By Angela Gorman

“I had been wanting to get my 200 hour certification for a while but was very skeptical of doing it virtually. I was blown away by how well the instructors at AYC adapted the teacher training to the virtual world. They did a great job of making it feel like a community and a safe space which was so important to our learning, and gave support to the group and individuals. This has been a strange time in many of our lives and this training provided a safe transition point and something for a lot of us to feel a sense of purpose about again. All of the teachers were very present and invested in our learning and adapted the curriculum well to virtual learning by prioritizing discussion, participation and practice. The instructors’ adaptability encouraged our adaptability and openness to each other and the program.


I think Asheville Yoga Center’s universal approach to this training is amazing. Being able to learn from so many different instructors who have different specialties and approaches but still highly respect each other and their ideas is inspiring. It is a perfect introduction into yoga so no one is leaving it thinking that one way is “right” or “better”. The way they encouraged each of us to follow what speaks to us most was really welcoming and allowed me to be introspective and weave what I was learning into my life.


Paige as the lead instructor and through-line to this training was so supportive and encouraging. She met us where we were at and showed that she respected each one of us throughout. Her presence and sense of calm confidence carried throughout this training and provided the glue for this group. She heard what each of us had to say and consistently responded thoughtfully and articulately.”


Asheville Yoga Center Supports Building Bridges

One of the most inspiring aspects of a yoga practice is that it encompasses all human beings regardless of background, race, gender or opinion. Your practice is a safe place to let go of all the things that do not serve you in order to give thanks for yourself exactly as you are. It is a space for bodies of all shapes and sizes to find peace. As a yoga center, Asheville Yoga Center strives to bring the same value and appreciation to those who come to class every day when we open our doors. This month, we are honored to support Building Bridges, a nonprofit that works to dismantle racism by fostering relationships that respect diversity, seek understanding and encourage action through educational programming. Aligning with our support of this organization, we challenge you to live more inclusively in your life. We hope these tips are inspiring and helpful along your own journey.

Communicate Mindfully

Whether it is in a yoga class or in daily life, verbal communication and body language are powerful tools that can easily be misconstrued if not approached the right way. If you want to show inclusiveness in your life, this is a great area to work on first and foremost. Be respectful and open to other people’s contributions. Even if you don’t agree with what they say, it is important to welcome new ideas.

Be Careful About Making Assumptions    

People come from a diverse array of backgrounds and life experiences. Our differences are our strengths, and we can learn so much from others. In your everyday interactions, approach others with grace and acceptance in the same way that you find acceptance when you practice yoga.

Remain Open & Curious

Being open to inclusivity is a process; as with any process, it is important to be open and curious while you continue to learn and grow. Above all, this translates to openness toward people and situations that give us the opportunity to challenge our beliefs and cultural patterns.

Supporting a More Inclusive Community

This month, you can help make strides toward inclusivity of our local community. We invite you to join us in supporting Building Bridges by being a part of our Day of Giving on Thursday, March 26. We will donate 10% of drop-in and community class sales directly to Building Bridges for the work they are doing in Western North Carolina. If you would prefer to give a monetary donation, boxes will be available in the Studio from March 1 until the end of the month.

At AYC, we strive to make this a safe space for all, because every human deserves to live happily and freely.

Asheville Yoga Center Supports Veterans Services of the Carolinas in February

In the dark of winter, we are embraced with a month centered around the warmth of love. With Valentine’s Day as one of the focal points of February, we are reminded to show love to those who mean the most to us.

In yoga class, you are constantly surrounded by love. You can feel the kindness and compassion of your instructor as they bring their warmth and guidance to their instruction. You show love to yourself by taking the time to heal your mind and body. You are part of a community of yogis who bring their support and love to each class. In these ways you experience the love of yoga right on your mat!

Share the support you feel from your yoga community with others who are need of kindness and generosity. This month, help us support our Charity of the Month, Veterans Services of the Carolinas, as we give back to our veterans. The nonprofit provides services for veterans and their families within 49 counties in North Carolina. These services include outreach to homeless veterans, rehousing and homeless prevention services, employment and training support, and service coordination.

We invite you to join us for our Day of Giving on Thursday, February 27, where 10% of all drop-in and community class sales will be donated. Additionally, donation boxes will be available in the Studio and Boutique during the entire month of February if you wish to donate.

Our veterans have given so much to provide us with safety and peace, and now you can make difference in their lives. We hope you will be a part of this wonderful month of fundraising as we show love to those right here in our community.

