About soari8

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far soari8 has created 8 blog entries.
1 11, 2019

Teacher Feature – Debbie Kramer

2019-11-05T22:02:20+00:00November 1st, 2019|0 Comments

As an ex-smoker, I thought I knew all about breathing – I held every cigarette inhale as deep and long as I could, and controlled every exhale.  I mean, that’s breathing, right?  25 years into my smoking habit, I had a wake-up call (a lung collapse) and ended up in the hospital in intermediate intensive care for four days and three nights surrounded by patients like me who couldn’t breathe without assistance.  I was miserable.  All I wanted to do was to smoke.  When I was released from the hospital, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  My body was telling me to make some changes and I finally needed to listen. 

I started taking Pilates classes and made a weekly commitment to show up for class.  Ten years ago I took a combination Pilates and yoga class and remember vividly my first yoga flow sequence.  I remember at the end of that class that I felt like something different was going on – something I hadn’t experienced before.  And my breathing was very different.  I was so curious to learn more.  I bought some DVDs and practiced some poses at home but I really found what I was looking for when I added yoga classes to my week.  

It wasn’t always easy to show up for yoga classes, particularly as I was going through transitions in my personal life, but the practice never failed me.  It actually was the yoga practice that has served me the most during my toughest challenges.  Showing up on my yoga mat paved the way for me to continue to show up for myself.  I received my RYT-200 during Soaring Spirit’s inaugural session and as I remain committed to my Vinyasa roots, I also incorporate fitness training into my protocol.   I try to use my wake-up call as motivation to keep learning more about becoming my best self.

Becoming my best self and continually showing up takes some planning, but the rewards are totally worth it.  I am committed every day to eating as healthy as possible and adding in fitness – yoga asana, gym time, fitness classes, and walking.  The number one tool that helps me to eat mindfully is a food journal – online (such as MyFitnessPal), or manual, as in pen and paper.  To do the same, track all food and beverages for one week.  Then do it for a second week and add in how you feel after eating and drinking.  On week three, start measuring portions and calculate daily intake of food.  This daily intake will give you a lot of information.  A terrific rule of thumb is to eat less than you metabolize each day.  If you have a fitness tracker, you can get some good ballpark figures on what you are burning during the day.  

I carve out time each weekend to prepare food for the week.  I cook proteins (chicken, eggs, salmon, tofu) and then supplement the protein during the week with healthy complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, quinoa) and vegetables.  I bring prepared food with me to the office and even when I’m at meetings outside of the office.  

Join me on Friday, November 29, 2019 for lunchtime yoga at Soaring Spirit and we can talk after class about creating a customized approach for becoming your best self!

1 10, 2019

Teacher Feature – Candi Hoffman

2019-11-05T22:02:14+00:00October 1st, 2019|0 Comments

When you first came to yoga, what did you hope to learn or gain?  What were you seeking?  Maybe it was to be more flexible?  To touch your toes?  Maybe you wanted to let go of some stress and gain a sense of calm?  When I first stepped onto my bright purple mat, it was simply a way to spend time with friends.  I never realized that each time tadasana or Anjali mudra would bring about a lesson.

My first once-a-week class brought my friends and I together from across Northern Virginia.  I taught us that it was okay to let things stay outside of the studio door – for at least an hour.  We learned that it’s okay to laugh in a yoga class.  Each time that we brought our hands together in Anjali mudra for our final “Om” of class, we learned just how connected we were to ourselves and our practice.

In the years since those first classes, my practice has changed, the studios have changed.  I’ve gone from only doing hard core heated classes to relishing the release of slow flow and yin class.  I’ve learned how to breathe in more ways than any non-yogi can imagine, and I know that there is supreme power in yoga gang signs (ahem… yoga mudras, but that’s another post).  Yet – I’ve found that the lessons that have stuck with me the most are the ones that I’m able to take with me off the mat; or better yet, they’re the lessons that knock me off my mat.  

