Aretha’s biggest concern as she battled her cancer was Myana’s well-being, so she talked to Myana’s father, and they all agreed that after Areatha passed, Phillip would file for full custody and Myana’s father would sign a consent form. It was a tragedy that a bright and happy little girl would grow up without a mother, but the biological father’s agreement to allow Myana to remain in the care and custody of her grandfather provided peace of mind to the family prior to Areatha’s passing. 

However, just days after Areatha lost her battle with cancer and Phillip and Myana were consumed with grief, Phillip was shocked to find out that Myana’s father had filed for custody.  All of a sudden, they were embroiled in a difficult custody battle. With nowhere else to turn, Phillip called LINC even though we usually do not get involved in contested custody battles.  Because we knew this family, we felt strongly that we had to get involved to make sure that Phillip’s relationship with and ability to care for Myana were accurately portrayed to the court. LINC knew that Myana’s best interests would be served if Phillip had an advocate to help him through the custody process. 

Because Phillip couldn’t afford a lawyer and didn’t know the first thing about fighting for custody as a third party, LINC put a call out to our network of talented attorneys to find someone to take on the case. Within a few hours of sending out the request, we found an attorney who was willing to take the case. That attorney put in the many long hours of work it took to prove Myana’s father an unfit guardian, all pro bono. 

We are proud to say that Phillip won the custody battle, and Myana is safely and happily in the care of her loving grandfather. Areatha, Phillip, and Myana didn’t have to fight this battle alone thanks to LINC and our network of attorneys, and we will be here to make sure that the next family doesn’t have to either. 

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LINC - Keith’s Story

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LINC - Keith’s Story

To ignite the celebration of community surrounding FlowFest, we are offering donation based classes the entire week before FlowFest (starting 06/20). All money raised will be donated to LINC, a Richmond based non-profit dedicated to helping cancer patients, survivors, and their families with the business side of cancer. Please join us for any of the donation classes next week in support of this wonderful organization (you are welcome to donate whatever you are able, no maximum or minimum). Below is Keith's story, one example of the tremendous gift that LINC offers. 

 Keith contacted LINC for help with several legal issues in preparation for an upcoming surgery to remove cancer from his left leg. Client Services attorney Cris Gantz drafted his life planning documents and advised him on employment and family law issues to ensure his affairs were in order.

After receiving an update from his doctor about his treatment options, Mr. Chantree made the brave decision to have his leg amputated from the knee down to remove his cancer. Prior to being diagnosed, Keith worked a physically demanding job and needed a special type of prosthetic to return to work which would cost over $30,000 out of pocket.

Keith’s insurance denied coverage of all three parts of his prosthetic telling him that he could use crutches for the rest of his life to achieve mobility. He was distraught and needed some guidance to appeal the decision. He called LINC for help and Cris referred him out to The Virginia Bureau of Insurance who was able to advise him on the process and prepare for his appeal and negotiations with his employer.

Keith completed his appeal and successfully got his insurance plan to cover 100% of the cost. The provider will get reimbursed for the prosthetic and the client saved $30,000; Keith can return to his old job and continue with the same earning potential as before his diagnosis.

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Mindfulness:  An Appreciation of Being

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Mindfulness: An Appreciation of Being

Many of us tend to go about our day on autopilot, acting unconsciously or habitually without awareness of what we are doing or why. We just react. Our energy is invested in fixating on the past or focusing on the future, skipping right over our current state of being. We may try to dodge our emotions, avoiding the time and space needed to feel and experience what's going on in our bodies. To just be in our own bodies. 

Because don't we already have too many things to worry about? With our minds already so full, how do we even find time to be mindful? 

I prefer to call mindfulness a way of being. An appreciation for whatever state we happen to be in, without attachments, labels or judgments. That allows for much more leverage in what we're actually experiencing, so that those feelings that we typically try to dodge-- the doubts, fears, confusions, guilt, shame, etcetera – have purpose and meaning in our lives. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being caught up in those moments of discomfort; for it’s in the time of discomfort that we find comfort, when we acknowledge exactly what we’re feeling and why so that we can release it. 