View our class schedule to pick a class!

Raising Awareness and Support for Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King.

Yoga teaches us to serve on and off the mat. When we show up for class, we’re serving ourselves by giving our mind and body time to come together as one. Yoga is a beautiful way of life centered around mindfulness, appreciation, love and servitude, and we should all aim to reflect those values in our daily lives.

We invite you to open your heart and show servitude off the mat by supporting Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders, our Charity of the Month, in December. AYC will be raising awareness and funds for Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders as they continue to be a shining light in the community by empowering those struggling with eating disorders. They are committed to promoting healthy relationships with food, movement and body image; eliminating stigma; and fostering acceptance and healing. The organization has served WNC for 15 years and remains the only nonprofit in NC supporting individuals, families and professionals concerned with disordered eating and recovery from eating disorders.

The effects of eating disorders can be crippling from both the mental and physical struggles they have on individuals. If you know someone with an eating disorder, the best thing you can do is support, encourage and help them through her battles. Show them love and appreciation. Hold their hand and be their cheerleader.

The latest statistics on eating disorders indicate that 30 million people in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. But, up to 80 percent of patients who receive and complete treatment will recover or improve significantly. We can work harder to make sure those struggling with eating disorders have access to resources they need to get better. Here’s what you can do to help.

On Thursday, December 26, please join us for our Day of Giving where 10% of drop-in and community class proceeds will be donated to Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders. Choose from a variety of beginner-friendly classes, flow-style classes, hot classes, and more. If you’d like to give a monetary donation, boxes will be available in the Studio and Boutique for the entirety of the month.

Put your practice into action to serve members of our community who need it most! This holiday season, you can be the shining light in someone else’s life.

Learn more about Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders here.

Practice Karma Yoga in Your Life

One of the surest ways to find happiness in life is by curating a servant heart. The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text, views karma yoga, the Hindu path of service to others, as the gateway to spiritual fulfillment and life-long happiness. It is centered around purifying your heart by learning to act selflessly in service of others. Through this type of yoga, we can learn kindness and compassion without any expectation of personal gain. It allows us to leave our egos and puts us on the path to enlightenment and self-realization. This month, we are putting karma yoga into practice by supporting MANNA FoodBank.

There are many ways that you can incorporate karma yoga into your life. You might choose to help an elderly neighbor in need, travel abroad for global service or volunteer with a charity in your local community. Remember, above all, this practice is about giving to those in need, sharing love and spreading light.

Karma yoga seems even more appropriate during this season of Thanksgiving where we focus on the things in our lives that we’re thankful for and emphasize giving to others. During this time of reflection, it’s only appropriate to give back to those who may be struggling and are in need of kindness, love and support.

How You Can Support MANNA FoodBank

During the month of November, we invite you to practice karma yoga in your life by helping us support MANNA FoodBank, our Charity of the Month, as they work to beat hunger in Western North Carolina. Founded in 1983, MANNA is a private, not-for-profit service organization, that links the food industry with over 200 partner agencies in 16 counties of WNC. Their mission is to involve, educate and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina.

A food bin will be available in the Studio all month long if you would like to donate food or cleaning items. On Thursday, November 21, you can also support MANNA FoodBank by visiting the Studio for a drop-in or community class where we’ve pledged to give 10 percent of class proceeds to the nonprofit. Donation boxes will also be available in the Studio and the Boutique from the first day of November until the last day of the month.

Please go to for a list of acceptable donations.

Bring Gratitude into Your Practice 

Invite gratitude into your practice! Next time you’re on your mat, try these poses to open your heart and mind to cultivate an attitude of giving.

Child’s Pose

Start on your hands and knees and bring your toes together behind you. Spread your knees out as far apart as you can while still feeling comfortable. Stretch your arms out in front of you and sit back on your heels. Lay your torso forward and rest your forehead on your mat. In this pose, give gratitude for being alive.

Standing Forward Fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and fold forward. Relax your head and neck and allow your arms to dangle. While you’re here for a few breaths, give gratitude to your feet and for all the journeys they’ve taken you on.

Mountain Pose

Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart. Breathe in and reach your arms up over your head. Turn your palms inward and extend up through your fingertips. Take your gaze up towards the ceiling and take 5 deep breaths. With this pose, find gratitude for the season and for the upcoming year!

