Summertime Lull and Yoga Activities to Bring Clients Back

Summertime is often a lull for yoga classes. It can be frustrating when you are used to a full class and then all of a sudden your numbers drop sometimes drastically.
Some people take it personally but they really shouldn’t. Its not you, its the nice weather and the fact that kids are on summer break so many families take vacations or pursue family activities. I don’t blame the clients. When it is nice outside that is definitely where I want to be. Also, many stay at home parents who usually attend daytime classes when their kids are at school don’t have access to daycare during the summer.
My studio and the classes that I teach throughout town are no different. I have had the fluctuations in my classes also.
To combat that, my studio has taken many opportunities to take our yoga classes outside. Here are some of the things we have done that have worked in our favor. First of all, we’ve made our outside classes donations. People seem to like the donation concept. Two outdoor donation projects we have done are a series of classes called Yoga in the Park and Yoga Takes a Hike.
Our Yoga in the Park is always at the same park and at the same time (early lunch time). We picked several dates during the summer, all for the most part on a Saturday. Our flows are family friendly so the whole family can participate. We then had our city’s newspaper publish our dates (we had to plan ahead).
For Yoga Takes a Hike, we host our hikes once a month on a Saturday morning before it gets to hot. All hikes are easy, family friendly and dog friendly. Here in Colorado, there are a ton of trails but keeping the hikes easy seems to be the best approach. We do light yoga stretches before we hit the trail, allow people to strike a pose at scenic vistas, and a light yoga practice at the summit. Overall, it is mostly a hike with a little yoga flavor.
Another thing we have done is join forces with other studios to put together a community event called Yoga Rocks the Park. (Event cost $15 at the gate). With this even, five studios joined together. We all advertised. We each took a turn to be the host studio which leads a 75 minute class. When you aren’t the host studio, you could be part of the vendor lineup which we definitely jumped on. Our Yoga Rocks the Park seems to be catching on and has been a great opportunity for us to grab a few new clients. We have two more dates coming up.
Finally, we have hosted a series of classes called Kids Artistic Asana. We have hosted these once a month on a Sunday afternoon. These classes consist of an hour of Kids Yoga and then an hour with a specified art project. Our Kids Artistic Asana costs though. For $35 dollars, they get to do yoga and an art project. The studio purchases everything they need so essentially all the kid needs to do is show up and have fun. Based on what parents are telling us, the kids seem to look forward to it and it gives them something to do during the summer.
So those are our classes that keep the clients coming in during the summer. We still have our other programs in place but we have slightly reduced the number of classes we have on our schedule. This limits how much we have to pay our instructors and it gives them an opportunity to take their vacations as well.
All in all, summertime doesn’t have to be a dreaded time for studios and instructors, you just have to get creative and explore opportunities outside. My studio partner and I are already thinking about next summer. We know we will pursue these four activities again next year. We are also exploring doing a little Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. We currently have indoor SUP boards classes that we teach. This might be fun.

Namaste,
Kristen

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What’s in a logo? A name?

I’ve been really busy trying to get my yoga studio started and going. Very time consuming to say the least! As I and my business yoga partners develop the business, there is one question that people continuously ask me. That is how did I come up with my studio name and the logo.

Well, I have to say, I didn’t come up with it all by myself. I had help. It was a joint effort on the part of myself and my business partner and friend, Lara.

Buckle up and let me tell you how we came up with our name and logo.

It all started the fall of 2014. Lara and I didn’t know each other, but we had one thing in common, we both signed up and were taking a yoga teacher training. That’s how we met. As we got to know each other, we learned that we had some of the same passions when it came to yoga so we were naturally drawn together. Our complimentary ideologies attracted a friendship.

I wanted to go beyond fitness based yoga and truly help people who needed it the most. People who are suffering from trauma or have life changing injuries. People with PTSD and especially veterans. As a veteran myself, I’ve seen some of the struggles and hardships military men and women and families go through. I felt compelled to find a way I could help. My way of giving back. Lara wanted that too.

Back in November 2014, both Lara and I were watching a documentary called “I am” by Tom Shadyac (Hollywood director of several popular movies). I have to give credit to the film because it was a catalyst that set the studio identity in motion.