One of the first things that we’re taught in teacher training is about the yamas and the niyamas.  When working with children, I often explain these as yoga’s Golden Rules.  The first yama is Ahimsa, which loosely translates into “do no harm”.  That’s easy, right?  We aren’t likely to go around hitting people with our yoga mats.  Dig a little deeper and “Ahimsa” means to cause the least harm possible.  Dig even deeper and it means universal love and compassion.   This is a lesson about more than just not hitting people with our yoga mats.  Can we take that lesson of universal love and compassion and apply it within?  

When I was asked to write a piece for the “Teacher Feature”, we talked about yoga and running.  I even considered doing a piece on my love of yoga mudras.  And then I fell while running a trail race.  A broken wrist and shiny concussion later; I was on complete bed rest.  The simple act of thinking, of writing, could cause harm.  Brain rest is hard.  And yet, that notion of Ahimsa kept coming back to me.  I am reminded to find compassion for myself and my injuries to aid in healing.  To do the least amount of harm, I have learned to embrace the softness around me and to take each day with grace.  I may have come to yoga to spend time with friends but the greatest lesson that I’ve learned is how to spend time with myself.

Connection Meditation

Sit comfortably and bring your hands to your heart.  Let your right hand lest over your heart, left hand over the right.  Say to yourself:  I am whole.  I am connected.

Make “peace sign” fingers with each hand and allow those fingers to connect to the earth beside you.  This is Bhu Mudra – a connecting and grounding mudra.  Say to yourself:  I am whole.  I am connected.

Hold your hands out in front of you, flexing the hands as if you’re making a “stop” sign.  Say to yourself:  I am whole.  We are all connected. 

2 09, 2019

Teacher Feature – Steph Mulligan

2019-09-04T14:26:59+00:00September 2nd, 2019|0 Comments

Thank you for taking a moment to learn about me. I started practicing yoga in 2000, and it was love at first savasana! My yoga and meditation practices fit very well into both my life and my career as a clinical massage therapist. Life has changed significantly for me in the last 20 years, and the quiet, calming energy that comes with my practice helps keep me physically and mentally centered and strong. 

Yoga is a beautiful complement to my hobbies that include cycling, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and lifting weights.

I am returning to teaching after taking most of spring and summer off to give myself time and space to honor my grief after the loss of both my parents. I have found such peace in my practice and I’m excited to share that peace and love of yoga again with my students. I couldn’t be happier to return to teaching yoga in September! 

I alway look forward to fall; September feels more like a new year to me than the calendar year change in January. I love the buzz “back to school” brings- new friends, new clothes, new schedule, new lunchbox! I enjoy the return of the crispness that comes into the air, the freshness it brings helps me feel like I come alive. 

With a new moon on August 30th, we get a fresh clean slate for September. I recommend taking a walk in the woods and being with your breath. Feel the earth under your feet. Practice tree pose among the trees. Breathe in the fresh air and feel the sunshine on your skin. Allow yourself to be grounded by nature. 

I recommend local hiking at the Prince William Forest, the Manassas Battlefield or Bull Run Mountain. If you have a full day to play outside, go for a hike in Shenandoah or George Washington National Parks. My favorite SNP hike is the Whiteoak Canyon/Cedar Run loop, and my favorite hike in GWNP is Strickler Knob. They’re not easy, but they’re worth the effort! 
One of my favorite ways to fuel for a long day of hiking is with oatmeal.

I make mine in my Instant Pot:

1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot

In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the following:

  • 1.5 cups milk of your choice (almond or coconut for me!)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned or steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins or dried cranberries are my go-tos)
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP ground flax seed
  • 1 TBSP hemp hearts
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • 1 TSP dried, ground orange peel

Set lid to sealing and cook for 10 minutes on manual high pressure, then turn off and enjoy after natural pressure release. 

I look forward to seeing you again soon! 

“Life starts again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

1 08, 2019

Teacher Feature – Tracey Kyle

2019-09-04T14:27:42+00:00August 1st, 2019|0 Comments

My 8th grade students can’t believe I teach yoga. “You’re too loud, Señora!” they tell me. At school, I’m a fireball of energy, constantly moving and talking and yelling “¡Vamos a clase!” before the bell rings.  But after a week of this pitta-like environment, yoga is exactly what I need. It took me a long time, however, to figure that out. 