Instructor of the Month: Kimberley Puryear

Taking one of Kimberley Puryear’s classes is to get an hour-long education in authenticity and self love. The moment you lay out your mat in her Tuesday evening Yin class, you are welcomed by Kimberley with a smile (usually followed by a funny one-liner). Although the class is always packed, there is a sense of individual attention paired with the comfort of being surrounded by people looking to find balance in their body and mind. The same personalized attention that goes into her class is applied to her work as the lead instructor of the 200 Hour Teacher Training program. Testimonials from 200 Hour TT grads flow in, praising her ability to connect with students and pass on her knowledge as both a yoga instructor and practitioner. With her workshops, Teacher Training expertise and popular Yin class, Kimberley is one of AYC’s most invaluable family members.

Kimberley was first drawn to yoga as her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A friend who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis had been practicing yoga to manage her pain and recommended Kimberley join to help her cope with her mother’s illness. “She taught me basic stuff, especially breathing. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was learning breathing techniques not only for myself but also for my mother, to help her pass peacefully.” Kimberley was especially drawn to yoga’s ability to calm, soothe, strengthen and heal.

In 2007, 10 years after starting yoga, she decided to deepen her practice by attending AYC’s 200 Hour RYT Immersion and 6 months later dove into our 300 Hour RYT. During this time, she discovered her love for Yin. “It was a practice that was so powerful and grounding during a time where I really needed that.” For Kimberley, Yin allows you to sit with aspects of yourself that are uncomfortable. “Life is not comfortable for me naturally, so to have a tool to allow whatever is inside that needs space to be heard and felt and understood is powerful to me. It’s a daily practice to listen to those things and then give myself what I need to nurture myself. And then through that I can help open my heart to other people.” After graduation, she and her husband opened a yoga studio in Columbia, SC. With the success of her studio, she was approached by Stephanie Keach to become a teacher training instructor at AYC. Working with students has caused her teaching style to evolve. In her classes, workshops and TT courses, Kimberley has a fluid teaching style- constantly changing the pose, topic or curriculum to fit the needs of the group and of individuals. This attention to detail stems from her genuine interest in knowing her students. “My favorite thing about teaching is the connection with students. I learn so much more from them than they could ever learn from me. I love that the interaction with each and every single student is an opportunity to connect.”

October 16th was the last day of Kimberley’s 5-day Flow & Yin Immersion. This workshop focused on exploring Vinyasa Flow, Yin Yoga theory and practice, relaxation techniques, pranayama and adjustments. She has another workshop February which will focus on Restorative Yoga. The beautiful thing about Restorative Yoga is that it gives us a chance to reset and flush the system of stress. Kimberley’s workshop will fluidly discuss the negative effects of stress on our sympathetic nervous systems and address how as a yoga practitioner or instructor you can find ways to bring yourself and your students back into balance. Never one to settle for cookie-cutter yoga, Kimberley is clear that her main goal is to give students the tools to find their own paths. “I think that’s the most powerful thing that can come out of a workshop- people saying ‘I can make this my own.’”

Her exploration of balance within her own life and practice influences her teaching style, making her an incredibly relatable mentor to the hundreds of students she teaches each year. “I have been learning for 10 years and teaching for 10 years and I’m just now starting to understand what my practice is,” she says. “It is trying to be strong, fluid, radiant and peaceful. It’s trying every day to really pay attention through my practice and meditation, which of those parts is out of balance.” Her unsurprising success as a yoga instructor stems from this innate ability of hers to adapt, connect and admit that she’s just another person trying to navigate this crazy world.

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide

What is your “Yoga Story”? 

Lori: My yoga story is different from Thom’s… I began “doing” yoga about 25 years ago with Cindy Dollar at a studio where I taught step aerobics and body sculpt called Sport Dance.  I decided to give it a try because I felt so tight and inflexible from weight training… the moment I tried it, I was hooked for good!   I have to admit that at first it was a physical thing, and I  was a bit competitive with it, but as some years passed, I came to realize that it benefited me way beyond the physical… it vastly opened up my heart and soul!  In 1997, a friend introduced me to Asheville Yoga Center.  I became a student of Stephanie’s.  Her class was energizing and challenging, but not quite like her current Ashtanga Mix. Stephanie was a rubber band back then, too. Shala was a student  in Stephanie’s class, so we are talking way back! Thom would join me for classes at AYC, but his knees began to pain him around 2005 and yoga was just not possible. It wasn’t until 2014, when he had a double knee replacement, that he was able to become my yoga companion again, and lately we have been fortunate enough to be able to attend every class together. 

