Blog Archives

Bryan Kest Power Yoga

For those of you who don’t know Bryan, he has been a key figure in the global yoga community for over 30 years, beginning at age 14. His first teacher was David Williams, a pioneer in bringing Ashtanga Yoga to the west. Bryan continued his studies in India under Ashtanga’s founder, Pattabhi Jois. Bryan has integrated his experience of traditional yoga and delivers it seamlessly on stilling the mind and understanding our relationship with the inner teacher (sat guru) inside. Read about Bryan Kest’s yoga journey here.

I first met Bryan some years ago at a workshop. I was always interested in studying with him, but the opportunity never presented itself. I knew of so many who spoke highly of him for his direct approach to sharing yoga. (There are many well known instructors whom I study with now, such as Seane Corn, who were also students of his early on- references go a long way with me!). I was most impressed with BK by his clear way of expressing his points. He doesn’t heavily layer ethereal metaphors to express a point. He also uses himself as an example in his lessons, demonstrating vulnerability. Though he can seem intense with his raw, direct personality, BK is fun, gentle, and most important, has a big heart. His compassion clearly is conveyed through passionate reverence of his message. This sincerity is what drew me to continue my studies and complete the Bryan Kest Power Yoga Teacher Training. Since then, I’ve experience personal transformation and growth transcending the yoga mat. I’ve gained clarity in relationships, my teaching, practice, and rooted into deeper sense of self.

bk dog

One more thing… Power Yoga… its a yoga label liberally tossed around these days. Often times it is associated with heated and intensely physically challenging classes. BK’s Power Yoga, was not only pioneer in this ‘style’, but it isn’t what I just described. Well, it is but its not… Its the balance of physical and mental practice, which enables personal exploration and growth. The physical practice can be as challenging as one makes it, that said, if that is the goal, check that off the list. The mental aspect is challenging as BK is a master in the integration of life experiences, often times calling out current affairs and issues that we all deal with today. This, mixed with the physical, is why its called ‘power’, not because its super hot or that the practice is dependent on asana to journey deeper.
bk weekend flyer

Stay tuned for the next Bryan Kest Weekend in 2015! You won’t want to miss him!

Manifest!… Happy 2014!

So much has happened in the past year, and I owe the acknowledgement to the power of manifestation, and diving head first into goals.

A year in review… 2013 was filled with a continuation of consistent weekly community blog postings from myself and the greater yoga community, setting the tone of my vision of highlighting yoga culture locally here in Atlanta, and beyond. We have readers and contributors from all over the globe now. Its amazing and it couldn’t have happened without community support.

Manifest

From the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to have a team. It was an open conversation I freely shared when enrolling others of my vision. As the year got going, I got super clear on components of my vision and the direction MYS was traveling. I needed help in order to make it a reality. As much as I shared with community supporters, I manifested equally. Not long after, the MYS family grew, adding 2 more co-editors: Michelle Young, & Meredith Hesse. Our bandwidth is larger and the website’s depth is stronger. The team spreads the community message by contributing blog posts and taking ownership over specific areas of the MYS site, such as lifestyle, events, and yogic insight on everyday life. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful for them.

In early fall 2013, another big change… The  Atlanta Yoga Scene incarnated to My Yoga Scene reflecting more accurately the global yoga community. It was an organic transition inspired by the fact that yoga is practiced everywhere and has no restrictions. Though specific geography influences trends and styles, yoga is yoga. No matter where you travel to practice, there is always a common thread that connects the message. For me it was clear that the new name needed to embrace our greater yoga community, hence My Yoga Scene was born with the vision and mission to connect yoga communities and encourage conversations and experiences from yogis everywhere.

AYS becomes MYS

There are new goals pulled from the vision & mission of MYS that are currently underway. One of which is the website will soon be getting a new face-lift, creating more ease in navigation for both users and the MYS team. Expect to see the new website relaunch in the next coming months. There will be new faces that are part of the MYS family as well. Another goal that has come to fruition is that MYS will have a more formal role in supporting events, beginning locally first. Our first gig will be supporting and having a presence at Chantlanta, March 2014. I’m so excited about this and trust you will be also.

For right now, I celebrate with you 17 months of growth, inspiration, perspective, and community  that you all had a hand in facilitating since I took ownership. Without your support, the MYS wouldn’t be where it is today and definitely couldn’t go to where its headed. I thank you greatly from the depth of my heart. Here’s to 364 more days of peace, love, and community! Manifest… its where its at. Happy 2014!