In short, the film posed two questions. What’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? Tom made the film after he was in a cycling accident. He wasn’t healing and was depressed.  His money wasn’t making him happy (he had several mansion type homes, a plane, cars… excess) so he went on a quest to search for true happiness and if he could be a change he wished to see in the world. Doing his journey, he saw two extremes in the world. The super rich with excess and a lot of waste and the extreme poverty who didn’t eat or have shelter let alone things we take for granted. He noticed that some of the happiest people he met certainly weren’t rich and yet they would go out of their way to help another. He questioned how was that so!

After watching that film, I see that in the world and it’s sad.

Today’s world is filled with people so caught up in their own lives. Many don’t take a moment to acknowledge others, let alone lend a helping hand. There is a lot of I’m to important, materialism, and greed. Tom felt he was guilty too.

So with a new sense of purpose, Tom went on a quest to share with others his own awaking as he eliminated the greed and excess in his life and help influence others to do the same.

His thoughts were that we are all the same, we breath the same air. In fact, 1% of the air we breath is Argon which is a recyclable gas so everyone breaths this noble gas to include the great people before before us.

I could go on and on. All in all, the film sparked something in Lara and I.

Yoga is about the breath. We keyed in on Tom’s mention of part of the air we breath was Argon. Argon is the Eighteenth Element. When Argon burns, it takes a fusha color. Our colors in the logo are black and fuchsia. If you look closely, you can see an influence of the periodic table in our logo also.

Before watching the film, Lara and I felt it is extremely important that yoga is for everyone not just the rich or those who choose it for fitness. It was important to us to keep our prices low so it isn’t out of people’s means and two of our trauma programs are free. Several people really truly need it. The less fortunate, those who struggle with trauma in their day-to-day lives, and first responders. Our phrase Lara and I always say to each other; “if you build it, they will come.”

We started taking trauma focused yoga training, talking to trauma workers, and doing a lot of reading. The one thing we came to realize was that a lot of people feel like they are victims to their trauma and as such we keyed in on the Warrior pose because in our eyes, our clients can take back their lives, be their own warrior, and yoga can be one of the tools they use. This is our way of lending a helping hand.

So now you know the rest of the story. Why we named our studio Eighteenth Element Yoga and how our logo evolved. I hope you like it just as much as we do and just maybe we will meet you on the mat sometime soon!

Namaste,

Kristen

Eighteenth Element Yoga logo

Eighteenth Element Yoga logo

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What Makes a Yoga Class “Trauma-Sensitive?”

This is great question to consider. Chances are there is a person contemplating a visit to your class or studio because he or she was recommended to try yoga by his or her therapist. What potential clients and even some therapists or doctors don’t know is that there are so many different yoga styles out there and not all yoga is good for a trauma-sensitive person.

I say again… NOT ALL YOGA STYLES ARE GOOD FOR THE TRAUMATIZED PERSON. In fact, some yoga experiences can cause more harm than good.

As an owner and instructor at Eighteenth Element Yoga in Colorado Springs, I am extremely sensitive towards this topic.

To set any potential client’s mind at ease, below is a list of what we at Eighteenth Element Yoga define as a trauma-sensitive yoga class.

1. Any client who would like to meet the instructor in advance of the class, can do so. We will accommodate meetings and explore any questions a person might have. We have assembled a great team of instructors who have empathy, compassion, and a true concern for every single one of our clients. You won’t find diva or rock star instructors with big egos who don’t have the time of day for you at Eighteenth Element Yoga. Additionally, all of our instructors have bios on our website known as mats. Potential clients can check out our instructors before they ever step in our door!

2. There is predictability with our instructors and our classes. No surprises! All can take comfort in the safety and security of this. Instructors will always inform of what is coming before it happens.

3. Instructors stay on their mats in our Mindful Yoga Therapy class. During this class, our clients will always know where the instructor is at all times. Instructors will never approach a person from behind or catch someone off guard.

