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Day 1 Seattle-Shakti Vinyasa Yoga-Lisa Black

Seattle, Washington, June 15, 2009

Shakti Vinyasa Yoga / Ballard – Lisa Black

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Seattle Skyline from Kerry Park

The sun’s shinin’, the birds singin’ as we cross the threshold of our cool Queen Anne apartment and UNLOAD…we packed for 100 days, but this is ridiculous….all we really need is the itinerary of the Best Yoga Studios and Teachers on the West Coast, the Manduka, the Toes, the Mac, the ipod, the wise, kind, old grandfather cocker spaniel, Rudy (author of down dogisms), and of course, each other. However, it seems we brought just a little bit more. Hundreds of stairs later, (we keep sayin’ it’s good for the butt), we looked out the window to the awe-inspiring Puget Sound and watched as the diamonds jumped off the water – takin’ a deep breath…

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Lisa Black

We ramped it into high gear and headed to the studio that Seattle magazine rates as the #1 Power studio in the city, Shakti Vinyasa Yoga, to take a Power 2 class from studio owner, Lisa Black.  The YoYo’s got  ready to SWEAT knowing that Lisa was featured in Yoga Journal 2008 as one of the top “talented young teachers shaping the future of yoga”. Wearing as little as the law allows, we raced across town to the quaint neighborhood of Ballard.

We were greeted by a kaleidoscope of eye-poppin’ colors that invigorated the mind and calmed the spirit at this stunning studio.  Instantly, we felt the welcoming energy of our fellow yogis at Shakti Vinyasa Yoga and understood why Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is rippin’ up the yoga community, attracting supporters at light speed.

Shakti Vinyasa -Ballard

Shakti Vinyasa -Ballard

Lisa Black, Senior Master Baptiste Instructor, powered it up and the YoYo’s knew something very special was about to go down..  Her voice…so soothing, her easy way…so experienced, we didn’t realize until after class that we’d had every yoyo muscle worked to its infinite edge and back again.   Lisa’s adjustments were beyond compare as she assisted each student to a new level…was that really YoYoYogi man hangin’ in one-legged/armed-whatever crow…?

We went in search of “not to miss studios” on the west coast – Shakti Vinyasa Yoga is all that and more!

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Day 2 Seattle-Shakti Vinyasa East-Lisa Black

Shakti Vinyasa Yoga / Bellevue – Lisa Black

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Pike Place Market

A Mecca for fruit, veggies, flowers, damn good street musicians, tourist, and the YoYo’s, Pike Place Market is a microcosm of the Emerald City. Old, young, every color and country on earth is represented in the outrageous gift of this square mile. Fun & Funky, the sights and sounds of this farmer’s bounty enlivens every YoYo cell and encourages us to just breathe and be as we prepare for a return trip to the teachin’ excellence of Lisa Black.  Tonight we head across town to Shakti Vinyasa Yoga EAST to her newest studio in Bellevue, Washington.

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Peter Avolio and Lisa Black

Lisa Black’s Shakti 3 is her powerful & challenging Signature Class. Based on her creative genius from the previous night, we are excited to take it on.  We find the Bellevue studio on a quaint street of boutique businesses and enter the jaw-droppin’ beauty of this innovative studio.  Photos on the wall of Lisa and husband, Peter Avolio, remind the YoYo’s that the owners/directors of Shakti Vinyasa Yoga are renown throughout the yogi community. The gorgeous palettes of colors throughout the studio are so delicious it made us want to eat the walls. Gi-normous windows flooded the room with light….but the killer interior was just the openin’ act… Lisa’s Shakti 3 class was the headliner!

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Lisa Black Assisted Backbend

The encouraging, evenly-paced voice of this talented teacher effortlessly moved the class through ultra-creative, fluid movements. An hour of the sweetest flow seemed like mere minutes as the YoYo’s totally peaced-out. Lisa guided the class through practice expandin’ arm balances, backbends and inversions while she gave her heart n’ soul to everyone who wanted to ‘give it a go”.

Perfectly placed, her rockin’ tunes and good humor gave Lisa’s signature Shakti 3 class, life, FUN and energy.

Shakti 3=SO SUH-WEET!!!


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Day 3 Seattle-Yogalife-Fran Gallo

Yogalife / Greenlake – Fran Gallo

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Green Lake

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Green Lake Sidewalk Cafe

Dog-walkin,’ stroller-pushin’ hoop-shootin, fish-catchin’ sail-boatin’, road-bikin’, roller-bladin’, & power-nappin; Green Lake, a magnet for urbanites in search of a respite from the big city is just 10 minutes from downtown Seattle.  A magnificent park and 3 mile track circles this tree-lined paradise resting on the shores of a surprising reservoir.

The YoYo’s, and The Ru (the wise, kind, old, grandfather cocker spaniel) circled the perfectly maintained track at warp speed as the best possible warm-up for their much anticipated visit to Yogalife in Green Lake, a yoga studio surrounded by crowded outdoor cafes and cool little shops.

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Fran Gallo

Maria, (aka Maria, the awesome)-Director of Operations met us with her beautiful fresh face and flashing smile as she energetically made sure we were introduced to Fran Gallo, a teacher as warm and open as the country her family hails from, Italy. We were feelin’ the LOVE permeate from this authentic ball of energy and were quick to realize that the yogis in this room were regulars who came for their daily dose of  Fran. Spanning all age groups and levels of ability, Fran personalized her class by asking each yogi if they had a specific pose they needed today and magically inter-wove each request into her joyful 11/4 hour Hatha class.  Fran’s easy, accepting style made us feel like we were long lost cousins and the yogis in this room made you want to join in a big group hug. Upon leaving, we were given FREE Class Cards which we couldn’t wait to give to our daughter and her “never done yoga before” Australian boyfriend knowing that they couldn’t find a more welcoming yoga community than is being offered at Yogalife, Green Lake.

Check out Fran’s Pantelleria Island, Sicily Yoga Retreat @ www. frangallo.com

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Day 4 Seattle-The SweatBox-Laura Culberg

The SweatBox Yoga  / Capitol Hill – Laura Culberg

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Alfresco Dining in Capitol Hill

Not exactly 40 days and 40 nights but record breaking days in a row withOUT rain in Seattle hit 29! That was until today as the YoYos changed all that and created more pouring precipitation than humanly possible at Seattle’s premiere Bikram Yoga Studio appropriately named The SweatBox. How many times have the YoYos come out of class and heard a red-faced, wiped-out yogi say, “I’ve never sweated so much in my whole life”? Today, was the YoYo’s turn! We looked at each other, wiping bucketing perspiration from our blurry eyes, acknowledging silently that we had totally got our butts kicked by Laura Culberg, co-owner of this unpretentious Bikram yoga studio located in the urban alternative neighborhood of Capitol Hill.

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Laura Culberg

The SweatBox, a Seattle Bikram Yoga stalwart has been a wildly popular fixture for over 8 years and with owners Laura Culberg and Frankie Grausa, at the helm, it is easy to see why. Community is this studios calling card and these yoginis have created a fiercely loyal group. Bottom line, the diversity of these yogis makes it addicting to hang out here! So habit forming in fact, they have duplicated themselves to keep up with the demand and opened another studio in Shoreline, Washington just 10 miles away. Dressing room conversations revolved around the hope that yet another SweatBox would open in Capitol Hill. Yogis love this place!

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SweatBox Yoga

To loosely paraphrase a studio review…there are other Bikram Studios that you might want to date, but The SweatBox is the place you want to marry!

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Day 5 Seattle-Home Yoga Terri Dyer

Got to get going’ to our morning yoga class before heading’ out to The Naked Parade in Fremont at 12 noon!  It’s not really called, “The Naked Parade” but according to Seattleites, the “Summer Solstice Parade”, brings out a smorgasbord of bodies tattooed with bright paint and nothin’ else… ridin’ around on bikes.  The YoYos wouldn’t miss this for the world!   So up, and off we go to Home Yoga in Queen Anne, just walkin’ distance from the YoYos Seattle flat.

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Home Yoga

No fancy sign…no lights, camera or action, just beautiful plants, and big welcoming smiles greeted the YoYos.  Terri Dyer, owner of Home Yoga, is proud to be a vital member of this pulsating Queen Anne neighborhood and has created a strong community by offering students generous discounts for bringing donations to the neighborhood’s suffering food banks, posting flyers from students to encourage yogis helping yogis, offering her comfortable space and level head to students forming various groups; she even gives mid-day yoga classes at nearby corporations to get people off the computer and on the mat.  Terri, a super-smart yogi who “pulled the plug” on her corporate life; found peace, love and happiness by meditating and teaching yoga before opening this neighborhood favorite 6 years ago…and the YoYos are soooo happy she did. 

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Terri Dyer

The YoYos LOVE, a strong, fluid, creative sequence using breath as the connective tissue and that is exactly what they found at this home-grown neighborhood retreat. Reversing the flow with her smooth voice and encouraging direction from the front to the back of the mat, Terri mixes it up and keep her students moving in an unusual, lyrical, yet easy- to-follow artistic pattern that felt so damn good!  Terri processes a rare gift for brilliantly teaching all levels of yogis in the same class; offering basic poses, then suggesting deepening poses, then encouraging deeper-deepening poses so the class was perfect for the “never done yoga before” student and challenging for the “Lifer.”  Queen Anne is a killer location; minutes from Downtown …when in Seattle…check it out and feel like you’re coming HOME!  

After class, with the encouragement of the yogis at Home Yoga…off to the “Naked Parade” we go. We travel across town at the speed of sound and find ourselves with no place to park….CRAP!  We are going to miss the naked people!!!   We look and look and finally we find an almost legal spot.  We are runnin’ with The Ru (the wise, kind, old grandfather cocker spaniel has a hitch in the hip but he is highly motivated) miles down the street, (100 studio in 100 days has its benefits) to witness the coolest parade ever.  The street is filled with, well…we can’t really explain what the street is filled with, but something screams San Francisco, ’67, Summer of Love!  What a City!

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Summer Solstice Parade

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Juggling Unicyclist

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Crazy Good Musicians


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Day 6 Seattle-Yoga Studio Magnolia-Brooke & Lee

Lee Atwell & Brooke Zwerner

Lee Atwell & Brooke Zwerner

The daylight hours in Seattle this time of year are seemingly 20 hours long, but today is Summer Solstice – so we can bump that up a notch!  Celebratin’ the Sun, we are up at an even earlier crack to take “back to back” classes with Lee Atwell (yogini) and Brooke Zwerner (yogi), owners of The Yoga Studio in Magnolia. Hidden in a quaint village filled with happy people and even happier dogs, The Yoga Studio in Magnolia is in perfect harmony with the mellow feel of this drop-dead gorgeous neighborhood. Enter this serene space and any stress you thought you may have once had…is long-gone.

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Lee & Brooke

“Feelin’ the Love”, on this extraordinary Sunday morning, Brooke, a 30 year student of Baba Hari Dass, began his deeply-grounding Vinyasa 1-2 class with pranayama, mantras and bhandas that centered each yogi, guiding them to feel fully present prior to beginning a meditation in motion. Brooke’s attentive and experienced adjustments allowed the YoYos to feel familiar poses at a much deeper level.  This interesting Yogi also works individually with students giving personalized yoga consultations based on Jyotish readings.

Feeling one with the earth after Brooke’s focused class, Lee entered the room with energy so serene, so calming – The YoYos felt their hearts smile- a feeling they never want to loose. This joyful class began with grounding pranayama and guided visualizations that continued to expand throughout every deepening asana. Lee’s continual encouragement to freely open the heart to the sun gave new voice to familiar poses. This gifted teacher’s authentic presence was generously shared to the fortunate yogis in her class through the special gift of her angel- like voice, which resonated like a beautiful melody with spoken words.

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Discovery Park Light House

What’s a YoYo to do after classes like that???? OM’n in nature comes to mind.  How fortunate to have Discovery Park, an emerald forest with zillions of miles of trails, located on the Sound …only minutes away! It’s all coming together now…the mellow people, the happy dogs, the enlightin’ yoga studio, the rainbow-colored flora growing in prehistoric proportions…Magnolia is a “not to miss” place when in Seattle!

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Day 7 Seattle-Yoga Arts-Denise Benitez

SeattleYogaArts logoExcited to experience the much anticipated teaching excellence of Denise Benitez, co-chair of the world-wide Anusara certification committee, the YoYos got all dressed & ready in their cool new YoYoYogi T’s and raced across town to arrive 30 minutes early to Seattle Yoga Arts. Running up to the door of this understated studio, we found a sign stating, “Doors open 10 minutes before class”.   Having a tad bit excess energy from just downing a Gingerade Kombucha, we decided to take a lap before returning to what appeared to be a theatre cue of people waiting to enter this extremely popular, Capitol Hill class.

Denise Benitez

Denise Benitez

As the door opened, the energetic, smilin’ yogis entered the spacious one- room studio and quickly rolled out their mats …it appeared they too were excited to experience the next 1 ½ hours.  Mats nearly touching, we quickly got to know our neighboring yogis who seemed unusually full of joy as they gushed over Denise and told us this talented mentor was going to teach us ….A lot!

The class started with 3 strong vibrating OMs, and then began the…“What’s goin’on?” moment, when the entire room joyously gave way to the vibrant “invocation”. Unfamiliar to the YoYos, this beautiful Sanskrit chant immediately overwhelmed us with a smilin’ peace that grew throughout this delicately challenging practice.

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Subtle Adjustments

Denise’s profound knowledge peppered with her giant sense of humor helped students focus as she gently guided them to deeply “feel” the asanas, to work on subtle, modest movements as they explored each pose. She encouraged the yogis to learn to love the way a pose feels … after the delightful first 3 seconds when the asanas become….Fulfilling.  Interestingly, with her experienced guidance, the YoYos actually yearned to hold poses longer making those subtle adjustments to let that fulfillment take hold!  The yogis in this class were right…the YoYo’s had a mind-expandin’ practice.

The close of class was a gift – Denise lead a mediation that felt deep, sacred and the perfect intro into the most beautiful savasana.  What a treat for the yogis on Capitol Hill to have Seattle Yoga Arts lead by such a caring, gifted and jokester Anusara teacher, right in their backyard.

To get the true flavor of this extraordinary studio…check out…

“Many Flowers, One Heart
2009 Real People Yoga Calendar


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Day 8 Seattle-Yoga Tree Kitty Wittkower

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Colorful Fremont

Peace and Love in Fremont

Peace and Love in Fremont

Tonight, we traveled over the Fremont Bridge trying to stay focused on the lights ahead and not the breath-takin’ scenery below.  Full sails billowing in the soft breeze as diamonds popped off the water of Lake Union….The road to this free-spirited town is just dazzlin’. As we entered Fremont, rememberin’ the last time we were here for the Solstice Parade with streets full of outrageous floats, great music and naked painted people riding bikes, we just smiled.  Tonight, all was back to normal (?). The fun and funky neighborhood was crowded with people just hangin’ at the bazillion outdoor cafes, natural food stores and coffee houses.  Stoppin’ at PCC, we grabbed yet another Kombucha and readied ourselves to take Kitty’s Wittkower’s class at the Yoga Tree- Seattle.

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Kitty's Ruby Red Slippers

Now, the YoYos have no set expectations as they enter Seattle’s Premiere Yoga Studios-knowing they are about to take class from some of this country’s top teachers, they just open their mind, and “OM” right along-tonight was no exception.  We entered the inviting, warm, one room studio in anxious anticipation of taking a killer class from this highly regarded teacher.  Kitty, super-colorful (check out the ruby reds) and expressive, started her class with a resonating 3 OM’s, a beautiful Sanskrit chant and a strong warm-up…. from there, the word “CLASS” took on a whole new meaning.

Kitty told us (or in our mind “warned” us), that her class was all about inversions. Yikes, say the word “inversion” and we start feel a little “less than”. Truth is the YoYos are just a little edgy about hangin’ upside down.   Tonight, however, Kitty was going to change all that!  

Kitty Wittkower

Kitty Wittkower

The experienced yogis at the Hatha 2-3 class excitedly pulled their mats up against the wall, and that’s when Kitty started to shake things up.  Giving clear instructions, she proceeded to break down each inversion with an almost child like ease.  Continually rallying the yogis close together to ensure complete understanding, she slowly demonstrated each inversion, then with assistance from beautiful and bendy, Maraha, showed exact form down to the neck muscles, expertly defining Alignment, Positioning, Rotation…O MY.

 The YoYo’s, first internally kickin’ and screamin,’ found themselves slowly floatin’ their way into a handstand, arm stand, headstand and shoulder stand.  The individualized instruction and continual adjustments Kitty generously shared with her students, allowed the YoYos to feel- what they didn’t know they were supposed to feel, for the first time.  

Thanks Kitty!

Thanks Kitty!

Well, let’s just say we didn’t actually walk out of class ready to join Cirque du Soleil, but don’t be surprised if  next year when you see the YoYos at the Solstice Parade, they’re walkin’ down the street, confidently on their hands, with a big ‘ol smile and some colorful paint! 

Ready to give it a go?

 

Photos of Kitty by Patricia Ridenour

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Day 9 Seattle-Whole Life Yoga-Tracy Weber

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Find the Yo Yo Yogini

Yogi Man on Giant Eyeball

Yogi Man on Giant Eyeball

Watchin’ the sun rise in the middle of the night, as it does here in Seattle this time of year, confuses the RU – the wise, kind, old, grandfather cocker spaniel – who’s always in search of a deep cultural experience.  Patiently, he waits for the YoYos to wake and take him to the Olympic Sculpture Park which sits on the edge of downtown, adjacent to the shimmerin’ waters of Puget Sound.  As we approach, our eyes pop open in delight to see metal statues of runnin’ people, giant erasers, “&” signs, giant eyeballs that you can sit in (or sit “on” if you are yogi man), and water shootin’ up from the ground. This park is crazy cool and Ru is happy. Isn’t that all that really matters? We got lost in time and statues, so we raced back to get across town to Greenwood to take our very first Viniyoga class at Whole Life Yoga from Tracy Weber.

Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber

Mind- expandin’, body stretchin’ soul-enlighten’ …yogis know there’s zillions of reasons why we practice, but sadly there’s ba-zillions more who’ll never give it a go, thinkin’ yoga’s  only for pencil-thin pretzels. Enter Whole Life Yoga…the tag line…“Yoga for Real People”… and that’s exactly what we knew to be true the second we entered the door of this ultra -friendly, super- welcoming, totally inclusive neighborhood yoga studio. Opened in ’01, Whole Life Yoga was recognized in March as the Best Therapeutic Yoga Studio in the city by Seattle magazine. Tracy Weber, ex-Micorsofter turned studio owner, has created a safe home for a diverse group of people willing to try this thing called “yoga” in a caring environment offering a community of support.