Tony & IsabelleIsabelle is a community leader on and off the mat. She shares yoga through weekly yoga classes, workshops, trainings, and local & international yoga retreats, She is also the owner & Editor In Chief of My Yoga Scene. When not teaching, she finds inspiration from her daily home  yoga practice, and her interests in ayurveda, cooking, reading, writing, hammock-ing, trail-running, and traveling. Isabelle takes great pride in living a life of wonderment and is lit up at any opportunity to connect to other yogis. She loves creating community and knows this work lends to positive personal growth and spreading of the yoga tradition. For more information, please visit Isabelle Casey.

Interview with Saul David Raye

Bhakti yogi & spiritual activist, Saul David Raye, shares his love, light, and teachings.

Saul kirtan

Moi, (Isabelle): What is bhakti yoga to you, and what was your first experience with this tradition? What drew you into it to begin with?

Saul David Raye: Bhakti is the nature of the heart. It is the deep love that flows through all of existence. yoga is union, bhakti yoga is the path of union thru love. the ancients gave different paths to come home, love is the fastest. God is Love. My first experience of bhakti yoga was thru my first teacher who taught me the different paths of yoga. this was in my early 20’s. Then i read autobiography of a yogi and went to india, where I experienced first hand the deep devotion that is at the heart of the yoga tradition. I have tried many approaches and studied with may teachers, for me bhakti is the deepest and it connects us all together and with all of life.

I: Many who come from a bhakti tradition highlighting kirtan. You are immersed as both a teacher of hatha yoga & bhakti yoga. What role do you see bhakti yoga playing in the future?

SDR: Bhakti yoga and the practice of kirtan are spreading with great speed. When people have a taste of the sweetness of the heart they respond. I see the world transforming only thru love and for this to happen we have to open our hearts, both personally and collectively. There is no other way. Bhakti brings us together, we are one family. I see it happening already, we are coming together. Bhakti is the heart, it is not limited to only the yoga tradition. When we open our hearts, when we share our hearts the world heals. We are the world.

I: What is the role of a guru in the bhakti path? Is it necessary to have a one?

SDR: We definitely need a teacher, but i don’t think one teacher can teach us everything. I do not feel it has to be one person. True bhakti is to live with the heart, with love as the guru. To be guided by the heart. the scriptures say that we all connect to God in different ways or forms. The true guru takes all forms.

I: Besides participating in kirtan, what other work can the yoga community can do to raise awareness around the bigger picture of love and devotion?

SDR: There are many practices of yoga besides kirtan. When we live our yoga, we change ourselves, then our world changes. When we live with love and devotion, it addresses that question. There is no other way. Earth, peace… thru self peace.

I: Do you have a favorite chant? If so, please share?

SDR: They are all my favorite chants. the one in my heart right now is a grandmother chant i learned ….

the river is flowing, flowing and growing.

the river is flowing down to the sea.

oh mother carry me, your child i will always be.

oh mother carry me down to the sea…

aum shanti ….

SDR bioSaul David Raye is an internationally acclaimed teacher, healer and spiritual activist known for his empowering and transformational approach to yoga, healing and spirituality. Saul’s teaching draws on the depth of the Yoga tradition, Bhakti, Tantra and all forms of universal light, love and wisdom. Through the grace of his teachers and guides he is able to bring alive the ancient wisdom teachings for modern seekers.  The depth of Saul’s teaching allows students to connect deeply with their own authentic power, spirit and truth.

A pioneering and inspiring presence in Yoga’s evolution in the west, Saul’s authentic and heart-centered teaching has influenced thousands of students and teachers around the world. He holds certifications in Yoga, bodywork and energy healing and is an ordained minister and musician who infuses his classes with healing music and chants. He has been on the faculty of International and National conferences and festivals for years, and has presented alongside many luminaries in the Spiritual world. Saul shares this work through teacher trainings, workshops, classes, sacred journey’s to ancient power sites and sacred music.

I can’t take credit for Saul David Raye’s shows here in Atlanta, as it was made possible by Stan, ‘the man’, Holt, visionary entrepreneur behind Swaha Productions and who is hands down responsible for selflessly serving the southeastern yoga community by facilitating events that host kirtan gatherings, (such as Krishna Das this past winter). Thank you Stan! Not just for bringing Saul here, but for all your efforts in creating depth, uniting, and spreading the love! This is a collaborative effort between Swaha Productions, the Atlanta Yoga Scene, & Be Yoga, with tons of love and support from the SE Yoga Conference. It takes a village!

