Yoga for every BODY with Emily Adams RYT

Have you always wanted to try yoga but are too nervous to take that first step? Or have you tried a class but felt like you needed a little more help to figure out what works for your body? Then Curvy Yoga might just be for you!

A friend asked me to attend yoga class with her for a year but I wouldn't go with her. She was athletic and skinny and I was... well, not athletic and skinny. I was certain that I would be the biggest person in the class and I wasn't sure I would be able to do what was asked. A year later I was still thinking about yoga and finally went to my first class (without that friend!). Attending weekly classes helped me de-stress, increased my mobility, and decreased my shoulder and hip pain. I began to notice and to listen to how my body felt in different poses and throughout my day. I began to take my yoga off the mat and bring more calm to my life. I began to learn to show kindness to myself.

Curvy Yoga is a safe place for you to practice yoga and explore slight differences in poses to find what works for your body. Making slight modifications can sometimes be necessary for proper alignment and safety in a bigger body. It's a place to learn how to use all those props in the studio. It's a place to figure out what to do when your left elbow doesn't reach the outside of your right knee in a twist. Yoga helps you to learn body awareness and you might just begin to understand what that yoga teacher means when she says "what is your pinky toe doing right now?" 

Isn't Curvy yoga just like regular yoga? Why do we need it? Because there are people like me who were afraid to go to a class. Because you want to feel safe. Because you don't know that a regular yoga class is going to be just fine. Because you don't know how to do the poses and might get embarrassed. Because you've tried a pose and couldn't do it. Because you don't know how to make the poses work for you.

Join me at my workshop on January 28. We will explore how to love the body you’re in today, learn “how to” modifications to make yoga poses more accessible in any class, practice the options, and then get a chance to try out those new moves in a 45 minute yoga practice. "You can do this!"

Emily Adams, RYT-200 and Curvy Yoga certified teacher, will be leading this fun, instructional and inspirational workshop. We will explore how to love the body you’re in today, learn “how to” modifications to make yoga poses more accessible in any class, and then get a chance to try out those new moves in a 45 minute yoga practice. Lots of options are offered during the workshop so you can figure out what best works for your body.

Beginners are very welcome; no yoga experience or flexibility required.

January 28th 11:30am-1:30p

Cost $25

Feature Teacher: Adriel Slaughter



The beauty of seeing a community take shape exists in each of the individual members. In the chaos of life, so many different individuals with lifetimes of different experiences are, for whatever reasons, brought together to share time and space. Over time, the reason the individual was drawn to the community begins to reveal itself and the order of chaos is seen.  

The contributions each individual makes in bringing their presence alone is beyond value. Each individual is bringing a lifetime of unique experience, of perspective, of wisdom that can never be replaced. For that reason, each individual’s presence is felt deeply.

One dearly beloved member of our Bristol Yoga community brings a presence that is truly her own. With her deep well of philosophic knowledge and overall kick-ass attitude, this individual brings strong presence that is invaluable.

And that individual is… Adriel Slaughter!

Here are some of the questions we asked Adriel to give you some insight into what a treasure her presence is in our community.


- What inspires you to teach yoga?

I love to teach! Teaching yoga allows me to share the lessons I have learned on the mat with others - most often this means doing something I think I can’t do and guiding students to that place in class, either through a challenging pose or just a long Savasana, it’s pretty magical. 


- What are you doing when you are not teaching?

I teach, ha ha. I teach Philosophy at Virginia Highlands, King University and Northeast State. Time not teaching *something* is spent reading, watching tv [I was not allowed to watch television as a child; I love television]. I really enjoy sewing and knitting but don't have enough time these days . . . the rest of the time is spent chasing our 6 year old daughter, Harper and hanging out with my husband and our dog and cats. 


- What does yoga mean for you?

To flex (says Harper, my daughter)

Yoga means union, literally and that is what it means in my life - it’s been a connection between physical and mental exercise. I was drawn to the very physical side of yoga when I started. Like many, over time, I have come to appreciate and integrate the breath and meditative part of yoga into both my asana practice and my life. 


