Feature Teacher: Heather Dotterweich

Fairly recently, I asked the question to one of my classes, "why do we come together to practice in the community?"


Many voices came forward, expressing reasons why they come to share in their practice; some of those reasons being to build connection, others being that they just wouldn't practice on their own. 


One individual shared "I learn better in the community."


This was a response I felt really captured the value of practicing in community. By practicing in a community, we become more than just our own experience. Within a community, lessons can be shared, explored, and even developed further so that new discoveries are made furthering the development of the community.


In order to see this kind of development within a community, however, the mindset of the forever-student must be present. We call it the "beginner's mind". The individual that, no matter how long they have been practicing, is able to maintain their "beginner's mind" and always come to their practice with intention to discover is the individual that will continue to stimulate and elevate the growth of the community. 


At Bristol Yoga, we are fortunate to share space with one particular individual who approaches more than just her yoga practice with the "beginner's mind", reminding us the value of approaching each day with the wonder of curiosity and intention to discover. 


This luminary individual is Heather Dotterweich!


1. When and how did you find yoga?

I first encountered a formal yoga asana class about 11years ago in the old Bristol Ballet studio, above the Blackbird Bakery. The teacher had spent 2 years in an ashram and was very fluent in her use of Sanskrit, but what felt more foreign were the positions, (basic asana) that my body was being asked to move into! However, an excellent teacher, and a growing awareness that I was connecting with something deep inside, kept me coming back to class.


2. Why did you choose to pursue teaching yoga?

Teaching comes fairly naturally to me, and I'd taught High School 'World Religion' in Scotland. However, I never set out to be a yoga teacher. It wasn't until year seven of practicing that the thought started to take root. So I spent the following year visiting lots of studios, doing various weekend courses, and talking to teachers to try and discern if this was right for me. Eventually, through a recommendation I found Lydie Ometto's Yoga Teacher Training school at Inner Sea Yoga in Johnson City. I graduated and began teaching 3 years ago, and that's when the learning really began, and still continues!


3. When and how did you come across mindfulness practices and what drew you to explore and teach mindfulness?

Several years ago I noticed more and more the numinous moments in life, where everything seemed to move beyond space, time, words and even thoughts, and I was left with a sense of just being. Often it would be times when I deliberately slowed everything down, and just paid attention: hanging laundry outside, watching a bird, a sunset, and the result was delicious! This experience is common to everyone, when we allow it! I then noticed that the term “Mindfulness”, (bringing awareness to the present moment) kept coming up, and realized that this is what I'd been accessing! I knew a little about meditation and assumed it was beyond me! Lydie talked about it's important connection to yoga, during my teacher training and we practiced a little. But it wasn't until I investigated further: seeing Mindfulness and meditation as a common thread running through the major religions, read some neuroscience research showing it's benefits, listened to several 'how to' courses, attended workshops and read some books, that I decided it couldn't be ignored! Most importantly, I tried it out, and I'm really pleased I did, now it's an integral part of my life and yoga teaching.


4. What have you learned from your mindfulness practices and your yoga?

I've learned that it does not make life's struggles disappear! But instead, makes life more doable!! I know my body better, my mind better, I have a deep compassion for myself, and all my foibles. There is a natural honoring that unfolds, and a sense of interconnection with all sentient beings! It's very liberating. It's been a paradigm shift!


5. What are you doing when you aren't teaching?

Cooking Indian food, reading Indian novels, watching British Murder Mysteries and documentaries. Reading about and doing yoga/meditation things. Hanging laundry outside, sitting under the cedar tree, dancing around in the house and singing, drinking coffee. Generally helping kids and husband around home, being very attentive to the cat! Going off on mini adventures.


6. What are 3 things you hope to learn or explore in the future?

I don't have any real clarity about the future. I do want to continue with my practice, which I hope will involve gaining more insight, but just really being open to the moment!

I'm presently enjoying teaching the students at Morrison School, and am excited to be sharing at Bristol Yoga again. I want to continue being a loving witness and support to my husband and children's unfolding life journeys, and to love and have curiosity about anyone and everyone everywhere!


We are so pleased too announce that Heather will be returning to share her practice with the Bristol Yoga Community starting in May on Tuesday Nights at 5:45 PM for Mindful Flow. If you need inspiration to connect with the present moment sooner than that, she will be sharing her Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop this Saturday, April the 16th at 2:00 PM!



Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander

Spring Recharge and Renew Retreat

Do you ever find yourself feeling uninspired? Drained? Feeling as if you have been running 100 MPH with no end in sight? Sometimes, when we are in the thick of the race of our lives, we can’t see just how hard we are working. We become so accustomed to a certain pace, it isn’t until we stop, step back, and consciously slow down that we realize just how fast we have actually been moving.

Spring season is already here and with this seasonal shift can come a sense of heaviness, dullness, and lethargy. According to Ayurveda, also known as “the science of life”, the sister science of yoga, spring is a season where excess elements of earth and water are present (think: “April Showers bring May flowers”). Earth and Water combine to create mud, a substance that is cool, sticky, and heavy. The combination of earth and water present in nature influences our mental and physical bodies creating a sense of heaviness, dullness, and lethargy; it manifests in knowing you have a to-do list 3 pages long but all you really want to do is take a nap.

If you are already feeling this way, feeling burned out and in need of an adult spring break, the temperature is only getting warmer and the intense heat of summer can be especially energy-zapping for some. For this reason, spring time is the perfect time to rev-up your self-loving rituals and treat yourself.
For this reason, we at Bristol Yoga have created the Spring Time Recharge and Renew Yoga Retreat hosted at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. Tucked away in the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, this is a retreat for women geared towards helping you to re-connect with your inner goddess, recharging your emotional, mental and physical body and renewing your sense of purpose. When we connect to our divine feminine energy that is rooted in self-love, we can then harness the power of that love and align with our divine nature, finding a space in which we can nourish, nurture and sustain ourselves.

As if you needed any more convincing, here are 5 other reasons why the Recharge and Renew Yoga Retreat needs to be scheduled on your Spring Calendar.

  1. You will Deepen Your Yoga Practice
    This retreat will include daily guided Asana practices allowing you the opportunity to practice in a new environment and connect with your practice on a deeper level.


  2. You will have the opportunity to Detox Digitally
    Of course you have access to your personal electronic devices, however, being tucked away in the mountains gives you the perfect excuse to not respond to your email immediately.


