A Weekend of Waves, Warmth, and Warriors

So, the past few weeks have been pretty tough. Bitter without the sweet. Long, cold frozen, windy, sniffly, snowy, slippery, and overall, pretty darn miz. Mother Nature just won’t budge. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the Hamptons year round, but it’s about that time when I can totally understand how others migrate south for some sun, warmth, and beauty. Luckily, I totally got my fix of all of the above this weekend, right in our own backyard thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, three of the best lululemon ambassador yogis on Long Island, and Gurney’s Montauk.

IMG_0274The drive out to Montauk (sans traffic!) was decompressing in itself, but knowing that a weekend of yoga bliss lay ahead was even better. As we unrolled our mats in the Great Room, with the sun shining through the windows and waves crashing down at the beach, I quickly began to defrost and fill with warmth and gratitude.

The first of three classes on Saturday morning was taught by Lana Russo, lululemon ambassador at the Manhasset store. The class was pretty much exactly what I personally seek when signing up for a yoga class: a combination of feel-good stretching, challenging poses to push outside of the comfort zone, and a relaxing meditation. Lana does it all with a seamless flow, a warm heart, and some non-traditional yoga music. We’re talking a yoga-remix of Katy Perry’s “Roar” and such – what’s more fun than that?! Lana makes yoga more accessible to all levels as she breaks down advanced poses into manageable steps. Here’s Lana below, being the yogi rockstar that she is:

FullSizeRender(16)The second class, rounding out Saturday morning’s practice, was taught by Evelyn O’Doherty, local yoga teacher, SUP racer/instructor, lululemon EH ambassador, and friendly face we all know and love (if you don’t know Evelyn, you should.) It’s impossible not to get stronger during Evelyn’s class; her light-hearted style benefits all walks of life and all types of athletes. She has this amazing ability to make anyone smile, even when instructing challenging poses, burning abdominal exercises, and “hanging out” in plank. Evelyn’s smile always reminds us, that no matter what, it’s all going to be A ok. Here’s Evelyn practicing a playful, yet perfect, inversion:

FullSizeRender(17)After two and a half hours of Vinyasa Flow, Saturday afternoon was free for our choosing. I followed the crowd to the Seawater Spa and fell even deeper into ‘vacation mode as I sat by the Seawater Pool in my bikini, robe, and flip-flops. While it took some imagination, Montauk in February quickly became my own personal island retreat. I soaked up the goodness and sailed away into Shavasana…for the third time that day.

Saturday evening wrapped up with a Yin Yoga class taught by Angela Williams-Jones, owner of Flower Power Yoga and lululemon Ambassador at the Walt Whitman store. Lucky for me, Angela’s mat was next to mine during the morning classes, so I knew that whatever came next, there would be laughter and love. Yin is a restorative practice full of therapeutic poses to cleanse, balance, and regulate the body. Poses are held for at least a few minutes to increase circulation, enhance immunity, improve flexibility, maintain focus, and deconstruct emotion. Typically, Vinyasa produces discomfort the longer we’re in the pose; however, I found that Yin was just the opposite. At first, the poses were awkward and uncomfortable, but the longer we settled in, the better it got, especially knowing we were cleansing all of our major organs and systems of the body. Although I was exhausted, mentally and physically, after Saturday’s three classes, I couldn’t wait to get back to the mat the next day for more adventure with these amazing people.

Sunday morning’s class confirmed that Angela is so not your typical yoga teacher and this class was definitely not your typical yoga class. The Yoga Fusion Flow class took us through a series of songs, poses, emotions, stages, transitions, and experiences, some recognizably familiar and others new and different. That’s life, right? Just when we think we’ve mastered it, just when we become accustomed to the journey, just when we’ve settled in or fallen head over heels, we’re reminded that life is an ever-changing journey. Good or bad, things shift, we react, we sway, we readjust, shake it off, and keep going, hopefully with a big smile, a full heart, and possibly our yoga mat. Click here to see a quick clip of Angela’s heart-warming class!

580301_485743748146028_1073937593_nThis weekend was just that for me – a reminder that life is ever-changing, growing, supporting, experiencing, and full of love and opportunity. Not only did Gurney’s provide a rejuvenating escape, but I found that my personal yoga practice grew more in these two days than ever before. Stepping outside of my comfort zone on the mat came easily thanks to the three amazing ambassador yogis supporting us, teaching us, and making it all fun and playful. Thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, yogis Evelyn, Lana, and Angela, and Gurney’s Montauk for providing exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Namaste!

picstitch(26)One Healthy Breakdown: When I drove into Montauk on Saturday, it was winter. When I left on Sunday, spring was in the air. Now that’s magic.

KamaDeva – Practicing Yoga With Heavenly Passion

photo 1

“KamaDeva” is the god of heavenly passion, which perfectly defines the energy at KamaDeva Yoga (Lumber Lane, Easthampton.)  Upon entering the bright, bold, newly-painted studio, an invigorating tone was set and I just knew I was ending my afternoon right.  Evelyn instantly made me feel welcome, at ease, and excited to begin class.

We began by initiating our awareness of the breath, consciously inhaling deeply into the core and exhaling powerfully, as if we were getting rid of any negative energy.  Breathing in the good and letting go of the bad.  Since I consider myself a beginner yogi, and have been for some time now, I SO appreciate the effect of a good yoga breath.  The busy world around me settled a bit as my body relaxed and my mind focused on the moment, the moment of heavenly passion: KamaDeva.

“Learning to breathe consciously,” Evelyn explains, “is greatly beneficial in times of great stress, because if we can learn to breath slowly and deeply, no matter what is going on, we then stand a chance to think clearly, act from the heart, and move forward with confidence.”  This practice was especially pertinent during the week of recent crisis following the Boston Marathon.  Evelyn referred to the traumatic events in Boston and we set our intention for the class to open our souls and extend our hearts, especially in times like these, to be able to stay strong. We performed numerous poses to open our hearts and offer compassion; pushing our chest out and reaching our arms to the sky to accept the love that can overpower and conquer the world’s anger.

Equally important is establishing a foundation and stabilizing a strong connection between our feet and the ground. The combination of intentional breaths and a sturdy foundation, feeling that we are right where we’re supposed to be, gets us through life’s challenges.  We stretched long up to the sky as we kept our feet planted strong, acknowledging the power we have when we’re one with the earth, and each other.  Acknowledging this power and togetherness was a great gift Evelyn gave me that day, one that will last long beyond the time limit of the class.


Following our ‘opening poses,’ we moved to sun salutations, warrior, and hip openers to actively loosen the stress in our bodies and welcome tranquility.  Evelyn seemed to predict exactly where I needed an extra stretch, incorporating a challenge that felt more like an opportunity for growth than a workout.  The class flowed seamlessly, allowing us to settle deeper into each pose. I didn’t even think about time as I was truly focused in each moment and was surprised when it was already time for Savasana.

Evelyn’s calm voice, genuine nature, and consistent smile brought another level of serene optimism to the practice.  We opened our hearts, planted our feet, and welcomed spring with open arms.  I walked out of class that day knowing that I could take on more, somehow the weight on my shoulders did not seem so heavy.  I’d definitely recommend KamaDeva and Evelyn’s classes for your yoga needs. The studio offers classes for all skill levels, interests, and intentions, from “yoga dork/basics” to “rock n roll flow,” which I am definitely looking forward to trying.

One Healthy Breakdown:  Yoga with Evelyn at KamaDeva is nothing but heavenly practice, in a heavenly place, with one goddess of a yogi.