Hello Friends! This week we have the pleasure of spending some time with an amazing young woman, Erin Bartolutti! Erin is originally from Connecticut but has made Atlanta her home for quite some time. It was during a trip to a bookstore while on vacation in Florida when Erin found yoga. Since that time she has been honing her practice and will be leading an Iyengar-based community yoga class on January 31st. Be sure to sign up and meet this amazing and inspirational yogi!
Happy New Year fantastic humans! We are so fortunate to have such a marvelous group of people who come to Lift to share their yoga practice year after year and month after month. To start a new year and new decade off right, we are excited to introduce you to yet another amazing person, Simon!
Lift: Hello Simon! We love to know what brings people to yoga in general. What brought you?
Simon: One of my best friends has been doing yoga for many years and encouraged me to do it many years ago. Good friend!
Lift: So how did you find Lift?
SImon: In late July 2018, I Googled to find a studio to help me find the correct posture for meditation. Paige answered the phone when I called and said that yoga poses are designed to help you stretch and build strength to sit a long time in meditation poses. Paige is a keeper.
Lift: So what keeps you coming back to yoga?
Simon: The amazing teachers and great schedule on Thursdays and Saturdays is what keeps me coming back. I like how some of the teachers weave in vedic teachings into their classes. For example, one of the teachers quoted phrases from the Yamas and Niyamas in one of the Vinyassa or Yin classes. She explained some of the philosophies to me, then I went home and researched it and applied it to my daily routine. To truly transform, you need to address both the mind and body which Lift, and the community, does a great job in both areas.
Lift: Do you do yoga everyday Simon?
Simon: My schedule doesn’t permit me to go to the studio everyday, but I do go through a quick Yin flow routine before I meditate twice per day. Nice!
Lift: What are your "yoga essentials" in prepping to begin or after yoga? Any favorite props?
Simon: I usually start each yoga session with a butterfly pose then go into a child pose. Always great to begin well grounded.
Lift: What is the most surprising thing you've found so far about yoga in general OR about your personal yoga practice?
Simon: Since doing yoga, I find that my posture in general is much better. It has also helped me with my personal yoga practice at home.
Lift: Is there one place in the world you would love to do yoga or snap that yoga pose picture?
Simon: I would like to do yoga in Rishikesh India. It is definitely on my bucket list.
Lift: Is there any type of yoga that you gravitate to OR that you are hesitant to try. Or is there a pose you are aspiring to accomplish?
Simon: I aspire to one day be able to do the tree pose. It amazes me how the teachers and other students can effortlessly do that pose. And what comes easy to you may be challenging to others. Meditating twice a day requires commitment and patience! Such a beautiful practice and inspiring.
Lift: Do you have goals for your personal yoga practice?
Simon: One day I would like to be a yoga instructor. Yes!
Lift: What is something about you that surprises people when they learn it?
Simon: That I used to race off-road motorcycles when I was younger. I don’t think it is a big deal, but many people seem to be surprised by that fact. Love it!
Lift: Do you have any recommendations for our tribe? Favorite type of yoga mat? Outdoor activities? Yoga Class?
Simon: I really like the Rumi’s mats as well as the circular gel pads for the hands and wrists.
Lift: Some fun questions: Most spontaneous thing you've ever done? Favorite color? Any pets and their names? One word description of your experience at Lift?
Simon: Ok. More like impulsive, but I bought two new cars from the same dealer on a late evening after work. Blue. Yes, one Havanese named Leo. "Transformational". You know, I once asked a senior Thai Buddhist monk what is the purpose of this world. He responded by saying that it is a “transformation factory.” The amazing Souls at Lift have been an important component part of my personal transformation. You are all doing very important work in this universal transformational process for all members at Lift.
Lift: That's amazing and so are you Simon! We are all so fortunate to have you here! Thank you for your time. Namaste.
This month is always so special and a great time to share with one another and be near friends and/or family. December yogis of the month are a great reflection of that sentiment. We are so pleased to share with our Tribe these two fabulous humans: Kelley and Tom Petrini.