- Who is (are) the most influential person (people) in your life?

Aristotle. I took a class on Aristotle in college and it changed the course of my life. I was presented with a new way to view the world through philosophy - one that has extended to every facet of my life. 


- What did you learn from Aristotle that still applies for you today?

I took a class in undergrad on Aristotle. It was the first philosophy class I had taken and opened my eyes to an entirely new way of viewing the world. Briefly, a few things that were, and still are, significant about Aristotle's philosophical system are his conception of the soul (in the sense of life-force) and his ethical theory. He asserted that everything possesses a soul: plants a nutritive soul, animals both nutritive and appetitive, and humans both of those as well as a rational soul. This means that we have so much responsibility for our own development and our ability to flourish (my favorite word, eudaimonia, expresses this idea) in this life depends on feeding our souls. We do this by living well (there are multiple writings addressing this question: what does it mean to live well?). For Aristotle, this means finding the mean, the middle way, if you will, between extremes. This applies to everything and I have found through my study and practice of yoga many overlaps: we possess within us the ability to flourish through feeding our souls by practice of asana, breath and meditation. Yet we need to make the right choices for us. As this connects to yoga: we have to find a practice that feeds our souls and one that is good for you. The asana practice that feeds my soul might be torture to yours - luckily, there are many styles of yoga and it wasn't until I stumbled upon Power Yoga that I found the style that spoke to me. I'm not very good at slowing down and through the challenging practice, I have been able to work in through physical movement and slow down mentally. 


- What is the most important lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga? 

Patience and stillness. I want to immediately be able to do all the poses and I find it challenging to hold still. It was not until I found Power Yoga that I learned this lesson. I want to go - go - go and in my personal life, that has gained me things like stress fractures and arthritis from overuse. In a power yoga  practice, we flow through challenging poses while holding other poses for several breaths. I have found that in doing this I am able to extend it to life off the mat - flowing through and holding strong in challenges. 

To be kind to others & to learn new things (Harper).


What is your favorite book?

Toss up between Crime & Punishment and Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I also have a strong affinity for ancient Greek Philosophy as well as Nietzsche and Existential Philosophy. 


- What do you appreciate about Existential Philosophy?

I find myself drawn to Existential philosophy as well. To summarize, one of the things Sarte said about life is that, "existence precedes essence." This means that nothing is inherently meaningful - meaning is something that we must determine for ourselves and it it a huge responsibility. I find myself questioning the point of things - why should we get up in the morning? why should we open ourselves up to love? should i eat popcorn for dinner? Existentialism answers these questions: none of it matters in any grand sense. What matters is that I'm faced with choices, decisions to make and based on what meaning I am searching for, that's where the significance lies. There is so much more to Existential philosophy; Sartre's No Exit is a good place to start. As far as this has influenced yoga, I think it goes back to the question of meaning. Often in a class or in my own practice, I'll set an intention at the beginning of class based on what I want to get out of the practice that day. It's much like Existential philosophy: there is nothing inherently meaningful about yoga or anything else; meaning comes from within us. 


- What about music? What is your favorite music genre/band/or musician?

The Cure! Nine Inch Nails! Queens of the Stoneage! New Favorite is Chelsea Wolfe - check her out! 


- Top three things you would bring to a *magical* deserted island:

I fixed that question for you and added magical to it - now that the island is magical, there will be an infinite supply of coffee and my 17 year old cats will live forever. I will also be able to think of the book I want to read and it will appear, as will anything else. I'll have to be careful what I think about . . . 

- Who are your three favorite philosophers?

Top 3: 

Runners up: 
Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism


- What do you want your students to take away from your teaching?

I want students to take away a sense of their own strength - our source of power comes from within, not from without and we all have that power. It often is a matter of connecting with that power and I try to design my classes to open students to that option.


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Alysse Baker

With the Thanksgiving Holiday quickly approaching, we are reminded, in the case that we have forgotten, to give thanks for the bounty in our lives.

