Why we Om


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You’ve probably been to a few yoga classes in which the teacher either opens or closes the class by leading a chant of the word “om”.  If you are unfamiliar with this phrase and its meaning, you may have hesitated to join in. I know I certainly did.  The first time I experienced this in a yoga class, I wanted to run for the door.  It felt weird and I did not understand its meaning.  No way was I going to chant this word because for all I knew it was the Sanskrit equivalent of saying “Beetlejuice” three times.

During Teacher Training, we were taught the meaning of “om” and why we chant it in class.  Essentially, om represents the energy or life force of the Universe.  It represents the beginning, middle, and end of the Universe.  When we chant it together, it allows us to feel connected to the Universe and to each other.   Continue reading

Be Present


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Originally, the plan for this week’s blog was to write about the meaning of “om” – why we chant it, what it means, etc. We’ll cover that in another post. Instead, I came across this post about how to add mindfulness to your everyday life from a yoga studio in Baltimore, MD that I would like to share with you.

If you Google “what is mindfulness?” the definition is one of the first results. In this context, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Simply, mindfulness is keeping your mind, body, and spirit present in the current moment. Mindfulness is not meditation, though meditation can be a part of a mindfulness practice because it clears the mind and allows space for peace and calm.

Multi-tasking is the antithesis of mindfulness, yet is widely practiced in modern society and even worn as a badge of honor. In a society that rewards those who achieve and accumulate the most, it’s no wonder that most of us find ourselves with a coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other scrolling through social media, while trying to carry on a conversation. When was the last time you really savored an experience?  When was the last time you were aware of your reaction to a situation and took time to process it?  When was the last time you had a conversation with someone without picking up your phone? If you answered, “I don’t know”, then you might want to consider some of the techniques Sarah describes in her post. My personal favorite? Keeping a beginner’s mind. Would love to hear what you think!

Teacher Spotlight: Kim McMurray


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Yogis know where to go for an intense and motivating practice – Kim McMurray’s GottaFlow Hot classes Monday and Tuesday evenings at GottaYoga University.  Kim is a fitness professional who fell in love with yoga in 2002 and never looked back.  Her students will tell you that her energy is contagious and that she teaches unique flows.  Read on to get to know more about Kim!

What was your first yoga class as a student like?  I was introduced to yoga in a fitness facility. Students went from an intense cardio class to yoga!  It was the perfect combination in my opinion, workout hard and stretch intense afterwards to bring it all home. It took some time for me to embrace the slowing down of my body, but soon I was in love with Yoga!

Describe what it was like to teach your first class:  My first yoga class was 13 years ago, around 12-14 students. I was nervous because this was out of my element. I was taking my voice down a few notches and hoping to sound calm and in control. I prepared a lesson kept it and referred to it if needed. The students knew I was new but were so welcoming and wanted me to succeed and feel accomplished. I knew all I could do was to be me! I have learned over the years that most students just want to connect with their body and their inner self. Let go and be who you are.

What posture do you enjoy the most/least?  Why? I love Downward Facing Dog. I feel grounded and in control when in this pose. It calms me. I am very much connected to the Dog! Crow has been my nemesis since day one. Still is and always an ongoing journey with that pose! Good days and well… you know. Continue reading

Student Spotlight: Lexie Shaw


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Lexie Shaw

Meet Lexie Shaw, our GottaBeFresh winner from our University studio.  A regular presence at GottaYoga, she is an explorer, a dancer, and a blogger.  Keep reading to learn more about what keeps Lexie coming back to her mat.  And if you want to keep up with her, check out her blog – Lexie Lioness.

What was your first yoga class as a student like? My first yoga class was actually a Bikram yoga class. A college classmate mentioned she was attending a ‘yoga’ class later that day and I decided to join – neither knowing that it was a Bikram style class and much less who this Bikram fella was. I was also unaware that this would be a ‘hot’ class. I showed up, rented a mat, and stepped into the room to a very warm, humid surprise. Seeing the mirrors engulfing the room and the very seasoned yogis towards the front, I took a spot in the back. I had spent about 12 years of my life as a dancer, so I was far from nervous despite the steamy room. From here, it gets a little foggy… I had not eaten a full meal prior and quickly began to feel faint as I forced myself into poses I was clearly not prepared for. I had to run out mid class (which is apparently frowned upon) and collapsed into the bathroom. It was at least 7 years before I would try yoga again.

How did you discover GottaYoga? What keeps you coming back? I found out about GottaYoga via the internet. After my failed attempt at a yoga practice those many years before, I wanted to give it another go. I realized that there were many forms of yoga out there as well as hot yoga that was offered differently than that of the Bikram practice. I live less than 5 minutes from the University studio and thus my selection of the studio. I am delighted and filled with gratitude for such convenience to encourage me in my (almost) daily practice. Whether commuting home from work or coming from home, the studio is so accessible and welcoming for my ‘me-time’.  I believe that the changes in my body are what keeps me returning to my practice and to GottaYoga, in particular, each day. Noticing the visible changes, feeling the ease in my breath, and finding more and more stillness throughout my day has been inspiring and rewarding – and I know that yoga and my teachers at the studio have helped foster those changes.

Continue reading

GottaKnow: Prana


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Our guest blogger, Mohan, is back!  This month he begins a series on explaining the factors critical to leading a balanced life.  Enjoy!