Lift: Where, when, and how were you first introduced to yoga?
Tom: We have been been familiar with yoga for a while, and Kelley practiced at a few studios in Roswell during our first two years in Atlanta. Last December, we wanted something to do together in the evenings and were both interested in yoga so we started with a 30 day Yoga challenge on YouTube. It didn't take long for us both to see the benefits of yoga practice, so we wanted more and started going to Weekend Wind Down together. Yes, Kim's WWD is amazing!
Lift: What keeps you two coming back to yoga?
Kelley: The mental benefits! After a long work day, it's nice to go to yoga to reset our minds and do something together benefits each of us individually.
Lift: Do you guys do yoga everyday?
Tom: Nope but we do try to stick to a weekly routine where we're at least active every day. On nights we're not at Lift, I'm usually running on the treadmill at the gym and Kelley's doing an in home workout in the living room with our dog, Renegade, close by!
LIft: Do you guys have any yoga "rituals" in preparing to begin yoga or after?
Kelley: We both typically have an apple or banana before class. If we know we're going to a night class, we usually have a crock pot meal waiting for us when we get home! That's inspirational and smart!
Lift: Are there any poses or classes you guys are hesitant to try?
Tom: Well, Kelley is scared of all things hot yoga and inversions make me a little nervous.
Lift: What is the most interesting thing you've found, so far, your yoga practice or about yoga in general?
Kelley: Prior to joining Lift we both thought of yoga as mostly Vinyasa Flow. We didn't realize all the different types of yoga and the benefits each can offer. Absolutely and they compliment one another too. Like Power Yoga and Restorative or Yin Yoga classes. The one enhances the other.
Lift:What is something about you guys that surprises people when they learn it?
Kelley: Actually, most people are surprised when they find out we go to yoga together!
Lift: Where is the most unusual place you guys have done a yoga pose?
Tom: We did tree pose at the top of Blood Mountain! We need pictures! If you guys have one, please post it on our FB Group!!
Lift: Do you guys have any recommendations for the Lifties this month?
Tom: Yes! Bundle up and take a walk! With the sun setting so early in December it's hard not to stay on the couch but we try to get outside everyday even if it's just for a 30 minute walk in the neighborhood. We've never regretted it!
Lift: So do you guys have a goal for your personal yoga practices?
Kelley: Continue to practice and try new classes!!
Lift: Yes! You guys are amazing! Thank you both for your time and for being a part of our special Tribe. Namaste.
Kelley and Tom: Namaste!
Hello Yogis! There are so many opportunities coming up at Lift and we are excited about them all including the our next on December 20th, Paige Dunford's Winter Solstice Yoga and Poetry workshop. What is the "winter solstice"? It is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest elevation in the sky. Why is it acknowledged? Traditionally, across cultures, it was a time for coming together for feasting and celebration. For traditions to be recognized. But it is also a time of reflection and introspection of self. This Friday is an opportunity for yogis to do just that, to come together and celebrate. Our very own Paige Dunford is here to share more information about it!
Lift: What precipitated this workshop?
Paige: Yoga connects the doer to their true self. Poetry connects the reader to the whole universe. Winter solstice is a wonderful time to journey inward & experience these two healing practices hand-in-hand. I have personally found so much expansion and wisdom from practicing body-nourishing yoga and reading/writing poetry. The past few years I've spent the winter solstice on my own- with these two practices. Now that I'm getting ready to publish my first book of poetry- I feel ready to celebrate with my yoga tribe!!
Lift: What should participants expect?
Paige: I don't want to give too much away- so I'll keep it simple. There will be a yoga flow, a gentle stretch, and plenty of options for each participant to restore their unique body. Throughout the journey, I'll weave in poetry readings, meant to expand the experience to include the whole self. After the practice, we'll enjoy some healthy treats, drink tea, and be our divine selves.
Excerpt from my book, I am wild.