At Bristol Yoga we are more than thankful for not only the gift of community, but the many gifts that come from each individual to our community, especially the gift of presence. Every time we come to our mats, we are giving the gracious gift of presence. This brings to mind another quote from Thich Nhat Hanh in his book You Are Here:

“What is loving? It is recognizing the presence of the other with your love. This is not a theory; it is a practice. Whether the object of your love is your heart, your in-breath, your physical body, or your baby, whether it is your son, your daughter, or your partner, your declaration of love is always the same. It is: ‘Dear one, I am here for you’ . . . When the other person realizes that his or her presence has been recognized and confirmed, he or she will blossom like a flower . . . If you embrace them with the energy of mindfulness, with your true presence, this energy is completely nourishing. It is like water for a flower . . . Your presence is the most precious gift you can give him or her. ‘Dear one, I am here, really here, for you.’”

In our last Feature Teacher post where we introduced you to the lovely Vicky Foster, we illustrated the garden of community. The Sangha, the body of community, serves as the foundation of soil which provides support to the flowers, each individual member of the Sangha. Here, Thich Nhat Hanh shows how presence acts as the water which feeds the flowers, our members, on their path toward personal growth. When true presence is mixed with the support of community, all within the community are seen, heard, and fed with love.

It is a gift in itself just to witness individuals flourish when fed by the loving presence of the Bristol Yoga Community. This instructor in particular, being one of our youngest instructors, has been inspiring to watch mature, blossom, and soften by surrendering to the support of love.

This sweet, vibrant flower is . . . Alysse Baker!

Here are a few questions we asked Alysse to help you get to know her sweet sense and gain insight into her transformation.

  1. What brought you to yoga?

    “The first time I did yoga I hated it. I went to massage therapy school in Blacksburg, VA and yoga was required before every class to get warmed up. Yoga kind of fell into my lap when I needed it. About 2/3 of the way through the massage therapy program, the same school offered a yoga teacher training program and by that time I had really noticed a difference in my body after practicing for a short 9 months. I was also 19 and wanted to explore places away from my hometown of Independence, VA for a little while longer so needless to say, I stayed.”


  2. How long have you been practicing?

    “Six years on and off.”


  3. If you could define your style, what would it be?
    “The teacher training program I went through was primarily Ashtanga based. Ashtanga greatly influences my style but over the years it’s developed into a mix. I want to say my style is along the lines of ‘power’, but not the way people typically think of ‘power’. In most peoples’ minds, when they think power, they think ‘hard’, or ‘I am going to be hurting after this’, and that’s not what I want my classes to be. What I really want is for my students to walk away feeling ‘empowered’. Yes, I like a strong practice, yes, I encourage you to go to your edge, but, more than anything, I want you to listen to the body! It’s YOUR practice, no one else’s. I want you to feel ‘empowered’ to make it into what you need!”


  4. What is your favorite posture/asana?
    “Virabhadrasana II or Warrior Two- It makes me feel physically strong but also very mentally and emotionally strong.”


  5. What does yoga mean for you?
    “Yoga for me is neither up nor down. Yoga is the happy medium whether you’re doing the physical practice or in other ways. In life we all have ups and downs. The ups feel amazing and the downs can feel tragic. Yoga is a way to check out of the roller coaster of life, even if it is for a short period of time.”


  6. What are you doing when you are not teaching?
    “Currently, I go to school at Northeast State finishing up an Associate’s degree in business administration and I work in the restaurant/bar industry when I need some extra money. I spend a lot of time with my dog, Opie, and try to visit my family in Grayson County as often as I can.”


  7. What is your spirit animal?!
    “A koala bear. =] I love to sleep and I love the smell of eucalyptus.”


  8. What are three likes and three dislikes you have in general?
    “I LOVE food, I like kids’ movies that make you cry because they’re so sweet/inspirational (ex: Homeward Bound when Shadow, the old golden retriever, walks over the hill after everybody thought he was gone forever), and there’s something special about snowy days.
    I dislike judgement, people making fun of others who can’t defend themselves, and the color red.”