4. Our classes promote choices. We understand that you didn’t have a choice concerning the trauma that happened to you. Take comfort that no one will be forced to do anything. You don’t want to close your eyes, you don’t have to. If a pose isn’t working for you, you have the freedom to come out of it or to not do it at all. If all you do is show up and breath that is totally fine with us. You will always have choices offered.

5. Our classes have grounding practices. It is important to have a sense of support. In yoga, it is the earth and our Bandhas. It can also be the community of the yoga class who have empathy and you’ll find quite the support system at Eighteenth Element Yoga as trauma-sensitive yoga is our mission.

6. Classes have a structure. You will always know what comes after what. For instance, we will always have a breathing exercise at the beginning of class so you can count on that.

7. Touching is a NO GO! We will never touch anyone without their permission. This goes without saying in a trauma-sensitive class. Also, take comfort that even when you are in any of our classes (even if they aren’t identified as a trauma-sensitive class) that we won’t touch you without your permission. The studio has flip chips that students have total control of. Don’t want to be touched, flip the chip to indicate as such. There is no need to draw attention to yourself by having to say anything in front of the class.

8. All of our trauma-sensitive classes encourage “present moment” practices and mindsets. Trauma is a “past event” that likes to keep you in the past with things like flashbacks and nightmares. The future which isn’t even here yet can be stressful to think about. The present moment is a stress free zone and that is where we encourage you to explore.

9. Our trauma-sensitive classes encourage and allow “effective action” practices. These are choices we encourage our clients to make that might make them feel better. For instance, being set up in a certain part of the room, to use or not use blocks, to ask for the lights to stay on verses off… Things like that.

10. Our classes have rhythms. Our trauma-sensitive classes move at a slower and limbic-centric pace. Class won’t be to slow or to fast but at the pace where one can feel the body move and relieve tension.

11. Our trauma-sensitive classes reinforce “Mindfulness.” This is knowing what happens and feeling when you move your body a certain way. This is listening to your bodies and hearing the whispers it says and honoring those whispers so the body doesn’t scream at you later. Learning to concentrate on what your are doing for instance in a pose. Using breathing practices to energize and fuel your yoga practice but also to sooth and calm whenever you need. You can take your breath where ever you go and let it channel anger and anxiety as you are out and about in your world.

12. We took a lot of care in finding the perfect studio and team. You won’t be startled by loud exterior noises like booming car stereos or people walking by and looking at you through the window. There aren’t excessive doors or windows. Our trauma-sensitive class are room temperature verses heat that reminds you Afghanistan or Iraq. We don’t burn weird incense or have weird exotic music. We get that “bells and smells” can be trauma triggers. We also speak in everyday language.

13. We understand that yoga maybe a totally new experience and maybe even overwhelming at times. We encourage our clients to work with a therapist so the yoga can be an adjunctive treatment. Additionally, we understand that some instructors can fire hose people with a ton of information that you’ll stress over trying to remember everything. To counter that, we offer redundancy meaning we will repeat the things you learn. We reinforce what is taught with support material, homework practices, and practice journals/logs to reinforce what you are learning. We call everything we do “tools” that you can put in your “toolbox.”

14. You don’t have to guess which class to go to. All of our trauma-sensitive classes are identified by an * symbol and a course description. When you check us out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out actually how many of our classes are trauma-sensitive.

15. Our classes are for everyone! Trauma doesn’t discriminate and neither do we. Classes are affordable, donation-based, and some are even free. We keep our costs low and transfer that to you. We are also backed by non-profits and their supporting organizations.

—–

There are a lot of yoga choices out there. All in all, I hope this provides some insight that not all yoga is right for a traumatized or trauma-sensitive person. The above is Eighteenth Element Yoga’s perspective.

You can check us out on www.eighteenthelementyoga.com and/or on www.facebook.com/eighteenthelementyoga. If you are or will be in the Colorado Springs, CO area, stop in and visit us.

Namaste,

Kristen

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Adventures in Creating and Bringing Up a New Yoga Studio: Eighteenth Element Yoga – Just Over 2 Months In

EEY-LOGO-FINAL

Back in January, I introduced my adventure towards creating a yoga studio. So I thought I’d give you a little update. So much has happened! And…people are wanting to hear about the studio (at least our friends do).

