Category: Yoga

Shoulder and Chest Opening: Moving into Arching Postures

Saturday, July 16, 2016 | 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Shoulder and Chest Opening: Moving into Arching Postures Using props (including the Back Mitra, bolsters, and tennis balls) and various techniques, we will learn to go past the tightness in shoulders, neck, and chest. We will also explore and safely practice heart opening/arching asanas such as Upward Facing Dog, Cobra, Dancer’s Pose, Bridge, Camel, Bow, Pigeon. This is an All-Levels class and you will be offered modifications for all the poses.

To sign up, please email Fran at


SAC Members:  $25 Once your spot is reserved, Fran will have you sign a sheet with your member number.  Payments will be processed on the day of the workshop.  24-hour cancellation policy applies.

SAC GUESTS: $35, plus SAC guest fee. A chit with your name will be waiting for you at the front desk.  Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the workshop to process payment at the front desk.

Summer Youth Yoga

Month of July:

  • Saturdays – 9th, 16th, 30th| 10:00 am |  $50/kid, (for drop-in special – email Melissa for more details)
  • Wednesdays –  6th, 13th, 20th, 27th | 1:00pm | $85/kid (for drop-in special – email Melissa for more details)

Why Summer Youth Yoga?

  •   Develops motor skills and coordination
  •   Increases strength, balance, and flexibility
  •   Enhance self-awareness and focus
  •   Reduces stress and provides methods for coping and self-soothing


Children ages 5+ are welcome.  All sessions are adapted to each child’s individual needs.  A minimum of 4 sign-ups are needed to run the class.

  • Please contact Melissa for more details on signing up. Accounts will be charged for late cancellations and no-shows.


For more information or sign-up, please contact personal fitness trainer Melissa Barasona at

Inspirational Member of the Month: Ethan Kelly

Those of you who have spent any amount of time here in the early morning know Ethan Kelly.

He has been a dedicated member at the club, pretty much since it’s inception. He’s the guy who always has a smile on at 5 am and is front and center at 6:30- yoga, that is after he’s run a bazillion miles or taken a spin class!

Ethan has a special kind of cool, it’s that gentle, easy-going cool that rubs off on everyone in close proximity. He is super warm, super nice and super strong. He’s the kind of guy you want in your corner routing for you, which is why he has so many fans here at the club. His biggest fan is  his amazing wife, Connie Kelly. One of the many things I admire about Ethan is how loving and dedicated he is to Connie, a true gentleman.

The reason we nominated him this month is to highlight how inspiring he truly is. Ethan had a bout of really serious appendicitis a couple months ago. So serious in fact, that his dedication and athleticism was put to the test and it paid off in full. He spent a lengthy stay at the hospital and came out swing’n! After loosing a good deal of weight, Ethan got right back on that horse and started riding! By the time you are reading this, I’m sure he will be back at his normal healthy weight and training for some sort of marathon! That kind of ability, the ability to move ahead and embrace the present is rare and Ethan has it. I want to thank him for being part of my life and my community here at the Seattle Athletic Club. I know I speak for many of us when I say “We Love You, Ethan!”

November's Inspirational Member of the Month, Ethan Kelly
November’s Inspirational Member of the Month, Ethan Kelly


Group Exercise Class Etiquette

The Seattle Athletic Clubs boasts over 50 group exercise classes a week! Have you tried one yet? As an instructor, I have a short list of suggestions that will make your and the instructor’s experience richer and safer.

  1. Introduce yourself to the instructor before class begins.
  2. Instructors will notice your presence in class, even if you sneak in and go straight to the back row! So, introduce yourself and inform him/her of any injuries you’re dealing with so he/she can be aware of your condition.
  3. Show up on time (means 5 minutes early to set up your equipment). Instructors build their class around a warm-up and a cool-down, and if you miss the warm up you may hurt yourself.
  4. Ask questions!       After class, approach the instructor to ask any questions about an exercise or concept you didn’t understand.       Instructors love to talk shop.
  5. And finally, give feedback! Whether a compliment or a suggestion, an instructor will want to know what you thought. Let his/her manager know what you thought as well because feedback (positive or negative) can only sharpen our awareness and hone our skills to make us better instructors.

We hope to see you in class!

Ayurvedic Oils at the Pro Shop!

New Ayurvedic Oils available in the Pro Shop.

As a long time student of all things yoga since the tender age of 12, I decided to make a commitment to the sister science of yoga; Ayurveda. Ayurveda; the word it self meaning “life knowledge, is the medicinal system of India. The origins date back to 5000 BCE. It began as many ancient practices did, orally. Later it evolved into written form and its roots are evident in the Vedas, primarily the Atharvaveda. I stumbled upon Ayurveda when I met my mentor, Dr. Robert Svoboda while on a yoga retreat high in the mountains of Utah in 2001. He has helped me vastly in the art of living and extracting the best out of life in how I care for myself and others. Part of that journey has involved meeting other

extraordinary practitioners of all kinds. One of which has crafted the oils we are now carrying here at the club and I use primarily in my practice and in my life.