Most of us have a busy life and hectic schedule. At least this happens in cycles, for a fortunate few, while the rest are forcefully sunk into the duties of our daily lives. I am not going to state anything that we don’t already know. From the moment we get out of our beds and until we retire in the evening, our neural networks are screaming with instructions, trying to endure all kinds of challenges. Insomnia and improper sleep are topics for a later day. Stress, exertion and emotions challenge us every moment we live through the day. We constantly push ourselves, not paying attention to where we are, both mentally and physically, until something breaks down. The bright side is we all know this is a predictable pattern, and while it cannot be avoided, we can be prepared to deal with it.

I frequently hear people, or even catch myself, uttering the following phrases:

“I do not have time to breathe”

“I have not had a break to catch a bite”

“I need a break to unwind” 

These pretty much sum us up and reflect the status updates of our daily lives.

These three phrases reflect how we manage our life style and prioritize tasks. When we catch ourselves in one of these situations, it is an indicator we need to calm down and venture the basic connection among life force (Prana), nourishment (Ojas) and actions (Tejas). These topics could fill volumes on their own, however, let’s focus on Prana today. Continue reading

Teacher Spotlight: Lindsay Robertson


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lindsay robertson

A fixture at GottaYoga’s Lake Norman and Mooresville studios, Lindsay’s classes are energetic, challenging, and empowering. Her fun and honest personality resonates with her students and fellow teachers. So what makes Lindsay tick? Read on to find out more!

What was your first yoga class as a student like? It was about 17 years ago and I was pregnant with my oldest son.  I remember being bored out of my mind, as I missed my double step and Tae Bo classes!  In savasana, as everyone else looked relaxed and at peace, my son would start doing flips in my belly and kicking around, thus making that the longest 5 minutes of the practice.

Describe what it was like to teach your first class.  How many students?  Were you nervous?  How did you prepare? I was an emergency sub for Hot Flowing Yin and taught 12 students.  There was no time to prepare.  Good thing I don’t get nervous!  The one thing I wish I had known was how to use props better.  Some students struggle in certain asanas and props are helpful.  Continue reading

Spread the Love


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February is a month that honors many things – Black History, Women’s Heart Health, and Groundhog Day to name a few. February is also the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. And whether you are looking forward to February 14th or think it is a ploy created by the greeting card industry, love is something we all need. It is essential to life. And not just the romantic kind of love – though that is wonderful – but the love we feel for our families, our friends, and mankind in general. Love is the thread that unites us all. So why not celebrate it?

Continue reading

Rest, Regroup, Restart


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Try again


Soooo…it’s almost the end of January.  Were you one of the many people who made resolutions at the end of 2014 to improve your 2015? Maybe it was not a resolution; maybe it was a goal, or a proclamation. Whatever you want to call it, on December 31, 2014 you looked out into 2015 and told yourself that something had to change. And now you’ve fallen off the wagon and are wondering why you even tried. I’m here to tell you, don’t give up!

Here are 3 things you can do to get back on track: Continue reading

To invert or not to invert?


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I recently came across an article about one man’s experience with inversions throughout his yoga practice. And it got me thinking, why do we practice inversions in yoga? Should every yogi invert? How does one practice inversions safely? If you’ve recently started a yoga practice, you’ve probably seen yogis doing inversions, aka going upside down, aka standing on their heads. And if you are an upside down yogi, you can probably recall how it felt to do your first inversion. No matter where you are in your practice, whether or not to invert is your own choice.

So what is an inversion? An inversion is any asana, or posture, in which the head is below the heart. Thus causing a reversal of blood flow and reversing the effects of gravity. You may already be doing an inversion and not even know it. Inversions include downward facing dog, legs up the wall, forward fold, and happy baby. Other inversions include tripod headstand, supported headstand, and handstand. In each of these poses, the flow of blood is reversed and gravity’s effect is reversed on the body. Continue reading

Teacher Spotlight: Josh Diliberto


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Josh Diliberto

Grounding, powerful, and relaxing are 3 words that come to mind when asked to describe Josh’s Friday night Hot class at GottaYoga University. Maybe it’s his background in counseling. Maybe it’s his love of philosophy. Continue reading to learn more about Josh. To have the full experience, take Josh’s Friday evening Hot class at 6:15pm – get your weekend started right!

What was your first yoga class as student like?

I went to my first yoga class with a soccer team mate because he suggested that it is a great work out, detoxifying, and makes you feel great. So, naturally he brought me to a 90-minute, 105 degree power yoga class! I remember slipping and sliding all over my mat, and trying to move in ways Iike never before while keeping an eye on my teammate’s body as to gauge what I ought to look like and where to be on my mat. This first class was intense, intimidating, hot, wet, a challenge to breathe, and invigorating – I loved it!

Describe what it was like to teach your first class. How many students? Were you nervous? How did you prepare?

I taught six students. I wrote out my entire class, every cue, every breath, every movement, and every detail I could think of. I then recited out loud the class three or four times. This took about four hours. I was incredibly nervous because I felt that I ought to teach as well as my favorite teachers. To calm my nerves, I prepared and practiced what I would say, drank a kombucha, and decided to jump in and go for it.

What posture do you enjoy the most/least? Why?

My least favorite pose is Easy Pose (deceiving name!) as well as pigeon because I have extremely tight hips. I’ve been playing competitive soccer for 26 years and for a long time I predominately kicked with my right foot. Pigeon pose helped me realize that I was more open on my right side and tighter on my left. A few years ago I decided to change that, and now I can kick a soccer ball with equal force and accuracy on either foot. Pigeon, my nemesis, has helped me make changes that improved my game! So it could be said I’ve learned to love my least favorite poses.

What advice would you give new students? Continue reading