on the mat: Prana Shakti ParaYoga Master Training at Flying Dog Ranch

Following my Instagram last week got you another round of vegetarian meals, yoga mats and training manuals shots. It could only mean one thing: I was off at another ParaYoga master yoga training session — this one in Carbondale, Colorado.

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My yoga-teaching partner-in-crime, Kevin (pictured in the last photo in the collage above), joined me for another adventure out West. I had never spent much time in the state (other than a layover at the Denver airport), but I can now say that Colorado didn’t disappoint.

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 Our rental outfitted with our own ranch and horses. Best homeaway.com property ever.

So while we enjoyed all that the valley near Aspen had to offer, we had work to do. The 5-day “Prana Shakti” Intensive lead by ParaYoga’s founder, master teacher Rod Stryker, was just as stimulating, inspiring and educational as the other sessions I’ve experienced. (He is the same teacher who lead The Four Desires immersion we attended in Cincinnatti in September 2013 and the Tantra Shakti master training we attended in California this April.)

The intensive description from the ParaYoga website: “Prana is the force of life. In yoga it is everything essential. Without its grace, transformation would literally be impossible. The science of Prana (Prana Vidya) is the knowledge of awakening the fullest potential of yoga and life.“ 

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The time spent at the Flying Dog Ranch (pictured above – from my IG) were more than just a “yoga retreat” even though it might sound like one: every morning started off with some sort of grounding practice (meditation and/or chanting mostly), followed by a lecture then an extended practice with asana, pranayama (breath work) and meditation.  Our lunch break — which was catered by Rod’s wife’s catering company — was filled with some of the best vegetarian meals a yogi could hope for, plus plenty of opportunity to connect with the rest of the ParaYoga community members (something I greatly appreciated and felt a tad bit lacking during our visit to Berkeley this spring). We’d then come back for another four or so hours of lectures, group work and more practices for the afternoon. As you could imagine, there was a lot of information to soak in.

Five days and thirty pages of handwritten notes later, I put away my notebook (vowing to bring my MacBook next time), considering all the lessons of what this practice of yoga, tantra and ancient teachings meant for me at this time in my life.

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As you can imagine, it’s hard to figure out which of those many lessons to start with after completing a training like this. You want to come home and implement everything immediately. That awesome sun salutation variation you learned during a kundalini practice. The various ways to manipulate the breath to help move energy. How you can take your rekindled excitement for your own personal practice back to Cleveland with you.  

But to start, the lesson from this training that will be easiest to implement/recommit to was that thought follows energy and energy follows thought.  That would be a #whatyoubelieveyoucreate FTW.  Change your thinking. Change your world. It’s that simple. But first, let me start with Northeastern Ohio. Watch out, Cleveland — I’m coming for ya…

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it’s time for a change (an update on an evolving career)

My yoga practice and teaching path might have started elsewhere, but it made its new home here last twelve months ago.

In the fall of 2012, I returned to full time employment. With going from freelancing back to a full-time job, concern worried me. How would I fit in a regular practice to this 40+ hour a week schedule? But then I got word that Evolution Yoga announced it was reopening  – and in the same plaza as my full time job — it felt like the Universe was opening up to say, “no worries, Alicia — here’s a vinyasa yoga studio and enjoy.”

In October 2013, the studio opened and I had the opportunity to audition to join the teaching staff.  I dove right in, picking up two classes on the regular schedule, trying to learn as much as I could from Sandy, the studio owner, and the other EY teachers. This new community accepted me with open arms as my previous yoga home closed it doors, allowing me to thrive in this new-to-me setting.

The past twelve months have been a journey in understanding myself: as a teacher, as a student, as a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. But in all of it, a few things kept me focused:

  • A deep down desire to serve others.
  • A need to make more space in my life for positive energies.
  • A want for more opportunities to grow my yoga career while utilizing the skills I developed an event planner and community builder.
  • A goal of accepting myself for exactly who I am.

But to do all of that, I had to change. And DRASTICALLY. It was crystal clear that it was time to do what was necessary to achieve what I wanted to become.  And lucky for me, the community surrounding me was there to help make it happen.

This month, I start as the Director of Development for Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space. I’ll be able to use all the skills I’ve learned so far in my professional career to help the business thrive. This new role also gives me the opportunity to grow as a yoga teacher (including adding more classes to my teaching schedule!) – something I’ve dedicated myself to for the past year.  I’m so excited to dig in.

To Sandy and the entire EY community: thank you for welcoming twelve months ago with open arms. You’re all about to get a lot more hugs, savasana assists and playlists filled with John Mayer slow jams.

File this one in the #whatyoubelieveyoucreate folder, kids – sankuplas (and dreams) do come true.

So maybe do me a favor if you haven’t already? Like Evolution Yoga on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @EvoYogaCLE and Instagram at @evolution_yoga. Visit the studio’s website to learn more & check out our MINDBODY page to see the schedule of classes.

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event preview: NEOCycle

Congrats to Jessica E. — you won the Bright Pink FabFest swag bag giveaway. Let me know if you’ll be at this Sunday’s Cleveland FabFest – would love to see into some familiar faces.

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With a recent knee funk (also known as chondromalacia patella - that’s a post for another day), I’ve had a certain Queen song running through my head in the past few weeks:

Enthralled doesn’t explain how happy I was to get in about 9 leisurely miles on Saturday after my PT said it was time to add some of my regular activities back into my routine.

Then I caught a tweet from a friend this morning and realized have I’ve been living under a rock to be just discovering Greater Cleveland Sports Commission’s NEOCycle — taking place this weekend — September 26-28, 2014 — all over Greater Cleveland.

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From the event website, NEOCycle is “an urban cycling festival consisting of competitive races and unique rides, connected by live entertainment and an interactive, action-filled festival at Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie.” 

The event schedule has an array of activities in those three days. Here are some highlights, IMO:

FRIDAY: There’s plenty happening that night at the Cleveland Velodrome, but the 10:30PM race sounds like a ball! There’s also a Velodrome 101 class earlier in the evening — with a beer garden to enjoy inbetween rides as well.

SATURDAY: People, there’s a Night Ride. With 7.5 mile and 15 mile options. And a costume contest. (Perhaps I can borrow Hans’ NASA astronaut costume…) My kind of Saturday night!

SUNDAY: I’m expanding my biking vocabulary by learning what a fondo is. (It’s just basically large group ride from what I can tell.) NEOCycle’s twist on this is the Forest City Fundo. It’s untimed mass ride starting and ending at The Hub at Edgewater Park starting bright and early that morning.

…and these don’t include all the activities at The Hub and the Music Fest with quite line up of musical guests. So grab your two wheel-er, save on some gasoline and ride around CLE with NEOCycle this weekend!

Stay in-the-know: follow NEOCycle on its social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: Logo image from NEOCycle site. I’m sharing this event because of my love of biking — I was not asked to share this information. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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