Off The Mat & Into The World

In July 2013, I was fortunate enough to experience Off The Mat Into The World training in the insanely beautiful Squaw Valley, California. This round was more like a reunion of Off The Mat Leaders. The emphasis was to action our purpose (cause) and to take a stand for it.

Let me back up for a few moments. For those of you who aren’t familiar, here’s some background on Off The Mat Into The World (OTMITW)… The mission is to use the depth and power of yoga to birth activism and promote social change. This was the initial vision of Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, & Suzanne Sterling who saw an opportunity to develop leaders from the yoga community. These trained leaders are helping to create awareness in a grass roots fashion around issues like sex trafficking, Aids, LBGT, Class, Race, and domestic violence. This is just a glimpse of the many sectors they have devoted their time and effort towards. The other key factor that makes this work is collaboration. All of them acknowledged that they would not be as successful creating movement and social change as individuals. Their strength comes from uniting. It literally takes a village.

collaboration

The woman responsible for organizing and keeping the entire OTMITW organization moving forward is powerhouse yogi, Kerri Kelly. This woman is simply amazing. She has a work ethic like no one I’ve ever met. She’s bright, talented, and driven. She has a passion to share yoga and educate, in a very organized and thoughtful manner. I was so taken back from her selfless drive and compassion. There were many times I had to check myself as my mouth was wide open- astonished, inspired, and so full of gratitude to be experiencing the gift of this training.

Kerri Kelly

I had a chance to check in with Seane & Suzanne at the Global Action Summit. Check out some snippets from our casual Q&A below:

Q: What inspired you to create OTMITW & where do you see  it in 10 years?

A:
Seane: view here
Suzanne: view here: Part 1 Part 2

Q: And last, a burning question for the ladies… :)

A:
Seane: view here
Suzanne:  view here

My big take away from the Global Action Summit is asking the question, What will I do? What will we do? I think its safe to assume that everyone on the planet is passionate about something and definitely has a purpose. When we know what we stand for, we have to do something about it outside of conversing. How are we serving beyond our practice or teaching. Where does that show up once we leave the comfort of our studio or homes. How is our yoga practice showing up off the mat? Think about it. What is your purpose? What are you doing about it?

For more information about how you can get involved, find your purpose, and take a stand for it visit the OTMITW website. Each of these extraordinary ladies offer many trainings. Get to know them better: Seane Corn,Suzanne Sterling, and Hala Khouri. As well as being leaders of OTMITW, they all lead their own programs, trainings, and workshops.

Global Action Summit, Squaw Valley 2013

OTMITW has partnered with KiraGrace in support of their efforts. Specifically, 100% of the profits from the sale of Warrior T-back tank is donated to the organization. Amazing. You can feel great knowing that your purchase is a contribution towards positive change.

KiraGrace Warrior T-back Tank

Que Pasana! Workshops & Events!

Happy Spring! We’re well into the season and getting hints of summer. I’m loving the color from the flowers and tree buds as they wake up from their winter hibernation. Its a nice reminder of abundance and the bounty that seasonal change brings. I typically suffer from seasonal allergies and living in the south, the weather is conducive to tons of vegetation and fauna, lending to tons and tons of pollen. I prepare well ahead by building up my immune system with my morning tea tonic. Here’s my morning cocktail. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you:

My Morning Immune System Cocktail:

1 Lemon, squeezed (kidney & liver toner)
Dash of Cayenne, to your liking- be careful, a little goes a long way! (kindles digestion)
1 tsp of Astragalus (immune booster + Liver toner)
1 good slice of Turmeric, or 1 tsp of dried (anti-inflammatory- I also sneak it into most of my foods)
1 good slice of Ginger, or 1/2 tsp of dried (circulation + warms me up in the morning.
  Not during the summer months)
2 tsp of Local Honey (immune booster + trace minerals & nutrients- its got to be local & organic!
Hometown Honey is my absolute fav!)

*Add the above to a big ol’ mug of hot water and pull up a meditation seat to get your morning started right!