After a yoga practice we feel a sense of peace and connectivity. Our hearts open along with our bodies, and our minds become serene. We feel in harmony. Yoga has helped us to navigate through this mysterious vast ocean of life. So far we’ve been able to weather the huge, crashing waves of the storms and then settle back in to the calm aiming for appreciation, gratitude, and contentment. For this, and so many other benefits, we are thankful that yoga is a path we have chosen.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

Lori: If I had to choose a favorite yoga pose, it would have to be WILD THING!  Back bends are difficult for me and so Camatkarasana enables me to be filled with a sense of freedom and release!  Another favorite is HORSE POSE or Vatayanasana. This pose really aligns my back!  

Thom: I don’t have a favorite pose but I like the progress I am making with Pigeon pose because it has increased my flexibility in my knees and hips.  

What is your most challenging pose?

Lori: Full Wheel (Urdvah Dhanurasana) has been my nemesis since I began my yoga journey. Stephanie once figured out why for me, and since then I have accepted that my physical body has limits! This was when I decided to just BE on my mat and to accept what I was given.

Thom: My most challenging poses are any standing balance poses because of my knee surgery.

Describe yourself in three words: 

Thom: Grateful, Caring, and Centered…and Lori agrees on that!

What is your favorite/ most inspiring quote?

Lori: I have so many favorite quotes. I love how Ram Dass expresses his thoughts.  Here is one…..“If I can’t  stop thinking, maybe I can just let my thoughts go by without getting all caught up in them. Feel the breeze on your face or your neck? See how it’s going by? You’re not all hung up with it. You don’t have to see where each breeze goes. You don’t have to look quickly to see if it hit those trees over there. It’s breezes, and they’re just going by. Make your thoughts like those breezes, those little breezes just passing by…”
Another favorite quote by Pema Chodron is….“The path is unchartered.  It comes into existence moment by moment and at the same time, drops away behind us.  It’s like riding in a train sitting backward.  We can’t see where we’re headed, only where we’ve been.” 

And lastly, this quote is lovely….“Just as the sun shines despite the clouds, so all beings are enlightened despite their issues.”

Thom: My favorite quote is from Omar Khayyam….“Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life!”  

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Lori: Buddha’s Brain is one of my favorite books that was recommended by Michael Johnson during his ten month Classics of Yoga course.   I had a lot of aha moments while reading this book in discovering that I can actually sculpt my brain to benefit my life by rewiring my neurons.  I am a true testament that this works!  I am presently reading “Autobiography of a Yogi”, it’s taking me a long time to get through, but it appears to be well worth it!

Thom: Another recommended book by Michael that I thoroughly enjoyed is Abundance because it is an optimistic view of mankind”s future. I have suggested it to many people to read.

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

Lori: It would be difficult for me to pinpoint a favorite song out of the gazillion that are out there but I  am especially drawn to Kirtan… it’s so nourishing and grounding to me! Thom and I sing quite a bit of Kirtan together. I have a harmonium in our meditation room and Thom and I sing together sometimes. 

What inspires you? 

There is so much that inspires us… but what immediately enters our minds are what people and animals endure in life. We admire those that face their adversities and move onward. Our youngest son has been through a tremendous amount in his short life and we admire him with his ability to face difficulties and challenges while maintaining his humor. 

(grateful, caring & centered)

Michael Johnson is a compelling mix of creative yoga instructor and curious student of the mind. The root of his interest in meditation lies in its ability to help with neurological disorders and for developing wellbeing.

Michael’s worldview and meditation practiced changed when he read Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius. In this book, they explain how we can literally reshape our brain for greater happiness, love and wisdom through a combination of modern science and ancient teachings. Implementing these teachings into his own life, Michael eventually divested himself of the dogmatic & religious interpretations of meditation and instead focused on a more scientific approach.

Mettā Meditation, begins October 13. According to Michael, “Mettā means the combination of kindness, compassion, gratitude and patience-all in one. It is a meditation technique used for developing these states so they can occur with greater ease and frequency.” When you look at it from a neuroscientific perspective, cultivating these positive emotions proactively builds new connections between neurons, increases gray matter in key areas and primes our consciousness to respond with kindness for the next person you meet as well as the person you’re trying to heal a relationship with.