They are of a super special quality, full of Ayurvedic herbs and medicines of the naturopathic vein. I have chosen 2. One is a daily oil that can be used as one would use lotion. It takes a bit longer to soak in after the shower but trust me, it is worth it! The other is for bumps, bruises and other boo-boo’s that cause discomfort. Think analgesic’s. Both I use regularly and highly recommend. I use the same brand for my massage services here, a bit more of a viscous variety that is blended for Ayurvedic massage. If you are curious, stop by the pro shop and try it out! It is made with love by Sarada Anastasia in Ojai, California and in India. Feel free to ask any questions about it that might arise!


Be well!

Yoga & Strength Training, My Two Loves

I would like to take a moment to talk about my two loves, yoga and strength training. Yoga and strength training go together like peanut butter and jelly, like bacon and eggs, like the sun and moon. You get it, they complement each other perfectly!

I love lifting heavy; I can’t get enough of it. It’s incredibly empowering as a woman to feel strong, to be able to squat more than your body weight and to be able to bust out a few pull ups and dips. I love the high of a weight lifting session and I know that some of you reading this are nodding your head in agreement. Most athletes are no stranger to the constant aches, stiffness and limited range of motion associated with living an active life. Over time being active puts a great deal of stress onto your body. Eventually shortening muscle fibers and connective tissue creating tightness and adding stress to joints and reducing joint range of motion. Taking time to mobilize and stretch can greatly reduce the aches and stiffness that comes along with being active. How many of you practice yoga? If you are reading this and thinking I’m not flexible enough for yoga hogwash. That’s exactly why you should go to yoga!

As a yoga instructor and fitness coach I know firsthand how valuable a solid yoga practice can be for your mind and body. If you happen to be a gym junkie who loves beating your quads and glutes into submission, this article is for you.

Body Awareness
Flowing through poses in yoga while barefoot and without mirrors requires a great deal of control and focus. This control forces you to use and develop the oftentimes weak stabilizing muscles in the feet, legs and trunk. Because of the focus and control needed in yoga, you develop a profound sense of proprioception –a sense of position and self within movement. Proprioception helps tremendously when executing compound lifts like deadlifts and push-ups. The focus you develop during yoga will help you be more present and focused during your lifts.

Range of Motion
No matter how many times you tell yourself you need to stretch more, getting in a few more reps before rushing out the gym door sounds much more appealing doesn’t it? Thoughts and ideas of stretching and mobilizing go out the window when you are able to snag an open squat rack before someone else does.
Any great foundation of strength training starts with having good mobility and flexibility. There are many types of yoga, some focus more of flexibility than others. To increase range of motion try finding a yoga style like Yin Yoga that help increase the length of muscles fibers and connective tissue.

Controlling the Ego
Most active people are keenly aware of competition. We compete with our previous lifts, times and sometimes each other. While competition has its time and place and it’s great to be inspired, ultimately none of it matters, we are just fanning the fires of our ego.  Knowing your limit and pushing past it is a delicate balance. Yoga is a constant reminder that it doesn’t matter what you wear, what the pose looks like, or how quick you are, it’s about uniting your body, mind and breath. Yoga teaches you to listen to your body, to know when you are pushing too hard and when to back off. Yoga teaches you to develop contentment with where you are, because that’s exactly where you need to be. This is a unique and helpful tool to have when lifting weights, this will keep you centered, mindful and help prevent injury. It also helps you accept your progressions and to avoid comparing yourself to the person next to you.

Bodyweight Strength Training
Lifting heavy and pumping iron is great but there is something very humbling about bodyweight training. Yoga puts your body into positions you wouldn’t normally get into at the gym. Being able to control your breath, stabilize your core and balance your entire body on your hands like in handstand or crow takes a great deal of control that you cannot achieve with equipment. The skill and strength transfer from the yoga mat to the gym room is unlike any other. Putting your body through precarious movements and holds using just your body only builds a greater understanding of the movements performed in the gym. Yoga also moves through basic movements like pushups, lunging and planks. Being able to master your own body weight is a great skill to have.

Rest and Recovery
Hitting the yoga mat on a rest day can be a great low impact way to keep the body moving on your rest days. Yoga can also help your body detox on rest days. Yoga is designed to compress, lengthen, wring out, push and pull various parts of your body, this sends a signal to your brain to turn on the “detox” mode in your body. In addition to detoxifying your body, a great benefit of yoga is a detox of your mind. Yoga and meditation can help you control your stress levels and feel more relaxed between gym sessions.