  9. Who is/are the most influential person/people in your life?
    “I would say my grandma. Growing up I always thought she was crazy, but now I realize that she’s probably the smartest person on Earth.”


  10. What is the most important lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga?
    “Balance- on and off the mat. I’ve never been a big fan of moderation, but yoga has helped me prioritize and get my life back together. It’s helped me figure out what’s important, sometimes that means buckling down and sometimes it means letting your hair down.”

Through the support of the soil of Sangha and the nourishment from the water of loving presence, Alysse continues to bloom more fully into the beautiful woman empowered by love that she is today. If you want to break a sweat in the presence of this sweet, koala-goddess, come find her Tuesdays afternoon at 12:15 PM for a 45 minute Flow-n-go, then again Tuesday evening at 7:15 for Vinyasa. If you want to find the “power” in the feeling of being “empowered”, catch her Thursday nights at 5:45 PM for Power Vinyasa and Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM for Vinyasa.


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Vicky Foster

If you have been keeping up with our Bristol Yoga Teacher Feature Blogs, you may be in the early stages of understanding how important our community is to us.

When trying to move into peace through the path of mindful living, without others who understand, encourage, and inspire you, the path becomes arduous and your practice can begin to wither in the shadow of loneliness. However, with a strong sense of community as your foundation, the path towards peace becomes possible. Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates this idea in his book You Are Here saying:

 “When we practice with a community, a sangha, we should take advantage of the group energy. Everybody is breathing mindfully, everybody is walking mindfully. We can see the sangha as a boat. We have bricks of suffering in us, and without a boat we are in danger of sinking in the river of suffering . . . if you have a boat, you can transport tons of pebbles and stones. The same is true for your pain and suffering. If you know how to use the boat made of the energy generated by the Sangha, you will not be drowned in your suffering. Because you put your trust in the Sangha, you can have confidence . . . ‘I am surrounded by the Sangha. The Sangha is generating the energies of compassion and mindfulness. I have confidence in that.’”

In essence, the sangha becomes the soil, and each member the seeds growing toward the light of peace. At Bristol Yoga, our commitment is to create a strong sense of community in which our members can feel safe to place their faith. One instructor in particular has been hugely committed to developing our community from day one. Every event, every gathering, this big-hearted, compassionate individual is always willing to participate, even when it is outside of her comfort zone, like when we all went camping in the monsoon of 2015 in Floyd, Virginia!
This individual is the beautiful and sassy Vicky Foster.

Here are a few questions we asked Vicky to help you get a better sense of why she is so AWESOME!

  1. What brought you to yoga?

“My chiropractor recommended that I find a yoga class to help with my back/neck/shoulder issues. A serious spinal injury when I was a small child followed by years of playing a multitude of sports led to increasing chronic pain as an adult. I wish I would have started yoga much earlier in my life. After two to three yoga classes a week for four more constant pain.”

2. How long have you been practicing now?

“I have been practicing yoga for 5 1/2 years and teaching for almost 4 years.”

3. If you could define your style, what would it be?

“My yoga style is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Sometimes I focus on breath in the asana (pose) and sometimes I focus on changing the body alignment to feel subtle differences in the asana. I consistently practice a flow style with smooth transitions whether I am teaching a beginner slow flow or more advanced power flow. I encourage modifications and props to help YOUR body find its place in the asana.”

4.  Do you have a favorite posture/asana?

“My favorite pose is actually a transition between two poses. Down dog split to lunge. I love down dog split and lunge so when you transition the two it is absolute heaven all the way through the hips. When I first started doing yoga I had a really hard time doing this transition so I really appreciate the agility involved.”

5. What are you doing when you are not teaching?

“When I am not teaching (I teach A LOT), I am reading and watching videos to further my knowledge of yoga and anatomy. Also, reading in general...I LOVE to read. I spend lots of time with my son. Mostly playing ball or playing board games because that's what he likes to do the most. I spend the occasional afternoon with my daughter who is grown and starting her own family. In December those afternoons will include a grandson! I also have my own business doing upholstery repair on vehicles and boats. That leaves a little time left for my husband and friends.”