“Vipassanā is more like pruning, ridding ourself of weeds or bad habits that have accumulated in our mind. So the two meditation techniques go hand in hand. One is like clearing weeds and the other is for planting seeds.” he says. Find out more about how you can develop inner peace, better relationships and a positive outlook on life by registering for the Mettā workshop at

Also interested in the advantages of the combination of pranayama and music during a practice, Michael and his wife, Stephanie, formed a project called Ösel to share their love of music and kirtan. Ösel provides original music with creative rhythms using a wide range of instruments, traditional Sanskrit mantra and poetry. Each album is 108, 120 or 130 beats per minute to compliment Ujjāyī breathing. Their albums are available for purchase in the Asheville Yoga Boutique. Their next Kirtan at AYC is Oct 8th from 2-4pm by donation.

Michael understands that for beginners, it can be difficult to consistently make it to yoga classes. His advice to new practitioners is “Doing anything for the first time takes a lot of courage. There are a million reasons not to, but if you can just get through the door, take the class and have the experience, you’ll find it’s totally worth the time. It also helps to come with a friend. A lot of people come to yoga class, not to prove anything, but rather to feel a sense of connection and peace of mind that’s hard to get anywhere else. That’s, I think, why people keep coming back to classes.” So if you’re feeling a bit lost in finding your stride in your practice, or even are an established yogi looking to further the depth of your practice, we here at AYC recommend you attend any of Michael’s classes and workshops. He has a massive following of dedicated students not only because of his wisdom and experience as an instructor, but also because of his raw understanding of what it means to be human with all of the complexities of attempting to successfully navigate our emotions and this world we live in. Find out more about the services he offers and his class schedules at and

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

What is your “Yoga Story”?
I doubt if I will ever be finished with the story, or, I hope not. Yoga is the one activity that touches all senses, when open to it, both mind and body. I am grateful for how the practice has helped me to grow in being compassionate to the journey I am on.

Why do you practice yoga?
To learn about myself and for the physical and mental challenges of the practice.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?
Inversions are my favorite pose, at this moment. (ALL of them!)

What is your most challenging pose?
Chaturanga is the most challenging pose for me….at this time.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have ben practicing yoga for six years.

Describe yourself in three words:
Energetic, Optimistic and loving

What is your favorite/ most inspiring quote?
“Every experience no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”  –Buddha

 What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)
My favorite book changes monthly. This month it is:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?
Shut up and Kiss me by Mary Chapin Carpenter

What is your favorite food?
Sushi, cole slaw and onion rings: all tie for first place

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)
Inside Out is my favorite movie

What inspires you? 
Happy people inspire me.

(energetic, optimistic and loving)


I ran across a book on yoga in my early 20s, bought it and pretty much set it aside. Higher education and career were at the forefront of my mind and purpose. Jump several decades into the future when career becomes secondary, and it’s time for me to focus on me.  Yoga is back in my radar as more than the casual interest and occasional class over time. My practice evolved and I began to teach, and study for YA certification. It was a really good period of teaching and learning… and then we moved.

We came to Asheville 7 years ago, and one of the first things I did was to identify all the studios within what I considered to be an acceptable driving distance. There were lots to try and choose from… I made a geographic list, with the farthest away on top and closest on the bottom, and began my journey.  Just past the midway point, I came for a class at Asheville Yoga. I liked the energy at the studio, the class and the overall ambiance… and then I met Stephanie and took her class.  7 years later I’m still here!

Why do you practice yoga? 
It is a learning and stabilizing process.  It helps me stay connected with myself and my path in this life.  Even when I’m physically exhausted and mentally tired, I can stay centered and be present.  I find the practice, not just the asana, completely gratifying.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?
Triangle, in so many of its’ variations, is both inspiring and daunting.

What is your most challenging pose?
Arm balances of any sort because my body is carrying a lot of life experiences that make them difficult.  I have to be truly mindful with my efforts and ensure that I take care of myself.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing steadily for about 13 years.

What is your favorite/ most inspiring quote?
“what you seek is seeking you” -Rumi 

What are you reading right now?
Favorite book:  Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn; I think that says it all.  I just finished The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri . . . an amazing read.

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?
So many to choose from . . . Ong Na Mo is probably my favorite.  Soundtracks from the 2 Anugama “Sahmanic Dreams” cds are right up there as well.

What is your favorite food?

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)
I don’t have a favorite movie.  I did enjoy the last one that I saw – The Force Awakens – always an underlying positive (optimistic) outlook.

What inspires you? 
Waking up and sunrise . . . and the opportunity for endless possibilities that the forthcoming day brings.

(Realistic optimist, driven, consistent)