Ryan Perna with Delray Acro Club to perform at Rasa-Lila Fest 2012 Orlando

I have been practicing yoga for over 5 yrs now. My first class I got inspired by watching people float in and out of poses, from that day forward I was hooked. I am currently teaching yoga privates and workshops. Myself and 5 others got inspired after visiting Santa Monica and seeing there "Green" we came back from our trip and started our own group with the inspiration drawn from the "Green" in Santa Monica...

Attendees will be able to come at their leisure to come fly with us on our handstand props, work on partner yoga, take what they have learned from classes and workshops and practice with the Delray Acro Club...we will be working with people one on one and helping and showing the safe way to do invert and practice partner yoga...

Dice Iida-Klein presents Fit Flow Yoga at Rasa-Lila Fest 2012 Orlando

Dice found Yoga in the summer of 2007. Up until finding yoga, Dice enjoyed any physical activity, but never felt fully satisfied from the daily gym routine, running, tennis, spinning, etc. Physical activities are a great way to stay occupied and fit, but Dice had never been able to fully ritualize one activity and make it a part of his daily life. Yoga helped him to understand that there was more than just the physical aspect to feeling good...there was a mental aspect as well. Pushing one’s own boundaries is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Combining the two was where he found his yoga/union/balance.
Dice was originally trained in the Anusara method under teachers like Anthony Benenati, Noah Maze, Tara Judelle and Chris Chavez. Though Anusara based, Dice considers himself a student of the Flow. In his classes he strives to breakdown advanced poses while maintaining the pace and fluidity of a flow class. He considers it an honor to live in Venice, CA where he can take from amazing teachers like Brock and Krista Cahill, Jerome Mercier, Annie Carpenter, Noah Maze and Vinnie Marino. He currently teaches strong inverted flow classes at Black Dog Yoga in Sherman Oaks, Equinox gyms all over Los Angeles and YogaGlo.com, an online-based Yoga company where classes and tutorials are filmed weekly for online subscribers all around the world to view.

Steve Rubin will present "A candid discussion of Yoga (modern & ancient)" at Rasa-Lila Fest 2012 Orlando

Steve Rubin’s first step on the path of yoga began in 2001, like many 22 year old Americans, in the gym, starting with physical body and asana (posture) practice, attending classes regularly exploring a variety of approaches. After some time exploring and learning to work with the breath, he was drawn to spend most of his effort learning through the Ashtanga Vinyasa method. Jumping right in (or through) with both feet, his passionate interest, study, lifestyle changes, and steady growth in yoga has literally taken him all over the world (India, Thailand, Israel, Suriname, and throughout the US) in both study and then later teaching capacities.

His main teacher Paul Dallaghan, founder of www.yoga-thailand.com, he met in 2006 on his first of 5 trips to Asia totaling 20 months of focused study and self discovery. Steve utilized the vast majority of those months under Paul’s direct guidance, and with Paul’s two main teachers. The late Sri K Pattabhi Jois (and grandson Sharath) in Mysore India studying Ashtanga Vinyasa at the source, and with Sri O P Tiwari, head of the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in Lonavala India, one of the most recognized and accomplished masters of classical yoga, Pranayama, its practice and meaning.

Along with continuing to build his relationship with and studyunder Paul and Tiwariji, he’s spent significant time with a variety of senior certified Ashtanga teachers, participated in a vast amount of workshops with well known teachers of varying approaches, had transformative experience living on acouple ashrams in India for several months, studies philosophy, Sanskrit, human anatomy andthe human condition. He’s been invited by his teachers and brought to their institutes to offering teachings on multiple occasions and has lectured at large scale international yoga conferences in India.

Of far greater importance than this written resume, is that Steve maintains a sincere and dedicated daily yoga practice of pranayam, asana, and meditation as given by his teachers, who'm he continues to spend time with a couple times a year. He feels incredibly blessed and grateful to be able to share as he has the good fortune to learn under close guidance of his teacher, and continues his rewarding effort in this path and goal which is yoga. 

For the Love of Yoga: Laughter Yoga Orlando and PositiveLY Pat

Always wondered about laughter yoga, but was too afraid to laugh, I mean ask?  Here's the breakdown with Rasa-Lila Fest Orlando presenter and sponsor, PositiveLy Pat, owner of Laughter Yoga Orlando.

EW:  Are you the owner of Laughter Yoga Orlando?

PP:  Yes, I am Laughter Yoga Orlando’s owner. I am also its founder and, as my name PositiveLY Pat suggests, its principal positivitist and funraiser.

EW: What was your first experience with yoga?

