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December Newsletter: Introducing Yogaleena School

Hi friends , welcome to December! One of the most fun things I’ve been spending time on lately is setting up scavenger hunts for Lucas. Every Saturday, I hide little paper clues all over the house, and then sit back and enjoy the show as he figures each one out, runs towards the next clue shrieking with excitement, and finally discovers his treasure.

In many ways, I feel that 2020 has been one long scavenger hunt for me.

Before the pandemic hit, I felt pretty good about where Yogaleena was and pretty clear about where we were headed. I vividly remember thinking there was no way we’d be closed for more than a month when Houston announced its first shutdown, and that we would pick right back up where we left off once we reopened. But as one month turned into 8 (and counting!) of social distancing, kiddos at home, lots of take-out, matching masks for every outfit, and so much Zoom I could scream, I realized that was not going to be the case.

Funny thing is, as frustrating as it was to accept that what I had been working towards for 4 years was no longer sustainable, I felt the faintest twinge of excitement rise within me as I considered the possibilities of building something new.

So, I have spent the greater half of this year on the hunt, just like Lucas. I’ve been keeping my eyes and heart wide open, listening to students, teachers, mentors and friends, observing without judgment or agenda, studying a variety of industries and business models, and slowly putting the pieces together to formulate a new plan for Yogaleena – one that honors the core values this studio was originally founded on, while also acknowledging the fundamental shifts in our lifestyles, interests, and needs as a community.

And here’s what I’ve landed on (drumroll, please…)

In 2021, Yogaleena Studio will become:

If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that community is an incredibly important aspect of what we do at Yogaleena, and that small groups are my jam. As exhilarating as it is to teach big crowds, there is nothing more rewarding than stepping into a room (virtual or physical) where everyone knows each other and the conversation can flow easily from the sweet and fun to the deep and important. In my experience, smaller, intimate groups foster real, meaningful connection, and give students the safe space necessary for transformative growth. As a school, Yogaleena will offer students the opportunity to enroll in small group “pods” and meet weekly to learn, practice, and grow together.

As many of you know, I offered something brand new this Fall, a Yoga Immersion & Mentorship program designed for students interested in deepening their practice but not in formally teaching. I wasn’t sure what to expect (I hadn’t seen this offered anywhere else) but the response I received was overwhelmingly positive. Over 3 months, 12 of us dove into the Yoga Sutras, explored key principles in Ayurveda, studied the subtle body, committed to daily movement and meditation, and discussed how these 5000 year-old teachings applied to modern life. I know that this level of study and commitment is not for everyone, but I also learned from this experience that this is what and how I want to teach going forward. Yoga is an integrated system of practices that together have the potential to truly make a difference in our lives, and I want to make sure we’re teaching all of it, to everyone who is interested in diving in, not just yoga teachers in training.

Yogaleena School students will follow a curriculum that incorporates asana, pranayama, meditation, and philosophy. Our pods will meet for 75 min, allowing time in class to introduce and workshop new skills, answer questions, and play with props. In addition, enrollment will include unlimited access to a variety of monthly workshops covering everything from the chakras to arm balances (kind of like electives!) so students can follow their curiosity and deepen their practice however they choose.

I never thought I would say this, but COVID-19 gave me a pretty big gift: time back on my mat. I used to make fun of Dave for being the VP of Sales and Engineering at a company that provides commercial generators and not having a generator of our own (seriously!) But the truth is, before COVID-19, I was guilty of the very same thing. As I invested more time and energy into growing the business of yoga, I slowly lost focus on my own practice of yoga. The pandemic changed all of that. I went from leading maybe 1 class a week to over 30 classes a month, which meant I started spending a lot more time on my mat – playing with new sequences, trying out new variations, and practicing daily alongside my students. Not at all surprisingly, I noticed my body get stronger, my breath get deeper, and my ability to sink into meditation drastically improve. As obvious as it may seem, it’s easy to forget this very important point: yoga works, but only if you practice it!

Just as we cannot dump a gallon of water on a tree one day and then forget to water it the rest of the month, we cannot expect to truly benefit from our yoga practice if we don’t make room for it, tend to it, and  nurture it. I am structuring Yogaleena School’s membership model to provide flexibility and convenience while encouraging and rewarding commitment and consistency. In addition to a weekly pod class and monthly workshop electives, students will have unlimited access to our online schedule so they can practice, practice, practice as often as they want from the comfort of their own homes.

Every scavenger hunt I prepare for Lucas ends with him finding a new Transformer toy (we’re sadly past the Disney Cars phase which was my favorite.) In the same way, my 2020 scavenger hunt for Yogaleena’s future has ended in what I consider to be total, wonderful, inspiring TRANSFORMATION. That being said, there will still be options to continue practicing with us in the same way you have been over the past few months. My intention for this new evolution of Yogaleena is to provide more opportunities for students to learn, practice, and integrate yoga into their lives, while respecting everyone’s unique schedules and goals.

I have so much more to share and I promise details will be coming soon, but I just couldn’t wait to spill what I’ve been carefully planning behind the scenes all this time. I know 2020 has been a challenge, but I hope this can serve as an invitation for you to reflect on what the past few months have led you to discover, what limitations it has helped you dissolve, and what seeds it has planted as you envision the new year to come.

Wishing you and your family the warmest of holidays,

Carolina

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