What happens when
you decide to open
up to your vibrance?
When you allow your divinity
to flow toward the surface?
When you acknowledge
capacity to create
(there aren’t words)
Lift: So beautiful. Thank you Paige. Namaste.
Paige: See you on Friday, friends!! Namaste.
Hello Lifties! We hope that your Thanksgiving Day was full of food, fun, family/friends, new traditions and/or old, and lots of belly laughs. Possibly even Gail's Gratitude flow! It's impossible to think of the word "gratitude" and not feel filled to the brim with it when reflecting on Lift+Studio, even beyond a day of thanks giving. Gratitude for our founder Kim Saunders, our leader Lori Denton, our ringmaster Paige Dunford and all the amazing humans who help make Lift+Studio run, pulse, embrace and thrive. Not to mention the incredible people to join us on the mat with full hearts, open minds and deep souls.
In Sanskrit "gratitude" is written beautifully as कृतज्ञता with the transliteration of kRtajJatA. Yoga offers many poses of gratitude such as child's pose, mountain pose and, of course, Savasana. These poses are ones of gratitude for the work the body has done throughout the class. How lovely and what a great idea; to establish a clearly defined action for when your are challenged mentally, emotionally, and/or physically off the mat just as when you are on it. Something we could all do well to remember with the holiday season upon us! Paige is known to say at the end of her class, "now is the end of our practice together but the true yoga begins when we leave the mat". Yes! Implement your yoga in your daily approach to life. If you ever get stumped for ideas of respite off the mat, you've got a crew of good souls happy to brainstorm with you!
Namaste Friends and be grateful and gentle with yourselves!
This week we are pleased to discuss an amazing workshop that will be held on Saturday, November 23rd at 6PM with the dynamic duo of Michael Burke and Paige Dunford at the helm. In the Sound Body Sound Mind Workshop, restorative yoga is combined beautifully with a sound bath. But what is a "sound bath" exactly and why should it be on all of our "to do" lists? We all know time speeds up this time of year with community and holiday activities. It's during these times of fervent planning and effort when it is essential to take the time required to slow down and get back in alignment with oneself. Doing this just might make the entire holiday experience much more enjoyable!
What is restorative yoga? This is a style of yoga with an aim to nourish the body into a state of deep relaxation and rest. When we allow ourselves to dip into a state of calm, all of the body's natural healing mechanisms can come to life! When we enter this state on a regular basis, our efforts toward other areas of life are more productive and efficient.
What is a "Sound Bath"? This is a shared experience in which the physical environment is filled with ambient sounds created by a myriad of instruments and tools. Michael Burke explains, “We hear with much more than our ears. We hear/awaken with each cell of our being. We hear/feel through each pore of our skin. The Sound Bath is an invitation for your being to be massaged from within. These sounds help to release and rejuvenate all that we are.”
Why have you decided to pair yoga with live music? Combining restorative yoga with a sound bath is a way to induce ourselves into a deep meditative and restful state. This is not only an experience in calming down, but one that may increase awareness of self, creativity, healing and restoration. This is a beautiful way to welcome the end of the year and is a wonderful practice in which one may come home to their body.
How will the room be set up? Michael has a table he sets up ahead of time where he can mindfully place each of his bowls, Native American flutes, gongs, rain sticks, and drums. Paige will create a space for each yoga mat that includes a variety of yoga props to soften and mold the floor to meet your body with foundation, grounding, and comfort.
How will the evening unfold? Following a brief introduction, Paige will begin guiding the restorative yoga practice. She will provide assistance in allowing each of our unique bodies to settle into the support of the props. Breath guidance will also be used as a doorway into relaxation. All the while, Michael will begin creating healing sounds. He may walk slowly around the room with his instruments, so that participants may feel the vibrations even more prominently. All movements, shapes, and practices are optional. Know that full permission to allow your body to be the way it wants to be in each moment is always present.