  3. You will Eat Healthily
    The Art of Living Retreat Center will be providing fresh, delicious Ayurveda-inspired vegetarian meals prepared by a talented chef.


  4. You will Discover New Adventures
    Included in this retreat is a guided nature walk, creative workshop building yantra art as well as journaling practices and exploring self-care routines.


  5. You will forge Deeper Connections with Yourself and Those Around You
    This retreat is geared towards helping you to connect with YOU. When we are able to develop a deeper connection with ourselves, we operate from a more authentic place and in turn can deepen the connections with those around us.

To find out more about the Spring Recharge and Renew Yoga Retreat, check out the Bristol Yoga Center webpage at http://www.bristolyogacenter.com/retreats/ and even visit http://artoflivingretreatcenter.org/event-registration/?ee=171 to book your stay!

Feature Teacher: Nicole Dyer

Yoga means “to yoke, or unite,” to bring together in harmonious union. According to Sharon Gannon, co-founder of the Jivamukti yoga method, yoga is actually our natural state from which we, over time and with experience, drift away.  Much of what is learned through a yoga practice is how to re-unite the mind, body, and spirit, returning to our harmonious, natural state. Once we learn to live in union with our selves, understanding every facet of our own being, we can begin to live in harmonious union with those around us.

One member of the newest members to our Bristol Yoga Community lives this idea on and off of her mat. There is a saying in the yoga community that “one does not practice yoga for themselves, but for those around them.” This individual lives her yoga not only to find harmony within herself and her own life, but also to bring harmony to her community. As owner of White Birch Juice, promoting and educating her community on the value of a healthy lifestyle is a priority, and as a yoga teacher, this individual knows that a healthy lifestyle is not limited to the physical body, but includes your mind-body, emotional-body, and spirit-body.

Not only that, but this individual also knows in order for a person to live a truly, all-encompassing healthy lifestyle, they must also be in harmony with the life that surrounds them.

And this is why we at Bristol Yoga are so thankful to have Nicole Dyer as a member of our teaching community teaching others how self-love is actually a selfless practice.

Here are a few questions we asked Nicole to help you get to know her loving and generous spirit.

  1. What brought you to yoga and made you choose to pursue teaching?

  • Yoga came to me about 4 years ago. Once I started practicing I realized how I hadn't ever really taken the time to slow down and unite mind, body & breath. I was dealing with a small injury at the time, and saw the huge impact my practice had on my body, leaving me with no pain and left me constantly looking forward to being on my mat again. The moment I realized Yoga was so much more than learning poses, or asanas, and much more about loving yourself in order to give love to those around me, I wanted to share that feeling with others. I saw an incredible impact in my life on the way I started "responding" instead of "reacting" and wanted to share this with others too. This whole, new world started to open up for me and that was about the same time that huge changes in my life started (leaving my jobs to start my own business, become a Yoga teacher), and I really wanted others to have that same opportunity in their own lives. I then decided to go through a teacher training in Asheville; that is where I really learned that yoga is SO much more than simply calling yoga poses.

2. What does yoga mean for you?

  • What does yoga mean to me? I am always reminded of a quote one of my teachers shared with me, "You are perfect, absolutely perfect inside, but there is much work to be done." It is the constant reassurance that we were all born with this "blueprint" this makeup of who we are deep down, and it remains there in perfect form. As we pass through the journey of life, it becomes harder to see it, feel it and know it. By practicing yoga, slowing down and being still, listening, we can unite the mind, body and breath to get closer to original form of ourselves. By doing the work, and delving into ourselves for that deeper sense of knowing our being, we get closer to ourselves. By incorporating the poses, breath work & meditation I am able to come to this place of stillness and cultivate LOVE:) Without doing this, for me it is hard to take care of others, or continue to roll with whatever life likes to throw at me. Yoga for me is truly being present in the space between what has happened and what will.

3. Being the owner of white birch juice, how does yoga influence your work?

  • Yoga influences my work with White Birch Juice on a day to day basis. In terms of running a new, small business, I don't think I could imagine doing it without the outlook I have cultivated now. It helps me cope with stress, finding balance between work, relationships & what is really important. Like I mentioned before, I am grateful to have learned this way of finding balance and "responding" instead of "reacting," whether it’s simply being mindful and taking 3 deep breaths before doing anything else, or maintaining morning meditation so I can think clearly and calmly throughout the day. 

4. What are you doing when you're not teaching or making delicious juice?

  • When I'm not juicing, I am either practicing yoga, spending time with friends, cooking, being outside, especially rock climbing. I discovered climbing just this year and have been amazed how it is so similar to yoga, physically & mentally. "Yoga on the rock," its incredible!

5. Of all the places you have been in the world, where is your favorite place? And Of all the places you have not been in the world, where do you dream of going? 

  • Something about Peru, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I was there with my best friend from NH and it was just breathtaking. We lived in a small village called Ollantaytambo for several months volunteering. Bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu was probably the most breath-taking view I have ever seen. I really would love to visit New Zealand one of these days :)

If you need a little help bringing yourself into union, join Nicole on Tuesday afternoons at 12:15 PM for our 45 minute Flow-N-Go class and grab one of her freshly made juices from the fridge afterwards! The rest of your day will surely be charged with more awareness of your wellness.


Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Ashley Boyer

Many people desire to begin a yoga practice, but hesitate because of fear, doubt, uncertainty, and/or anxiety. Stepping onto the mat for the first time can be an intimidating experience because of the expectations one builds in one’s mind, specifically about the asana (physical) practice. It isn’t until later in the journey that one realizes this is where the practice begins. As one continues to step onto the yoga mat, becoming more familiar with the physical practice, one begins to understand that yoga is less about the shapes the body makes and more about the connection one builds with oneself. As one’s practice continues to evolve, one realizes that the practice is not confined solely to the yoga mat, that it continues off of the mat, that the practice and the posture never ends.

This is much the case for one member of the Bristol Yoga Teacher Community. This individual serves as an example to all practitioners about the true nature of a yoga practice, that it is more than touching your toes. First coming to the Bristol Yoga Community as a student, this individual, as a glowing momma finely-tuned to her internal compass, chose to follow her instincts and enrolled in the Bristol Yoga Teacher Training Program originally with no intention of teaching. Being a full-time lawyer, mother, and wife as well as a representative for the growing Rodan and Fields community, who could blame her? Fortunately for us at Bristol Yoga, this radiant being chose to take her balancing act off of the mat joining the teaching community.

