Committed to Community: Soaring Spirit Marks Ten Years


April 17, 2019

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.

Make Committing to Self-Care Easy in 2019


February 13, 2019

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!

Turning off the Tape Recorder


August 14, 2018

Turning off the tape recorder







Ok, I lied. This post is not going to be about what I saw in the photo from my previous post. But don’t worry; I will get to that at some point. However, I just got back from one of my yoga classes and the focus of the class was one that really struck a chord for me.

Every week we focus on a certain chakra and what those chakras control and maintain. This week was about the chakra that controls stubbornness, your will, and your intellect- the Manipura Chakra.

Now, if you know me at all you know that I am very much a Capricorn and this makes me extremely stubborn. Yeah, I admit it. I can be very pigheaded and pretty much always want to believe I’m right. But, sometimes my stubbornness works in my favor- so it’s a good balance. But, what a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am also insanely hard on myself. I have a constant tape recorder going through my head that pretty much tells me I fail at life. Obviously this isn’t true- in fact based on facts alone I’m pretty damn successful. However, this tape recorder jades my view of this. During everyone’s favorite part of yoga (the part where you take a 10 minute cat nap) our instructor guided us through a mantra or meditation type thing. She stated that the only thing holding us back from being the new us and being successful is that stupid little tape recorder. Granted she stated it a bit more eloquently, but you get the point.

This really resonated with me and was kind of a wake up kick to my head. I know that I’ve been told a million times to not listen to the negative thoughts that go through my head on an hourly basis- but I’ve never really felt the push to really work on this idea. I mentioned in a previous post that I saw a therapist (yup- going back to this now). Well, she is one of the biggest advocates for turning off the tape recorder. Until I started seeing her I always half-heartedly followed the advice. But, with her I’ve actually tried (yeah she’s that awesome). Well, I felt and thought that I had tried anyways.

Now that I’m sitting here mulling over the words my yoga instructor stated tonight I realized that this isn’t necessarily true. I did try and truly thought I was making an effort- but, I was still letting my tape recorder control just how much effort I put in and what seemed like enough. This stuff isn’t easy ya know? I realize now that it’s never going to be easy to just brush off the thoughts and negative feelings, but I can’t put half the effort in and expect extraordinary results. I think I have also finally realized that it’s not going to be “all in a day’s work” and that it’s going to take time and a lot of practice.

I’ll probably mess up a few times and I’ll probably grow quite a bit more too. But, I guess that’s kind of the point of everything in life right? My challenge to you this week is to turn (or try to turn) off the tape recorder- even if only for a minute. Take those 60 seconds and realize just how epically amazing and awesome and unique and powerful you are.

For more:
Andrea has been a student at SSYS since we opened in 2009.

Back to the Mat: My Reconciliation With Yoga. ~ Heather O’Hare


February 27, 2013

Some people have epiphanies. Some people recognize the signs sent to them a little easier.

For me, the signs weren’t enough, nor the pit in my stomach; none of the warning signs were heeded. So, the need for change hit me like a freight train and happened all at once. The end of a dependent relationship, financial turmoil, bad career decisions—it all came to a brutal head.

When I was finally able to come up for air, I found myself at a yoga retreat in Central America, shaking, crying, and cradling myself in a ball on the floor in a room full of strangers. It wasn’t the bottom; I was still in free fall and desperately looking for anyone to cling to and tell me that it was all going to be OK. I was looking for any way to avoid spending time alone, having to face the thoughts in my head.

Every morning of that retreat, I waded waist deep into the ocean, tears running down my face, begging the Universe to send someone to love me. The emptiness felt all encompassing. To be alone with myself felt like a death sentence, even if for just a few minutes.

Over the next several months I ingratiated myself in the world of yoga: classes, teacher training, blogs, conferences. Still searching desperately for the answer to come to me in one glorious, life rendering moment—convinced that yoga and now the universe were obligated to bring me love, someone to take care of me, to fill the emptiness that was my ever-present companion.

After months of trying to squeeze my intended purpose from the yoga stone, I found myself turning away from it altogether. I was angry.

Look at how much time I had dedicated, how many days I had bowed my head to the mat showing gratitude and still, the universe hadn’t paid up. I was still alone, still scared. The pit in my stomach grew, I felt as if I would turn inside out from loneliness.