How might one continue this practice at home? An individuals inner calm is always there for them. Experiences like this will help us realize how we can continue to connect to that space. For one person it might be creating a bedtime ritual that includes journaling or a warm cup of tea. For another person, sitting for 10 minutes in meditation early in the morning might be their reminder. At the end of the Sound Body Sound Mind workshop, we’ll all commune together to talk about ways to keep these good vibes going through the end of the year.
You guys. This week is so amazing. This week we chatted with the lovely Ms. Elyse Robleto!! This marvelous gem of a human is fairly new to Lift, as of Spring 2019. This Florida native has been holding meditation and yoga as her touchstones since childhood. After becoming a mother she refocused her yoga practice and furthered it with yoga leadership and teacher training. Since coming to LIft+Yoga she has embraced the 6AM time slot and welcomes the day to come with her students! What wonderful and empowering way to start the day Lifties! Put it on your calendar, you will be so glad you did it!
Lift: Lovely Elyse, You've been practicing yoga for almost your whole life. Do you do yoga everyday?
Elyse: I do practice yoga daily either through asana (physical practice), breathing, meditation or a combination. I encourage my students, and anyone actually, that integrating yoga into your daily life can start off as simply as closing your eyes and mindfully taking five slow, deep breaths when you first wake up in the morning. Once out of bed, take a rag doll pose for 5-6 deep breaths and then step back to down dog for 5-6 breaths. Repeat this simple flow until you feel ready to tackle your day. It can take as little as 5 minutes but will make such a positive difference in your day! Love it, love it, love it!
Lift: This is such great advice for first thing in the morning and a great way to prepare for your morning class. What can we expect from your 6AM class and how else should we prepare ourselves.
Elyse: Yes, do the simple flow and don't forget your water. It's best to drink water consistently throughout the day. Amp up the water the day before and hours after, especially, when doing these heated classes, The studio will be between 80-90 degrees and filled with upbeat music. The flows will definitely get your heart rate up and your sweat on but will also provide opportunities to reset and rest.
The classes I teach are for every yogi, regardless of their age, experience, or level. Your alignment and safety is my priority during my classes and the flow will rise to meet you where you need it to be. My goal is for my fellow yogis to enjoy their practice, to feel strong and confident in their abilities and accomplishments. If a student doesn’t feel their body wants to cooperate in a particular pose, we look for other ways to access it. One of the things I love about yoga is that there is no such thing as the “right” way to do a pose. There are multiple safe ways to approach each one. All that is needed is openness to figure out which approach suits you at that particular moment. It’s all about what works for you and your body. For your comfort, it’s best not to have a full tummy and, again, to be well hydrated.
Lift: What do you think is the hardest, or most challenging, thing about yoga?
Elyse: The hardest part of taking a yoga class is getting in the car to go. The only prep I do is putting on my shoes to walk out the door. Once I get to class, it’s like every bit of stress falls off and I get to indulge and let go for a beautiful hour.
Lift: Do you have specific goals for your personal practice?
Elyse: The goals I set for myself are simple. Just to remember to breathe and give myself space to grow and to fall. When I fall out, I know I’ve really given it my all.
Lift: What is the most surprising thing you have found about yoga?
Elyse: The most surprising thing I have found about yoga is how letting go of what I think I’m capable of and embracing the practice itself opens up a world full of possibility on and off my mat. Just trying something new, not second guessing myself and developing a “yes” mindset. This is one of many lessons I've learned through my yoga practice.
Lift: So Elyse, where is one place in the world you'd like to do yoga?
Elyse: My "bucket list" spot to practice would be on the gorgeous, black sand beaches of Santorini, Greece!
Lift: So good! We know you are new to the area, but do you have any recommendations you'd like to share with your fellow Lifties?
Elyse: Yes, my family and I moved from Florida to Georgia last January and we are having so much fun exploring all the different places in and around Atlanta. So far my favorite, and my recommendation, is the Amicalola Falls area, particularly now! It’s a gorgeous and magical place with multiple hikes for every level.