Just got back from a fabulous week of R&R and yoga, in Costa Rica. The week was full of sun, surf, hiking, rain forests, sweat lodge, great food, and fond memories with an amazing group of yogis. My skin has a nice golden tone, (though I did get a good sun burn and am peeling), from the tropical sun. I feel like my body regulated very well from the climate and the delicious fresh fruits I ate every day. Most didn’t know each other when the excursion began and by weeks end, the bond was made. These are connections I know we will have for life. My hubby and I have always had a goal of living out of the country at some point. We’ve had our eye on Uruguay, but now Costa Rica is a top contender. The combination of the weather, people, easy and simple living lifestyle, and open minded mentally is definitely seductive. Until then, I will cherish my sweet memories in the land of Pura Vida.

morning meditation
Morning meditation at Vida Asana, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

More workshops & events!

I’m in the process of working out the details for a yoga retreat to Italy in 2014. This will be a week long retreat at one of my best friend’s places, in her town of Borgo San Lorenzo, right outside of Florence. I spent some time there in 2011 and it was one of the best trips ever. (It helps when you are friends with a local!). The vibe of the land is lush and abundant. It was the end of summer and the harvest was beginning. Every day was full of sun ripened fruits; I think I ate my body weight in pears and figs. Lovely local wine paired with alfresco dining with stunning vistas that left me humbled and with a deeper appreciation for mother earth.

For this retreat, we’ll get a chance to dive into the tuscan culture: exploring old roman trails right outside the property door. (I train ran this when I was there and went to a point where there are remains of an old roman tower). The property accommodates up to 15 and has a large outdoor pool flanked by beautiful cypress trees. Some of the activities that are in store for the more adventurous are stand-up paddle boarding, alfresco dining, exploring the town itself, a cycling tour, great food and vino, yoga, and of course, lots of time to relax and recharge. There is a ton of interest already for this one and it will fill up. Email me if you are interested: isabelle@isabellecasey.com.

I will be co-leading a weekend retreat with Jessica Jollie and Allison Foster of Yoga Landing, at the beautiful & luxurious, Barnsley Gardens Resort, July 12-14th. This will be awesome and just what we need in the middle of summer. A little vacation to check in and take care of ourselves: yoga, spa, golf, pool time, chillaxing. Registration is open, you can do that here. Here’s the scoop: you can register for the yoga sessions aside from the accommodations that you can book through Barnsley Gardens Resort. There are a few different options for registration. Reach out to me for more details and I’ll give you the whole scoop: isabelle@isabellecasey.com

 

]Barnsley Gardens Resort
Barnsley Gardens Resort, Yoga Weekend Retreat: July 12-14th, 2013
On May 5th, I will join a team of fellow yoga instructors for the Off Beat! weekend yoga event, raising awareness around bullying in schools, and supports the Ben Cohen Standup Foundation. I remember how bullying was an issue when I was a kid and its worse now. We are opening up the conversation and working together to help children, parents, and really our community understand how to take a stand and help put the kibosh on this.

Off Beat!

The event is May 4-5th. I’ll be teaching on May 5th from 11:30-12:45pm. The event location is at Ventanas and each session is open to 60 participants only. There will be a raffle, gift bags, beverage samples from Chuice. We have a ton of support from over 100 different media outlets such as AJC, Atlantan Magazine, Best Self Magazine, CNN, Jezebel Magazine, and WABE FM 90.1 (NPR). For more info, start by ‘liking’ the facebook page and help a fellow yogi out by spreading the word and join me on the mat. You can join the event right here. Hope to see you there!

Last one… I’m on faculty and teaching the 3rd weekend Teacher Training Immersion, ‘A New Perspective’, for the Yoga Club, here in Atlanta. The weekend will focus on not just how to balance up side down, but the intention behind it, when its appropriate, how to incorporate arm balances into class curriculum, modifications, and such. You don’t have to register for the entire training, if you want to cherry pick your trainings. Trainings count towards your Yoga Alliance hours. Reach out if you want to chat about it or just sign up. I’d love to have you!

That’s all I got. It was a lot. See you on the mat!… And scene. 🙂

 

Kula > Community

The summer is almost over and right around the corner is the South East Yoga Conference, formerly known as the Atlanta Yoga Conference. Just as the yoga community has grown, so has the conference, hence the the name change. This year the conference will be held at the W Buckhead. Yogis and teachers traveling from near and far will be in attendance.