A few months after telling my yoga mat to go kiss off and turning away from my practice altogether, I moved thousands of miles from the city I had always called home. I moved away from all of the people who told me “it will be all right” as I went through another breakdown. Away from all the comforts. Into isolation. To a city where I knew no one. Living alone for the first time. No safety net.

I even tried a few yoga classes again, but was frustrated when my body betrayed me, not able to bend itself into poses as easily after months of neglect. My ego once again bruised, I felt my relationship with yoga to be even more strained than ever.

But living alone was where I first started to hear myself and feel a connection to the things I had learned about meditation. I found myself able to find some peace in the quiet when life was strained. When I would break down and reach for the phone to make a long distance plea for comfort, I heard my own voice saying “it will be all right. It will be better than all right. You are fine. Breathe.”

It was in this solitary life that I began, perhaps for the very first time, to look at my naked body each morning, finding places I am growing to love more each day—parts of me I used to see as flaws or opportunities for rejection.

Now, it is my own voice that I hear saying, “I love you, breathe,” when the void feels ever so wide. And for the first time, those words don’t fill me with the fear of potential loss and the desperation to hold on for dear life.

I know that this is the love that I will never lose.

In a recent yoga class, when my stiffened body was unable to move fully into poses, it brought a smile to my face instead of my previous go to, “I hate my body. Why is this so hard for me? And only me?” I know that limitations are a part of life. My relationship with myself and with yoga are an everyday practice that will likely always be far from perfect, and none of us are without our imperfections and insecurities.

When I bowed my head to that dusty, neglected mat at the end of class, I realized that I am finally finding appreciation for the tough love that this practice has shown me.

This blog comes courtesy our friends at elephant:

9 Rules Every Yoga Teacher Should Follow. ~ Rob Pollak ~ Funny!


February 21, 2013

on Jan 16, 2013

Nine simple things that every yoga teacher should do to make class a little more awesome - by Rob Pollak

Nine simple things that every yoga teacher can do to make class a little bit more awesome.

Rule 1:  Pay Attention to me!

Most yoga teachers really like yoga and also happen to be very good at it. These traits, however, do not mean that I’m taking your class to watch you be awesome. If that’s what I was seeking, I’d flip on your youtube channel.  Please don’t forget the real, live, disgustingly sweaty people right there behind you. So, goddamnit, pay attention to us!
The best teachers strike a balance between showing off their mad skills and watching students struggle to get the little things right.  They use their strength and ability to demonstrate or highlight certain aspects of a pose rather than to show off a one-handed side crow headstand that they’ve been working on in their Super-level eight goddess class.
If I leave class thinking, “Wow, that teacher was sooo good at yoga,” then something went horribly wrong. I should walk by the treadmills on my way out of the gym thinking, “Wow, I am freaking awesome at yoga.  Suck it, runners!”

A Yoga drawing by rob pollak - 9 rules every yoga teacher should follow

Rule 2:  Introduce yourself to your students:

Loyal readers of mine will remember that I’m working on introducing myself. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce yourself to me first.
All it takes is a one second conversation in which the teacher comes over and says, “Hey, I’m [insert hippie name]. Have you done yoga before? Any questions? Namaste, bro.” Boom. Instant openness and camaraderie.
However, since we’re preaching mindfulness here, just remember to be mindful of your junk:

Rules every yoga teacher should follow - Rule 2 Introduce yourself. Tips for yoga teachers by Rob Pollak

3.  Ignore Anything You Weren’t Supposed to See.

Look, things happen in yoga classes. Like the time I saw the entire left ball of the guy practicing next to me. Or how every time I jump from a standing fold into a push up, my shirt flies up a little bit, exposing the lower portion of my back (aka the upper portion of my ass). Look, I realize that the teacher is going to see everything that’s going on down there. Maybe he or she will even give it a once or twice over to size me up. Totally cool. There’s just no need to draw attention to the fact that I’ve got a little hair down there. Or that my love handles make twisting poses slightly more difficult.
How about we just agree to keep a few things between us?
In other words, maybe the moment my naked back and partially naked ass are exposed is not the best time for you to do that adjustment. You know the one. It’s when you grab my hips and pull them back or rest your hand on the sweaty small of my back and push with all your might. Yeah, save that for my first down dog. Just before the sweating starts.
I suspect we’ll both be happy with that agreement.

