Asheville Yoga Center Supports Asheville on Bikes with February Fundraiser

Asheville Yoga Center is rolling forward with its Charity of the Month project in February. The center will be raising funds for Asheville on Bikes for the second consecutive year. The non-profit advocates for better biking and walking infrastructures in both Asheville and the surrounding regions of Western North Carolina. They work to spread awareness for actions to be taken to build better transit, roads and public places.

“We understand the importance of providing the utmost safety for other’s health and wellness. Improving sidewalks, greenways and infrastructures allows us to meet those goals and create harmony within our community. We greatly appreciate all of the work that Asheville on Bikes continues to do, and we’re proud to be able to partner with them for a second time,” says Melissa Driver, General Manager of Asheville Yoga Center.

Beginning February 1, donation boxes will be located in both the Studio and Boutique for monetary donations. On Thursday, February 28, 10% of all drop-in and community class sales will be directly donated to the non-profit. Please join us for class or stop by the Studio or Boutique to show your support.

“Asheville Yoga Center and Asheville on Bikes are such good partners, because our work intersects at the issue of health and wellness. Asheville on Bikes works to improve the conditions of the urban environment through active transportation, while Asheville Yoga Center approaches health and wellness through yoga. Both groups rely on community to impact individuals. Asheville on bikes appreciates Asheville Yoga Center’s ongoing support. It’s a team effort to keep good things rolling forward,” says Mike Sule, Director of Asheville on Bikes.

Asheville on Bike’s biggest event, Bike Love, will take place on February 23 as the organization’s signature fundraiser. If you’d like to attend and purchase tickets, click here.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, please fill out the volunteer form here

To learn more about Asheville on Bikes, please visit www.ashevilleonbikes.com.

Looking Back at AYC’s Community Service Efforts

We find ourselves very fortunate to live and practice in Asheville where the values of businesses, as well as individuals, include thoughtfully caring for the community and those in need. Even with its growing popularity and population, Asheville still emphasizes the importance of supporting all things local.

If you look around at some of the city’s most prominent restaurants, breweries and shops you’ll find that they commit, in their own unique way, to supporting local non-profits in both Asheville and Western North Carolina. Whether its hosting a charitable event, fundraising, or giving donations, we find our community to be a very special and loving place.

As yogis, we believe that giving back is part of our calling in this life. One of the ethical principles of yoga is “seva” or “service-mindedness.” It teaches us to live in a way that is intentional, compassionate, self-less and above all, supports the well-being of others. But it’s not enough to just learn this principle without taking it to heart and putting action behind it. Part of yoga is practicing the principles and values learned on and off the mat. For this reason, we implemented a few ways to give back to those in need and to the community in meaningful ways aligned with our practice of service.

2019 will be the 7th year of Yoga in the Park, a series of donation-based yoga classes that raises funds for Homeward Bound and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. Classes occur every Saturday morning during the summer months. Individuals love this opportunity to bring their practice outside, enjoy warm weather and get together in a large community setting.

Although we found success in these efforts, we still felt that there was more we could do to help the community. So in 2017, we implemented a new way to show more support for local organizations. Thus, the AYC Charity of the Month project was born.

Thanks to the dedication of our members, community and partnerships with local non-profits, we were able to raise money and donate to 12 different charities in 2018. Our goal with this project was to support organizations working in as many different areas of need as possible. The non-profits funded in 2018 are as follows:

January – Asheville on Bikes

February – WNCAP

March – Girls on the Run

April – Our VOICE

May – MountainTrue

June – Asheville Green Works

July – Brother Wolf

August – Big Brothers & Big Sisters

September – Habitat for Humanity

October – Helpmate

November – MANNA FoodBank

December – Eblen Charities

Each month started out with donation boxes being placed in the Studio and Boutique for monetary donations. On the last Thursday of each month, ten percent of drop-in and community class sales were donated to each designated charity. Additionally, we gave a direct donation of $250. Through our 2018 Charity of the Month project, we were able to raise a total of $4,220 to give back to local area non-profits!

What made this year’s project so special was being able to see the direct impact that our contributions made on the community. Our funds, donated to Habitat for Humanity, helped pay the building costs of a house for a family in need. Our food item fundraiser for MANNA FoodBank raised 186 pounds of food, equaling a total of 155 meals for individuals facing food insecurities in WNC. These are just two examples, but it’s these kinds of impacts that are what make this project so meaningful and worthwhile.