This joyfully infectious individual is… Ashley Boyer!

Here are a few questions we asked Ashley to help you get to know a little more about why we love her.

1. How did you find yoga and what inspired you to pursue teaching?

  • I did yoga sporadically, as in once a year may be, until Spring of 2013 when a family friend told me about a lady named Victoria Hanson teaching yoga out of her living room once a week.  It was near my house so I contacted her, showed up, and I was hooked. It was totally random, but I trusted it, followed through, and showed up to this stranger's home for yoga.   I followed Victoria to Bristol yoga once a got the nerve to finally go :)  It was August of 2013, and I was pregnant with my second child.  Again, I fell in love, not just with yoga, but with Bristol Yoga Center.  I am twelve hours from my home base, and since moving here, I never really found my niche, my people. From August to December 2013, I came to yoga anytime I had the chance.  I felt a change in perspective in me, a shift, a space that I had never discovered or that I had lost years ago.  At 9 months pregnant and about to pop, I pulled the trigger and signed up for teacher training.  I had no plans to teach; all I knew deep down in my gut was that I needed to know more about this thing and these people that were changing my life.  My husband is the hero in this story as to pursue this crazy gut feeling, he had an infant and 2-year old to handle. Me doing yoga or finding yoga would not have happened without his unwavering support.  I will stop there as the tears starting to form is preventing me from answering these questions. :)
    I pursued teaching after the teacher training because that training gives you a gift.  To keep that gift alive, I have to share it.

2. As a mother, a lawyer, an R&F rep, AND part time yoga teacher, how does your yoga practice manifest in your daily life? What becomes your daily practice?

  • Yoga in my daily life shows up more in the mundane, the day-to-day living.  My home practice is meditation on my mat or in the bathroom when I have a few minutes between life happening around me.  YOGA IS LIFE. LIFE IS YOGA.  It is so much more than asanas; it has changed my life and is my life perspective in everything from changing a diaper, talking to a client about her case and options, leading my RF team, being a wife, a friend, a human, a soul in this world.  I honestly don't see how I made it this far in life without it. 

3. When you're not lawyer-ing, repping for Rodan and Fields or teaching, what are you doing?

  • When I am not lawyering, marketing for R&F, or teaching, I am with my husband and two boys.  They are my world.  Legos, diapers, tents, skinned knees, messy, crazy little boys.  I also love to read and with the pace in my world, I am in love with audible and library books on cd :)

4. What is a book/quote that has found its way to you that continues to hold true in your life?

  • I have too many books and quotes to list.  Right now, I am all over some Brene Brown and Marianne Williamson.  My go-to daily read is the Bhagavad Gita.   One of my favorite quotes that inspires me is,   “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

5. What do you hope to teach others through yoga?

  • I never thought I would teach, but teacher training rocked my world and woke me up.  I hope to teach others that the light is within them; it is not found anywhere but here in you.  For years or may be all my life, I held the subconscious or not so subconscious belief that I will be happy when ....(I graduate college, I live here, I don't live there, I finish law school, I get married, I have X number of bedrooms, I move home to Louisiana, I leave here, I get this job..etc.) Yoga, or me finding yoga and allowing it to change my life, changed my life.  I want to show people that if I can find it or strive to live yoga, they too can find that undisturbed peace within themselves.  Come as you are where you are.

If you need help bringing balance into your life or are new to the practice and are just becoming acquainted with your mat, join Ashley on a Saturday morning at 10:00 AM for Yoga for Everybody. This loving momma has a smile that can put any anxieties at ease.


Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Amy Davis

For many individuals first stepping on to the yoga mat, the relationship to the practice is purely physical. For some of these individuals, it may even stay that way, however, for the others, it does not take long before their relationship with their practice begins to evolve and take root somewhere deeper.

These individuals who feel their yoga beyond the musculoskeletal layer and experience their practice on a more subtle level can be described as “seekers”. A seeker is someone who does not settle for the norm, who does not conform to an externally-imposed standard, who is instead willing to shine bring light into the darkest of places seeking out what beckons to their most subtle level of being. Seekers are willing to take the necessary risks to answer the calls of their hearts’ deepest longings embracing the discomfort that may come from vulnerability, uncertainty, and questioning.

At Bristol Yoga, we are fortunate and thankful to share community with one particular individual whose bright seeking spirit speaks to our inner child reminding us to always remain curious and never stop exploring.

This beautiful glowing individual is Amy Davis!

Here are a few questions we asked Amy to help you learn why her presence is vital for your individual growth.

1. When and how did you find yoga and what made you decide to pursue teaching?
- I was very lucky to find yoga when I was still young--I started going to yoga classes regularly when I was fifteen. . . I realized then that yoga practice is a very special time--it gives your body and your mind a break from all of the simple forward, back, up, down of day-to-day life so that you can be something else, something more free like a pigeon, warrior, mountain, goddess, wild thing. Since then, no matter how inconsistent or lazy my practice sometimes has been over the last fifteen years, yoga has ALWAYS been a part of me, a basic fact of my existence. 

I decided to pursue teaching after college. As can happen to English majors, I had little direction and a lot of free time after graduation. I had been leading my friends for years with help from my David Swenson Ashtanga book. Teaching was fun, and I wanted to learn as much about yoga as I could, so I did some research and applied to Asheville Yoga Center's RYT 2000 program in 2009. I was excited for classes to start, but I didn't know that going to yoga school would be one of the best decisions I would ever make. Over the nine months of training, I starting becoming a real person and growing a soul. Teaching wasn't my number one reason for going to yoga school, but once I graduated, I was passionate about sharing yoga with others. 


2. What have you learned from your yoga practice?
-I've learned so much from my yoga practice, but what comes to mind is learning how to be uncomfortable. Yoga has taught me that both growth and routine can both be massively uncomfortable at times, but that discomfort is where the magic happens if you stay present with it. I used to hate pigeon pose; I resisted it in every class and had to force myself to practice it at home. Then one day, I was listening to my then-new Fiona Apple CD and she was singing something about being good at being uncomfortable. I thought if I could learn to be good at being uncomfortable, I could rule the world! Nothing would be awful! So pigeon pose became discomfort-practice, and I really sank my teeth into it, and over the course of...say...a decade, pigeon has become one of my favorite poses and a source of major physical and emotional release.


