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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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.

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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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