I tried my first yoga class 20 years ago at a local fitness center, a recommendation from a doctor who said I needed to manage the stress of teaching. I liked it, but those last ten minutes of savasana were too uncomfortable. I wanted to leave but I didn’t want to be rude, so I’d lie on my mat, staring at the ceiling, thinking of everything I had to do the next day. I stuck with it for about three months, but any pose that was too quiet or reflective scared me.

Yoga wasn’t working for me.  I joined a Pilates class.Pilates, walking, jogging, weight training…..I was exercising! I was in good shape! I had friends at the gym!  

I was also mentally and physically exhausted.  That year, I needed emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. Six months later, my podiatrist recommended surgery for the pain in my feet, pain which came on, obviously, from standing all day, but which was exacerbated by the type of exercise I’d been doing.  Perhaps a gentle yoga class was what I needed?

I found a little yoga studio in Occoquan called Soaring Spirit. I attended class once a week, on Saturdays. I learned what it is to be “mindful,” and eventually craved those last 10 minutes of class. I felt calmer and more settled, and stopped pondering my to-do list in those quiet moments. The studio was a haven. My feet didn’t hurt anymore; my body was flexible. Yoga was changing me.  

I subscribed to Yoga Journal and read books about yoga. I learned about the Chakras, Ayurveda, and the Doshas. I signed up for YogaFit training to get my Level 1 certification and started teaching part-time. When Soaring Spirit planned its 200 hour teacher training, I signed up. There was so much to learn; so much to discover. Over time, my body fully healed and I was able to return to other forms of exercise, but none of them have impacted me as much as yoga.

My practice has made me a better schoolteacher. I’m more patient with my middle schoolers, and I know that when the stress of teaching is getting out of control, a class–even once a week–is soothing and reassuring. Yoga also allowed me to concentrate on a goal I’d had for years: to write for children. I published my first picture book in 2014, the year I studied at Soaring Spirit.  

I’m still very loud, very hyper and very social! I still stress out when I have too much to do. But I now know when I need to slow down and breathe, and I’m more in tune to the side of my personality that needs a break from all the chaos. That’s when I find my mat. 

17 04, 2019

Committed to Community: Soaring Spirit Marks Ten Years

2019-04-17T13:37:45+00:00April 17th, 2019|0 Comments

This month marks the ten-year anniversary of Soaring Spirit Yoga Studio. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I reflect on the studio and the community we’ve built here, which has become my life’s work. Whether you’ve been a part of Soaring Spirit since day one or are new to class, you are appreciated and valued. There have been many beautiful moments that have taken place at our studio over the past decade, making it difficult to narrow down my favorites. However, here are just a few of the milestones I think about most often:

We were the first studio in Prince William County to offer yoga teacher training

So far, we’ve completed four cycles of teacher training. It’s a joy to start new teachers on a journey that’s meant so much to me. Some of our most beloved teachers have come directly from our Soaring Spirit teacher training program, which makes it even more special. This includes Candy, Steph, Mandy, Michelle, Debbie, Tracey, Marianne, and Anna.

We’ve added a massage and reiki treatment room for private appointments

We’re thrilled to offer reiki classes at Soaring Spirit and have a designated space for private appointments. We love introducing our students to this ancient Japanese form of healing. Reiki is a form of energy work, where a practitioner uses a healing touch to promote relaxation and pain reduction. I have found reiki very beneficial in my own healing and growth as a studio owner and enjoy seeing the benefits it offers others.

We’ve completed a significant expansion

If you’ve been with Soaring Spirit from the beginning, you know that we look quite different now than when we first opened our doors! Thanks to the dedication and growth of our Soaring Spirit community, we’ve doubled in size and are now located directly above our original studio. We’ve undergone some other aesthetic improvements as well, as shown in the photos below.