3. What are you doing when you are not teaching?
- When I'm not teaching, I'm usually at Kil'n Time! I'm very lucky to have a job that lets me be creative and help other people tap into their creativity (I promise, I will drag it out of you). Otherwise, I like to play with clay sometimes, read, and Instagram pictures of my cat. 


4. You are known around the studio and beyond for your creativity and artwork, what would you say your art means to you?
- I'm going to be very candid about my answer to this question! I am creative all day at work, even if I'm not painting something (and I rarely get to paint anything), which rules! But sometimes by the end of the day, I'm usually tapped. One day last year, one of our regular customers saw me working on a canvas painting for our weekly canvas class. "That's beautiful," she said, "but, Amy, what would you paint if you were painting something for yourself...to express yourself?" And I really couldn't think of anything--I spent the next week having a small breakdown and wondering who I was! I still haven't come up with anything concrete. So right now, I guess what my artwork means to me is an opportunity to figure out, as I'm making something, the answer to that question--what would I make for myself?


5. Speaking of artwork, what can you tell us about the artwork you are going to be featuring in the Bristol Bizarre Art Show at the end of this month?
- Turns out that something I would make for myself is clay hands, lips, eyes, and hearts for Bristol Bizarre. My friend Case is running the show, and she came up with the loose theme of a freak show/circus. I started with the idea of making clay dishes in the shape of hands with palmistry maps on them, and they turned out really cool! From there, I decided to focus my pieces for the show on body parts. I have hands with henna tattoos and knuckle tattoos (some with six fingers), eye pendants in different colors, lips with lip rings painted on, a couple of feet, some hearts, and one ear. I'm still working on everything, but I'm having a ton of fun with this theme and helping Case get the show together. Everyone should come out! Monday, February 29th at O'Mainnin's Pub from 8-12. 


6. What is something you hope your students take away from your teaching?
- What I most want my students to take from my teaching is that it really is THEIR practice, even if they're practicing in a big room with a lot of people. I want them to learn to respect and love their bodies, find their edges, and learn how to sit with themselves despite sometimes being uncomfortable. My home practice is the most vital part of my yoga life, and I want to empower them to have the tools to take yoga home with them and truly make their practice their own. 

As essential as it is for the seeking spirit to explore the burning questions of their inner child, it is equally essential to know how to come home to themselves in order to find the answers they seek. Amy can show you how to do just that on Monday nights at 7:15 PM in her Candlelight Vinyasa class. Join her and learn the depths of discovery that exist within you!



Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander

Fostering Connection for February

February is a month reminding us to cultivate connection, connection to ourselves and to all of those dearest to our hearts. We live in a society that utilizes technology to encourage connection, ironically, however, it seems we are more disconnected than ever. Technology is constantly competing for our attention with social media, emails, cell phones, and the latest and greatest iDevices. It may appear that we are cultivating connection by staying up to date with people in our lives via social media and our cell phones, but in fact, we are only distracting ourselves from the present moment, developing a relationship instead with our cell phone or social media account (you can literally train the keyboard of your phone to adapt to your texting lingo and have you ever noticed how your social media account knows all of your favorite links to browse?), and missing out on opportunity to connect with ourselves. When we miss these opportunities to connect with ourselves, our ability to connect with those around us suffers as well.

In order to function in today’s society, utilizing technology is pretty unavoidable. In fact, technology has made many good things possible, like bridging the gap between families separated by distance, enabling a more free flow of information, and creating more broadly shared communities of interest. However, there are ways to make the digital world work for you, and not the other way around, so that you can in turn build better connections with the people around you.

Here are a few tips to incorporate technology into your life in such a way that it does not disrupt your quality of life.  

  1. Establish Sacred Times
    Being mindful, make clear, conscious choices about when, where, and how you use technology in your day. Determine sacred times and spaces where you allow yourself the opportunity to “disconnect” in order to truly connect with yourself and others. For example, declare any time you are on your yoga mat a sacred time to truly spend with yourself free from technology, establish “technology free time zones” during your morning and bed time rituals so you can mindfully prepare for and unwind from your day, or ban technology from the dinner table and use that time to connect with your family and loved ones.

  2. Make a practice of using technology Mindfully rather than Automatically
    When new technology develops, we learn how it can connect us to loved ones, how it can help us manage our lives, and also how it can distract us. Bring awareness to what is motivating you to reach for your phone at any given moment. Are you bored and just distracting yourself? Or is it truly necessary for your job? Get clear about your intentions behind the use of your technology and even establish times FOR using technology. For example, reserve time(s) in your day specifically for replying to emails so that you can truly give them your full attention, or even reserving similar times in your day for some literal face time using your iDevice or skype network to connect with loved ones.

  3. Make the most of Face-to-Face Connections
    Yes, technology has helped us to maintain connections that might have otherwise been lost, but it still does not replace real, in-person connection. When you have the opportunity to share space with another individual in your life, turn off your notifications from your device or turn on airplane mode and give yourself and the other person the space to truly connect with one another free from distraction.

    Applying your mindfulness practice to your relationship with technology can serve to enhance your daily life by allowing you the space to connect more deeply with yourself as well as those around you. If you find yourself still struggling to master your relationship with your device, maybe even consider downloading one of the new mindfulness apps for your phone. Moment is an app for iOS devices that tracks the amount of time spent on your device (Moment Family monitors screen time of any family members with the app on their phone for parents looking to enforce daily limits) and a similar app is available for Android devices called BreakFree. Establish goals for yourself to spend less time on your phone overall, or with specific apps throughout your day and move forward into February with the intention to foster more meaningful connections with yourself and those around you.



Presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Lizzie Hall

Last week, we talked about the necessity of individuals in a community who drive the evolution of the whole through their hunger for life and knowledge. Just as essential as these fiery individuals are to a community are also the Earthy individuals who maintain stability and steadiness. These fiery, go-getters need the self-loving wisdom that comes from the Earthy, grounded individuals of the community in order to avoid burning out. The dynamic between these two types of individuals is the natural harmony of Yin and Yang, or Shiva and Shakti.