JANUARY 2015

Within the first month, I felt like we had accomplished quite a bit. I’ve learned there is A LOT of behind the scenes work. (That is an understatement!) Things like coming up with a studio name and a mission statement. Then after doing that, we had to establish our business entity through the State Department. Within days, we chose a platform to host our website and then created a profile on every single social media outlet that we could think of. We went on a photo shoot so we could fill our website and social media sites with some material. Finally, we did necessary stuff like get a P.O. box, a joint bank account, and explored Paypal and the Square.

That was all in the first month.

FEBRUARY 2015

February, was just as busy. During this month, we finalized our operating agreement and started aggressively looking for a permanent home for the studio. While we were looking, we offered classes at both a nearby fire station and library. These classes were either free or donation based. Our strategy for doing this was to allow people to sample what we were about and to build our future community. It is slowly working.

The other major event was that we finally had a logo. (Check it out). We had been working with a graphic design artist. Once we had the logo, we put it on our social media sites, website, and printed schedules. We also started exploring T-shirt designs. Overall, we want people to associate the logo with our studio.

MARCH 2015

It isn’t even the middle of March and already a ton of stuff has happened.

I finally got around to writing our Business Plan which in my opinion is kind of intimidating to get started. However, now that I have a baseline written, it has been fairly easy to allow it to evolve. I think I edit it now about once a week. One thing I’ve learn about the business plan is that it has kept everyone on the same school of thought. It is a necessary evil.

We have continued to explore several T-shirt designs. We’ve sought the opinions of several people. Now, we have quite the variety and have placed an order. It is our plan to sell these T-shirts at our studio store.

Now, the biggest news is that we found a space! Both Lara and I signed the lease on Monday, 9 March 2015. Currently, our studio is being renovated by the landlord’s contractor. This includes adding a wall, painting, and laying carpet and wood flooring. Since seeing the space, Lara and I found inspiration for how the studio will be decorated. (Not telling you yet. It’s a surprise).

Other than that, we have been trying to network and market our studio. We plan to have a grand opening the second weekend in April. We will have a big party (probably catered) and several demo classes that would last 15 minutes or so. Our T-shirts will be available to purchase and we will have 5-Class pack cards to sell. The first month, the T-shirts and loyalty cards will have a special early bird price that will be good for the whole month of April.

Our studio information…

The name of our studio is “Eighteenth Element Yoga.”

We will offer a variety of yoga classes but will specialize in trauma yoga.

We have a Facebook page if you do Facebook. Its www.facebook.com/eighteenthelementyoga.com and we have a website too. Its www.eighteenthelementyoga.com. If you do YouTube, we have just started putting up videos also.

I’d love for you to check us out. Tell your friends about us (especially if you are in the Colorado Springs, CO area or in the military). Or send us some support perhaps on Facebook.

Namaste,

Kristen

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Spring Influences

I can’t believe it is already March! According to the calendar, March 20 is the first day of spring. (I know some of us live in the north and spring shows it’s face at different times). With that being said, if you are like me, spring inspires spring cleaning, spring detoxing, and weight loss efforts.

If you have been following me for a while, you likely know that I recently opened up a yoga studio with my friend Lara. Our studio is called Eighteenth Element Yoga. One of the things we are doing in the studio is a pose of the month and a essential oil of the month. For us, March sponsors Chaturanga and Lemon Essential Oil.

In my opinion, just saying or posting that Chaturanga is our pose of the month or that Lemon Essential Oil is our oil of the month is not enough. You should indicate “WHY.”

WHY
Chaturanga
1. Is a pose found in most active yoga classes and it is often repeated numerous times.

2. Is not an easy pose and many people don’t do it right thus leaving them susceptible to injuries. The shoulders often fall victim to improper technique so Chaturanga is often nicknamed the “shoulder shredder.”
***Because of this, we felt it was important to highlight this pose. At our studio, we film videos showing pose break downs and various modifications. We will do the same for this pose as well as demonstrating ways to build up strength if a proper Chaturanga (any variation) is currently out of a person’s league.