As an active person, if you can find a way to incorporate a regular yoga practice you can prevent loss of range of motion, become a calmer happier person in all aspects of your life including the weight room.

Mythbuster #3: Pilates and yoga are the same.

Joseph Pilates had a diverse background in physical activity. Being  sick as a child motivated him as an adult to become an accomplished boxer, diver, and skier who also studied ancient Greek and Roman exercise regimens.  He developed his own system of exercise by culling from a variety of sources, including fencing, acrobatics, and yoga, etc.


It is clear that he was influenced by the goals of yogic practice, bringing the mind and body together for holistic health. He called his method “Contrology,” the study of control, because he believed that connecting the mind to the work of the body would bring strength and fortitude to everyday life. Yoga comes from the mindset of a spiritual practice, however, and the idea of “yolking” with ultimate reality. Pilates was very much reacting to the industrialization of the early 1900’s. He saw that the burgeoning technology of mass production was causing people to move mindlessly and sought to bring mindfulness into the mechanical precision of the new age.


There are two components to Pilates: matwork and apparatus work.  The matwork is the most similar to a yoga class. Both are performed on a mat while your teacher leads you through a specific order of exercises that use gravity as resistance. In Pilates matwork your main focus will be moving from your center, called the “powerhouse,” to execute movements that focus on control and precision, while in yoga you will use your breath to place your body into alignment.


The pace of the class can be a major difference, as well. In Pilates matwork there is a seamless and rhythmic flow between exercises, so that you are always moving and never still. This is a way of stretching your body dynamically—making you limber while maintaining and improving explosive muscle power. Yoga generally employs a different kind of stretching that is muscularly active but much more static, holding poses for a certain length of time in order to deepen into poses. The use of eccentric contraction in Pilates matwork, (actively contracting the muscle while it’s on the stretch) is what gives Pilates practitioners the “long, lean” look.


The apparatus invented by Joseph Pilates include the Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Electric Chair, and Ladder Barrel. They are incredibly versatile pieces that use spring resistance to develop the powerhouse, articulate the spine, and increase strength, flexibility, and balance in the body. You will always use apparatus with the guidance of a Pilates instructor who can modify your workout and the exercises to either assist or challenge you in your workout goals. The genius of Pilates’ designs is that there are almost limitless variations of exercises that allow your instructor to cater directly to you, whether you are an elite athlete, just beginning a workout regimen, or recovering from injury.


Meditation, let your eyes close, take a breath and just let go. This is easier said than done. Meditation is a lost art, something that we might think about but never get around to doing. When people think of meditation perhaps an image of the Shaolin Monks sitting cross leg comes to mind. You may think “that could never be me; I’m too busy for that”. Let’s put our busy schedule aside for a moment and talk about why everyone should make time for it.

We all (well most of us anyway) bathe regularly; we clean our bodies just about daily. Just as our body needs to be cleansed so does our mind. Think of meditation as a bath for the mind. Our head gets muddled with stress, friends, family and our own inner voice. Letting that perpetually build can take a toll on your sanity. The holidays are 100% busy and stressful. If there was ever a time to start a meditation practice this is it.

So what is meditation? Meditation is different for everyone. Being a yoga instructor, I have dedicated many hours to meditation and have made it a part of my life. From a yoga perspective, the practice of yoga and the movement you do in class is all preparation to unite the body and mind, and create a calm receptive state for meditation. However, traditional yoga meditation is not the only meditation! There are many, many schools and thoughts on meditation such as vipassana, visualization, kundalini and much more. Just like exercise, everyone likes something different.

To give meditation a try, just sit. Literally, start by sitting; find a way that is comfortable for you to sit. Cross your legs, sit on your shins or even find a comfortable couch or chair. Then begin to close your eyes, be an observer of your thoughts and the way your body feels. Once you are within yourself, try to let go. Let go of thoughts, stress, your to-do list and just be present. People new to meditation may not be able to go more than 5 seconds before the next thought slips back into their mind. If this happens to you, find a focus within your body, such as your inhalation and exhalation. Some people find it easier to focus by listening to the sounds of the environment or the sounds of their own body. It’s normal to feel impatient or agitated by sitting but don’t be discouraged. Practice makes perfect. Incorporate 5-10 minutes a day and work your way up from there. As you begin to practice more often you will slowly see a shift in your attitude and mind. With time, you may begin to notice feelings of mental calmness, less anxiety, more compassion and creativity throughout your daily activities. Allow the process to transform your mind. I encourage you to find a practice and style that is right for you!