The Earthy individuals of a community are those that teach us about sustainability. If you have ever tried to give your max, give 100%, for an extended period of time, then you’ve probably experienced what is commonly referred to as “burn out” (this might look like curling up in your bed with all your favorite junk food and a marathon of your favorite TV series on Netflix).  Sustainability, not just on the mat, but throughout your entire life, is about taking time do find rest and allowing your body to recover. At the core of sustainability is the practice of self-love.

We are fortunate at Bristol Yoga to have one particular individual in our community who is well-skilled in the art of self-love. This individual is so highly tuned in to her own inner-compass that she intuitively knows what her body needs and what her spirit craves. Not only that, but she doesn’t hesitate to nourish those needs. This individual is essential to our community teaching others how to trust and love themselves.

This soft and warm-hearted Earth momma is… Lizzie Hall!


Here are some questions we asked Lizzie to help you see just how dear she is to our hearts at Bristol Yoga.

1. When and how did you find yoga?
- I found yoga when I moved to Bristol 2 years ago at Bristol Yoga and I’ve been going ever since.  There’s no family like it in Bristol.

2. Why do you practice yoga?
-  I practice yoga whenever I need to come back to myself, whether that’s physically, mentally, or spiritually.  I gives me the tools I need to take care of myself and others.

3.  What is your favorite form of asana? (Vinyasa, restorative, gentle, yin, ashtanga, etc.)
- Yin yoga is my favorite form of Asana because it’s what my mind and body seem to need the most.  It gives my mind time to reflect and my body room to move and really sink into the postures.

4. What does yoga mean to you?
- To me, yoga is about knowing that I’m worth taking care of myself and that it’s important to take time to calm my thoughts and take care of my body.

5.  What are you doing outside of the classroom?
- Outside of the classroom I’m a Middle School teacher who meets students where they are.  I think my yoga philosophy is directly connected to my middle school classroom because I think everyone deserves to have someone meet them where they are.

6.  What is your spirit animal and why?
- My spirit animal is a sloth because I have a natural tendency to want to hibernate and take things slow.

7. Where is your favorite place to go when you need to relax?
- When I need to relax, I love to get a chai latte and enjoy doing nothing at all for just a little while.

8. Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, passage, or verse?
- My favorite verse is John 15:5 because it talks about union with God and that resting in his love is enough.

9. What do you want your students to know?
- I want my students to know that yoga meets you where you are.  Come as you are and you will find what you need.


If you know you’ve been working hard, or you have a case of the “Mondays”, and you could really use a reprieve to help re-charge your batteries to tackle the rest of your week, give yourself permission to bask in Lizzie’s warm and loving Earth-momma presence on Tuesday nights for her Mindful Flow at 5:45 PM.


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Jenny Nichols

Have you ever met anyone with a real appetite for life? You know, those people with the glow of eagerness in their eyes, eagerness to love, eagerness to learn, an eagerness to go, see, do, experience. These people are essential to a strong community. The people that are passionate about living and loving, they are the ones that serve to evolve the community and help it to continue to grow. The bright flame burning in their bellies that makes them hungry for knowledge is what inspires the spark in those they come into contact with driving them to do the same.

We are fortunate at Bristol Yoga to have another of our more recent members of the teaching community be this kind of person, the kind with the bright fire in her belly driving her to go, do, see, and learn all things. However, what makes this particular individual so special is more the fire burning in heart that inspires her not only to share all of her wisdom with the community, but to also love each individual so strongly.


This beautiful, bright spirit is Jenny Nichols! Here are a few questions we asked Jenny to help you see why you need to know her!


1. What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
- I have been practicing consistently since January 2011. I came to yoga to recover from my ultra-marathon trail races (distances over 26.2 miles). I was a member at the Bristol YMCA and utilized the Y to cross train, and noticed yoga was on the schedule. I came to Chelia Hopkins power yoga class and was immediately hooked. I started to venture to Asheville and Boone to several of the yoga studios there to experience all different styles of yoga and learn all I could.  Adriel and Victoria were also two of my first teachers during that time. 


2. Why do you continue to practice yoga?
- First and foremost, I'm always a student. Yoga is SO HUGE. That was the awesome gift of my teacher training, having the realization I was just now starting my journey and there is SO much to learn. I'm so excited about that! Also my personal practice is incredibly important to me - I feel it keeps me grounded and anchored. I feel taking classes for myself and practicing yoga at home daily is the "Windex" for my perception, it keeps my thinking clear and unclouded. 


3. What inspires you to teach yoga?  
- I love how happy doing yoga makes me feel, and I derive much fulfillment and happiness sharing that gift with others. 


4. When you are not teaching, what are you doing?  
- Raising two boys, I own a handmade jewelry and accessories business http//:www.mountainprimadonna.com, race direct a couple of charity road races in the tri-cities, and I love to trail run in the mountains. I have a blog about my running adventures http://jendenichols.blogspot.com


5. What inspired mountain Primadonna and what continues to inspire your artwork?  
- Mountain Primadonna is inspired by that duality that I feel every woman possesses: strong, adventurous, and tough as nails; whether it's taking care of a family (which is not for the faint of heart and an endurance event in its own rite), getting dirty/muddy running trails, sleeping under the stars while camping or finding fulfillment working in the dirt growing a garden, while also embodying the softer, divine feminine side. I feel every girl possesses that dualism.
I gain inspiration for my art from my yoga practice, spending time in nature, the kind people I meet every day, and the lessons I learn. I think many times my art is reflective of where I am in life and what is in my head that particular day I make jewelry.


6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- I would go to Nepal and trek amongst the 8000m peaks in the area. I am just drawn to them, and would love to experience the culture, visit some temples and have great adventures on top of the world. 


7. What are 5 things you cannot live without?
- 1. Coconut oil ( hey, i'm a yoga teacher! I have to say that! But seriously it has so many awesome uses) 2. My Manduka Eko-lite mat, 3. My running shoes 4. Ways to creatively express myself 5. Books


8. What is your spirit animal?
- The bear.  They are such beautiful strong and LOVING creatures. (Think BEAR HUG! :)) My brother Todd passed away in 2007 in a mining accident and he loved bears. When I run in the mountains near Damascus, spring, summer, and fall I see black bears and have never had a negative experience (they always run away). I'm never fearful at all because I feel it’s my sign that my brother's spirit watches over me and protects me. Honestly, when I see a bear my heart swells and I feel happy because it reminds me of Todd. He was an amazing person. 


9. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your practice?
- Gratitude for impermanence. Life is constantly in flux. I used to really HATE that life would up and change on me, and it caused me so much suffering. Now, I'm thankful for getting to ride the ride, thankful for ALL it's experiences, lessons and teachers. This journey of life is such an amazing gift. I find myself now excited to wake up and see what each day brings, even if it's hard times. You can always choose to find the good and keep moving forward because things are constantly changing, THAT’S SUCH A WONDERFUL GIFT.  


10. What do you want your students to know?
- 1. Love yourself 2. "It's yoga PRACTICE, not yoga perfect." Just showing up – wow, THAT’S DOING THE WORK! That's all we need to do, just the best we can each day with what we have to give that particular day 3. Take your yoga off the mat, and share it with others.


This momma is just the bear hug you need anytime the weight of life starts to get a little heavy. If you find yourself lacking the spark you need to finish out your week, come see Jenny in the classroom on Thursday nights for Power Vinyasa at 5:45 PM and get your fire blazing!


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander


Feature Teacher: Cassidy Hutchinson

It is such a pleasure to watch the Bristol Yoga Center community evolve and transform as it continues to grow. In witnessing this, it becomes apparent how much a community becomes an entity in itself. A community experiences the same ebbs and flows of life and circumstance just as the individual members of which it is composed. A community experiences periods of growth and recess, of ease and dis-ease, of harmony and disharmony together as one body. When adversity befalls one individual of the community a ripple effect is felt throughout. Conversely, as positive individuals enter into the community, they contribute to the overall positive energy of the community.

Fortunately for the Bristol Yoga community, more and more radiant beings continue to walk through our doors with a desire to share their love and positivity with those around them. We could not be more grateful for one individual in particular that has recently joined the community as a teacher. What makes this individual so special is the authenticity of her spirit and passion for helping others; the warmth of her glowing presence is felt by all and is a generous gift to the Bristol Yoga Sangha.

This individual is… Cassidy Hutchinson!

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

  1. When did you find yoga and how?
    I found Yoga during college, at William Peace University in Raleigh NC, in 2009.

  2. How has your practice and view of yoga changed from the time you started?
    When I really started to follow a daily yoga practice, it started as a method in developing mental well-being and physical discipline. I wanted to alleviate pain in my body and to cultivate a peace of mind. At first, I thought that I could only practice in class, led by someone who knew more than I did but, but as I began to practice at home I realized that I could focus more on what was going on in my own mind and experiment with my own body's needs, without keeping the pace of an Ashtanga or Bikram class.

  3. What made you want to teach?
    I found that I wanted to teach because of my interest in offering healing. I possessed a natural gift and deep desire to help people alleviate pain from both the body and mind. I quickly began to recognize that the benefits of a yoga practice could be extremely healing for not only myself but for other. This desire to help people and to grow my own practice encouraged my desire to attain my YTT and bring this knowledge to others.

  4. When you aren’t teaching, what are you doing?
    When I am not teaching I am making jewelry and painting. I started an ETSY shop called "The Priestess Tribe" where I focus on making healing crystal talisman and inspirational artwork :)

  5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
    If I could go anywhere in the world I would travel to Provence, in the South of France. I have mild obsession with aromatherapy and I would love to lie in the lavender fields of France. I feel that I would experience a delightful peacefulness out in the countryside of France, picking flowers and making herb bundles of Lavender. Bliss.

  6. What is your favorite season and why?
    My favorite season is Fall. I adore the blooming colors of the trees as they fall into a quiet stillness that only the onset of winter brings. I feel like it makes me appreciate the soft breeze and warm rays of sunshine just a little bit more than before. It's almost as if by knowing that the cold nights of winter are around the corner that I stop more often to appreciate the quiet moments of the busy forest. It allows me to feel extra gratitude in every moment as I honor the folklore of the Greek goddess Persephone and her mother Demeter, while Persephone loved the spring and summer, her mother was the Goddess of the Harvest. It reminds me that although all good things may come to an end, all good things also begin again.

  7. What is the biggest lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga?
    My biggest lesson I have learned from yoga is to honor the little voice within. During my yoga practice, I began to recognize my quiet voice of intuition. That this voice was only able to speak with me while I am quiet and still. While I am in the midst of loving myself and focusing only on my current moment, my current movement. In this stillness, in this focus, I can decipher my true wants, needs, and desires. And when I know what I want, I can listen to why I want this and align my actions with my intuition; with my own personal truth. And when I live my truth, I am happy.

You’ll know Cassidy by her glowing presence that radiates from the lightness of her spirit. After taking a class with her, don’t be surprised if afterwards you find yourself beaming similarly. If you could use a little more light in your life, come salute the sun with her at our Sunrise Yoga classes at 6:00 AM Tuesday through Thursday!


Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Amie Odum

Tis the season to celebrate, and so we continue to celebrate our beautifully unique Bristol Yoga Community. In our last Teacher Feature post, we talked about how the chaos of works in an unseen order to bring people together. Most certainly is this the case in regards to the Bristol Yoga Sangha. Each person wanders through our studio doors at the most opportune time bringing with them unique gifts that contribute to the overall wellness of our community.

One individual, who has also very recently joined our community as a leader and teacher, brings the gift of warmth and nurturing presence. This individual has blessed our community with the kind of presence that comes from a warm, cuddly momma bear. She is the warm, comforting hug you need on a rough day. Her nurturing presence is the kind of support that makes the glue that holds a community together.

This beautiful, loving soul is Amie Odum.

Here is a glimpse into the life of Amie to help you see why you’re so drawn to hug her when you see her shining face. 


  1. What brought you to yoga?

    I came to yoga for the love of the feeling; I love stretching, I love seeing if I have enough strength to try a new pose, I love laughing at myself for falling out of a pose. And now, all these years later, I love finding the peace, the stillness, the awareness and compassion for my body and loving myself through this journey called life.



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

    The style of yoga I teach comes from a place of love. We talk and laugh and check in with one another. I enjoy teaching a slow pace. I like teaching mindfulness. I teach about the chakras and hand mudras. I like for my students to have time to feel. I teach awareness in the pose. We explore not only what the physical body is feeling but also what is the emotional body feeling. I like to throw in a new pose occasionally for a challenge to grow my students practice and allow them to see if they can accomplish something they never thought to even try. And I end my class with a short meditation. I would call my style "eclectic yin".....a little bit of everything in a slow comfortable environment.