PP:   I first experienced yoga in 1999 at Women’s Health and Fitness Club, where I was employed at the time as the manager of personal training services. This was back in the day when step aerobics and kickboxing classes dominated the group exercise scene, Pilates was the next big thing, and yoga had yet to begin its meteoric rise in popularity in the United States.

     At the time, the club was trying to expand its menu of group exercise options, and I was looking for an alternative to stretching on my own to improve my flexibility. So I decided to give the new yoga class on the schedule a try. This first taste of yoga was an introductory class taught by a gentle woman from India named Bina. I easily settled into Bina’s unhurried progression of beginners’ poses and breathing exercises, and by the session’s conclusion, I felt relaxed and refreshed.


EW: What was your first experience with Laughter Yoga?

PP:  Laughter Yoga entered my life in early 2009, during a period when I seriously needed something to laugh about. I had spent the previous year struggling to keep it all together in the midst of a perfect storm of chronic pain, chaotic sleep, grief from losing my dad, stress from juggling more personal and professional duties than time allowed, and—on top of it all—a ride on the rollercoaster of shifting mid-life hormones. With each passing month, I found myself feeling more overwhelmed, dispirited, and depleted. By year’s end, it had become nearly impossible for me to even imagine how it must feel to be happy.

     In November 2008, an article on Laughter Yoga appeared in FitnessMatters, a publication that I received as a fitness professional certified through the American Council on Exercise. I skimmed through the piece and thought, “Laughter exercises? They’ve got to be kidding! Re-learn how to laugh by laughing? Ridiculous! Laugh for no reason? This must be a joke!” As a seriously serious grant writer and former scientist, I quickly dismissed Laughter Yoga as bunk. But something intangible urged me to investigate it.

     So I did. And while I had approached my first Laughter Yoga session with the notion that I badly needed to find something to laugh about, I soon found myself laughing about nothing. Not only did I laugh, I acted—and felt—as if I didn’t have a care in the world: I experienced JOY! The “laughter meditation” at the end of the session summoned even more laughter, and also an unexpected healing cascade of tears. It was a powerful release, a watershed that soothed my physical and emotional pain and, for the first time in a long while, gave me HOPE. But best of all, it connected me with what I now know to be my destiny: bringing laughter, joy, and hope into each life that I touch with Laughter Yoga. For you see, my first home was on a street named Jolly Way.

EW:  What branch of yoga does laughter Yoga draw from?

PP:   Laughter Yoga derives its basis as a form of yoga from Pranayama, the fourth limb of yoga. Drawing from their experience as yoga practitioners, Dr. Kataria and his wife, Madhuri, recognized that laughter shares some common elements with the breathing exercises of pranayama: Both engage the diaphragm and abdominal muscles; and both make it possible to breathe more deeply and to extend exhalation. This realization led Dr. Kataria to blend “laughter exercises,” which he created, with deep breathing exercises. He named the new technique “Laughter Yoga” because of its use of laughter and pranayama to train the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Although Laughter Yoga does not involve traditional yoga poses—rather, laughing and deep breathing—the practice does include some laughter exercises that are inspired by yoga poses, for example, Lion Laughter.

EW: When did you start teaching Laughter Yoga?

PP:  It’s hard for me to believe it’s been nearly three years since I began spreading laughter. How time flies when you’re having fun! I started laughing in January 2009, and a short five months later, I earned my certification as a Laughter Yoga leader from Dr. Kataria’s School of Laughter Yoga. In October 2009, I led my first Laughter Yoga session, establishing what is today the Southwest Orlando CommuniTeeHee Laughter Club.

     Since then, I’ve traveled across Central Florida, working with diverse groups to share laughter and its benefits, be they in the realm of health and wellness, stress reduction, employee engagement, learning, or just plain fun. I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of sharing Laughter Yoga with so many wonderful people, among them, yoga teachers and their students, medical professionals, business leaders, cancer survivors, brain and spinal cord injury patients, public servants, school and church groups, seniors, library patrons, and the members of my weekly laughter clubs. Sharing Laughter Yoga with my Central Florida neighbors has made these past three years the most rewarding of my entire life.


EW:  How did your business come into fruition?

PP: On that January day in 2009—the day I started laughing for no reason—everything began to change for me.

     Imagine how threatening the public expression of spontaneous silliness might be to someone whose childhood experience had taught her to be serious and reticent, to carefully obey every rule, and to shrink from anything that might trigger embarrassment or failure. But Laughter Yoga had quite the opposite effect on me: It provided a safe space for me to lighten up and venture outside of my box; to play unabashedly and recapture a long-lost sense of childlike abandon; to overcome self-defeating resistance to the new and unknown—and to take formerly unthinkable risks.