6. What is your favorite book?!

“My favorite book...WOW! I have always been such an avid reader so it is really hard to narrow it down to one favorite of all the books I've read in the past 42 years. The most recent favorite (within the past two years) would have to be The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. It's the first of a trilogy and the best of the three.”

7. What are three likes and three dislikes you have in general?

“I like laughter (don't take yoga so seriously), fun (enjoy the asana, the music, the movement) and smiling (if you can't smile in the pose, you're doing it wrong), I dislike not being in control (still working on steps), scary movies and spiders.”

8. What is the most important lesson you have thus far
learned from your yoga?

“The most important thing that I've learned from my yoga experience is 'I CAN'. So many poses can seem unattainable and intimidating. Seeing growth, progress and finally achievement in these poses really boosts your confidence. This carries over from the yoga studio into your daily life.”

9. What do you love about Bristol Yoga?

“What I love about Bristol Yoga is the sense of community that we have. The instructors here are all amazing women who support and encourage each other. That love we have for each other and what we do extends out to all of our yogis that come here to practice with us. There is no "us and them" when it comes to the instructors and students...we are all one community practicing and growing together.”

10. And finally, what is a favorite quote you would like to share with everyone?!

“Favorite quote??? More like words of wisdom to live by.
Before you speak THINK it True? it Helpful? it Inspiring? it Necessary? it Kind?”

Vicky’s love and loyalty to Bristol Yoga is what enriches the soil of our Sangha and feeds the seeds of each member. You can join this colorful lioness during her Yoga for Everybody class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:00 AM and her Warm Slow Flow and Yin class at 6:15 PM on Thursday evenings.


Bristol Yoga Teacher Feature brought to you by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Maggie Fuller

One of the pleasures of being a part of the Bristol Yoga Community is watching individuals within the community grow and evolve. Each member of our sangha, our community, both students and teachers, color our Bristol Yoga Community with their personalities.

One individual that it has been a pleasure to watch grow and develop into the radiant individual she is now has been one of our newest teachers to join. This individual first came to our studio as a student. Over time, as her practice developed on the mat, so did a desire to take her practice off of the mat. Trusting her instincts and fueled by her testimony to the transformative benefits of the practice, this individual chose to participate in the first Yoga Teacher Training program offered by the Bristol Yoga Center. Upon completion, she was eager to serve the members of the Bristol Yoga sangha, and we were more than happy to welcome her.

This is individual is… Maggie Fuller!

Here are a few questions we asked Maggie to help you get to know her better:

 - What brought you to Yoga?

I could answer this question in too many ways to count, but I think what ultimately brought me to the practice was my need for something, anything really, to help me help myself. I was previously diagnosed with ADHD, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and I have struggled with depression since I was an adolescent. I eventually got tired of always trying new medications, and just being on so many different meds. I felt as if I was losing myself even more to the drugs. But, that's when my mom found Bristol Yoga, and asked me if I would go with her. I had practiced on my own before, reading all kinds of yoga books, blogs, and watching videos on YouTube, but actually coming into the studio for practice was a whole new world. Because of yoga, I successfully came off of all my medications, signed myself up for teacher training, and changed my life for the better. I've found myself again, and life's never been so good!

 - If you could define your style, what would it be?

I was trained in Hatha style yoga, but I would say my personal style ranges. Besides traditional Hatha, I enjoy Yin, restorative, and flowing practices the most. In my classes, I love balanced connected, choreographed flows with mindful stillness.

 - In general, what are 3 likes and 3 dislikes you have?

I couldn't live without Asian cuisine, the many works of JRR Tolkien, and my family (my soul family as well as my blood). I can't stand centipedes, narcissism, and the zombie people who can't put their phones down. 

 - What are you doing when you are not teaching?

When I'm not teaching, I'm working at a Highlands thrift shop in Abingdon. Come visit me! And besides that, you can find me hiking around Cherokee Forest or just watching Netflix at home, procrastinating on all my unfinished art projects. 

