FREE and Budget Friendly Yoga Classes in Austin, TX

In honor of Yoga awareness month, I wanted to share with you a list of places around Austin, TX that offer affordable and even-FREE yoga classes. People often tell me that they don’t practice yoga because 1) they’re not flexible enough to touch their toes 2) because studios can be intimidating, plus memberships are too costly 3) they’re too busy [all the more reason to do it!]
Well, I’m here to tell you that if you can move + breathe, YOU. CAN. Do Yoga. In regards to the second excuse–you don’t have to practice in a traditional studio to do yoga. You can do it anywhere! And there are affordable places that offer great classes too! Below are some awesome options. Check them out!

Monday through Friday:

Cherrywood Coffeehouse
Donation yoga Mondays-Fridays @ 8-9am
1400 E. 38 ½ St.

Jerry Balderas at The Pit
Donation yoga Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays @ 9:30-11am
4327 S 1st St

Modo Yoga
Donation yoga ($5 suggested) Wednesdays @ 8-9pm
7010 Easy Wind Dr., Suite 130

Fitness on the Plaza 
Free yoga Mondays-Thursdays @7-8pm
Whole Foods on Lamar

Seton McCarthy Community Health Center
Free yoga Thursdays @ 12-1p
2811 E. 2nd St.

Treehouse Yoga
All classes donation-based ($10-$15 suggested)
2525 Wallingwood, Building 1, Suite 300 (3rd Floor)

Yoga Meditation Group
Free yoga and meditation classes (various)
11200 Powder Mill Trail

Wells Branch Community Library
Free yoga every other Thursday @ 10:30-11:45am
15001 Wells Port Dr.

Shipe Park
Free yoga Wednesdays (Sept. – Oct.) @ 12-1pm
4400 Avenue G

St. John Branch, Austin Public Library
Free yoga Mondays @ 6:30-7:30pm
7500 Blessing Ave.

Practice Yoga
All classes donation-based ($10-$15 suggested)
1103 East 6th Street

Saturday+Sunday:

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine
Free “union of three hearts” meditation Sundays @ 5:00 pm
4701 West Gate Blvd.

Balcones District Park
Free yoga Saturdays (Oct. only) @ 9am
12017 Amherst Dr.

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Donation-based ($10-$15 suggested) bilingual yoga Thursdays @ 6-7p, and Saturdays @ 10-11am
*I know a great of a great teacher there 😉 BTW..just saying
600 River St.

Circle Brewing Co. 
Pints + Poses in the taproom and $10 gets you a pint of beer! Sundays @11-12pm
2340 W. Braker Ln.
*I know LOTS of great teachers and brewers here too.  Just saying.

One Posture at a Time
Donation yoga (heated) Saturdays @ 5:30-7pm
507 Pressler St., Suite 100

Am I missing any? Feel free to add any other ones you know!

Love+Light,

Isabel

 

6 Qualities in a GREAT teacher + Yoga Awareness Month in September

Did you September is National Yoga Awareness Month?

Personally…as a yoga teacher I like to think every month as Yoga Awareness Month, but hey—maybe I am just a little bit biased.

In light of National Yoga Awareness Month, BlueSky Fitness and myself, have teamed up to offer onsite Yoga classes to K-12 teachers and staff members of the Austin Independent School District. Kicking off the new school year off right!

Yoga teacher-teachers-Fitness-AISD-stress relief-child's posture

This wonderful gift to teach yoga to teachers has brought me so much joy.  I can finally share the gift of knowledge and pay it forward. I’ve always admired my teachers growing up–shout out to my mama who is a Spanish + English teacher in Chicago! (cheerin’ some manzanilla tea to you).  Not going to lie though, I had my favorite teachers growing up (Mr. K in Algebra*cough***cough* not so much).   A lot of them have inspired and helped shaped my way of thinking.

Now, as a yoga teacher myself I appreciate them now more than ever!  Recently, with the opportunity to teach at the AISD, this experience has made me look at my own teaching style and reflect on what qualities make for a great teacher.

A lot of this may resonate with you whether you’re a teacher, yoga instructor, VP, coach, trainer, CEO, or leader in your workplace, so please read on and take what rings true for you!  I’ve asked around and this is what I’ve gathered from my students (teachers).

The top six qualities that make for a great teacher: 

1) Engaging personality. In a room full of students, it’s necessary to grab the attention of the students and keep them fully engaged throughout the length of class. I read in a recent study that the digital age has caused our attention span to average out at about eight seconds, down from 12, which is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (theirs is nine).  I can’t even fathom what that is for kids, four, two, .01?!? As teachers, you really have to step up your game to offer learning material that is fun, new, and engaging enough to hold the students’ attention.

2) Passion. Teachers are passionate about their students and teaching their subject matter. They get psyched about influencing their students and know the impact they have on their lives.

3) Patience.  A teacher may have to repeat, repeat, repeat, content many times over. Or explain a subject a 100 different ways before a student finally “gets it” which requires a lot of patience (aka: meditation +pranayama breathing, but I’ll get to that at another post).

4) Organization. Personally, this is my weak spot. As I write this, I have books, yoga magazines, mail, and papers scattered all over the dining room table like confetti.  But I understand it’s an important trait for teachers to have.  I am always amazed at teachers who have everything organized.  It’s truly magical. They seem to know all their students names.  Class starts and ends on-time. Their teaching flow seems to sync up so perfectly with their words. And the students know what to expect…and yet somehow they still manage to make class fun and spontaneous.  I can only wonder how much better of an instructor I’d be if the structure of everything I did was just a tad bit more organized.