Lemon Essential Oil
1. Lemon Essential Oil can be a tool towards weight loss. We all know we are supposed to drink water. But the question is how much? Some people don’t know how much to drink or simply don’t like the taste of water. Here is a simple formula for the amount and a possible taste solution. (Just make sure citrus doesn’t mess with any medicines you might be taking).
***Divide your body weight by 2 = how many ounces of water you should drink
Put your water in a “glass” pitcher or glass. (Don’t use plastic with essential oils as the oils will break down the plastic).
For every 20-30 ounces, add 3-5 drops of lemon essential oil. [Only ingest oils marked Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG)].
Drink daily.

2. Lemon is a workhorse additive to a general household cleaner if you are into using green products. It is cheaper and easy to make.
***Find a glass or aluminum 11 – 12 ounce spray bottle.
5 ounces of water
5 ounces of white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
20 drops of lemon oil
Add the water and vinegar to the bottle. Slowly add the baking soda so it doesn’t fizz. Then add the oil. Shake it up and use!

3. Lemon as aromatherapy has wonderful benefits. It helps eliminate negative emotions, and can increase concentration and awareness. To gain these benefits, you can diffuse it or put a drop or two in a tissue and inhale.

As you can see, Chaturanga and lemon are great stars to highlight as poses and essential oils of the month. But why March? That goes back to my what spring inspires…spring cleaning, spring detox, and weight loss efforts.
Lemon can be used to clean with, it can influence people’s emotions, and it can be ingested (only CPTG) to help with a person’s weight loss strategies. There are a ton of uses for lemon, I only offered 3 ways so I wouldn’t overwhelm anyone.
Chaturanga uses the entire body. It is a great multitasking exercise. So if you are limited in time, include Chaturanga in your yoga practice. If you include it regularly, you’ll see results the form of toned arms and core. Who doesn’t want that?!?!

Happy Spring!

Namaste,
Kristen

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Partner Yoga

I’m betting that many of you will try out a “Partner Yoga” class this month. Perhaps you explore it on Valentine’s Day or maybe this month since it is the month of the heart.

Maybe you are taking a class. Maybe you are teaching the class. I’m the latter.

As I was designing my class, I got to thinking about what I could do in the class and who might be in my class. A lot of the places where I teach, I have mainly intermediate and newbie yogis and they are of various ages and fitness abilities. A few are what I’d considered advanced; however, the majority are not. The last thing I want to do is throw in all those climb on top of each other and aero types of poses and scare everyone away. (I think that is better suited for when I have more experienced yogis).

So since I don’t know who will come tomorrow, I’ll err on the more cautious side.

Here is what I’m thinking. This is intended to be a flow class. The pace of course can be dictated by who comes. (Mats are side to side, touching on the long side).

LIMBERING:

* Community Pose – this is extended mountain with inside hands clasped

* Double Side Bend – standing side by side, inner hands rest on partner’s hip/waist, outer hand reaches up and clasps partner’s hand. Bend to the right. Bend to the left.

* Double Backbend – facing each other, hands clasp forearms, lean back into a backbend

BUILD HEAT WITH CREATIVE SUN SALUTES:

Sun A:

Community Pose – step back with outside leg into Star – step back into Community Pose – then flow into a Vinyasa (plank, chaturanga, cobra/upward facing dog, downward Facing dog) — repeat several times

Sun B:

Downward Facing Dog – outer leg lifts up and Hips Stack, perhaps feet high five – back to Downward Facing Dog – inner leg lifts up to step in between hands – twist towards front leg and extend hand upwards for Dragonfly Twist – Hands come to thigh to help come up and into Warrior IIReverse Warrior – finish with a Vinyasa — repeat several times

Sun C:

Downward Facing Dog– inner leg lifts – Warrior IWarrior IIR. WarriorTriangle – outer leg steps back – StarWide FoldStar then pivot to the back of the mat – Revolved TriangleVinyasa — repeat several times. Play with hands, maybe grab a partner’s ankle or reach up and try to find their hand.

BALANCING:

* Titanic – one person stands in front of the other and reaches their arms back. Back person takes their arms as the front person leans forward (over the boat).