In yoga, our breath is the foundation for a mindful practice. It allows us to slow everything down in the brain in order to create space between thoughts and actions. It helps us to practice patience in transition and stay in the flow. A mindful practice does not fixate on a certain destination. It's an exploration through movement and breath where we get to venture into the workings of our minds -- the sensations, thoughts and emotions. More dance, less straitjacket.  


Of course we will wobble and stumble and fall completely out at times, but if we have that breath – that mindfulness – as our anchor and stability, then we can move through this dance that allows us to be okay with whatever comes up along the way. We may surprise ourselves, finding moments where we notice changes in our bodies or a deepening in our practice. Maybe a pose on one side of our body feels completely different on the other, and that’s okay. Maybe we nailed a posture yesterday but can’t quite get there today. And that’s okay, too. Whatever happened five minutes ago or whatever will happen five minutes from now does not matter. It's where we are right in this very moment that matters most. 


Mindfulness doesn’t strive to look or be a certain way, nor should we. If you are frustrated, be frustrated. If you are ecstatic, be ecstatic. Let the mind ebb and flow, just like your practice. Yesterday, you were where you were supposed to be. Tomorrow, you will be where you’re supposed to be. And in this very moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. 
Breathe, feel and appreciate it all.


Inhale, exhale.  Inhale, exhale.

 

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Original State

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Original State

About an hour into a conversation about restoration someone asked, “well wait…what IS restoration?”. After a lengthy pause, the elicited answers came up quite interesting and diverse. Some instantly associated restoration with sleeping while others associated it with exercising. Some needed alone time while others cited quality conversation and connection. Many in the group agreed that those simple, daily reminders helped keep them restored - like drinking plenty of water or maintaining good posture. Throughout the investigation into restoration it became clear that there wasn’t one simple answer. And not all the answers rang true for everyone. 

 By definition, restoration is the act or process of returning something to its original condition. As a sentient, modern, and adult human being, this may seem like a daunting and laughable task. How do we possibility return ourselves to our original condition? And what does that mean? Is our original condition simply infancy or childhood? Or is our original condition that happy, peaceful place we were before life happened? Whichever it is, consider it. Consider your original condition. Void of heavy thoughts or responsibilities. Finding joy and excitement in the tiniest things. Behaving entirely free, without focus or worry about what you look like or how you are perceived. Focused on finding the good. How now, with responsibilities and expectations and the buildup of life, do we return ourselves to that place? With the newness of life worn off, how to find wonder again in it?

 It is undeniable that the longest relationship of your life will be with yourself. And just like every relationship, the one with self deserves and needs to be cared for and nurtured. Spending time in restoration allows you the opportunity to nurture yourself. To hear your own thoughts. To appreciate your own subtleties. To help restore your energy. To help reshape your relationship to everything. 

 Instead of hustling and worrying so hard that you need a weeklong vacation to turn off and reboot, what if you took 10 minutes of everyday to do something restorative. Or approached every situation from a calmer, more balanced place? Answer that original question for yourself - what is restorative for you? And how to you infuse more of that into your life?

 Try a group activity where there is little to no chatter, like a yoga or meditation class. Take a restorative yoga class. Take walks by yourself. Go grocery shopping with headphones in and mellow music playing. Read a book at a coffee shop you have never been to before. Exercise. Have your own private dance party.

 Make your home a sanctuary. Create a space that feels clean, clear, inspiring, cozy, and fresh. So that when you come home from your responsibilities and obligations, you come home to a haven, a place of happiness and peace.

 When alone by default, whether in the bathroom or on your commute, avoid your phone. Resist the urge to call or text someone or check social media. Pamper yourself in a lengthy bath with nourishing scrubs or oils. Journey into nature. Journal. Breath.

In any of these occasions, allow yourself to be fully present. Steep yourself fully in whatever you have chosen as your restorative practice. Sit with yourself through any silence, through any stillness. Be fully immersed in yourself, no matter how silly or awkward it may feel. Breathe into your renewal. You just may find yourself seeing the newness and joy once again.