5) Humility. They check their ego at the door. They essentially know that it’s not about them. It’s about their students and understand that the purpose of the class is NOT to demonstrate ALL the knowledge they know and prove how smart they are. It’s to lead and support their students through a learning experience that is suitable for everyone; therefore, so that as many students can understand. Humble teachers share what they know openly and will even laugh at themselves when they mess up.

6)  Approachable. Often a student may not get a lesson right away. Or may be too timid to raise their hand in class (this was pretty much me from pre-K, right up until my senior year in college). When students feel comfortable approaching a teacher, they are more likely to go up to them later and ask for clarification.  Inclusive teachers are friendly, open and approachable to students who may need support in understanding what is required of them.  Teachers who are available, open, and friendly create a safe and trusting learning environment.

What qualities do you think make for a great teacher? How do you share and spread what you learn on the regular? Would love to hear from you. Please share with comments!

Love and light,

Isabel

Tortoise Power! The secret to living a long and healthy life.

My very first pet, growing up in Mexico City, was a tortoise. I think I asked my parents for something softer and furrier like a puppy or a rabbit. At the tender age of three, I was totally ready to upgrade Toto (my stuffed; rainbow dragon) to something more lively and cuddly. However, my parents didn’t think I was emotionally ready for a live, cuddly, pet at that time. So they got me a tortoise instead–the complete opposite of soft, furry, and cuddly. I named him Julio. He lived in my grandma’s jardín, mostly hanging out near the raised garden beds. I would visit Julio in the mornings, feed him veggies, and try my best to enjoy petting his hard, scaly, shell. Julio, lasted about a week under my watch. One morning he was in the garden sunbathing, the next day he was gone. I was sad he left me so abruptly. Where could he have gone? …
A few days ago, I was sitting on the back porch of Mozart’s Cafe, drinking an iced tea. I was sitting there with my friend Mandy, trying to figure out my next writing topic. The Wi-Fi was taking forever to connect, so I decided to take a breather to look away from my screen and glance over the beautiful backdrop that is Lake Austin. Sitting there contemplating, I noticed two turtles swimming in the lake

Turtles swimming
Turtles swimming
How peaceful they looked just gliding in the water. Most people, should take the time to slow down go with the flow, and enjoy life like turtles (plus, I heard they live like a 100 years, they must be doing something right?). And then I had that AHA Moment-I’m going to write about turtles and tortoises on my next post!
A little lowdown on turtles and tortoises (just learned there is a difference between the two creatures). They are all reptiles and they all have shells; however, the main difference between them is turtles live in water, tortoises live on land. Turtles typically have a life span of 20-40 years (not 100 like I originally thought, my bad) whereas tortoises live 80-150 years. The oldest one living today is a tortoise named Jonathan, going strong at 183 years of age! Also, tortoises are mostly herbivores and turtles tend to be omnivores. Interesting.
So WHY do tortoises live such a long time? And what does it have anything to do with you and me? Let me explain first by declaring…
I love Bikram yoga! Today marked my #444th class today since 2011; (I like nerding out on data by logging numbers, if you can’t already tell) when I started going to the Pure Bikram studios in Austin, TX. The 20th posture of the 26 posture sequence series involves a yoga pose, aptly named , Half Tortoise Pose (Ardha-Kurmasana).
Half-tortoise pose  PC: Ron Natal
Half-tortoise pose
PC: Ron Natal

“By training us to slow our breathing and relax, Half Tortoise Pose can actually help us to live longer—in fact, longevity is Tortoise’s number one benefit. Think about it: The tortoise is the longest living animal on Earth…Why? Because it’s the slowest-breathing creature on Earth. Each inhale and each exhale is 2 minutes long; it’s like a meditation in itself. We do ourselves good when we imitate the Tortoise; 30 seconds in this posture can provide the same benefits to the body as sleeping for a full eight hours. You can get this restorative, relaxing effect by practicing Tortoise at any time, even in bed”
–Bikram Choudry, p.187 Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment.
Basically, you too can start adding years to your life-expectancy by slowing down, practicing yoga, deepening your inhales and lengthening your exhales. How amazing is that?!!
I will never know if Julio ever made his great escape by digging himself into a deep, underground burrow in my grandma’s garden, becoming recluse by pulling a Bobby Fischer on me somewhere down in Mexico. Or if he skipped town in search of a better flower bed? Wherever he is, I hope he is happy, breathing…taking a moment to slow down and enjoy life.

15 Rules Fit Women Always Follow

My first post! So excited to share my first post with you. Yesterday, I woke up to some amazing news. I found out that Brit + Co featured me in their article, “15 Rules Fit Women Always Follow” written by Krista Gray.

Krista interviewed incredibly healthy, strong, inspirational women to publish. The list included Jillian Michaels of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, ToneITUP.com founders Karena and Katrina, and Jilian Lorenze, co-founder of The Barre Code. I was (lucky) #7 tip.

I loved all of the tips given. Especially, tip number five from dance instructor, Allie Gavin. I highly recommend you go through the list and find those that resonate with you. Check out the post here.

My tip was to save time for stretching. I know this might sound glaringly obvious coming from a yoga teacher. But it is very important for everyone to do it regularly!

Back when I first started training for my first marathon in 2004, I was so focused on logging training miles (into an already busy schedule) that I often skipped stretching at the end. This was a BIG MISTAKE! I did cross the finish line, however, not without knee injuries, back problems, and tight hamstrings as a result of not stretching.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure you include stretching daily. Even if it’s just a few seated twists at your desk, shoulder rolls, or side bends. Do it. Your body will thank you. And if you add mindful breathing to it, inhaling deeply while holding the stretch, you are stretching smartly. Which essentially, is one of the secrets to true yoga-connecting with your breath.