We’ve grown our Yoga For Veterans and Yoga for Recovery programs

We’re proud to be able to support our community members with these two important programs. Both are 100% donation-based, and enable veterans and cancer survivors in our community to attend for free. Those in attendance can also choose to make a donation in honor of a friend or loved one. Our hope is to provide healing through yoga.

Mike, a veteran and program participant, says, “Yoga has greatly helped me with my anger issues and how I deal with them. One of the key components I experience with incorporating yoga into my life is that I am able to pause, calm my mind and react/act in a more rational way, providing a much better result.” We look forward to continuing to offer Yoga For Veterans and Yoga For Recovery in the future.

We now offer products to support and enhance your yoga and Ayurvedic practices

I enjoy hand-crafting malas, which are designed for use as you do your japa mantra during meditation . You’ll see them available for purchase at the studio. Some of our best sellers include our garnet and fancy jasper malas. You’ll also find a variety of other items on-hand to enhance your practice, such as Banyan’s Ayurvedic products to promote healing and healthy living.

While we feel grateful for all that Soaring Spirit has become over the past decade, we have plenty of items left to accomplish. Here are some of the things we’re most looking forward to in the years to come:

The start of our community potluck and movie nights: We’re thrilled to launch a quarterly, free way for residents to get together, relax, and learn a bit more about health and wellness. The inaugural event will take place on May 10th at 8:15pm. We’re excited to show the film “Heal!” and hope you can join us!

Participating in the Discover Occoquan celebration: As part of the Discover Occoquan celebration happening May 18th, we will be offering free community yoga classes, as well as Basic Woodburning Skills and Make an Essential Oil Diffusing Bracelet classes.

Continuing to educate aspiring yoga teachers: Training the next generation of yoga teachers is of the utmost importance to us, and we can’t wait to kick off another round of Teacher Training in September.

As we continue to grow and develop, my goal is to continue to remain aligned with our mission of providing yoga for all in this community. Yoga has played a pivotal, healing role in my life. I used yoga to recover from spine surgery nearly three years ago and my practice has allowed me to become physically stronger than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve also used yoga for emotional healing, relying heavily on my practice following my divorce.

My hope is that you’ll find similar healing benefits and a sense of community here at Soaring Spirit. It’s my goal to create a space that will support my students over the course of their lifetime. Our practice changes just as our bodies do, and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to accept these changes with fluidity and grace. We look forward to seeing you in class soon.

1 04, 2019

Teacher Feature – Kelley Daya Gallop

2019-09-04T14:28:20+00:00April 1st, 2019|0 Comments

Little Feet Don’t Stink! by Kelley Daya Gallop

Little girl: “Someone’s feet stink!”
Me: “Really! Whose? Maybe mine since they are dirty from walking around the gym.”
Little girl: “Yep, it’s your feet.”
Me: “Ya think so?”
Little girl: “Yep, little feet don’t stink.”

Years ago I had the weekly joy of teaching an after-school children’s yoga class at a local recreation center. I taught approximately 50 students ranging from 5 to 10 year olds (of course with assistance from their regular caregivers).  

When I say “taught”, I really mean…I corralled; I shepherded.
I was a herder. Occasionally, in unison but, mostly, free-form modern dance-y.

They were unfiltered and honest to a fault. They were also natural yogis. You see…children don’t actually have bones until they are 12 years old (totally my observation and not scientifically proven…yet) and as any yogi should, they saw joy in everything we did in class. 

No matter how bad my day was going, they made me smile a big, huge, toothy, goofy smile.

A real smile. 

Not the adult-world fake smile…you know the kind I’m talking about. 

An honest smile.

They made yoga fun! They laughed. They were loud. They raised a raucous! However, their caregivers always wanted them to be quiet (they lost that battle quickly with 50 small children in an echoing gym). After all, it’s yoga…and yoga is quiet or at least the proverbial “they” say yoga is quiet.

Whoever mandated that yoga must be quiet to be beneficial? Maybe it was originally quiet because the ascetics didn’t have any friends to raise some hell with! Maybe they didn’t want to be quiet; maybe they were just lonely. 