Lift: Nice! Thank you for your time Elyse. Namaste and see you on the mat!
Hellloooooooo Lifties! We were on a hiatus because Karen was hogging all the LIft social media. She is SUCH a diva. Not to be out done we have a fantastic post this week with our beloved leader and owner, Lori Denton. If you have yet to meet Lori, be sure to introduce yourself when you come by for a class.
Lift: So, Lori. Inquiring minds want to know. You lead the helm of this amazing studio, why don't you teach?
Lori: I've done a couple of teacher training programs and I'm currently enrolled in Lift's YTT program with Kim Saunders. But, if I'm honest, I'm a terrible teacher! After 15+ years of practicing my body knows what to do but articulating that into clear, concise cues to create a cohesive and energetic practice for others to follow isn't my strength. In some ways I believe owning a yoga studio and fostering a safe and welcoming environment provides a form of guidance to others for their personal yoga practice. It's my way of encouraging all those curious to discover the myriad of benefits yoga has to offer.
Lift: Well you certainly have been doing a great job! What are your thoughts as you reflect back on the time since you've wrapped your arms around Lift?
Lori: Wow! It's been a whirlwind! The transition to take on Lift happened quickly. That's my personality. When I come upon something that speaks to my heart, I jump in without hesitation. And I'm so happy I did! Bringing the Lift community into my life has brought me so much joy! I'm thankful for KIm and the wonderful Good Vibe Tribe for all their help getting me up to speed and to our members for being patient with the changes in the studio. I love the feedback I have gotten and continue to get. I hope our members will continue to share their thoughts for what they'd like to see at Lift going forward. This is OUR community so I hope no one is shy about making suggestions! To keep learning and reflecting is growing!
Lift: So what are we to look forward to experiencing with Lift?
Lori: We have such an amazing group of regular members that I'd like to start doing more for them. I'm working on some programs that would either be exclusive to that group or, at a minimum, offer discounts for events and workshops. I'm also working to create more partnerships within this area. That's all I can say at this point but stay tuned! Corporate yoga is also a focus for me and I love that companies are starting to recognize the value of providing yoga as a part of their employee wellness plans. I've started partnerships with a couple of local companies in this capacity to both bring yoga onsite to them as well as offering discounts to Lift. If any of our readers would like to put me in touch with their company's HR department to talk details, please reach out!
I also have a referral program in the works. We all have friends who are interested in trying yoga, but for some reason feel shy. I'm hoping that by encouraging our members to bring a friend with them to class we show others the benefits of yoga in an non-intimidating way and for those already familiar with yoga, an inviting place to practice, grow, make new friends and be a part of a great community. Stay tuned for more information on this too!
One of the most exciting things on the docket for Lift in 2020 is our new 300 hour YTT program! I'm working with Rachel to develop an amazing and well-rounded 300-hour program. We have some details on the website so if your are interested go ahead and fill out the form so we can get in touch once we have all the dates nailed down! With Kim and Rachel leading our programs, I believe Lift will have the best and most comprehensive teacher training in the area. One that is challenging, insightful, welcoming, and supportive.
Lift: What are your goals for Lift as a community and a studio?
Lori: My number one goal is to take the foundation that Kim built of an inviting community and continue build upon it. To make yoga accessible to as many people as possible. I have some exciting new branding changes coming that will debut in a couple of weeks which will echo these goals. My objective is to to have Lift continue to provide well-rounded classes and add to them. I hope to keep growing our new youth class (teens on Sunday @ 4pm and kids on Tuesdays at 4:45pm) well as to add prenatal and senior-specific classes. Yoga is not just for one body type, age, gender, or situation. It's meant to be a lifelong practice and I want Lift to support that aspect of yoga.
Lift: This is so exciting Lori! Thank you for sharing your reflections, plans, and goals! Thank you for your time! Namaste.