  1. What are three likes and three dislikes you have?

    Three likes: Laughing, Hugging, Chocolate

                Three dislikes: Rudeness, Being Cold, A world where people can't have clean water


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

    When I am not teaching, I am learning. I read and research all things that interest me. I also spend as much time as I can with my kids. I can be found out wandering in the woods or at the lake picking up trash or traveling to see friends. I also paint murals and I try my hand at almost any home repair project or anything to create something or fix something or re-purpose something. And I cook or enjoy my kids cooking almost everyday.


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

    Most important lesson from Yoga thus far, to show myself the same love and compassion that I would freely give a stranger.



  1. What is your favorite posture/asana?

    Eagle is my favorite power pose and pigeon is my favorite yin pose.


  1. Do you have a favorite book?

    The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer is my favorite that I read again and again, but I own an entire library of books, so it is really hard to pick my top 10 favorites, lol.



  1. How long have you been practicing your yoga?

    I have been practicing yoga for about 10 yrs.


  1. What do you LOVE about Bristol Yoga?

    There is a feeling at Bristol Yoga that I have never experienced at any other studio. I think it is a tangible love that permeates the studio. Authenticity. Compassion. All good vibes, like a heartbeat. You are seen and heard and loved at Bristol Yoga.



  1. What is a favorite quote you would like to share?

    "You will live in joy and peace; the mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12


    Loving presence radiates from the core of Amie’s being and that’s why we are so grateful for her contributions to the Bristol Yoga Community. If you are missing the feeling of a warm loving embrace from your life, join Amie during the week on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 AM for Movement & Meditation.

Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander

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

Why You Need Yoga During the Holidays

Do you ever have those moments where you look around and think, “How is it already December?” If you maintain a busy schedule, managing a career, a family, relationships, etc. you might not notice the holiday season sneak up on you until it’s too late.

In fact, if you haven’t noticed, you are here, December, full blown holiday season. The holidays are meant for taking time off, relaxing and connecting with family and friends, but if you are still swamped with work deadlines, last minute holiday shopping, or even coordinating holiday parties, it can be challenging to allow yourself the time to relax. Or maybe you even have some family members who you struggle to connect with and you have to try a little harder to find ease during your holiday festivities.

This is why you need yoga during the holidays.

When the holiday hustle picks up, it can be easy to taper off in your yoga practice. Prioritizing tying up loose ends at work before you take time off, cleaning, decorating, hosting friends and family, planning and preparing meals can leave very little time for your usual 8:30 AM Vinyasa practice or your Friday night Restorative class. It is the season of giving, right? So maybe you need to give a little less to yourself in order to give those around you an ugly Christmas sweater party they’ll remember for years.

This is even more reason why you need yoga during the holidays.

First, yoga teaches you to connect with the present moment. If you’ve been steady with your practice before the holiday season, you may have seen them coming back in October and allowed yourself the time to prepare. However, if you are just now waking up to the fact that it is the first week of December and you have done little, if anything, to prepare for the holidays, it is not too late. Learning to connect to the present moment through a yoga practice can keep you grounded while you make your last-minute preparations, preventing you from spinning off into a panic-driven holiday whirlwind.

Second, yoga, specifically pranayama, or breathing exercises, train you to find grounding presence through your breath and soothe your nervous system. There are certain breathing exercises meant for stimulating the parasympathetic division of your nervous system, the part of your nervous system that helps you to relax. If you are feeling frazzled, caught up in the fight or flight response of the sympathetic division of your nervous system, because you nearly burnt your holiday meal and that one family member that knows how to push your buttons wants to make sure you know you almost burnt the holiday meal, it may be challenging to regain your composure before dinner is served so you can truly be present with your friends and family. With a regular yoga practice and familiarity with different pranayamas, you can take a few moments to breathe, perhaps using the Samavritti Pranayama (Samavritti meaning “Equal Movement” – Inhale to the count of four, hold the inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, hold the exhale to the count of four, and repeat) and mellow out before taking your place at the table.

Third, yes this is the season for giving, giving time, giving presence, giving love, but that doesn’t mean you should stop giving to yourself. In order give more, we have to receive more. You are more deserving of your own love and presence than anyone else. This may sound selfish, but when we focus so much on giving to those around us, neglecting ourselves, we drain our well of loving energy dry before our family even gathers around the table. When prioritizing your holiday to-do list, or even doing your last minute gift shopping, don’t leave yourself out of the mix. Give yourself the gift of your own loving presence, take time out to move and breathe on your mat, and fill your own cup with your love before serving others.

So if you find yourself getting more and more tense as the holidays draw nearer, whether it is because of your endless shopping and to-do lists or even the influx of travelers and consumers giving rise to traffic, remember to be generous with yourself this season and truly take the time to relax. Gift yourself with the gift of yoga, whether it is inside or outside of the studio, and give yourself some space to breathe.


Presented by Marcy Hullander

Teacher Feature: Marcy Hullander

In this spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving we are reminded to give thanks for our friends and family. At Bristol Yoga our Sangha (community) is our yoga family. We have thirteen instructors and each of us play a part in creating a sacred space for healing and personal growth.  All of us come to the mat from different places and for different reasons, each of us seeking refuge in the practice while we continue in the journey of exploration. Regardless of our purpose in the journey, yoga provides the tools for us to continue on our path.  As our journey unfolds we learn that without the presence of community and support there is no foundation for evolution.

The word yoga is Sanskrit, coming from the root yug which literally means to join or hitch together. This joining or union in the practice of yoga refers to building a bridge between our mind and body, a practice of building presence or one pointed concentration.  The discipline of yoga is a solitary practice to maintain, however, the magic that happens when you practice in a community with like-minded individuals is an unfolding. This unfolding happens as we become each other’s sideline cheerleaders. You may have experienced this yourself when practicing in community, as the sound of breath from the person next to you becomes a mantra or affirmation to keep going, dig in and uncover. This allows for a heightened awareness, encouraging each other to peel back the carefully placed layers guarding our metaphorical heart. Through the communion of movement, breath and meditation in a supportive environment we find ourselves together on the path to self-discovery. This work must take root in the place of love as it requires courage and vulnerability to uncover the deepest parts of ourselves.  Those parts that we keep hidden out of fear and shame as well as those we have buried in pain.  The Sangha is our well spring of support for this process, providing kindness, compassion and understanding. The empathetic shoulder for which we learn to lean in to. For when we look at our journey, we realize we cannot walk alone…As Ram Dass says: “We are all just walking each other home.”