* Partner Dancer – do one side then the other side

* Double Tree – do one side then the other side

MAT WORK:

The following are seated poses.

* Double Owl – sit back to back in easy pose. Right hand takes your knee and left hand reaches back towards partner or their knee.

* Heart and Butterfly – still back to back. Legs are in butterfly pose. One person leans back onto their partner (Heart) while the other  folds forward (Butterfly). Trade roles.

* Diamond Pose – Face each other, legs straddled out, grab hands/forearms. One person leans back as the other folds forward. Trade roles.

* Double Boat – Still facing each other, legs zip together and each other’s souls of feet meet as hands come together outside of the legs.

SURRENDER:

Laying on mats but side by side. Bring knees into chest and find supine twist on each side. Partners can help with a hand on their buddy’s knee.

End in Savasana.

This isn’t a complicated class. All levels can do it. Plus it doesn’t take people to far out of their comfort zone as far as touch is concerned.

Enjoy!

Namaste,

Kristen

Posted in Beginner yoga, Community, Creating Yoga Themes, Deep Stretching, Fun, mind-body connection | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

February Themes… Heart Openers

We are in the midst of February and I’m seeing what other yoga instructors and studios are offering in terms of special classes. The three main themes typically are “Heart Openers,” “Heart Chakra,” and “Partner Yoga.” In the past, I have done all three of these themes with success! Overall, these are great and fun themes that go along with February being the “American Heart Association’s Heart Month,” and also “Valentine’s Day.” Since February 2015 has started, I’ve been having “Heart Opening” themes in my classes. Heart Opening themes are fairly easy to teach for a couple of reasons. One, you don’t need a partner (I do Partner classes on Valentine’s Day). Two, you can teach this theme throughout the month. Three, there are a ton of poses to choose from so you won’t have the same class every time you teach. I’ll list them (just in case you are doing the same and maybe looking for a pose you hadn’t considered).

HEART OPENING POSE LIST *** If you offer variations of these or even use props, the list grows longer.***

Bow

Bridge

Camel

Cobra

Cow

Cow Face

Dancer

Fish

Forward Fold with Hands Clasped behind back.

Half Bound Triangle (chest slightly rotates towards ceiling)

Half Frog (Toe hold variation)

Heart Opening Wall Twist (Sit perpendicular near a wall. Place Hand on wall and twist the opposite way).

Locust Mountain with Hands Clasped Behind Proud Pigeon (Opposite Hand clasps extended bent leg. Chest revolves towards front bent knee and upwards).

Reverse Plank

Revolved Beam Pose Side Angle with supporting arm on thigh while top arm reaches toward the ceiling and then gently clasping head as chest slightly spirals toward ceiling. Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Rockstar

Sphinx

Supported Reclining Bound Angle (use a bolster)

Warrior I with Hands Clasped Behind

Wheel

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Face Staff Pose

Wild Thing

So as you can see, we have a ton of poses to introduce into our classes. Now after doing a few “Heart Openers,” you’ll want to neutralize the spine with a counterpose or two.

COUNTERPOSES

Child’s Pose

Constructive Pose – Lay on the back with feet as wide as the mat. Slightly pigeon toe the feet and allow the knees to rest against each other. Use arms to wrap around the chest in what I call an “Eagle Hug.”

Forward Folds – Any variation of standing or seated.

Windshield Wipers – Still laying on the back with feet as wide as the mat. Allow the knees to slowly fall to the side and then to the other side.

So there you have it. Grab a few fun “Heart Opening Poses,” thread them appropriately throughout your class, have a fun quote, story, or mention the importance of taking care of your ticker, and make a good feeling love-themed play list (Don’t do the sappy love songs as that can backfire. Instead, choose songs about being happy, loving life…).

I wrote this just in the event some of you were doing “Heart Openers” and wanted to do something outside of your go-to poses. I for one, never considered the “Heart Opening Wall Twist” until recently. I’d love to hear about your “Heart Themed” classes. Namaste, Kristen

Me in Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, CO) doing a little Wildthing.

Me in Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, CO) doing a little Wildthing.

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