 - What is the biggest lesson your yoga has taught you so far?

Yoga helped me find my innermost truth, my true self. I've come to realize that there's nothing wrong with me. I am not a diagnosis, I am not a size, and I most certainly am not normal. I am ME and I am beautiful. More than anything, I strive for my students to know that they too are absolutely nothing but beautiful. 

It has been such a pleasure to see this beautiful butterfly unfold herself from her cocoon and emerge into the ethereal teacher she is today. Her presence is one that will leave you floating on your commute home. You can find Maggie in the classroom Mondays at 4:30 PM and Wednesdays at 6:15 PM leading Yoga for Everybody. Come be inspired with beauty.

Bristol Yoga Teacher Feature brought to you by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Victoria Hanson

“So many yoga classes, so many teachers, so little time!” If you are new to a yoga studio, this may be one of the thoughts that pass through your mind when looking over the class schedule. That is one of the main reasons we at Bristol Yoga Center offer introductory deals to new students like our “30 for 30”, just thirty bucks for thirty days of all you can yoga to give you the opportunity to try out as many classes and instructors as possible to find the style of class and instructor you “jive” with. “But I can’t meet all of the instructors, my schedule is crazy! What if I am missing the one instructor I truly resonate with?” Don’t worry, we have a solution for that, too.

At Bristol Yoga Center, one of our greatest values is our “sangha”, or community. We want each and every individual that walks through our doors to feel like family, like they belong. Because of the value we place on creating this sense of community, we have decided to feature one of our teachers each week in a “get to know you” style setting, so not only can you discover teachers that you may not have had an opportunity to practice with, but you can now get to know fellow members of the community!

This week, our Feature Teacher is someone easily described as the sunshine to our solar system, the espresso shot you need to get your day started, love personified… and that woman is Victoria Hanson!

The following are a few questions Victoria took the time to answer to either help you better get to know the radiant woman you are already practicing with, or to let you know the abundance of love you’ve been missing and need in your life!

  • What brought you to yoga?
    • “A woman we called "Ms. Tilly" brought me to yoga. I was heading out the door of the wellness center on Euclid after a run on the treadmill weeks after Sidney was born in 2002. Sidney was in the carrier.  Ms. Tilly stopped me and chatted, Sidney was sleeping, and she talked me into putting her back in the nursery and joining her for yoga class. She introduced me to everyone in the room, and the instructor, Dolores Champagne, was so amazing I came back every week I could after that first class.
  • If you could describe your style of practice, what would it be?
    • “My style of practice is Hatha yoga. I utilize Iyengar style alignment with props and expand with Ashtanga style flowing movements like the sun and moon salutes. I really desire for my students to experience the flowing connection that is always there for them if they choose to seek it. ‘You are loved, you are supported and you are free!’ I say in just about every class.
  • Generally speaking, what are three likes and three dislikes that you have?

    • “I like freedom to play, beautiful laughter and pure truth. I dislike entrapment, ignorant selfish Ego and deliberate, mean spirited, dishonesty.”

  • What are you doing when you are not teaching yoga?
    • “I am spending time with those I adore! My three dogs, my birth family, my church family and my friends. Sometimes I clean, but mostly I spend my time creating moments of Lovely Play.”

  • What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your yoga so far?
    • "’Be in the Flow, is the number one rule in Yoga’ I learned from my teacher Lydie Ometto. ‘We are chasing, the chasing’ Dolores Champange said about teaching. Bring what serves right Now, to those who show up; that is the beautiful work of Yoga.” 

  • And finally, favorite quote?
    • “God is Love. 1 John 3:8”

If you find yourself missing the sunshine of sunny weather days, come bask in Victoria’s warm, radiant presence Monday through Friday from 6:00-7:00 AM for Sunrise Yoga. In this class, Victoria teaches traditional sun salutations and features a focus pose for the entire week. No wonder this woman embodies sunshine!   


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander