Colorado

Yoga Club: Breaking High School Boundaries and Spreading Acceptance

Writing this article is something we never imagined we would be doing. We can’t help but think back to a year ago when we were building Skyline Yoga club from the ground up, sitting at this same kitchen table in Emma’s house. As we tried to focus on the logistics, as well as designing the best posters possible, we were unsure about how it would all play out. All we knew is that we wanted to do more yoga, and if possible, make yoga more accessible to our peers.

Yoga club met for the first time on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014. We would be lying if we said the club was immediately popular. The first few meetings were very poorly attended, one of which only included the founders. Still, we managed to keep our spirits high, celebrating every new student who trickled through our doors. We quickly realized that a big part of why more students weren’t doing yoga was related to cost of equipment. Every student with an extra mat donated it to live in a communal yoga club locker (Lauren’s Band locker). At every meeting, the mats were taken out, and available for any student who needed them. Students were always encouraged to participate despite their attire, or their ability. Every class was “all levels welcome” and yoga club became a very judgment free zone. By November we had a few regular attendees, and our average class held about 10 students, not including the instructor or founding members. We were also becoming very immersed in many different kinds of yoga. We managed to bring in volunteer instructors who introduced us to diverse styles of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikrim, and Kundalini. We also hosted instructors for pilates, Zumba, and light-weight cardio.

Yoga Club SHS

Despite these unique experiences and opportunities, the more impressive outcome of yoga club was something neither of us expected. Yoga club’s population seemed to draw from many different groups around our high school. We had members from drama club, the Gay Straight Alliance, swim team, Soccer, Basketball, and even the football team. It’s impossible to ignore the reality that this diverse set of students wouldn’t normally spend time together. Throughout the year we started to notice the community forming. Across all grade levels, students were more than willing to talk to each other, and support their fellow classmates. Yoga club provided a special place for students to receive friendship and mentoring from their older peers. It also translated outside of our studio (the band room), where students would chat in the halls and other classes. Yoga club spread quickly with the aid of social media and word of mouth. It became Skyline’s best kept secret.

With numbers growing, yoga club became much more involved in the Skyline community. On numerous occasions we were Yoga Club SHSasked to provide services at school events, including a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish and a community Trick or Treat night. On both occasions yoga club members spent the evening painting children’s faces, and helping run the event. These events provided yoga club with the opportunity to give back. It also helped our students become more involved in the community around them.

What began as a fun past time became an opportunity for students to grow as individuals. High school is a very trying time. Students are constantly being bombarded with responsibilities including homework, jobs, extracurriculars, and social stresses. During a crucial period of personal exploration the littlest things make the biggest difference. It is important for students to have healthy outlets to help lessen daily stressors in a positive manner. Yoga club allowed students to become more mindful and self-confident. It also helped students achieve greater focus in and out of the classroom. Overall, yoga club provided a place where high school students could easily take a relaxing break from their daily lives, and come back refreshed.

Unfortunately, we only got one year with our little yoga club. All of the founding members have since graduated, but we are leaving the club in the more-than capable hands of some of our most committed attendees. They have already contacted a major studio in town, and have organized summer yoga activities. We are excited to watch from our separate colleges how they make the club grow.


Emma Creighton is a current student at the University of Kansas who regularly practices yoga, usually her favorite style of Bikram. One hot summer day, Emma and her best friend Lauren Bade decided on a whim to start a yoga club at their former high school Skyline, with the hopes to bring people together. A year later, the club is still going strong with new student leaders and Emma’s own personal practice of yoga has grown stronger.  

Lauren Bade is a student majoring in Biology at Brigham Young University. She loves dancing, gardening, and spending time with her friends and her two dogs Logan and Poppy. She first started doing yoga as a way to learn how to do cool tricks to show off at parties, but quickly fell in love with the practice, as well as the relaxation yoga brings. Lauren hopes to become a high school teacher, and also become a certified yoga instructor, so she can start another yoga club in the future. 

  

Yoga Studio Crashing: Northern Colorado Edition

As some of you may know, Yoga Travel Tree is based out of Northern Colorado with our headquarters in Fort Collins. In this edition of Yoga Studio Crashing YTT Ambassador Katelyn Johnson and I (Sarah Monk) explored some uncharted yoga territory in our own backyard, and what we found was nothing short of awesome. Colorado and yoga go together like peanut butter and jelly, so we knew we were in for a treat.

Outlaw YogaOLY2

Twice a month, Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado plays host  to Outlaw yoga, and the other two Sundays, Outlaw operates out of Sanitas Brewery in Boulder. The scene is a large room, complete with brewing tanks, bar, beer list and open garage-style doors to let the fresh air in.IMG_1303

When first arriving on scene, skepticism won out. It was a little loud, industrial, smelled of hops (not a bad thing) and seemed a little bit chaotic. A few minutes passes and what had seemed like chaos began to take shape as a yoga class. About 30 yogis gathered in the brewery, mats unrolled, totally ready to downward-dog. Before class began, the founder of Outlaw Yoga Boulder, Mark Stefanowski, and the Instructor, Megan Zamora went around to everyone in the room to say hello and introduce themselves. A move this yogi found totally refreshing and got me interested in learning what this thing is all about.