We’d like to take this opportunity to show our deepest gratitude to everyone who supported our efforts and made this such a successful year! We couldn’t have done it without your generosity and dedication. As 2019 settles in, we’re looking forward to what we can achieve as we kick off the third year of the AYC Charity of the Month Project. Namaste.

See our 2019 Charity of the Month partners.

Deepen Your Knowledge of Yoga

Written by AYC Instructor, Tucker Shelton

Have you ever tried drinking from a firehose? That’s what it can feel like to jump into the 300-Hour yoga teacher training immersion at AYC. The incredible teachers, fascinating subjects and advanced modules are so powerful that it can feel daunting to take it all in. The truth is, you have to be ready to work, learn and transform your practice and your teaching.

Most students piece together their 300-Hour credits by taking workshops and trainings on the weekends. This process can take a long time and requires a lot of planning. For those who have to travel to the training site, that’s a lot of back and forth, not to mention the cost of flying or driving. I struggle with this type of learning because it makes me feel pushed and pulled between my home life and my studies. I am the kind of person who likes to dive headfirst into an experience. I barely achieved competency in three years of high school Spanish classes, but when I spent a month in Mexico, I was forced to learn quickly, and I did. For me, it’s all about the learning environment.

When I did my 300-Hour training at AYC, back in 2012, I spent a whole month in a mixture of potent self-reflection, complete bliss and utter rawness. My training cracked me open and pulled all the things I’d been hiding from right to the surface for me to confront. I learned even more about myself than I did about yoga during that time (which is remarkable because I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned about yoga).

Before my training, I had been out in the world teaching yoga for four years. During that time, I developed some solid classes, and I absolutely loved what I was doing. Still, something was missing. My first teacher training answered so many questions but being a teacher had brought on so many more. I had a few vague ideas about Ayurveda, Yin yoga, Prenatal modifications, etc., but I knew I was no expert. I had met a plateau in my teaching, and something needed to change. That’s when I got the email that AYC was putting together a one-time 300-Hour immersion program, and I jumped on it immediately.

The 300-Hour training dipped into subjects that fed my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t even know how hungry I was for the learning until I was swimming in it. We were immersed in knowledge about Ayurveda, Yin yoga, meditation, juicy assists, senior yoga, anatomy and therapeutics, Bhakti flow, chanting, slow flow, restorative, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, sequencing, philosophy, nutrition, pre and postnatal yoga, chakras, sacred texts and more. It was too much goodness in one place! To this day, I look back at my notes, and I learn something every time.

The charge of energy and knowledge that I received from this training is still with me seven years later. If you are 200-Hour certified instructor, and you are waiting for a sign to take the 300-Hour immersion program, let this be it.

The deeper learning that takes place in the 300-Hour program is essentially graduate school for yoga teaching. You will be asked to be your best self. You must ask difficult questions, hold multiple truths at once, open your mind to changing what you think you know and be willing to shine light on the things that scare you. This may sound frightening, but fear is always present when the ego is challenged to grow. If you choose to enroll in the 300-Hour program at AYC this summer, I guarantee you that you will not regret it.

Right now, you can save on AYC’s 300-Hour Immersion! Register by January 31 and receive $900 in savings with discounted tuition of $3395, free books (a $250 value), and a $50 gift card to the AYC Boutique! Classes begin on May 20 and only require 6 weeks to complete! Continue your journey, advance your knowledge of yoga, and immerse yourself in this unique experience. Learn more here.

Why You Should Practice Inversions

Written by AYC Instructor, Tucker Waldron

Inversions are powerful postures in the practice of yoga. They can benefit us physically, mentally and even spiritually. In hatha yoga, the primary branch of yoga as practiced in western cultures, the goal of the practice is to raise kundalini. Kundalini is a dormant state of consciousness that is nestled at the base of the spine in all of us and is usually depicted as a serpent. This energy of awareness moves through the central energy channel located in the spine (the shushumna nadi) to the sahasrara chakra, which is the highest energy center located on the crown of the head. This ultimately results in connecting us with Ishwara, our individual version of God.