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Equanimity

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Equanimity

We create balance in our lives for ourselves.  We cannot stumble upon balance – it’s counterintuitive.  Sometimes, we wish we could though – right? Isn’t that why, to some extent, we drag ourselves on our yoga mats – to find some semblance of balance?  If we just allow ourselves to breathe - all our stress, muscular tension, emotional baggage –it will drop away?

We enter our yoga practice full of hope and, yes – maybe a bit of expectation – to feel better, breathe deeper, become more present.  We want to find the gems that are promised through a daily yoga practice, but how often does this feel like some kind of quest?  While we seek to find balance, we come up against stuff that holds us back.  Perhaps it’s your mind telling you a story about your experience.  Maybe, you experience physical sensations that make you uncomfortable.  There’s always that person next to you that is doing something “better” and you spiral away from the strength of your practice and end up feeling less than.  What happened to our balance?

Baptiste Yoga defines equanimity as “meeting life as it meets you, calmly – without drama or fuss.” 

So, the stuff that comes up in our practice – we breathe into that.  The stories that float around in our minds – we watch them and say, “hello.”  With every exhalation, we let part of the story go.  When you experience intense physical sensations, can you be with that; maintain an even temper with your steady ujayii breath?  When you begin to witness your internal dialogue compare to another yogi in the room, can you bring your attention back to your essence; your strength to be present with those feelings and emotions and cultivate the power from within, to appreciate the unique experience you are having in your own body?

We practice meeting ourselves on our mat so that we can cultivate an awareness of ourselves that translates to the circumstances of our lives in the real world.  We might begin to notice how we feed uncomfortable feelings that surface off of the mat.  Instead of acting on a craving, we stay. We work to understand the information the craving acknowledges rather than reacting, and we begin to weather the storm. We try, again and again.

Equanimity is the strength to see ourselves for who we truly are at our core, stripped away from the moment to moment.  In every experience, we learn that we ultimately meet ourselves. When we realize this truth, we set ourselves free.  When you trust you are unwavering in your essence, you can face every circumstance head on.  You have unlimited space in this world to be 110% you.  

How do we create balance?  It begins and ends with our breath - both on and off the mat.

Photo Credit: Wanderlust Photography

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Presently Pissed:  An Uncomfortable Journey to the Now

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Presently Pissed: An Uncomfortable Journey to the Now

"When you surrender to what is and become so fully present, the past ceases to have any power. The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you, an unfathomable sense of peace. And within that peace there is great joy. And within that joy there is love. And at the innermost core there is the sacred, the immeasurable, That which cannot be named." – Eckhart Tolle

I was first introduced to yoga as I imagine many of us were, through the physical practice, the asana.  As I moved my body to create the shapes being described by my guides, my teachers, I listened to them speak of being present and, often as my physical practice goes, I responded to their words with my own internal dialogue. Their words "be here now" playing to the beat of my breath and my thoughts of what was presently happening playing back in my mind.  

Our mind is a beautiful instrument designed to think, analyze, wander, and dream, but it is not always the best for guiding.  Several years after beginning my yoga journey I was attending my second training with teacher Sonia Sumar and Yoga for the Special Child.  We began each day with Sadhana, a morning practice involving meditation, chanting, and asana.  It was towards the end of our week together when we sat in meditation for about 45 minutes.  As I moved through the asana practice that followed I found myself overcome with feelings of agitation,  even anger.  

My day had begun like any other day that week.  Rising before the sun, a quiet walk through Brooklyn while the city that never sleeps was seemingly at a standstill, a subway ride to Manhattan filled with my favorite music ringing through my headphones, and morning Sadhana.  I had arrived on my mat grateful for the opportunity to be a student for another day, to practice a discipline that I loved.  The uncomfortable feelings that arose during my meditation stayed with me throughout the day and when our time was up, I may have very well looked like one of those cartoon characters with a cloud of dust behind scampering feet.  I was out. Gone. In a full speed soul sprint towards anywhere but there with the emotional and mental discomfort. 

