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What’s all this yoga jazz?

What if I fall? Oh my darling, what if you fly? – Unknown

Blog by Stevie [yogi, 4th grade teacher, downtowner, wife, yorkie lover]


“Free Yoga Class every Wednesday” was the sign on the door in the muscle making machine of a large gym corporation I frequented. I grabbed a mat and decided, what the heck. Could Madonna’s arms truly get that sculpted by just yoga? Totally worth a shot. There were floor length mirrors surrounding me, that reflecting back on my inability to make it into any pose, I couldn’t reach further than my knees in forward fold, I couldn’t quite get the difference between my right and left, I would laugh when the teacher would say something about my knee touching my nose, and my wrists hurt something awful. However, there was something about this whole yoga gig, and I found myself continuing to go back to these classes for an entire year.

With a friendly invite, I found my mat in the center of one of Invoke’s classes. What was yoga going to be like in a studio? The beats weren’t some meditation music. They were down right body moving jams. The teacher’s words were soothing, the poses just flowed, and I found myself in shavasana with tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I felt relief. I was able to get out of my head for 75 minutes. I knew my moves weren’t perfect, and looking back now, I knew my alignment was something atrocious, but….I found a part of myself there.

Yoga turned into something as natural as breathing to me. I started getting cranky when I skipped a week, my muscles begged to feel THE stretch, and the tension from my workdays crept its way into my shoulders if I didn’t show up to my mat. I hung up my gym membership tag for my mat and it couldn’t have been a better choice for my personal journey.

After around 5 years of classes, I finally got to a place in my own personal practice where I felt that I needed to answer the question again of what yoga was. My physical practice had grown into something beautiful and I could find myself into the most challenging of poses, but I craved the mental part. The Invoke Teacher Training had an inviting sign on the wall.

Did I have the time? Was I ready? Could I even give yoga teacher training justice? I felt like much wiser people than I should be a yoga teacher – I wasn’t unattached from watching bad TV, vegan eating, non-label wearing, all knowing soul that I thought a yoga teacher should be. So after I talked myself totally out of the training, I put a deposit down and started the training a few weeks later.

Self trickery at it’s best.

6 months later, 200 hours wiser, I felt like I had more questions about what yoga still was. How could there still be so much more that I needed to know after 200 hours?! Perhaps I would read more books, Pin some more, take more classes….I still felt like I didn’t have all the answers I thought I needed. Until I taught my first class. 

I played the music loud, the heat was cranked, I changed my sequence to go with the beat of the music instead of what I wrote down, and I finally could tell my rights from lefts. I finished the shoulder presses and started to walk towards the front of the room, I took my seat, and looked up at the class that I had just slipped into meditation. I teared up during shavasana. I think this was God’s way of saying to me that I finally understood what yoga is.

Yoga is what you make of it.

Some people get on their mat to work out or to be fit. For some, it’s a meditation throughout the entire practice. Some want to get the poses just right, while others want to just flow. Some love the sweat pouring down them, while others like to practice in a cooler setting.

For me, it was the ability to shut my mind off for a small amount of time. Seeing every person beat to their own drum has been the most rewarding experiencing from taking the seat of teacher. One thing is for sure though – everyone looks much, much happier after shavasana. So to answer the question of “what is yoga?”…there is no right answer.

Yoga is everything, as along as you link the breathe and movement…it’s just perfect.

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Feeling “unyogavated”?


Ever felt “un-yoga-vated?” I have. And I’ve had it bad lately. In fact, I’ve been so unyogavated that I’ve had the title of this blog written on a blank piece of paper for three months. And I couldn’t even blog about it.

I think I’m finally coming up for air. Starting to see the sunshine relief that yoga gives me. I think at times in our lives, we don’t even want to do what is good for us. We know it’s good. We know we’ll feel better. But still, we choose otherwise. I think this can be akin to relationships. We make choices, whether it’s choosing the wrong person or taking a wrong path, which we hope will be end up right. And we try so hard to make it work. But it won’t. Square peg. Round hole.