All of this can seem quite esoteric and new-agey. So the question is, how can we understand this on a practical, everyday level? At any given moment we are not particularly aware of where our energy or consciousness is directed. Thankfully, yoga is there to help shed a light on it! Yoga asanas can teach us how to use our mental and physical energy (prana) with purpose and intention. They teach us how to control this prana, and ultimately, gain control of our senses (pratyahara) and consciousness itself (dharana and dhyana). If the goal of the yoga practice is to sublimate this energy and our consciousness to a higher level, inversions give us a shortcut to reversing the typical flow of energy and consciousness. Each group of postures corresponds to energy centers in the body. Inversions are unique in the fact that they flip the entire system and use the natural force of gravity to purify each chakra.

The benefits of inversions are vast but include physiologic, psychologic and yogic blessings. Physiologically getting upside down sends a refreshing flow of blood into the lungs, heart and head. They drain the stagnation that builds in our lower extremities due to sitting and standing. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, they reverse aging, improve posture and bring harmony to all of the bodily systems. Psychologically, inversions broaden our perspective! It shows us that there is more than one way to view our world and that our unique perspective is not the only one. Yogically, inversions specifically purify the throat, third eye and crown chakras which correlate to our relation with our self, our teachers and our version of a higher power.

Inversions include but are not limited to:

  • Child’s pose (balasana)
  • Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
  • Handstand (adho mukha vrksasana)
  • Forearm stand (pincha mayurasana)
  • Headstand (salamba sirsasana)
  • Legs up the wall pose (vipareeta karani)
  • Shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana)

I love all of these inversions and their variations for different reasons, but if I had to choose one, I’d have to say forearm stand is my favorite. It is slightly less scary than handstand but more challenging than headstand. Pincha Mayurasana requires not just strength in the shoulders, arms and core but also openness in the shoulders and psoas. To me, it is a good example of the balance between stability and flexibility we aim to strike in the yoga practice and life itself.

In my opinion, the best reason to practice inversions is that they are just fun, and the best way to practice them is with a sense of playfulness! They are an opportunity to change our relationship with gravity and explore a different perspective in a whole new way. I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday, January 23, from 5:45pm to 7:45pm to play with and explore these inversions. If you can’t, I hope you take the time to do so on your own or in your next yoga class. Namaste.

You can sign up for Tucker’s Inversion workshop here!

AYC Chooses WNCAP as it’s Charity of the Month

Show Your Support Through January

Asheville Yoga Center kicks off its Charity of the Month project by raising funds for the second year in a row for Western North Carolina AIDS Project during the month of January. Founded in 1986, WNCAP is a non-profit agency working to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. The organization offers support services for those living with HIV or AIDS and partners with community agencies to bring preventative information to those in all 18 counties of western North Carolina.

Melissa Driver, Director of Operations at Asheville Yoga Center says, “We are honored to partner with WNCAP this month to raise awareness for those in need. They are doing an incredible job by not only providing resources but by also educating individuals in our local communities about preventing HIV and AIDS. As a yoga training center, we understand how valuable access to education and resources is. We’re thankful for their work and generosity, and we aim to do our best to support their efforts.”

Throughout the entire month of January, donation boxes will be displayed at the front desk in both the Studio and Boutique. Furthermore, on Thursday, January 31, 10% of community and drop-in class sales will be donated to WNCAP accompanied by a direct donation of $250.

“We want people living with HIV to not only survive, but to thrive. That means promoting overall wellness and we know that yoga is a powerful took for physical, mental and spiritual well-being. We couldn’t be happier that Asheville Yoga Center has selected us as their Charity of the Month in January,” says WNCAP Executive Director, Antonio del Toro.

Members of the community can show their support by attending these classes on January 31 or donating at any point during the month.

For more information about WNCAP, please visit https://wncap.org/about. 

Discover a New You

With the beginning of a new year comes new goals and resolutions. We all know this to be true. January takes the prize when it comes to crowded workout facilities. People flock to the gym to spend countless hours putting their bodies through intense workouts to try to get back in shape. How many people do you know that have this new goal each year and drop it after a few weeks? One of the reasons being that their bodies run out of steam, because well frankly, it’s just too much! So, what if I told you that your New Year’s resolution to become a stronger, healthier you doesn’t involve enduring dreaded sweat sessions at the gym.

A consistent yoga practice may be the workout you’ve been looking for, and it’s right at the edge of your grasp. As you flow between movements, your body gets the exercise it needs without having to push yourself to the brink every time you want to burn calories. Don’t cringe at the thought of exercise. Instead, look forward to it because you love the way it makes you feel. It’ll change your life.