Tips for yoga teachers - Ignore anything you shouldn't see - a drawing by Rob Pollak

4.  If you’re gonna Om, Om loudly.

At first, I admittedly did not like chanting “om.” Now, I can tolerate it. Maybe sometimes it’s kind of nice. Oh whatever. You caught me. I like it. So what. This isn’t the place for judgment.
Listen up, teachers:  If you’re going to start with an Om, then do so with gusto-mmmm. Trust me, the class will follow your lead. But if you are timid and mousy with your om, then guess what? Your class will be quiet and timid and self-conscious when they holla’ back.
Also—and this is admittedly quite selfish of me—I’m 100 percent tone-deaf, so if you say it loud and say it proud, then I can join in without others noticing that I am the discordant MF’er ruining spiritual bliss.

Tips for yoga teachers - don't acknowledge tone deaf people during Om. A drawing by Rob Pollak

5.  Remember my name and use it.

We’ve already agreed that introductions are key. Well, that’s the easy part. The hard part is remembering those names and then using them throughout class. A deftly timed “Nice job, Bikram,” or “Sweet crow, Baba,” or “Pull your hips back, Tara” really pulls those people into the class.
But surprisingly, even when the teacher refers to someone else by name, I find that I try harder.
I’m all, “I want that too.” “Hey look at me!” “Don’t you think my crow is good?” “I’m trying so hard over here, you guys!”
Even a “whoa, looking a little sweaty, Rob” wins me over.  Or, if you want to ignore rule three, I’ll even take an “I can see a little bit of your ass crack, Rob. Pull up your pants, you disgusting slob.”

Tips for yoga teachers - Remember my name and I'm yours forever - a drawing by Rob Pollak

6.  Go easy on the Rumi, okay?

Oh wow, you studied at an Ashram in India! And then you memorized all of Rumi’s quotes? You don’t say! That’s amazing!!! Sincerely.
But you know who doesn’t even know what an Ashram is? Guess who never took English 101 in college and doesn’t understand “quotes”? Oh yeah, that’s right! This guy.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up on Rumi altogether. What it means is that you should feel free to explain things to me. Even the stuff that seem painfully obvious. Because when you say a quote and then say, “well that speaks for itself,” what I’m thinking is “No. That doesn’t speak for itself. I hate this stupid class. I don’t get it. Wah wah wah poor me.”
While I’m thinking that, I’m sitting there nodding my head pretending to look like I have the slightest clue what you’re saying. Then I start thinking, “Damn, I bet she smoked a toooonnnnn of a pot in college.  That’s so hot.”

Tips for yoga instructors - keep the lessons simple, especially the rumi. A drawing by Rob Pollak

7.  Come On, Speak English.

For the first three months I practiced yoga, I mistakenly thought every Sanskrit word meant Savasana. For any non-yoga people reading this, Savasana is a made up word that literally translates to “lie on the floor while thinking about everything you were supposed to do today but didn’t.”
Yoga teachers of America, you know how to fix that problem? Just speak English. We all understand English (except the Latvian woman who sometimes comes to that Vinyasa flow class on Wednesdays), so everyone will be on the same page when you say “Do crow.”
An added benefit:  You may avoid that tattoo in Sanskrit. The one you think means, “Peaceful Warrior” but actually means, “judgmental douchebag”  Oops!

Tip number 7 for yoga teachers, sanskrit cartoon by rob pollak

8.  Be Considerate of Your Diverse Class When Giving Instructions.

So what if your class is usually all hot limber women? I’m here now, and I’d like to feel welcome, too! In order to make everyone feel at home, yoga teachers should give instructions that are mindful of the entirety of the class, not its largest component.
So no more “put this block under your bra strap,” or “you should feel a good stretch in your vagina.”

The bra strap is not an okay reference point - Rules for yoga teachers - a drawing by Rob Pollak

9.  Make Class Fun!

This goes without saying, but if I’m having fun, I’m not thinking about how much I hate the teacher for all of the horrible painful things she’s making me do. So make it fun.
One incredibly east way to make yoga more fun is by sharing this post with everyone you’ve ever met.  And then following this blog at or on facebook.

The nine rules for yoga teachers - rule 9 make class fun - a drawing by Rob Pollak

This blog comes courtesy of Rob Pollack:


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