    At age 53, I became a first-time entrepreneur, something I’d never dared to even contemplate before Laughter Yoga entered my life. Although I was no stranger to reinventing my career when circumstances dictated, I had always sought more conventional and serious-minded employment in my chosen field of biology—working first as a biotech researcher in the laboratory, then personal trainer at Women’s Health and Fitness, then grant writer at Florida Hospital. But laughter was a change-agent of a different color, propelling me in June 2010 to found Laughter Yoga Orlando.

    Today, laughter, silliness, and play are paving the way to a bolder, more fulfilling professional life for me. Because I take laughter and its benefits so seriously, I’m committed to my specialty as Central Florida’s authority on laughter for wellness. As such, I’m an active member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) and among the very first students to earn graduate college credit in the AATH Humor Academy, a new program of study exploring theory, application, and research in humor and laughter. I’m also Central Florida’s only laughter life coach, certified through The Levity Institute.

    But spreading laughter, joy, and hope is really so much bigger than my personal passion, specialty, or life’s work. It’s a calling that I know deep in my heart was set in motion from the moment of my birth. For something as simple as laughter, the effects can be profound. This, I know, on a deeply personal level. For the past four years, Laughter Yoga has been a healing and transformative force in my world—every bit the “life-changing experience” portrayed by its creator, Dr. Madan Kataria. And that is how my dedication to sharing the joy, healing energy, and power of laughter with others came to be.


EW: Tell me a little about your business.

PP:  I founded Laughter Yoga Orlando with the vision of spreading laughter and its health and wellness benefits far and wide. My mission is to enrich the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of as many people as possible with Laughter Yoga, so outreach is central to the services I offer.

    Rather than asking my customers to come to me, I go to them. I travel throughout Central Florida and beyond, bringing a wide range of Laughter Yoga services to groups, businesses, events, meetings, conferences, and individuals. I go wherever I’m called to teach or speak, be it a yoga studio, healthcare facility, office, community event, or convention. Just name the place—I’ll be there, spreading smiles and laughter! In traveling, I’m able to reach more people over a broader geographic area with Laughter Yoga and its many benefits than if I were to offer my services in any one locale. I love it, too, that after I’ve led an onsite Laughter Yoga session,    there’s a positive vibe that remains in the space long after I’ve left.

    My services include all-purpose Laughter Yoga classes, as well as specialized Laughter Yoga programs for specific audiences, such as introductory playshops for experienced and aspiring yoga teachers; and onsite workplace wellness, stress reduction, team building, and employee engagement programs for businesses. I also offer Laughter Yoga presentations, icebreakers, and energizers for meetings, conferences, conventions, and special events. And I train and certify Laughter Yoga leaders (CLYL) on a regular basis. As a laughter life coach specializing in wellness, I integrate coaching principles with Laughter Yoga exercises to help my clients envision what they want, break through barriers, and create new possibilities for themselves.

    On Mondays, I lead two absitively posolutley free communiTeeHee laughter clubs—one in my neighborhood recreation center in Dr. Phillips, the other in the City of Orlando’s Beardall Senior Center—so I get to start each week by giving something back to my Central Florida neighbors. This year, I’ve also enjoyed the singular opportunity of starting a third laughter club (at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Winter Park) in conjunction with one of the very first programmatic grants ever awarded for Laughter Yoga.

 Now, I’ll ask you, how many people get to go to work to laugh? Life is FUNderful!

EW:. Can one be certified in Laughter Yoga by you?

PP:   Yes, in April 2010, I trained with Laughter Yoga’s creator, Dr. Madan Kataria, to earn my certification as a Laughter Yoga teacher. As such, I’m authorized through Laughter Yoga International to train and certify new Laughter Yoga leaders. More recently, I enjoyed the unparalleled experience of assisting Dr. Kataria with three Laughter Yoga teacher certification programs here in Orlando, as well as co-leading three Laughter Yoga leader certification programs with two of Dr. Kataria’s most senior Laughter Yoga teachers. And just last month, I trained and certified a staff member of Nemours Children’s Hospital, making it possible for the hospital to launch Laughter Yoga as a support service for its patients and their families when their new facility opens in Orlando in October 2012.

     I’m delighted to offer the Laughter Yoga leader certification program on a regular basis throughout the year. This two-day experiential learning program prepares participants to comfortably lead groups in Laughter Yoga exercises, laughter meditation, and guided relaxation. Whether you’re a yoga or fitness practitioner; holistic therapist or healer; healthcare professional; mental health counselor or therapist; eldercare worker; management professional; life coach; or someone who just wants to add more laughter to life, you can benefit from participating in this reasonably priced program.