For the past two months I haven’t wanted to go to yoga. I’m not certain if that’s reflective of what was happening in my life personally or because I became so busy with work but nonetheless, I felt dread thinking of being in warrior position and the burden that would bring to my muscles. I rejected exercise of any kind — and especially not yoga. I wonder if I didn’t want to make time for myself or if I didn’t want to face my spirit off balance by the imbalance I was keeping in my life. And for me, yoga is so introspective – it forces me to come face-to-face with the challenge of being present, in the moment and getting life’s priorities in check. I am not my past. I am not my future. I am in this moment alive and so blessed. When my life or my spirit is not balanced at the time I hit my mat, you will come face to face with that.

Often times, avoidance can be an easier path to take.

I think I initially lost my way when I started doing other work out routines – following The Should’s. Do you know these people? They are our friends, family and resident experts that say “you should do weights three days a week,” “you should do bootcamp,” “you should run stairs and do cardio interval training four times a week”…so I followed The Should’s and I got lost. And I and lost the joy in my yoga workout routine.

I went back to the way of the old – dreading a workout, burdened by it, feeling the weight on my shoulders of my complete and utter failure as a woman if I chose not to work out. These are the feelings of over 20 years that are rooted in being raised by parents who probably single-handedly spearheaded the entire Should’s movement. But for the first time, I quieted The Should’s when I started doing yoga regularly. I was shocked by actually wanting to workout and wanting to go to class…all for the first time in my life. Yoga brought me joy in my spirit and acceptance of my body that traditional workouts never had. Yet I turned away from it.

I think in life, my journey will continue with the ups and the downs, the should’s and the shouldn’ts, the motivated and the unyogavated. I just hope I keep fighting to make my way back to the mat. If I do, I know the journey will be a good one.

Thank you to Erin Morgan and the other instructors at Invoke who make it easier as they greet me with a warm “welcome back” and a big smile each time I come back.




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My Very First “Om”

Blog by Meghan  [Invoke student, New to yoga & pilates]

A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, and I’ve slowly changed my routine to live more mindfully. I was inspired by friends who found fulfillment with yoga and pilates and I wanted to get involved. I signed up for Invoke’s Intro to Yoga Workshop to learn about proper technique after taking some community classes. Marjan explained the importance of breath and alignment and she showed us how to practice with purpose, instead of simply going through the motions.

Now that I’ve learned the basics, yoga has become comforting, inspiring and exhilarating all at the same time. Tonight in the Anusara class I experienced my very first “om” with Ahna and even did a handstand (with help, of course!). The fact that I was comfortable enough to chant with a new group of people and then trust them to safely flip me upside down is incredible. Those last quiet moments during savasana were especially meaningful to me since I pushed past my fear of the unknown.

Throughout my journey I’ve discovered that there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to a healthy mind and body. I only know what has worked for me, and I’ve found that success requires a balance of both physical and mental commitment, and being open to trying new things along the way. I’m grateful for the people at Invoke who have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and I look forward to new experiences in the studio!


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Coming home

Blog by Stephanie [Loves Yoga, Invoke student, Practicing yoga & pilates 18 mos, Freelance Marketer]

Going to a heated yoga class after a two-month hiatus away is like going home to your mom after a stressful year away.

I spent the last two months making excuses like being too busy with work, or cleaning, or travelling and other priorities that put me last. Unfortunately, I fell into a routine where I found an extra hour and a half of my day, but it was at the expense of…me. Tonight, was my first class back since the end of December, just before the holidays, and the fruit cake of excuses that accompany it.

It felt so good being back. Like going back home. I walked into Invoke Studio, saw Erin behind the desk, with a sudden look of surprise framed by a big smile, saying “You’re back!”

And my Invoke coming home was timed perfectly with a homecoming class taught by Miss Laura Henderson, my spiritual cheerleader and fearless yoga leader.  It’s like coming home – it’s having the smell of my mom’s homemade pasta sauce fill the air when I go back to Ohio and walk in the door and know I’m home. It’s the feeling of your best friend since grade school nod at you knowingly because no one knows you and accepts you like she does. It’s the inexplainable feeling yoga brings you – a step closer into presence, calmness, contentment, and love of yourself and others around you, for me, has only been consistently found on my mat. At first, it was intimidating, just like someone else’s family can be unknown, uncomfortable and frankly a little intimidating, but once you fall in love with it. You belong and you remember all over again what it feels like.

I’ve been away far too long. I’m so thankful, I’ve found my way back home.