Outlaw Yoga is about providing yoga to everyone. Folks who might not otherwise feel comfortable attending classes in a studio are totally at ease practicing in a brewery, and the attitude and teaching style of the instructors was all inclusive and welcoming. Megan said she teaches classes in the scheme of life; a little chaotic at times, and sometimes overwhelming. Her strategy is that if you know you can take on the challenge of her yoga class and come out on top, you can take on whatever challenge the world throws at you. With wisdom beyond her years, Megan left you feeling accomplished, strong, powerful, and like you can kick the days ass.

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Elan YogaElan1

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Elan Yoga in Midtown Fort Collins is an awesome little studio and fitness center. It’s got three yoga rooms all set up with floor to ceiling mirrors and lovely hardwood floors. The atmosphere is totally un-distracting from the yoga goodness. They feature classes for all levels and interests, including hot yoga, power yoga, vinyasa and more.

When Katelyn and I visited, we were lucky enough to attend a free community class and it was amazeballs! The instructor, Alex, was wonderfully spirited, peppy and enthusiastic. The class was organized in such a way that worked the whole body and mind, complete with funky music, sun salutations, interesting flows and arm balances. We left feeling thoroughly worked, detoxed and soaking in sweat. The studio owner, Libby Lyons, actually took the class with us and her laid back attitude was incredibly welcoming and friendly. If you like exciting and active classes, look no further.

 

Old Town YogaOTY

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Old Town Yoga is Fort Collins’ first studio, and it’s been a staple of the yoga scene here since it’s opening. Jake Van Vonderen is the owner, and his down to earth attitude and business savvy mind keep this place at the forefront of FOCO yoga. They offer teacher trainings, special workshops, free community classes, and a fantastic group of teachers. The three studios spaces range in size, each has hardwood floors and a light and focused feeling. They’re not set up for hot classes, but instead feature a well-rounded class list which includes beginner to advanced versions of vinyasa, ashtanga, viniyoga, yin and more.

Katelyn and I took an all levels class from Andrea Bilderback, and it was the perfect way to end the day. The class way very breath-centric (which we need) and it was a gigantic, yummy, full body, yoga fest. Andreas ability to read the energy of the room is unparalleled, so the class ended up being exactly what we all needed. Her classes are also truly “all levels”, with modification options and harder variations provided for many poses.

 

A huge thanks to the studios that welcomed us with open arms! There's no shortage of yoga in the Centennial State,  so keep your eyes peeled for Denver and SOCO editions of Yoga Studio Crashing, and if you haven't checked out Brooke's adventures in Pittsburgh, get on it!

Until next time, stay classy Colorado!

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The Sochi Winter Olympics: Yoga Style!

With big-name American Olympians such as Jamie Anderson (slopestyle snowboarding) and Gracie Gold (figure skating) crediting yoga as a part of their training routine, the stretchy sport has gotten some attention this February. Today we pay homage to each Olympic event with a yoga pose of its own:

 

Alpine Skiing 

Alpine Skiing Olympics Sochi Yogatraveltree

Chair pose is a perfect way to get warmed up for downhill skiing.  Whether you’re into moguls or tackling technique on the super combined, chair is certain to get your quads fired up and your knees prepared for some action.

 

Biathlon 

Biathlon Sochi Olympics Yogatraveltree

Insert rifle and voilà!

 

Bobsled 

Bobsled sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Stretch out those hamstrings for a quick start and a long ride!

 

Cross-Country Skiing 

Cross Country Skiing sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Lateral lunges will get you ready, set, fired up for the skating portion of cross-country ski trails.

 

Curling

Curling sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Flexibility in this pose can help with the first element, or “delivery” of the stone, in curling.

 

Figure Skating 

Figure Skating sochi olympics yogatraveltree

The resemblance of this pose to the sport it represents is pretty clear! If you struggle with this on land, imagine how difficult it must be on a single blade while moving!

 

Freestyle Skiing 

Freestyle Skiing sochi olympics yogatraveltree

The name says it all!

 

Ice Hockey 

Hockey sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Hockey involves a lot of side-to-side movement. Extended side angle is a great way to warm up both the outside and inside of your legs - a perfect compliment to the physical demands of hockey.

 

Luge 

Luge sochi olympics yogatraveltree

It looks like you pretty much just lay there for this, but as we all know corpse pose (much like the luge) is more than “just laying there.”

 

Skeleton 

Skeleton sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Cowabunga! Get your back ready for a descent down icy slopes with this prone pose.

 

Ski Jumping 

Ski jumping sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Warrior III is the closest way to feel like you’re flying in the world of solo yoga poses.  It also requires poise and balance, much in the same way ski jumping does.

 

Snowboarding

snowboarding sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Since its addition to the Winter Olympics in 1998, snowboarding has ballooned into much more than one event.  Nonetheless, we can say for certain that those athletes have fun expressing themselves on their boards. So, to appreciate snowboarding with yoga, pick a pose that’s fun and acrobatic for you!

 

Speed Skating 

Speed skating sochi olympics yogatraveltree

Although not technically a yoga pose, Bowler’s lunge is a fun way to test balance and lateral stability.

 

...and if all else fails, just make sure you stick your landing:

landing olympics yogatraveltree

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Rachel Wiegand has been an athlete her whole life but yoga has been the only constant throughout moves and life changes. A former personal trainer, she is now a practicing chiropractor in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and enjoys helping patients find a physical activity that fits their lifestyle best. In addition to yoga, she practices Pilates and is an avid Crossfitter. On her weekends you can find her teaching yoga at CrossFit Sheboygan, with her hubby at Lake Michigan on her paddleboard, or at the dog park with her boxer, Dug.

6 Reasons for Colorado's Love Affair with Yoga

As a native of Colorado, I had no idea how much the stereotypes of my home state impacted how others perceived me until I moved away for 5 years. I ventured off to Montana for college, a place where non-meat-eaters might as well be another species entirely.

During college, I was frequently called a hippie, a tree hugger, a flower child, and various related names (my first roommate actually called me Moonbeam). I want to make it very clear here that in college there were only two things about me that could be considered hippie-esque: my aversion to animal flesh and my love of yoga. Something about being from Colorado was setting me apart.

What about Colorado makes me feel so at home?

In 2010 when I finally moved back to The Centennial State I felt like had been reunited with my natural habitat. So I began to wonder, what about Colorado makes me feel so at home?

During my yoga teacher training in Fort Collins I figured it out. As my connections to my self and to yoga grew deeper, I began to realize that Colorado and Yoga are perfect for one another, and thus, perfect for me.

Here’s a short list of why Colorado is such an amazing yoga community and why yoga and Colorado are a match made in asana heaven. With such a perfect storm of awesomeness, it’s not hard to see why Colorado and yoga have fallen for each other. Hard.

 

1) The Foundation and Openness

Yoga Festival Colorado YogaTravelTree

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In the 1960’s (actual) hippies and flower children flocked to the beauty of Colorado’s front range. Cities nestled in the foothills boomed with free-spirited, outdoorsy-types, unafraid of breaking social norms and trying new things. When yoga grew in mass popularity in the United States during the 1980’s, Boulder and Denver were two of the first cities to establish studios.

2) Natural Beauty

Along with attracting members of the hippie movement and providing building blocks for yoga, the scenery found in Colorado is unrivaled in the lower 48. With 53 peaks(1) over 14,000 feet high, countless rivers, lakes, and rock formations, this state offers practitioners of yoga a deep connection to the natural world around them.

 

3) 300 Days of Sunshine

Snow Yoga Colorado YogaTravelTree

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Colorado’s comfortable year-round weather offers yogis plenty of sunshine to practice their downward-dog all year round, outside in our amazing sunshine (see #2). And with hundreds of established studios, they won’t need to go far in case of inclement weather.

 

4) Coloradans Have ADD

Just kidding, but we don’t sit around a whole lot. Take a peek at nationwide lists measuring “Most Active Cities,” “Healthiest Cities” and “Fittest Cities” and most likely you’ll run across 2 or 3 Colorado cities in the top 10. In May of 2013 Men’s Health published their list of “The Best Places for Exercise” and 3 of our fair cities made top 15. Which means if you’re looking for a friend who’s also into yoga, you need not look far.

 

5) Good Vibrations

Happy Colorado YogaTravelTree

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Not only does Colorado top the US charts in health and wellness, it’s also one of the happiest states. As of the 2012 Gallup “Annual Wellbeing Index”  Fort Collins ranked number 5 and Boulder ranked 3rd in happiness. In the same study, Colorado was ranked 2nd happiest, only to Hawaii (I guess that makes sense).

 

6) The People

Colorado Yoga YogaTravelTree

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The yoga community in Colorado is just amazing. Everyone is willing and eager to work with anyone on any project to expand the reach of yoga and share experiences. There’s a reason the Hanuman Festival was started in Boulder and that Wanderlust and Yoga Journal have some of their largest events in Colorado every year. We got good people!

 

Do you live in a kickass yoga community? Tell us where and why in the comments section below. If you think you want to be a contributing writer to YogaTravelTree.com, visit our Write for Us page and submit your article!

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Sarah Monk is a die-hard Coloradan, running addict and  yoga instructor. Her passion is empowering young women through fitness, and does this by coaching several high school girls sports teams. She lives in Fort Collins with her yummy boyfriend and their two hairy kids, Nikki and Gala.  Currently Sarah is helping to grow the YogaTravelTree.com community as Outreach Coordinator. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @FocoYogini  and on Instagram: @Badkukie

Cover Image via: @Badkukie