Category Archives: Yoga

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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on the mat: Believe in CLE practices in downtown Cleveland on The Mall

After a productive day at the office, it was time to kick off the weekend with fun Friday plans. This included a chance to attend another Believe in CLE yoga event — on The Mall between the Public Auditorium and the Cleveland Convention Center.

From the Believe in CLE website: “In partnership with the Land Studio & the AHA! Event, Believe in CLE was invited to light up Cleveland with breath and movement as we flow and glow beneath a sky full of lights! As we come together to celebrate our city, we also give our worldwide guests of the International Gay Games 9, a warm welcome and a giant ommmmmm straight from the heart of CLE.”

Believe in CLE officially began at 7:30 pm with a special speaker, Deputy Chief of Police Ed Tomba. Since I teach til 6:45(ish) on Friday nights, I managed to make it down just in time to pick up my yoga partner-in-crime, Kimberly from Smitten in Cleveland, and power walk it over from our parking garage of choice. We rolled out our mats towards the back of the crowd (note to self: move to the front next time!) and we were ready to flow. Sorry we missed you, Chief!

From there, the vinyasa practice got going just a few minutes before 8:00 pm. Adam Tilocco — a fellow CLE yoga teacher I’ve known since we went through new employee orientation together at lululemon back in 2011 — began the practice, encouraging us to send our three OMs out to the city of C-L-E. Adam’s words set the tone for Tammy Lyons – from Inner Bliss Yoga Studio – to take us on an adventure of down dogs, handstands, crescent lunges and every asana in between!

Photo ℅ @aerialagents’ Instagram feed

At the end of the practice during savasana, my great friend Ylonda Rosenthal-Greene closed the practice by chanting the Ganesha chant. The words ”om gum ganapatayei namaha” are sang with the purpose of removing obstacles. (You may remember it if you joined us back in February at her Hearts on Fire class at lululemon athletica Eton Chagrin.) Instead of laying in savasana, I sat and sang with her — it was the moment of complete connection for me that made the entire practice come together.

After the practice, we played around in the AHA! light show as DJ Rimon played some tunes.

believe in cle pic c

A wheel on the light was bound to happen. #youcanttakemeanywhere

By 9:30ish, we were ready for a bit of refreshment. Unfortunately, there were only a few food trucks that showed up that evening (seriously CLE food truck owners: there is a KILLING to be made with this many yogis ready to chow down – get it together, ha!)  With the long long lines for the trucks, Kimberly and I headed to a spot that never disappoints, Hodge’s Cleveland.

…and with a glass a wine, Hodge’s deviled eggs and a celebrity sighting (hello Lance Bass!), we called it a night — hearts open, energy heightened and the belief that our city could do anything.

Many thanks to Tammy, Adam, Ylonda and the entire Believe in CLE crew for another opportunity to bring more yoga to more Clevelanders. Rumor has it (via the @believeCLE Twitter feed) that the next event is going to be at Quicken Loans Arena this fall. Should be another excellent opportunity to roll out your mat in a new location!

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on the mat: Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga {hosted by Evolution Yoga}

Congrats to Aaron (@AaronPikeCPA on Twitter): you won two tickets to Locavore on August 21st! Didn’t win? Purchase tickets online at the event website.


Next month is my yoga teaching anniversary. With just under two years under my belt, the lessons keep coming — some faster than others. One of the many reasons why I enjoy being a part of the Evolution Yoga team is that owner and studio director Sandy Gross continues her lifelong education of yoga by hosting the best yoga teachers in the world here in Cleveland.

One of those teachers that she’s asked to return several times is Bryan Kest. He is recognized as a creator of Power Yoga. Bryan is the founder of Santa Monica Power Yoga in Santa Monica, but continues to teach classes, retreats and workshops all over the world. Since Bryan was born here in Cleveland, Ohio (someone update his Wikipedia page, please!), he’s always welcome to working in a visit to the Northeastern Ohio area.

This Wednesday night, Bryan made his ninth visit to Evolution Yoga, teaching a room full of 90+ yogis at the Shaker Dance Academy.

Bryan Kest Power Yoga Talk

Starting at 6:45PM, Bryan class ran all the way until 10:20PM. Part lecture and part asana practice, he challenged our thought patterns while keeping us on our toes the entire evening.  If you know anything about Bryan’s teaching style, he’s been known to add some colorful language into his lessons. This is just a collection of some of the quotes from Wednesday’s practice:

  • “Yoga is like a buffet. Eat what you want, don’t eat what you don’t want – and don’t blame the chef if you ate too much!”
  • (after someone let out a fairly long sigh in down dog) “We’ve got a moaner!!”
  • “I’ve been asked, “should you do inversions while you are menstruating?” How the f*ck would I know?!? Ladies, you have some crazy sh*it going on!”

With a name like “power yoga”, you knew exactly what you were getting into in terms of the asana practice. The flows were challenging, inspiring and kept you on your toes – even when you knew what was coming. Bryan told us to consider the class to be a big game of Simon Says – so while I knew we had to still flow the pattern of poses on our opposite side, I remained intensely focused – mostly because I wasn’t sure what was up his sleeve.

Bryan Kest Power Yoga Class

As we moved, Bryan also snuck in a plethora of gems – even with the occasional curse word:

  • “Yoga NEVER tells you what to do. Yoga doesn’t ask you to do anything except to wake the f*ck up.”
  • If you bring your sh*t to yoga (competition, vanity, judgment, reactivity), your yoga turns to sh*t.”

But then there were some that were sans cursing — all golden:

  • “Yoga is not a sport. It is awareness. Meditation is killing the enemy.”
  • “Cultivate the benevolent. Eliminate the malevolent.”
  • And my personal favorite: “Yoga doesn’t want to change you — it wants to take care of you.”

When the words came out of Bryan’s mouth, my eyes looked up from my trusty notebook — the light bulb had appeared over my head. Lately, I’ve been noticing just how hard I am on myself. While fully aware of it, it’s been hard to kick that habit — and to embrace one of being kind — forgiving of myself even.  Bryan encouraged us to drop those habits of negativity, judgement and aggression; noting how much better our lives would be if we could just seek the peace that lived inside us already. That last quote was exactly what I needed to hear that night. It’s been easy to take that lesson with me since — and I’m grateful to him for that.

LONG STORY SHORT: Earlier that night, I joined Sandy as she picked Bryan up before the class. On the car ride there, I could tell by her giddiness that we were all in for a treat. I purposefully came in to the night blindly — not watching any YouTube videos or even reading up all that much about Bryan. I wanted to be surprised by the experience in his class — and he didn’t disappoint. Bryan’s going to be visiting us at Evolution again this coming February, so keep an eye on the Evolution Yoga website. Sign up early — this last session sold out and I’m sure Clevelanders will be back for more Bryan Kest this winter!

Disclosure: I work at Evolution Yoga as a yoga teacher. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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