 EW:  Why did you decide to get involved with Rasa Lila Fest?

PP:     My involvement with Rasa-Lila Fest began in June of last year when my phone rang and a lovely yogini by the name of Lee Clise introduced herself. As an ambassador of the 2011 Central Florida Rasa-Lila Fest, Lee had called to inform me of the event and ask if I would consider becoming one of its sponsors. After chatting with Lee for a matter of only minutes, I knew that I wanted to join the Rasa-Lila Fest yoga and wellness community, so I said yes to a sponsorship of the inaugural Orlando festival.

     Last September, I had a FUNtastic time meeting and sharing laughter with Lee, Nathan, and the many festival goers who stopped by my booth in the vendor community. Then, earlier this year, I had the privilege and great joy of making more new laughter friends while teaching Laughter Yoga at the 2012 Rasa-Lila Fest in Tampa Bay. I’m incredibly excited and grateful to be involved in this year’s festival in Orlando, as both a sponsor and presenter of Laughter Yoga. I can hardly wait to laugh with everyone in October!

EW:   What will you be presenting at the Festival?

PP:    At 2012 Rasa-Lila Fest Orlando, it’ll be my great pleasure to present Laughter Yoga: Deepen Your Inner Joy by Laughing for No Reason! During this hour-long playshop, we’ll exercise our laughter muscles, breathe deeply, and play our way to JOY! We’ll explore how it’s possible to laugh for no reason—even if we’re not in a good mood, even if we’re not happy—to live more JOY-FULL-y, regardless of our present circumstances.

     For those new to Laughter Yoga, laughing purely for the sake of laughing may seem ridiculous. The impact, however, even after a single Laughter Yoga session, can be remarkable. From personal experience, I know Laughter Yoga to be a powerful tool for coping with pain, lifting mood, cultivating a new and positive outlook, and reprogramming the body’s automatic reaction to stress. It’s also a healthy way of releasing internal pressure and pent-up emotions. And it’s a great outlet for adults (and children) to “let their hair down” and be just plain silly, to create, to explore—to play—something many of us have either sidelined or even forgotten how to do. Seriously, folks, it’s OK to take a break from seriosity!

     Beyond even all of that, perhaps the greatest application of Laughter Yoga is as a tool for helping each of us to find JOY within ourselves. With this tool, we can make the most of our intrinsic potential to be joyful, even as we face life’s challenges. When we choose to act happy, we can actually change our biology to create our own happiness. As it turns out, happiness is more than a feeling: It’s a significant factor in our health, wellbeing, and quality of life. In today’s climate of negativity and fear, to have the ability to upshift our mood, perspective, behavior, and outlook within a matter of minutes through Laughter Yoga is truly powerful. And that is not a joke.

EW:  Are there any special events you would like our Fans to know about?

PP:     Several upcoming events, including Laughter Yoga leader certification programs and focused workshops on reducing stress (holiday, and otherwise), are in the planning stages now. Stay tuned and visit www.LaughterYogaOrlando.com frequently for details and updates.

EW: Please include anything else you would like our fans to know about Laughter Yoga Orlando and I would be happy to include it.

PP:     Wait … here’s another reason why Laughter Yoga, “the world’s happiest workout,” suits me to a T (and, for that matter, a Tee-Hee!). As a certified fitness professional since 1994, I see Laughter Yoga as a bona fide complement to more conventional modes of staying in good physical (and mental) shape. It’s a form of aerobic group exercise that is safe, easy, and adaptable for a wide range of fitness levels. It doesn’t require any equipment, and most of all, it’s FUN.

     In addition to my Laughter Yoga certifications, my fitness credentials include certifications as a Group Exercise Instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA); Personal Fitness Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE); and Nutrition Management Consultant through the American Academy of Sports Dieticians and Nutritionists (AASDN). I’m also licensed to teach Zumba® at the basic and gold (active older adults, beginners, and other special populations) levels. How laughable is all of this when you consider that I spent high school dreading gym class?!

     Oh, and one more thing: I admit it; I’m a major science nerd who is insatiably curious, much like my cat, August. This curiosity with all things biological led me to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and enjoy professional success as a researcher in several biotech labs and grant writer at Florida Hospital. I dig ridiculously long words like gastrocnemius, gluconeogenesis, and psychoneuroimmunology, and I’ve generated a number of publications in scientific journals and large federal grant awards. I’m also seriously addicted to watching The Big Bang Theory. Bazinga!