Health Benefits

The positive impacts of yoga on your health are innumerable. If you want a behind-the-scenes look at the benefits of yoga and what it can do for your body, listen to what one of our students has to say!

Two of the most common contributors of unhappiness in our day-to-day lives are stress and chronic pain. Stressors are always present, whether it’s stress from work or kids or whatever else might be going on in your life. But for an hour or an hour and a half out of the day, you can escape them all. Yoga gives your body and mind time to calm down, re-connect and feel rejuvenated, alleviating any anxiety or stress. It gives you back a sense of power to charge on and conquer any challenges life throws your way.

If you live with back pain or another form of chronic pain, take a few yoga classes and you’ll start to see a drastic change in the way you feel. Studies show that practicing yoga and meditation reduces pain for individuals with arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions. How incredible would it be to say goodbye to pain that wears you down? That can be your reality.

Physical Benefits

Yoga as a whole increases your strength and flexibility. Using your body weight in a yoga class creates toned and lean muscle in your legs, arms and abdominals. Hang up the weights and let your body get stronger on its own.

For those of you shaking your head that yoga is a workout, have you ever tried a warm or hot yoga class? You don’t know the meaning of a sweat session until you have! They get your blood pumping and give you a full-body workout. If that’s not for you, there are a multitude of other styles of yoga to try that are less intense.

These are all amazing benefits, but the best part about yoga is that it’s about YOU. It’s about your journey, your pace and how you feel. It’s not a competition, and you don’t have to run yourself into the ground every time you want to exercise.

It’s a new year, and the timing couldn’t be more prime to start making those steps towards becoming a better, healthier and stronger you. But don’t take my word for it, commit to your own yoga practice and you’ll soon be asking yourself why in the world it took you so long to start.

Begin your practice at AYC! Try our free Intro to Yoga class every Monday evening in January from 5:45-6:45pm or purchase an Intro Special with 6 classes for just $6 each.

How Yoga Can Boost Your Health

Even for all of you work out enthusiasts, the winter months can be a serious drag when it comes to being motivated to exercise. The cold, dark mornings and evenings just make you want to sit at home curled up by the fire. Winter is nowhere near as encouraging to be outside. We get it. None the less, it doesn’t mean that you should stop caring and showing love to your body. Consistent exercise boosts the immune system and can help you stay healthy when sicknesses arise. So why not take the colder months to revive your body and work on your yoga practice? Here are some reasons why you should take up yoga this winter.

Prevent Stiff Joints

The cold temperatures of winter create stiff joints and enhance chronic joint pain. Vinyasa, a flowing form of yoga, provides a way to maintain joint mobility and increase circulation to loosen any stiffness you might be experiencing.

Protect the Lower Respiratory System

If you’ve ever tried to exercise outside when it’s cold you know that breathing in that air creates an uncomfortable burning sensation in the lungs. Yoga is a great way to work on your breathing without having to expose your body to the harsh temperatures of winter. Steady breathing through the nose warms air before it enters the lungs, eliminating any constrictions that result from cold air entering the body. Breathing through the nose can aid in decreasing any nasal congestion and clear out the sinuses.

Shed Toxins with HOT Yoga

Practicing yoga in a room set to a high temperature can help you sweat out any toxins while simultaneously boosting the immune system. A body flooded with toxins is much more likely to succumb to illness. However, sweating, combined with yoga movement, can help cleanse the body of viruses and congestion.

Elevate Your Mood

It’s no secret that the holidays are a stressful time for just about everyone. It’s a busy time that’s jam-packed with shopping and social events. Practicing yoga can help reduce stress and elevate your mood.

Stress is the body’s ultimate nemesis when it comes to staying healthy. Your body doesn’t have the same capabilities to fight germs when it’s undergoing physical and mental tension.  However, meditation can help, and that’s where yoga really becomes an asset to the body. Just as little as ten minutes of daily meditation can lower tension. So eliminate that unwanted stress!

If you want to feel reinvigorated, energized and healthy this winter come see us! If you’re new to yoga, get started by taking our FREE Intro to Yoga class every Monday in January. If you’re a little more seasoned, we offer 6 classes for just 36 dollars with our Intro Special. Choose from over 100 classes offered weekly at the convenience of your schedule. Stay healthy with more yoga this winter!