I walked through the streets of Greenwich village thankful to be done with the day.  I walked to meet my sisters and mom who were visiting. As we walked the High Line together I deflected.  I was agitated because I was tired, because I disagreed with the material we covered that day, because I was throwing darts at an empty wall of explanation for the feelings that had come up.  The longer I walked, the longer I talked, the more I deflected, the more I removed myself from that situation, and the better I thought I was feeling. 

The next day I woke up feeling completely different, like I had never been agitated or angry at all.  There's something about a new day's sun that can have that effect on your world.  I walked through a quiet Brooklyn, I hopped the subway, I arrived in the studio, I took my seat on my mat, I began my Sadhana.  During our group discussion that followed I shared my experience from the day before. I told Sonia and my fellow yogis about my feelings, but reassured them, and myself, that I felt totally fine today! I must have figured it all out! 

Sonia, looked at me soulfully as only someone who has practiced the discipline of yoga for so many years can and said, " don't just say 'now everything is fine'." She went on to explain and encourage us to sit with those uncomfortable feelings, to explore them.  When we run from them, we are never really giving ourselves the opportunity to let them go.   

I truly believe that the practice of that week, and particularly that morning, had led me to an opportunity to be truly and fully present.  As Eckhart Tolle's words read, a moment of great stillness, of unfathomable peace was rising within me. To reach those moments of peace, of great joy, of tapping into something sacred at our core, we often have to travel through feelings of discomfort.  We have to move past moments of hardship that we pushed down deep and take the opportunity to confront those feelings and finally move past, completely letting go.  

The practice of being present can begin by simply dropping the to do list of your day, of ceasing to create the grocery list for your errand on the way home.  Practice this over and over and over until the internal dialogue begins to quiet and when you encounter something deeper, something fuller, and something possibly uncomfortable, don't run from it.  Stay. Sit with it.  You are being given the gift of finally letting the past be the past to be fully joyful in the present.  

 

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Community Update: Meet Shannon Harrison

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Community Update: Meet Shannon Harrison

You know when someone walks into a room and you can instantly feel their presence? Yeah, Shannon Harrison has that vibe about her.  Shannon first graced Humble Haven with her presence when she came in to take one of our evening power classes.  She instantly greeted everyone around her with a wide smile and, if you were lucky, a warm hug.  

It was on her second visit that I got to chat with Shannon and learn a little more about her and by her third visit I felt like I have known her for years.  Shannon took her first yoga class when she was 15 and began her journey as a teacher last winter, completing her 200 hour training with YogaWorks in February 2015.  Shannon will be joining Humble Haven on Saturdays for Warm Vinyasa, 12pm-1pm. Come flow with her and keep reading to learn more about this fabulous woman.  

Q: What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

A: My favorite style of class to teach is whatever the students ask for because I like providing what is essential to them for that day.

Q: What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

A: I wanted to share what l've learned because of how it has positively impacted my life.

Q: lf you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

A: lnstinctively (naturally) being (the essence of a person)

Q: What's your favorite yoga pose?

A: Urdhva Dhanurasana

Q: What do you like to do around Richmond?

A: Ride my bike and take trailwalks by the river

Q: What's your favorite food?

A: Broccoli

Q: Tea or Coffee?

A: Momings are coffee, straight up, strong and black. Afternoons are herlcal tea times.

Q: Favorite quote:

A: "l am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may leam how to do it."- Pablo Picasso

Q: Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

A: The energy is positive, the atmosphere is inviting and l'm blessed to join such an incredibly authentic community.

Q: What's your favorite song to practice to?

A: Let's Be Still by The Head and the Heart

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Community Update: Meet Mina Vucic

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Community Update: Meet Mina Vucic

A collegiate athlete, Mina Vucic tried her hand at yoga to explore a new form of exercise to build strength and flexibility.  The strong physical practice of power yoga also gave Mina insight into a new way of living.  When you take Mina's class you are immediately aware of her extensive knowledge of the physical form. She offers distinctively accurate cues to assist in aligning the body in a safe and effective way.  You will also find yourself laughing throughout the class as Mina exudes an upbeat, light energy that is encouraging and empowering at the same time.  We are so lucky to have Mina join us at Humble Haven!  Learn a little more about her as you continue reading.  