It's Fall! We are loving and living for the cooler temperatures and how it encourages introspection into our practice. All aspects of our practice. One of the ways in which we reflect on our individual practices is in assessing our space, be it a nook in our bedrooms or the Studio itself. Part of this is includes thoughtful consideration of the props we employ at LIft and at home. We wanted to share with you guys some fantastic information on yoga mats from Cosumer Advocate. There's more to choosing a yoga mat then meets the eye so take a peak about give us some feedback! What's your favorite mat. What do you like about it or don't? Does it offer enough support on your knees? Is it too slippery? Inquiring minds want to know! Have a great week Lifties. See you on the mat! Namaste good humans. Here are the highlights and a link to the full article below including some food for though on how you might decide which mat is the best fit for you!
This week we are celebrating our Yogi of the month...the lovely Stefanie Diaz! Stefanie has been practicing with Lift for quite some time and always welcomes new "mat neighbors" with a big smile and warm laugh. Stefanie is the founder of an amazing organization called WOE-The Women Only Experience. It's an Ellen meets Oprah evening of empowerment for women of all walks of life. Returning Thursday, November 14th to St Ives in Johns Creek, the evening includes powerful speakers, dancing, affirmations, and champagne. Visit http://woeatl.com to learn more. Thank you Stefanie for making Lift even more special!
Lift: How where you first introduced to yoga?
Stefanie: It's hilarious, but it was the P90x yoga dvd! Years later, I finally took my first in-person yoga class and loved it. I joined Lift not long afterward. P90X was/is legitimately challenging!
Lift: What keeps you coming back to yoga?
Stefanie: I love how yoga stretches the body and allows for gorgeous postures. I grew up dancing and the dancer in me enjoys yoga as a go-to workout. The working, single mom in me enjoys it for the self-care and clear mind it brings. Absolutely! Self care is so vital to functioning.
Lift: Do you practice yoga everyday? If so, tips on how you integrate it into your very busy life?
Stefanie: I can't say that I do yoga every day, although it is an aspiration. I've not been able to find the same flow in my at-home practice, which makes Lift so important to me. That's what we are here for!
Lift: What are your "yoga essentials"?
Stefanie: My yoga essentials are my Lululemon mat and my WOE Essential Oil blend - created by our very own Abigail Smith! The same woman behind the Lift blend. I have and love them both. We love Abbie!!
Lift: What is the most surprising thing you've found, so far, about you and your yoga practice or about yoga in general?
Stefanie: How it has become a lifestyle for me and more than just a workout routine.
Lift: Is there a pose you are scared/nervous/hesitant to try?
Stefanie: Headstand and any of the arm balances. I dabble with crow, but stop there. Maybe one day...Yes!
Lift: Where is the most unusual place you've ever done a yoga pose?
Stefanie: I'll never forget one night trying to convince my boyfriend to do yoga and we ended up doing legs up the wall/headboard while watching our favorite show. So, I guess yoga in bed. Now we have know what you guys were watching!
Lift: Top place in the world you want to do yoga?
Stefanie: At my beach house in Puerto Rico on the deck that overlooks the ocean. This house has yet to come into my possession, but when it does... ;) Yessssss. You will have spare keys made, right?
Lift: Do you have a goal for your personal yoga practice?
Stefanie: To keep meeting myself on my mat as many days of the week as possible. My life and career are moving at lightning speed. It's easy to steal that hour away for other things, but I am reminded time and time again that it has earned a top spot on my priorities list.
Lift: What is something about you that surprises people when they learn it?
Stefanie: I'm 100% Puerto Rican and that Spanish is my first language. I've lived in Georgia most of my life and most don't look at me and see a Latina, but it's an important part of my identity. Gorgeous!
Lift: Do you have any recommendations for your yoga tribe this month?
Stefanie: "The Surrender Experiment" by Michael A. Singer (book). Yoga helps me embrace the world around me without the need to control every detail. The "journey" Singer shares in this book speaks to that same outlook. That is a very relatable topic in yoga.
Lift: Thank you Stefanie for sharing yourself with us and for being such a wonderful yogi! Namaste.