Viniyoga at Whole Life Yoga

Viniyoga at Whole Life Yoga

The YoYos entered the filled to capacity, quiet as a mouse room as cross-legged yogis sat in a deep peace-providin’ mediation. As this nurturing teacher silently entered, she began by centering the class through a breathing exercise and proceeded to slowly lead each asana, carefully encouraging the class to stretch one long smooth breath to one long smooth movement and then inviting each yogi to gracefully feel their own breath and  move with it. The even sound and fluid energy filled the tranquil space in this joyful practice. The YoYos weren’t surprised to learn that many students come to Viniyoga after injury, or for therapeutic reasons, as this beautiful practice left them feelin’ light, loose and full of energy.

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The Ru Knows... Yoga is for Real People!

 

Mom, Dad, Grandma, Brother, Daughter, Friend & Neighbor…. hurtin’, never done yoga before, or feelin’ like a stallion,  this class is for all peeps who have a preconceived idea of what yoga is supposed to be. Whole Life Yoga proves…Yoga is for Real People! 

New to yoga?  Check out the Yoga for Real People Series at Whole Life Yoga!


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Day 10 Seattle-8 Limbs Yoga-Anne Phyfe Palmer

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Anne Phyfe Palmer

Today’s the day the YoYos have been anticipating since they received the most welcome invitation from Anne Phyfe (double first name) Palmer, owner of  8 Limbs Yoga, to take her morning class accompanied by the “So Much Magnificence” music of Steve Gold & Anne-Emilie.  Totally excited, the YoYos were about to experience a Flow 2 class given by one of Seattle’s most celebrated teachers in her positively “not to miss” studio, accompanied by this talented musical team.  This was true YoYo bliss!   

8 Limbs Boutique

8 Limbs Boutique

 The unassuming store front located in Capitol Hill, did not disclose the too-cool studio that waited up the long, brick-lined stairway to the massive 2nd floor.  Once there, the YoYos knew there was no place in all the continents, in all the world that they would rather be.  Smilin’ Sarah welcomed us into the giant greeting space filled with cool yogi gear, comfy couches and possibly the cutest little kids ever. This totally unique studio has so many awesome, hidden areas that creative Anne opened a hip little kid’s space, allowing Moms & Dads a little yogi time to fill ‘er up.  Let’s just say that this one of a kind studio gives Seattleites, or roadtrippin’ yogis, plenty to fill up on.

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Students in the Surya Studio

Overlooking the city below, the Surya (Sun) Studio is engulfed by beautiful, old-style floor to ceiling windows that allowed a radiant glow to stream into the room, our hearts and minds.  Casually, smilin’ yogis streamed in and scattered their mats as they seemed to inhale their surroundings.  Anne entered; calm, authentic and pure, starting with a deep breathing exercise inspired by Ron Stryker that immediately lightened the YoYos, creating clarity.  From there, Anne’s fluid movements revolved around lifting the heart…making it light.  No stress, no strain, no worries in this calming yet powerful class; just a sense of ease in this peaceful space. Offering a buffet of deepin’ variations to every asana, Anne’s easy style had a calming effect that could be felt in this room of yogis strongly encouraged to feel their individual practice.  

Anne, Anne-Emilie,Steve & The Yo Yos

Anne, Anne-Emilie, Steve & The Yo Yos

As Anne brought the class to near close, a most beautiful sound began filling the room…Steve Gold magnificently strummed his acoustic guitar as his rich resonate voice took over. His beautiful wife, Anne-Emilie created soothing, “soul full” harmonies. After several peace-providin’ melodies, the lyrical music expanded throughout the room as the yogis joined in to create a magical sound. These YoYos were transported!

Talkin’ to this ultra-talented Seattle based team, we were jazzed to find that Steve and Anne-Emilie after just returning from a 6 week tour with Shiva Rhea in Bali, were off to tour the West.  With 89 studios to go…the YoYos chances of havin’ a “take 2” are lookin’ pretty good.

Is the YoYo Seattle time really almost gone??…The YoYos,  kickin’ themselves for not schedulin’ days and days to spend at the other 8 Limbs studios- located in Wedgwood and West Seattle, know when they come back, they’ll be blissin’ at  8 Limbs Yoga!

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