Tag Archives: yoga

meet erin: healing community through yoga in detroit

One Sweet Erin

I love this picture of Erin at Iyengar Yoga Detroit. “My goal is to live in intentional community settings,” Erin says. Since she left college, she has lived in intentional community settings, focusing on connection and creating family space with non-blood family. It’s like her yoga practice brought out in how she wants to live. “My home community is a microcosm of how I want to live in greater community, with conflict resolution, vulnerability, and more.”

“Aren’t I radiant?” my grandma asked me last night.

She just had her final radiation treatment last week in a grueling series of surgeries and therapies over the last year and a half. Hallelujah—she is completely back to the spitfire of a woman that I know and love very, very much. Her puns prove it.

My grandma is a beautiful example of healing and resilience—of knowing who you are and not letting anything stop you from being you. Ever her teacher self, she brought apples to the hospital staff on her last day of treatment. Continue reading

meet natalie and andrea: practicing yoga and building community in chicago

Natalie and Andrea Pavela, People with Panache

Natalie (left); Andrea (right). The idea for Yoga+ really began in January 2014. Andrea had moved back to Chicago from NYC and was looking for a new yoga studio to call home. It was more challenging than she expected! So she and Natalie began organizing and hosting free classes every other week in their friends’ apartments. One night, over dinner at Pequod’s, the two girls realized what they could turn these free classes into—and Yoga+ was born.

Calling all yogis!

Yoga has become a big part of my life in the past year or so. Not only have I been taking more classes and learning about new types, I have two close friends who are now certified yoga instructors. I commend them—I haven’t yet honed the patience or meditative skills to go through those lengthy certifications. But I love practicing with them and getting tips on my techniques. (Although I’m not sure if I’ll ever master Crow pose.)

Recently, I discovered a business that blends two of my favorite things: yoga and learning. Sisters Natalie and Andrea Pavela created Yoga+ in Chicago, and they pair interactive educational workshops with meditative and restorative yoga practice. Andrea calls it the perfect friend date. Launched in May 2014 with their first event the next month, each Yoga+ session consists of a short Vinyasa yoga practice (taught by Andrea) followed by a workshop led by a local maker, company or small business. They’ve taught Chicagoans everything from mixology to watercolor painting, pasta to juice making, essential oil demonstrations and even classes on crafting French macarons with a certain je ne sais quoi. Each event is one-of-a-kind and sounds like so much fun that I can’t wait for Alysse and I to attend soon. I really can’t think of a better reason to stretch, center and eat sweet French cookies in yoga pants. Continue reading

meet sara: yogini, teacher and nomad

Sara and Alysse at Cathedral Square in Milwaukee

Koha (as in Koha Yoga) is the Maori word for gift. After missing a flight from L.A., Sara headed to Venice Beach and caught eyes with Whakapaingia. It was “love at first flight,” as they say on their website. An instantaneous partnership and Koha Flying Yoga were created (in 2009). Baby Kotahiataahua, meaning “Beautiful Oneness,” followed soon after. Most of us call her Tahi!

A big part of Sara Laimon Luke’s story begins on a farm in Zimbabwe.

But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

Instead of 8,456 miles away, I first met Sara at a park 4 blocks from my apartment. In 2013, during Milwaukee’s Bastille Days, Sara and her husband Whakapaingia (Whaka) were sharing their acroyoga moves on the grass, inviting anyone to play. Together, they own and run Koha Yoga, and what I experienced was basically grown-up gymnastics mixed with the airplane move you do with your mom when you’re little, infused with some realllllllly good-feeling back stretches, and I’m so happy I joined in! From there, I went to my first-ever Koha Yoga acro workshop with Jessy, and I spent a week-long retreat with Sara and Whaka in Costa Rica this March. It was a trip of a lifetime.

And yet, until a couple weeks ago when I met Sara at the home where she grew up—above a bait shop on a lake halfway to Madison—I didn’t know about Africa or a huge section of her path. Continue reading

meet laura: milwaukee yogi & entrepreneur

This was, without a doubt, the sweatiest interview I’ve ever done.

Laura break-dancing?!

“There’s always space for growth in the practice, which is something I really like about it,” says Laura about hot vinyasa flow.

First I spent an hour challenging my body in a 95-degree yoga class, trying to keep streams of sweat from sliding down my face and into my contacts in downward dog. (Seriously, that stings.) Then I sat down with Laura Yell.

Laura owns, runs and teaches at Milwaukee Power Yoga, Milwaukee’s center for hot vinyasa flow yoga. Basically, this practice connects breath to continuous motion from pose to pose. Under Laura’s guidance, I felt serene yet exhilarated and empowered by my body. This is the experience she has devoted her life to creating.

Milwaukee Power Yoga

“It was really important to me that the space be right; that was what took up the first two years,” says Laura. “I love the location.” Milwaukee Power Yoga is on Milwaukee’s East Side.

Laura took her background and education in dance and created a successful yoga studio that celebrated its first birthday last month. I’m so happy to be her student and even more excited to share her story below.

People With Panache: How did yoga come into your life?

Laura Yell: My first “real” yoga experience was at Corepower in Boulder in 2005, when I was there for a summer in college. I was pretty much in love with it right away.

As a dancer it was really similar to what I did, but there were so many new ideas, too. The breath was new to me, and I really enjoyed how it tied to the motions. I loved the heat, too.

Pretty much by the end of the first month, I knew what it was I wanted to do. I started teaching my senior year in college. We had to do a community service project in the area, and I ended up teaching yoga instead of dance.

Laura Yell

Laura teaches 6 days a week.

PWP: What was the transition like from dance to yoga?

LY: Before I found yoga, as a dancer, I struggled with body image issues. And yoga really helped a lot—being non-competitive, it’s about listening to your body and listening to what’s right for it at that moment. And that can be different every day. That was a whole new concept to me, and that was something I really wanted to share.

PWP: How did the idea of starting your own studio come up?

LY: I think that idea came to me around the end of college really. It was in the works for about five years. I just loved the practice so much, and there wasn’t something like it in Milwaukee. I thought there was really a need for it here, and I really wanted to share my passion for yoga with other people.

I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for six years, and during that time I was nannying and bartending. That’s how I saved money and finally made it to this day.

It took a really, really long time! It was a dream for about five years, but I started really putting a lot of time and effort into it about two full years before I opened.

“Right away I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life…I finally found my thing.”

PWP: And what makes you happiest at work?

Milwaukee Power Yoga

Milwaukee Power Yoga opened in January 2012. “When you’re running a business, a big part of it is getting to teach yoga but there are so many things to learn,” Laura says, “Like building my website … taxes, accounting … how to use a power drill! That was new.”

LY: I love when my students show that same feeling that I remember having when I started yoga—that excitement about finding it. Right away I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life, like I finally found my thing. I love when other people share that with me, that they just love it. I love watching everybody’s practice grow and change over time.

PWP: When did you know it was time to take the plunge?

LY: I just sort of felt like it was now or never.

This is scary; this is a big step. Opening a business is a risk, it’s a leap of faith, but I felt like it’s now or never, just try it!

Front Crane

Laura effortlessly demonstrates front crane—a pose I’m really working on but can’t quite get (yet!).

“This is what I want, but can I really do this?”

PWP: And that’s actually what we want to support, women with ambitions, passions and that attitude—you can just feel how much you love this!

LY: I feel like, hey, I did it! It feels really good because I had a lot of doubt along the way; “This is what I want, but can I really do this?” It’s exciting to be really doing it. It was a lot of hard work, but you get through it all, and it’s definitely worth it 100 times over. And so is wearing yoga pants to work every day.


[Photos by Alysse.]

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