Be Comfortable with Your Yoga Practice

If you’ve never tried yoga before, starting out can be intimidating and even a little scary. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m too busy. My back bothers me. I’m not flexible enough for yoga. I don’t even know where to begin?” These are all common reasons we hear for why some hesitate to try yoga. But most of the time, these factors are just the result of feeling nervous to start. We’ve developed a class to melt those nerves away! Our Intro to Yoga class will help you become comfortable with the basics of yoga before stepping into the Studio for your first class, so you can feel right at home with your practice.

Intro to Yoga is taught by instructors, Ashley Cloutier and Richard Fabio. They bring warmth, friendliness and comfortability into the classroom along with their teaching experience and knowledge of yoga. In addition, Richard leads the coaching and mentorship program to provide one-on-one support for those looking to explore a yoga practice and find classes and styles to fit their individual needs.

What to Expect

When you attend Intro to Yoga, you’ll learn all about the fundamentals, such as where to put your shoes before you step into class and where to find a mat. You’ll learn about the major styles of yoga, breathing techniques and how to use props to assist your practice. We want you to be educated about yoga so that when you attend your first class, you feel as comfortable as possible.

After class, you’ll have the opportunity to work directly with Intro to Yoga instructor, Richard Fabio to find classes that meet your needs to completely customize your yoga experience. As always, our goal is to help you create a regular, consistent practice so that you feel healthy, strong and enjoy being a part of the yoga community.

Benefits of Yoga

A consistent yoga practice will relax your mind, strengthen your body and nourish your soul. The best part about yoga, is that it’s beneficial for anybody regardless of age.

Better Bone Health: Yoga postures require that you lift your own weight, strengthening both your muscles and bones.

Immunity Boost: In yoga, you’ll contract and stretch muscles, shift organs, and come in and out of yoga postures, which will increase the drainage of lymph (a fluid rich in immune cells). This supports the lymphatic system in fighting infection, destroys cancerous cells and disposes of toxic waste in your body.

Relaxes Your Body: Yoga gives you time to relax, slow your breathing and help you focus on the present. This shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic system allows the body to relax and restore itself. You’ll release stress, lower your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure making you feel rejuvenated after every class.

Asheville Yoga Center is more than just a place to practice, it’s a supportive and loving community. Our staff and instructors are here for you through every step in your yoga journey as you grow and elevate your practice. We look forward to welcoming you into our family!

Intro to Yoga is a free class offered every Monday evening at 5:45pm. Sign up for class here to start your journey and explore what yoga has to offer. If you’d like more information or are interested in one-on-one coaching, please email Richard Fabio at rfabio@youryoga.com.

Feel Prepared & Confident

The 200-Hour program will give you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of yoga. With a diligent curriculum, support from fellow yogis and wisdom from highly skilled teachers, you are in for the journey of a lifetime. This training opportunity could open your world to a newfound career path in yoga. If so, you’ll need to know how to prepare for teaching class! Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Be Authentically You

Some teachers just starting their careers make the mistake of trying to teach with a deeply philosophical style or teach similarly to other instructors they know. Even though it is great to have teachers to look to as examples, take the time to find your own style. You’ll find that your classes will be authentic and flow naturally as you become more comfortable and settled.

Add Your Own Twist

Find something to offer your class that is unique to you and allows you to stand out from other instructors and their classes. Incorporate a quote, intention, or mantra to personalize class with your own flare.

Embrace Being Vulnerable

Prepare yourself without any fear of seeming inadequate. No one will know your sequence ahead of time, so don’t worry about making a mistake. If you’re nervous, bring a notepad or even a single piece of paper that you can glance at occasionally. Having a few notes may help you feel calmer and eliminate lingering teaching jitters.

Have a Set Sequence to Use for Class

When you begin your yoga teaching career, you’ll have a lot to juggle and manage. You shouldn’t have to spend the majority of your time thinking about your specific class sequence. Instead, have one that you can rely on to use regularly. Adapt your sequence to all levels of practitioners by adding modifications throughout. Make your class as fluid and as comfortable as possible for all.

Practice with Your Playlist

If you’re teaching with music, be sure to practice your sequence along with your playlist. Being familiar with subtle cues in the music will remind you of when you should speed up, slow down or just enjoy and relax in the moment.

Give Yourself Some Free Time Before You Teach

To beat the nerves, give yourself some extra time before your class to mentally and physically prepare. Let yourself have time to fully connect to your body, breath and mind. Setting aside this quality time for yourself will set your focus, intention and help you feel confident going into teaching.

Set the Intention for Class with a Reading

Thoughtful readings can be a great addition to your class. They can inspire, inform and educate your students. This is a great way to theme your class!

 Build Relationships with Your Students

Make a point to stay after your class to answer questions and get to know your students. The more personable and accessible you make yourself, and the better relationships you can build with your clients, the better off you will be as you start building your career. Remember to stay confident, flexible and be true to yourself. You’ll continue to grow in your journey and yoga career. We hope these tips help you feel prepared to teach class when you’re ready to take that step!

Want to learn more about what a 200-Hour Training is all about? See our resources page for advice and helpful guides.

AYC Raises Funds & Awareness for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity

As yogis, we know how energizing and empowering a yoga practice can be. These positive impacts are a few of many reasons why we roll out our mats each day. With each asana, our strength and confidence builds and guides us to a place of peace and self-reliance. For example, in Downward Dog the foundation for the pose is centered around growing your heart and feeling your strength while breath nurtures you and makes you feel strong. Self-doubt melts away and is replaced by empowerment. Aside from downward dog, here are two yoga poses to practice to feel powerful:

Warrior II demands involvement from every single part of your body. It connects you to the power housed within the body, starting with the legs and moving up through other muscles and joints.

Begin in Mountain Pose and with an exhale, slightly move your feet about 4 feet apart. Raise your arms to be parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with palms down. Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle. With an exhale, bend your left knee over the left angle. Anchor yourself by strengthening your right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.

Yoga Poses

Dancer’s Pose challenges your balance and state of mind. It requires you to be present in the moment and to remain focused. Dancer’s Pose will give you a sense of confidence, inner strength and complete empowerment.

Begin in Mountain Pose, and on an inhale, shift your weight to your right foot, lifting your left heel up off the ground behind you as you bend your knee. Press your right thigh bone back into your hip joint and pull the knee cap up. Reach back with your left hand and grab the outside of your left foot or ankle. Stretch your right arm forward so that it’s parallel to the floor.

As you empower yourself through yoga, you can also empower your local community in August. Asheville Yoga Center is fortunate to be able to share this value of empowerment with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that strives to give others the resources they need to feel strong and independent in their own lives. For over 30 years, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has been working to better the lives of those in need. Through homeownership and home repair programs, 1,600 adults and children in Buncombe County have been able to achieve the strength, stability and empowerment they need to build a better future.

Our partnership will kick off in August for the second consecutive year and will be dedicated to raising funds for the organization as well as spreading awareness of their mission amongst those in the yoga community. A donation day will be held on Thursday, August 29th where ten percent of all proceeds from drop-in and community class sales will be gifted directly to Habitat for Humanity. If you’re unfamiliar with the organization, this is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn from one of the nonprofit’s representatives who will be onsite that day.

Empower yourself on the mat and empower those in need by joining us for a class at the Studio on August 29!

See our full yoga class schedule here.

Yoga Poses for Outdoor Fun

In a world where technology is king, it is vitally important to spend time away from screens and distractions and enjoy the peace and calm of the outdoors.

Nature is magical with all its subtle beauty and endless adventure. Its peaceful sounds have a way of making stress melt away. In the same way, a yoga practice can have a similar effect. When we are focused on the mat, intentionally breathing with calm and ease, nothing else seems to matter. When you take time to incorporate both the outdoors and yoga practice into your life, the mind and body benefit greatly.

Summer is a great time to incorporate nature into your daily life and enjoy all of your favorite outdoor activities. Whether you enjoy being on the water or pounding your feet on a hiking trail, yoga can help you get the most out of your experience.

Surfing

Water is unpredictable and constantly changing, whether you’re in the ocean or on a river. Being mindful and present is the only way to tackle the challenges that water will throw at you. In surfing, you have to be strong and committed, yet fluid and flexible. These skills are exactly what yoga teaches you to use on the mat.

Poses to Take from the Mat

In your yoga practice, work on Chaturanga to strengthen your pop-ups onto the surfboard. Baby Cobra will build muscle in your arms to enhance your paddling in the water, and Horse Pose will allow you to feel grounded and strong while you surf.

Hiking

Yoga engages and strengthens the entire body which is especially important when tackling the varying terrain of hiking trails. In addition, being able to control your breath is hugely beneficial when you’re faced with steep inclines on a trail. Deep, intentional breathing will help get you to the top without feeling so winded.

Hiking and yoga go hand-in-hand in that the outdoors benefit a meditative yoga practice. Surrounding yourself with the quietness of nature can relax the brain and senses, and you can tap back into that same peacefulness when you need to calm your thoughts on the mat.

Poses to Take from the Mat

Before you set out for your next hike, practice a few low lunges to help stretch and open your hip flexors. These muscles are hard at work when you hike, so you need to make sure you give them a nice warm-up beforehand. Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend is another pose to add into your pre-hike routine. This pose is great for stretching the hamstrings, calves, glutes, back, chest and shoulders.

Kayaking

Kayaking is a water sport that relies heavily on a strong core. You can feel the push and pull on the abdominal muscles with every stroke. In yoga, you’re taught to focus on the core for stability to make each asana more powerful and engaged. You need this same type of stability for kayaking.

Poses to Take from the Mat

Side plank is a great asana to incorporate into your life and practice to strengthen both your core and arms. If your lower back feels fatigued and stiff from kayaking, try cobra pose to stretch your lower back muscles.

Being in nature will compliment your yoga practice just like time on the mat allows you to be more present outdoors. We hope these poses enhance all your fun outdoor activities this summer!

Looking for another way to enjoy nature? Take your practice outside with us during our Yoga in the Park summer series! Classes are held at Reuter Terrace in Pack Square Park on select Saturdays at 10am. These donation-based classes benefit local non-profits United Way and Homeward Bound.

Capital at Play Features Yoga in the Park Summer Series

Just as yogis lengthen their limbs—arms, legs, fingers, and toes—with an intentional groan of muscles, so is the yoga industry expanding to accommodate more practitioners, products, concepts, and classes. As of 2018, some 36 million Americans practice yoga; between 2012 and 2016 alone, the number of practitioners increased by 50%. For all its spirituality, it’s also an undeniably capitalistic enterprise, and a profitable one at that: We spend $16 billion on yoga classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories annually, with the average yogi dolling out some $90 monthly to deepen their practice.

Click to read the full article.

AYC Raises Awareness and Support for RiverLink

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude encompasses all of these definitions as a thankful appreciation for all that an individual receives in life. Practicing acts of gratitude in your life can lead to a whole host of benefits such as a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, higher levels of positive emotions and fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness.

As yogis, we strive to show gratitude for all beings and things, and what’s more appropriate than showing compassion and thankfulness for the world we live in and rely on?

This month, Asheville Yoga Center invites you show gratitude for our beautiful environment right here in Western North Carolina by supporting local nonprofit, RiverLink. This organization promotes the environmental and economic vitalty of the French Broad River and its watershed as a place to live, learn, work and play. They provide permanent public access to the river through conservation and recreation easements, reclaiming contaminated lands for public use and enjoyment, greenway development, creating public overnight camping sites along the river, adaptive reuse of historic structures, and empowering over 1,000 volunteers annually.

AYC will also host a Donation Day, on July 25, where ten percent of drop-in and community class sales will be directly donated Donation boxes will be available in AYC’s Studio and Boutique for the entire month of July if you would like to show support with a monetary donation.

RiverLink hosts multiple volunteer events that are open to anyone who wishes to help. If you love the river and desire to make an impact, you can sign up for a volunteer event here.

Positively impact our local environment and your own mental and physical health by showing support for RiverLink. We hope to see you at the Studio for a yoga class!

Click to learn more about RiverLink.

Click to see our yoga class schedule.

A Day of Celebration

Throughout its long history, yoga has inspired and changed the lives of millions and continues to bring people together from across the globe. It is our universal language which has taught us gratitude, love, mindfulness and so many other values. We honor the principles and all the lessons yoga has given us as we celebrate this year’s International Day of Yoga.

About International Day of Yoga 

Today, yoga is practiced in various styles worldwide and continues to grow in popularity. It is estimated that there are currently 300 million yoga practitioners across the globe. International Day of Yoga is a special day which unites our entire yoga community.

On December 11, 2014, the United Nations pronounced June 21 as the International Day of Yoga to raise global awareness of all the benefits and gifts that a yoga practice has to offer.

Ways to Celebrate

For this year’s event, reflect on all the reasons why you love yoga and all the ways it has made you grow in your own life. Here are a few other ways that you can celebrate.

Channel your inner yogi and make an extra effort with your practice. Fully relax into each posture and dedicate some time for meditation. Do some volunteer work or help out a friend in need.

Take one or two of your favorite yoga classes. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to celebrate, taking a class is a great way to reflect on the day. Our full schedule of classes will allow you to pick the style of yoga you want at a time that works conveniently with your schedule.

Get together with some fellow yogis. Attend a class with some of your yogi friends or take some time to grab a meal together.

Surround yourself with love, happiness and your wonderful yoga community. However you decide to spend this day, we hope you feel supported in your practice and on your journey!

Tips for Teaching a Low-Risk Class

Written by AYC Instructor, Rosie Mulford

As a yoga teacher, you will likely encounter a student who gets injured. If an injury arises during your class, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were the cause. Regardless, it is important to know how to be aware of potential injuries so that you don’t unknowingly contribute to one.

David Keil, an expert in the anatomy of yoga, says, “Our first responsibility as a yoga community is to acknowledge openly and honestly that yoga asana is a physical activity. It is not risk-free. From there we can look at the places where teachers can reduce the risk to yoga participants, as well as the ways that yoga students can take responsibility for their own experience in yoga practice and yoga classes.”

In accordance with the yogic philosophy, we must become a witness to the entire concept of yoga asana classes. In these classes, it is important to practice the yogic idea that truth is the only thing that exists. If a student is practicing in a way that is not truthful to his or her body, he or she will eventually suffer the consequences of living in that untruth and become injured.  That is where linking the breath to your innate and true self becomes imperative.  If the teacher guides the student in taking a breath before the action of moving into the pose, the student will then be given a brief moment in which to tap into his or her inner voice (truth) and know whether or not it is appropriate to go deeper, stay in the same position, or back out with each exhale. In this way, it is critical to always listen to the body.

There is a public opinion that yoga is a “cure-all,” and there is an underlying assumption that one may get injured in a Cross-Fit class or a gymnastics class but not in yoga. The first thing we need to do is change that misconception. Modern-day yoga is just like any other group class, in the physical sense, with the same risks.

Jeffrey Frick, CEO of the Fitness and Wellness Insurance Program at the Murria & Frick Insurance Agency located in Solana Beach, California says, “Compared with other forms of exercise, yoga generates fewer and less costly insurance claims. However, yoga continues to be one of the fastest-growing forms of exercise we insure.” Frick’s company specializes in coverage for fitness facilities including health clubs, yoga studios, and climbing gyms. The yoga liability program averages about 10 claims per year with the average paid claim amount being $6,000.

In contrast, the company averages about 200 claims per year from their other fitness programs, with the average paid claim amount being $20,000. The program’s largest yoga insurance claim, for more than $200,000 in 1994, involved a teacher overstepping ethical boundaries and injuring a student. More commonly, Frick notes, “Yoga claimants say the instructor pushed them too hard into positions that caused injury to them.” Frick echoes Leslie Kaminoff and Judith Hanson Lasater by saying that to prevent problems, teachers need to be sensitive to their students’ ability to do certain poses. In the fitness industry in general, Frick says, “Half of claims are customer induced; that is, they come not from our negligence, but from an over-zealous client. The lesson is that instructors should have protected these people from themselves.”

How do we move forward and combat the risk of injury for students? First, we need to evaluate what a student is looking to gain from yoga and whether or not they have any prior injuries.

Secondly, as a yoga community, we need to openly acknowledge that yoga asana is a physical activity.  It is not risk-free. At this point, both the teacher and the student can figure out ways to reduce risk.

Leslie Kaminoff, an internationally recognized specialist in yoga and breath anatomy, says, “Some people have such faith in yoga that it overcomes their critical thinking. They think yoga practice, or a yoga teacher, can’t hurt them, which isn’t true.”

Roger Cole, Ph. D., scientist and Iyengar Yoga teacher relays ways to minimize the risk of injury in a classroom: “Teachers and students need to understand where the body is most likely to get injured in yoga and know how to protect these areas.”

Cole names the lower back, knees, and neck as areas of the body most prone to injury, followed by the sacroiliac (SI) joint and the origin of the hamstring muscle (where it joins the sitting bone). He notes that back and SI injuries are often linked to forward bends because they can place strain on the disks and ligaments at the base of the spine.

The riskiest postures are any seated, straight-leg forward bends that also include a twist. Cole says, “In order to make these poses safer, tilt from the pelvis as far as you can before the back gets involved, elongate the spine, don’t flex it too far, and never force yourself into the pose.” He further cautions, “Tilting the pelvis has its own risk. It puts more stretch on the hamstrings, so if you push too hard, you can strain them, especially at the point where they connect to the sitting bones.”

To prevent knee injury, Cole emphasizes the importance of not forcing the knees, especially in Padmasana, Lotus Pose, and instead advises turning the thighbone outward from the hip joint. “Pulling up on the foot or ankle or pushing down on the knee in Lotus puts a tremendous crushing force on the cartilage of the inner knee,” he says.

The most common posture to cause injuries, especially in people over 40, is Salamba Sarvangasana or Shouldterstand, according to Larry Payne, Ph.D., a Los Angeles yoga teacher, therapist and coauthor of Yoga Rx. For beginners, he suggests practicing Half Shoulderstand, a variation of the full pose where the hands are placed on the lower back to support the weight of the hips, thereby removing most of the weight from the neck. Full Shoulderstand can be dangerous because of the excess weight many Americans carry, notes Payne, who avoids the posture for anyone who is more than 30 pounds overweight. He offers students a continuum of options, including Viparita Karani, Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, Ananda Balasana , Happy Baby Pose, and Half Shoulderstand. He finishes by saying, “The attitude of a teacher is very important in avoiding injury. Teachers who make the class feel intimidated or wimpy if they need a modification or want to come out of a pose are asking for trouble.”

The best thing you can do as a yoga teacher to reduce any risk of injury is to constantly be aware of your student’s needs and capabilities. Offer modifications of more advanced poses that might result in a student injury. Above all, be thoughtful, caring and educate your students on how to keep themselves safe and injury-free during class and in their own practice.

Showing Aparigraha in Our Community

Since inception, we have made it a priority to do what we can to positively impact our environment. As yogis, we strive for aparigrapha, which is the idea of not taking more than one needs.

Our solar-powered, environmentally sustainable yoga center sits on a lushly landscaped campus surrounded by an abundance of edible and aromatic native trees and plants. Daylighting is utilized as much as possible in our classrooms to reduce the consumption of electric lights. We’ve implemented all of these areas of sustainability to support the health and well-being of our environment.

In keeping with the yogic principle of aparigrapha, we feel that it is our duty to do what we can to give back and support nonprofits with these same values and who also go above and beyond to combat environmental issues. We are seeing harmful effects on our planet daily, and we are determined to do something about it.

During the month of June, we are partnering with MountainTrue as our Charity of the Month to support their efforts in sustaining a healthy, natural environment here in Western North Carolina. They value the integrity of natural systems – air, land, water, and native plants and animals – and believe in the restoration and protection of them to benefit all generations. The organization empowers individuals throughout the region to engage in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education and on the ground projects.