Wrapping Up 2018’s Charity of the Month Project

Donation Boxes Available at the Studio and Boutique

Asheville Yoga Center is raising funds for Eblen Charities throughout December to finalize its 2018 Charity of the Month project. Founded in 1991, the organization has helped thousands of families in western North Carolina each year with medical and emergency assistance. Eblen assisted 300 families with only one program when it was first established. Now, Eblen has been able to help tens of thousands of families with more than 70 available programs.

“Eblen Charities has worked so hard over the past few decades to support families with medical and emergency assistance. It provides the opportunity for those in our community to seek the help they need to physically heal. As a yoga studio, we know how valuable it is to be able to give others going through health issues access to the resources they need. The community at Asheville Yoga Center is honored to raise funds and awareness for Eblen in an effort to work together to support their work locally,” says Melissa Driver, Director of Operations at Asheville Yoga Center.

Donation boxes will be displayed at the front desk in both the Studio and Boutique beginning on the first day of December until the end of the month. On Thursday, December 27, 10% of sales from drop-in and community classes will be donated to Eblen Charities. Additionally, AYC will be making a direct donation of $250.

We challenge our members and community to support our efforts in raising donations throughout December to give back to those in need.

For more information on Eblen Charities and their work, please visit https://www.eblencharities.org/about/.

What You Need to Know About Restorative Yoga

Written by AYC Instructor Paige Gilchrist

Okay, so we’ve got a little irony right off the bat. Striving to get the best results in restorative yoga? As in powering up your dreaming or asking your bubble bath to multi-task? Restorative yoga is, after all, the art of undoing. But let’s be honest, that’s not so easy in a full-throttle culture that encourages us to make the most of all things. Here are some simple suggestions to calm the impulse to accomplish, and instead just be. You might find this will lead you quietly toward the peace and restoration your body really needs.

Talk About Yourself

Arrive a little early and share with your teacher anything you’re dealing with physically or energetically. If you’ve recently had a medical procedure, that’s especially important to communicate. Simply mentioning the chronic ache in your low back, or the fact that you overdid it the day before at the gym, can also be helpful. We teachers are grateful when you take the time to let us know! We can then spend a couple of minutes together before class to customize pose modifications and prop configurations, if necessary, to make you feel supported and safe.

Prop Up

Speaking of props, restorative yoga poses typically involve a lot of them. Props such as bolsters, blankets, blocks, straps, sandbags and eye pillows are all available at the Studio for you to use as you see fit. They’re meant to support you fully as you sink into comfortable shapes for long, luxurious amounts of time. They allow your physical body, and then all of your other layers, to release tension habits and holding patterns. Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of props you may accumulate, or the blanket folding, bolster stacking or other ways to assemble and rearrange your props as class moves along. You can think of it as part of a self-care ritual and know that the more restorative yoga you practice, the more familiar the props will become. You’ll start to determine a better feel for how they can best support you.

Get Comfy

Be really and truly comfortable. In other styles of yoga, there may be a benefit to sticking with something that feels challenging or even uncomfortable. However, this is not the case with restorative yoga. The whole idea is to allow your nervous system, which probably spends much of its time on high alert, to shift into deep relaxation mode. It can’t do that if you’re enduring a sensation that’s too strong. Tuck a bolster under the place that’s feeling overstretched. Cover your body with a blanket. Don’t worry about fidgeting, adjusting and re-adjusting the props. Don’t worry about adding or subtracting layers of clothing or coming out of a pose entirely. Take your time and experiment with props to settle into each pose so it feels nurturing and restful.

Ask Away

Look to your instructor if a pose setup is unclear. You may want to modify a pose but feel unsure about how to approach it. Maybe you need an extra prop. Don’t hesitate to let your teacher know so that they can assist you during your practice. Our main job, especially in restorative yoga, is to support you, so don’t be shy about inviting us to do that.

Let Go

This is the most overused cliché in the yoga world, but this “letting go” business you hear about so often has its roots in restorative yoga. As we gradually drop the need to constantly be busy, it offers the opportunity to enjoy sinking into rest, support and deep relaxation. Our breathing, blood pressure and heart rate slow, releasing stress and tension. We then start to replenish, repair and heal on every level.  Restorative classes take practice and gentle intention. They’re often a lot easier with group support and the guidance of a teacher, which is why this type of yoga can be so magical.

Try a restorative class. Your body will thank you for it.

See our class schedule for upcoming restorative yoga classes.

Sign up for AYC’s holiday class challenge! Take 10 restorative yoga classes in December and receive a free eye pillow! The word “restorative” must be in the name of the class for it to count.