One of our sideline cheerleaders, Marcy Hullander, has been with us since September of 2014.  She quickly became an integral part in creating a compassionate space for the Bristol Yoga Community to unfold. Her openness and willingness to hold the space for her students shows in her every day presence.  If you haven’t heard by now she has an affinity for post–it notes and is well known around the studio for littering love notes for all to find. She recently has taken her love for the arts to new heights, exploring herself and her personal journey on paper through intentional artistic expression.  Recently she co-founded Appalachian Luna Love, a company with the intention of sharing products of self – love, healing and inspiration. Check out her latest blog post on the new venture here. Whether she is on the mat or off the mat, she has shown us all the importance of embodying the practice of yoga.

What brought you to the mat?


I originally came to yoga in 2011 when I was living in Georgia. I had just graduated from college, finishing up my 13th and final year as a competitive swimmer and moved outside of Atlanta to start grad school. It wasn't really a choice I had made for myself; I was more or less on auto pilot, just following the path I thought I was supposed to, so, naturally, my second week into school I dropped out. I honestly had no clue where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, much less who I was. Swimming was a huge source of stability and confidence for me growing up, so in this time of uncertainty, I was seeking stability on an emotional and mental level, but I only knew how to obtain that in the physical sense. So I gravitated towards what I was comfortable with and that was working with my body, but because of a knee and hip injury I had incurred in my last year of competing, my body couldn't withstand anything high impact. That was when I found a groupon for a Bikram studio in Marietta, Georgia offering 10 classes for 20 bucks. The Bikram tradition was EXACTLY what I needed at that time in my life. The 100 degree rooms brought the intensity I missed from training at the collegiate level, the format of the classes challenged me to better myself each round satisfying my competitive impulses, and the sequence brought my body into an alignment it had never even come close to before helping to rehab my injuries. After that, I was sold on yoga.  

What does Yoga mean to you and how has that evolved since you came to the practice?


Yoga to me now is very different from what yoga was to me when I first found the practice. When I first came to the mat, my relationship with yoga was purely physical. I wanted to push, I wanted to sweat, I wanted to be the best; more than anything, I wanted to wring myself out so completely that I could barely walk out of the studio. I laugh SO hard at myself when I look back at those days, because now it is the TOTAL opposite. Each day my practice becomes less and less about the asana. Yes, I do still practice asanas regularly, and yes, I do care very much about my physical practice, but now, my yoga is less about "how far can I fold here," and more about "how much can I unfold here." There is a big difference there. Before, I would go deeply into postures, but still remain very much on the surface of things. Now, I find myself gravitating more towards meditation, craving stillness, so I can bear witness to my own being and come to see and recognize myself. Yoga to me is a practice of unfolding, unfolding the layers of experience that pile up over time and cover the light of our hearts. Yoga is being humble enough to acknowledge how far you have strayed from your true nature and being brave enough to dig through the junk until you find it again. Yoga, to me, is coming home.


What inspires you to teach?  


What inspires me are those moments in the classroom when everyone comes together, all are present, and all are practicing with intention. You know it because you can hear it in the breathing and you can feel it in the room. It is amazing what happens when people come together in the energy of mindfulness, and then, watching how it permeates into their lives off of the mat. It really gets me jazzed. Witnessing the way mindfulness so completely transforms and softens people is what inspires me.  


How would you describe your teaching style? 


Ultimately, I would define my style as my own; I incorporate many different schools of practice when teaching, so you could even call it a blend. When I have small groups, I tend to geek out on alignment principles of the Iyengar and Anusara traditions of practice and focus on specific postures, but I love the freedom and expression of Vinyasa. Yin and Restorative are definitely my favorite styles to teach, because I love to watch what happens when people get still. But in every class my main focus is always breath. I love being a witness to breath.


How do you like to spend your time off the mat? 

My time off of the mat is spent pretty actively! I maintain a daily morning meditation and journaling practice, after which follows some combination of exercise be it swimming, running, or asana. If you know me, or have even seen my left arm, you know I have a sweet-angel-muffin-face (AKA dog) named Karma that I love to smother with love. Thankfully, she loves to do the same to me. I love the outdoors and enjoy hiking, camping, or just lying in the grass. I also spend a lot of time reading, writing blog posts for Bristol Yoga and painting, which you can now find my art in the reception area of Bristol Yoga. Most of all, I spend my time with family. I am very close to my family and love them all dearly, so I like to make the most of the time that I have with them.


What's been your biggest lesson since your yoga journey began? 

My biggest lesson so far has been ESTABLISHING BOUNDARIES. I feel like I am beating my head against the wall of this lesson at this point. And I know it will not go away until it has taught me what I am meant to learn. As a teacher, I am learning how absolutely necessary it is to take care of myself so that I may better take care of others. I am learning that boundaries are an ESSENTIAL part of self-care. Without proper boundaries, I have found I continue to make allowances for relationships in my life that completely deplete me and then I am left empty. Oh, and, ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT.  

What do you want your students to know?

More than anything, I want my students to know that the practice never ends. Yes, we step on to the mat, and we step off of the mat, but the practice goes on beyond what we do on the mat. It is never ending. What we do on the mat is a metaphor for what we do off of the mat. One of my fellow classmates in Teacher Training said this to me and I will never forget it, "We put ourselves in these uncomfortable positions on the mat, so we can learn to get comfortable in the uncomfortable situations that arise on and off of the mat." And with that, the most important thing to remember is to breathe.


Feature Teacher presented by Shelly Bullock




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 months...no 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 this...baby 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
...is it True?
...is it Helpful?
...is it Inspiring?
...is it Necessary?
...is 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

Restoring Balance this Fall

The common thread among each of these practices is building pockets of stillness into your daily routine, taking time out to stop and breathe mindfully. My hope for each of you this fall season is that, with these practices, you are able to create a warm, strong, grounded presence to endure the increasingly chilly winds as we transition into the coming winter.

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