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why? 

Power yoga. It was the first style of yoga I tried and the physicality and flow of the practice immediately hooked me. It always leaves me feeling rinsed and renewed. I want my students to feel that too. 

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching? 

Yoga transformed my body in a powerful way after being a swimmer my whole life. I was able to maintain strength but also feel at ease in my body. I became passionate about introducing yoga to athletes and people who have never experienced it. Yoga is such amazing complement to any other form of physical activity. It will help you with what you love, whether it's swimming, cross fit, marathon running, etc. for longer! 

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say? 

Body alignment.

What’s your favorite yoga pose? 

Any variation of pigeon. My hips need the love!

What do you like to do around Richmond? 

Explore new neighborhoods. Right now it's Church Hill. Richmond may be small but each area has its own unique vibe and amazing restaurants are always popping up left and right. I can't keep up!

What’s your favorite food? 

Eggs any style. I love breakfast. 

Tea or Coffee?

I'm a bit of a coffee snob, so definitely coffee. Lately I've also been into bedtime tea.

Favorite quote?

Be humble for you are made of earth, be noble for you are made of stars. - Serbian proverb 

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga? 

I love the energy in the studio and I'm excited to be a part of it.  I feel like Humble Haven is investing roots into the RVA community, and that's one of the most important things for me. I can't wait to see what lies ahead! 

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

I like silence when I practice. It's one of the few times in my day when I get it. 

When can you practice with Mina? 

Fridays at 5:30pm and select Sundays at 4pm

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Community Update: Meet Elizabeth Sobka

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Community Update: Meet Elizabeth Sobka

I was fortunate to meet Elizabeth when she attended one of my classes at the studio.  Her presence in the yoga room is a powerful one that delivers a cool, calm energy all at the same time.  When I realized Elizabeth was a fellow teacher, I couldn't wait to take her class and her ability to hold space as a leader is so natural while her cues and sequencing are a reflection of her own exploration as a student.  

No stranger to the Richmond yoga community, Elizabeth has been teaching throughout the area for the past several years.  We are lucky to have join us! Read on to learn more about Elizabeth and then grab your mat and get to her class.  

What is your favorite style of class to teach and why?

I fell in love with yoga by way of the Baptiste sequence, so I always start there. I like to go beyond that sequence and infuse the practice with other styles of yoga – Vinyasa, Yin, Ashtanga – whenever possible without disrupting the flow. The most important piece is flow.

What made you want to go beyond just practicing yoga and start teaching?

When I find something that impacts my life in a positive way, it’s impossible for me not to share it. That goes for anything – kombucha, fish oil, an amazing massage therapist, you name it. Yoga has had possibly the greatest impact on my life to date, it was a no brainer to start teaching and share that goodness with my community.

If you had to describe your teaching style in 3 words or less, what would you say?

Slow, fast, slow.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

Child’s Pose. I’ve had some profound moments there.

What do you like to do around Richmond?

Walk. I’ve lived in the Fan for 9 years and love how easy it is to walk almost everywhere I need to go – even if I don’t always take the option. I’m a beach person, so I never thought the river was something to get excited about, but recently that’s won me over too.

What’s your favorite food?

Bacon, eggs, and buckwheat pancakes from The Daily. I love breakfast.

Tea or Coffee?

Before 10am, coffee – always black. Afternoon is tea time.

Favorite quote?

“The prize is in the process.”  - Baptiste

Why are you excited to teach at Humble Haven Yoga?

The other teachers! I’m cannot wait to try out everyone’s classes – especially Restorative.

What’s your favorite song to practice to?

“The Lime Tree” by Trevor Hall has been a playlist staple for years. It does that slow-fast-slow thing – it’s like you can fit a whole practice into one song if you only had 4 minutes.  

When can you practice with Elizabeth? 

Tuesdays, 4:45pm-5:45pm

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