As yogis, we believe in being caring and compassionate to all living things. Here are a few small ways that you can help positively impact the environment in your own day-to-day life and protect our beautiful planet:

#1. Use Reusable Bags

We have a huge problem with plastic bags. They get discarded in landfills and can end up suffocating animals who either get stuck in them or mistake them for food. Keep a few canvas bags in your car for the next time you go grocery shopping to cut down on your plastic consumption.

#2. Carpool Whenever Possible

If you can, take public transportation, walk or ride a bike. If you can ride with friends to outings you will be able to cut down on your carbon footprint.

#3. Be Mindful About Water and Energy Consumption

Water is wasted more frequently than you think! Be mindful to turn off faucets while you brush your teeth and limit your water consumption while you wash dishes. You can save water by keeping showers short and efficient. When you leave a room, turn lights off to conserve energy.

If you would like to support MountainTrue, donation boxes will be available all month long in the Studio and Boutique for monetary donations. On Wednesday, June 26 at 6pm, we will host a donation-based class focused on gratitude for our beautiful planet. All proceeds will be donated.  On Thursday, June 27, we will host our Donation Day where 10 percent of all community and drop-in class sales will be donated. In addition, AYC will give a direct donation of $250. Please join us for a class and show your support!

What is a Restorative Sound Bath?

A tangible resonance occurs every Monday evening at Asheville Yoga Center. The community gathers for gentle movement, longer held restorative postures and a live sound bath. Lyndsey Azlynne and Billy Zanski have joined forces to collaboratively create this offering from 7:15-8:30 pm, each week.

Lyndsey Azlynne is a yoga teacher, massage therapist and co-owner of the two Asheville Dobra Tea rooms.  She infuses her classes with a continuous invitation to slow down and to lean into the innate wisdom of the body and breath.  This collaboration has grown near and dear to her heart as it has woven together many of her deepest loves: silence, sound, movement, stillness and awareness.

Billy is the owner of Skinny Beats on Eagle Street in Asheville, a beautiful storefront offering a display of instruments from all over the world.  One of Billy’s main gifts is allowing space for others to reconnect to the peace and presence that sound and music can offer.  During this weekly Restorative Sound Bath, you will bathe in the sounds of various instruments including crystal bowls, gongs, didgeridoo, kora (west African harp) and various forms of percussion.

When you arrive, you will be offered a card as a way to let Lyndsey know if you would like informed hands on assists throughout class.  As a licensed massage therapist and reiki master, Lyndsey absolutely loves that the slow pace of this class offers ample opportunity for massage and gentle adjustments to allow tension to soften into ease.

The restorative sound bath often begins with some gentle movement and breath awareness as a way to arrive and settle into the space.   From there, longer held and fully supported postures begin to unwind and open up the deeper fascial layers of the body.  The last 25-30 minutes of class is a resonant live sound bath that seamlessly weaves together various instruments and often is experienced as if many people are playing.  Billy offers the sound bath as Lyndsey continues to offer hands on assists and grounding massage.  Many students have reported that they love this class as a way to end Mondays in relaxation each week.

One student says, “Lyndsey creates such a powerful, healing and restful space with her presence, energy, touch and ques.  That combined with Billy’s ability to transmute so much through sound and his soulful presence all come together to create a class that is deeply nurturing and restorative.”

Billy and Lyndsey offer a sonic space for remembrance through the use of body shapes, silence, sounds and instruments from various countries and traditions as tools to strum further into being present.  This class offers a weekly deep dive into your own inner world using breath and sound as your guide.  Lyndsey and Billy both consciously set the space for deep introspection, as a place to completely relax into support, to nourish the nervous system and to see what happens when you allow yourself to completely relax.

In these modern times, rushing is often celebrated and applauded, it is important to find places that we can retreat to for restoration and the opportunity to simply be.  Billy and Lyndsey have come together and consciously crafted this weekly offering as one of these places.  Allow your body to rest, melt into support, and feel the reverberation of sound lull you into the deep layers of your own inner world and into the wisdom of your own body.