I moved here from Seattle in 2005. One of first things that I did was investigate my new community to find out where all the yogis were hiding. Coming from Seattle, I just assumed that there would be a ton of yoga like back home: yoga studios dotted in between coffee shops. (I only slightly exagerate). There definitely was yoga, but very spread out. Today studios all over metro Atlanta are hosting workshops, and city is becoming a regular stop for master teachers from all over. Its amazing! There are yoga studios sprouting up everywhere, as well as teacher training programs. Yoga is taught not only in yoga studios, but cropping up in gyms, dance studios, schools, and the work-place, just as Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda predicted would happen. This year I had the opportunity to teach yoga to the Marietta Highschool Football team as part of their weekly strength and conditioning program. It was such a great experience for me and I’m hoping for them. Besides the obvious benefits of having looser hamstrings and learning how to de-stress, how great is it that yoga is being made available to our youth?

Now with the growth around yoga studios, it’s time to bridge the gap. That’s where the SE Yoga Conference comes in… Nicole Jurovics and Melissa Katz, also local yoga teachers, have made a commitment to the this effort. They are the directors of the conference and key patrons of the yoga community. Their vision is to make yoga accessible to all and to bring more awareness to yoga. Behind the scenes, these ladies work year-round building up the yearly conference and when it’s over, they relentlessly begin again. They humbly and quietly bow out of being ‘seen’ during the conference and make the main focus of highlighting national, regional, and local teachers, as well as local studios. Be sure to say hello to these lovely ladies at the conference and express your gratitude for working their asanas off to make the community feel like one big family.

Logo-w-sky-edgeblur-600w.jpg

As I mentioned earlier, the conference has grown and is now hosted by the W, Downtown. There is an awesome line up of teachers who are presenting a variety of topics, (I’m honored to be presenting!). If your focus is on yoga philosophy or you are working on contortions for the upcoming Cirque Du Soleil, the conference presenters won’t disappoint. 🙂
The marketplace will be the go-to place between classes and an exciting event to not miss is the Kick-Off party… catered by the W, music, and a chance to schmooze with your fellow yogis. (A great opportunity for us yogis to wear something other than spandex and we all get to see each other wearing shoes!).

If you are on the fence about going to the conference, here are some things to consider:

1. Check out what your yoga community has to offer.

2. If you’ve never taken a special theme workshop with a yoga ‘expert’, you have the opportunity in your backyard.

3. Support your community!! I know we tend to park our practice at our studios that we cherish, but go check out what else is happening. Us teachers who have home studios won’t care if you take yoga field trips. We just want everyone to practice yoga!

4. For no other reason, it’s going to be a great time to hang out with like-minded yogis who are interested in spreading the message of yoga. This will be one of the few opportunities outside of our day-to-day routines to nerd out on yoga-talk. (My personal fav)!

Hope to see you at this year’s conference, or better yet in the class I will be leading.


Om shanti, om peace! Jai!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk2V96ArUok

Peru or Bust!

Peru or Bust!

Peru or Bust!

In about 12 hrs, I will be in Peru co-leading a yoga retreat. Its summer here: hot, steamy, sunny, & lush. In Peru, its the start of winter: high 60’s, mid 30’s at night. It was interesting packing for the opposite season as well as wrapping my head around that fact that this is going to be a killer trip.

Why Peru? I spent 5 weeks there in 2009. I was in total awe the whole time. I could try to sum up all the beauty, but it won’t do justice unless you are standing on peruvian soil taking it all in. In sum, its like you just took a dive into a National Geographic magazine. There is an abundance of the most breathtaking geography, beautiful people, food, fauna, the list goes on… What I appreciate the most about my time in Peru, is that no matter where I went, I noticed the common denominator of simplicity. Simple foods, simple people… everything is so straight forward. Even the beliefs of the people. In general, there is a HUGE love of the land and the history- brutal but so true. No matter who I spoke with, every conversation led back to Pancha Mama, Mother Earth. There is a deep, entrenched respect for the environment. I found that everything led back to acknowledging this. Every experience led to a story. I learned so much about appreciating what I have and also how to make peace with the tangible. Peru definitely left an impression on me. When I was there, I knew I’d be back. And, I knew I wanted to take people to experience this for themselves.
This time I head back, co-leading a yoga retreat. We have a beautiful week planned, but will be practicing some serious non-attachment to the itinerary. I’m sure that there will be moments where the experience we are having trumps an agenda. I am so looking forward to practicing living in each moment. It will go by fast; its only 10 days.

I am also feeling grateful to my fellow yogi-studio-owning-friends who are covering classes while I am gone. Thank you. I’ll be sending you tons of love south of the equator!

I’m enjoying my last french press at home. Spending some QT with my pups. I’m all packed up and set to jet. See you all when I return! peace.

xo
~is