Children, on the other hand, are never lonely in a yoga class. They are never afraid to touch each other’s feet in a shared boat pose, wrap their arms around each other for a joint tree pose, or lay in a big flower pattern touching heads in Savasana. 

There is something to be said for the loud communal nature of children.  Where is the point along the way to maturity that we lose that sense of community? When do our brains and hearts shift making isolation the ideal? 

According to, the great book of “knowledge”, Wikipedia:
“Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali defines yoga as ‘the stilling of the changing states of the mind.’ Yoga has also been popularly defined as ‘union with the divine’ in other contexts and traditions.”

So if children are loud and rambunctious can their minds be still and are they uniting with the divine? Absolutely!!!

Children do yoga with no preconceived ideas, no biases, and no judgment. They are free in their bodies and free with each other.  Children don’t bring the emotional walls and barriers that isolate…that break down community…to the yoga mat.

They are just there in the moment-totally and completely free. 

That is peace of mind and spirit. That is union with the divine. That is yoga.

Like I said–natural yogis.

My little gurus taught me that permanent peace takes many forms and sometimes it looks more like Burning Man than it does a monastery.  Note: Not advocating raging fires for children…but 5-10 year olds are definitely into those too.

So the next time you are in a yoga class…be free; be present; smile; laugh. Make some Savasana flowers with your new friends, cheer someone on with encouragement and take notice of the stinky feet.

1 04, 2019

Teacher Feature – Kathy Brobst

2019-09-04T14:28:53+00:00April 1st, 2019|0 Comments

A few years ago, I found my energy really drained. As a yoga and fitness professional (whose hobbies were other forms of fitness), I needed my energy back! After doing some research and attending a few lectures on plant based nutrition, I decided it was time to experiment on myself. I switched to a Whole food, plant based diet and the results were amazing. My energy went through the roof, my mood improved, and my cholesterol dropped 10 points in two months. Since I wasn’t a huge meat eater before and have been dairy free for close to 20 years due to severe lactose intolerance, I thought to myself “why such great results?” I believe the answer for me was adding more variety and volume of good carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains) and less processed foods as well as eliminating additives such as all those ingredients you can’t pronounce.

The recipe below was given to me by Bruce and Mindy Mylrea, owners and creators of the One Day to Wellness workshops. I also consider them two of my nutrition Gurus! These tasty little treats are so good that you will think they are unhealthy, but quite the contrary, filled with protein and fiber and the superfood cacao, they are loaded with nutrition! Enjoy!


Cacao Balls

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

1 cup pitted dates

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup cacao powder

Grind nuts together in food processor until finely ground. Add dates and vanilla. Blend. Add Cacao powder. Blend. Roll into 16-18 bite sized balls. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

13 02, 2019

Make Committing to Self-Care Easy in 2019

2019-02-13T22:48:02+00:00February 13th, 2019|0 Comments

We all know that self-care is an essential part of living a happier, brighter life. However, knowing the importance of a consistent self-care routine and actually making it a priority can, unfortunately, be two different things. If you’re committing to self-care in 2019, here are some areas in which to focus your time. We promise you’ll love the benefits you receive:

 Finding your center with meditation

Though life will always be filled with emails, meetings, and family obligations, meditation is the perfect tool for finding calm, even in the midst of a busy day. Some people believe that they need to be able to meditate for a long stretch of time immediately or else they’ve failed at the practice. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Spending even five minutes meditating provides a significant boost for your mental health. Over time, the practice will become easier, much like when you first begin an exercise routine. Committing to self-care and developing that meditation muscle promotes enhanced mental clarity, an increased sense of calm, and a reduction in your stress level. Meditation is a highly personal journey of self-discovery. It can also be filled with interesting expectations, assumptions, and misconceptions.

On March 6th, we’re kicking off our Meditation – a 6-Week Session. Each week will touch on a different (but equally important) type of meditation. We’ll also cover a number of factors that will make meditation feel more intuitive to you. Some of the aspects of meditation you can expect to learn about include:

  •  Light movement in order to prepare the body for meditation
  • Deep breathing to allow the mind to fully settle in and embrace the practice
  • A body scan to get in touch with deeply rooted thoughts, concerns, and beliefs

Other meditation techniques that we’ll practice include:

  • Guided meditation on intention
  • A 16-point body scan
  • Relaxing to music
  • Affirmations
  • Yoga Nidra

If you’ve been looking to try meditation this year, click here to join us! In the meantime, Dante is leading a two-hour workshop focused on meditation, sound, and breath on Sunday, February 17th. Here’s a preview of what you can expect:

Beginning a yoga practice

Finding a form of movement you enjoy is essential in order to stay consistent with this aspect of self-care. Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise that boosts flexibility, builds strength, promotes mental clarity, and improves your posture. If you’re an aspiring yogi who wonders if your lack of flexibility will impede your ability to practice, the answer is absolutely not! Yoga is perfect for all ages and ability levels. Additionally, your flexibility will improve as you continue to practice. Remember, committing to self-care also means having patience with your body as you allow it to develop new skills.

Always wanted to attend a yoga class but haven’t yet? Or, has your mat has collected dust over the years? Our Yoga Basics workshop is perfect for all experience levels. The workshop will begin in May, so keep an eye out for more details as we get closer. You might also prefer to book a private yoga session with the instructor of your choice. It’s a great way to get one-on-one attention to take your practice to the next level, or to learn proper alignment if you’re a beginner.

Starting a massage or reiki routine

When we talk about self-care, we’re also talking about healing the body and mind. For some, the ancient Japanese practice of reiki is a powerful way to jumpstart this healing process. The name reiki is made up of two Japanese words, Rei (universal life) and Ki (life force energy, also known as prana in Sanskrit). Reiki is not a religious ritual and is different from massage. The practice is a unique form of energy work, where a practitioner uses a healing touch (or places their hands just above the client’s body, depending on preference) to promote relaxation, expedite healing, and reduce pain. For a more traditional approach, massage therapy is an ever-popular way to reduce tension, improve circulation, and lower blood pressure. Massage uses hands-on pressure to work through tense areas of the body.

Some may view a massage or reiki as luxuries. We have seen these treatments become fundamental additions to the art of self-care. We also offer private massage and reiki appointments that are carefully customized to meet your body’s needs. You’ll be amazed at how rejuvenated you feel after you’re done!

Committing to self-care in 2019 can completely shift your physical and mental well-being. If this was part of your New Year’s resolution, we can help you stay focused!

  • Our six-week meditation series is a great place to start for those in search of an infusion of mental clarity.
  • Whether you’re looking to give yoga a try for the first time or want to reacquaint yourself with your practice, drop by our Yoga Basics workshop.
  • If you’re new to massage, our Hot Stone Restorative workshop, happening on March 17th, is a can’t-miss. This workshop fills up quickly, so sign up ASAP.
  • You can also book a private yoga session, reiki appointment, or a massage. Simply call (703) 499-9114 or email us to schedule the treatment that works best for your body.

We look forward to helping you commit to self-care and peaceful living in 2019!

Important Update about Soaring Spirit Yoga Studio and COVID-19

Hello Everyone and thank you for your patience as we navigate this uncertain time. I have decided to temporarily close the studio based on a call to action I received from the Yoga Alliance.

The Yoga Alliance been intensely monitoring CDC and WHO updates for the most current information and recommendations as to how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. As a leader in a wellness space, I am trusted with the health and wellbeing of our practitioners and am committed to adopting the practices that offer the best protection for our community. Due to the increasingly rapid transmission of COVID-19, the world is experiencing an unprecedented collective response. I want Soaring Spirit to do its part to limit the spread of this disease.

All in-person yoga instruction will be moved online until the need for social distancing has passed. You will still sign up online through the MindBody system and an hour before class starts you will receive a link to join the class on Zoom.com You can use your phone, tablet or computer to participate. Most of our regularly scheduled instructors will be teaching their classes. Please see our online schedule for any changes and updates.

Please keep your eye on our social media and newsletters for the latest information. We are here for you.

With peace, love and a whole lot of Gratitude,
Nancy and the SSY Team