     All kidding aside, my BIG intention is to synergize all of my experience and talents—as fitness professional, biologist, researcher, and writer—with my passion for Laughter Yoga into one day contributing to the evidence base for laughter’s health benefits and its value as an integrative therapy. With the emergence of Orlando’s new Medical City, I’m imagining enormous possibilities for clinical research—even a grant from the National Institutes of Health—to provide empirical evidence supporting the personal experience of people from around the world: Laughter Yoga is good medicine.

EW: Namaste!






     Erin Wheeler is a mother, writer, and yoga teacher in Tampa, Florida.  Her weekly column, The Balanced Life, covers yoga postures, yoga happenings & events, around Tampa Bay.  Her company Lucky Cat Yoga brings the art of yoga to anyone, anytime, at any place!  “Like” Lucky Cat Yoga on Facebook and see her teaching schedule under “About” or Follow her on twitter @luckycatyoga.






Andrey Surovikin will present Acro Partner Yoga at Rasa-Lila Fest 2012 Orlando October 5-7

Andrey (spiritual name Atman) has been practicing yoga for over 4 years. He received his teaching certification in Hatha/Vinyasa in June of 2010 from the Yoga Energy Studio. Also received his ADVANCED teachers certification in Sampoorna Yoga in July of 2011 from YOGI HARI's ASHRAM. He's registered with Yoga Alliance - 500 RYT.

Andre has trained with some of the best yoga instructors such as Maria KaliMa (specializing in Functional Yoga Therapy), SHRI YOGI HARI (specializing in sampoorna yoga), Sylvie Binga (Ayurveda and Yoga), Tim Ganley (Yoga & strength/movement fitness), Jessie Goldberg and Eugene Poku (ACRO Yoga), Greg Nardi (Ashtanga yoga) and others. You may find some of his classes to be challenging, but healing & relaxing at the same time.

Andre has attended 3 VIPASSANA meditation courses and enjoys teaching and practicing this technique. 1st course - GA (Aug. 17th-28th, 2011), 2nd Vipassana meditation course in MA (Oct. 26th-Nov. 6th, 2011) & 3rd - GA (Mar. 21st-April 1st, 2012). About to take Satipatthana Sutta Vipassana course, held at the Southeast Vipassana Center, Jesup, Ga from 9/5/2012 to 9/14/2012.

Andre strongly believes in healing power of Yoga & Meditation. He believes that a key to liberation is a consistent daily practice of asanas and meditation - Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom). “Meditation is finding the medicine for the sickness we have created by ourselves.” - Godwin Samararatne

If you have a partner, great, otherwise NO need to bring a partner, you will have one and sometimes we pair in groups of 3 or 4! Beginners welcome!

AcroYoga blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai bodyworks, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics. These three ancient lineages form this practice that cultivates trust, connection and playfulness. There are 6 main elements that make up the practice: asana, partner flow, Thai bodyworks, therapeutic flying, inversions & spotting, and partner acrobatics. Highest aim is to bring individuals into a state of union with themselves, with each other, and with the divine. From this place of mutual support the true self can be realized, celebrated and shared for the benefit of all.

Partner flow, Thai bodyworks, therapeutic flying, inversions & spotting, and partner acrobatics

Lymphatic Drainage and Facial Massage can Help Minimize Length of Sinus Infections and Combat Allergies

Lymphatic Drainage and Facial Massage can Help Sinus Infections and Allergies

The lymphatic system is a complex network of ducts and vessels that transfer white blood cells and antibodies to your organs and tissues. These cells and antibodies arm your immune system and help your body combat infections. Unlike the circulatory system, which uses the heart to pump blood to vital organs and tissues, the lymph system must rely on hundreds of muscular units, your body movements, and water intake to move the lymph through the vessels. Normal lymph movement in the body can be reduced by stress, fatigue, inactivity, cold temperatures, infection, chemical or food additives, even one's age and heredity.

This is where lymphatic drainage massage comes into play. It's basically a type of holistic therapy that gives your lymphatic system a "tune up." By manually stimulating the increased flow of lymphatic fluid, it can reinvigorate your immune system and sweep out harmful toxins.

Using very light rhythmic massage to increase circulation and lymphatic flow, lymphatic drainage therapy concentrates on specific lymph nodes under the jaw line.

The main lymph nodes for facelift massage are pea size and under the mandible. During a face massage, muscles are "pre-warmed" and the lymph nodes stimulated to open and enhance circulatory and lymphatic flow. A skilled therapist will use his or her hands to feel the body's lymphatic rhythm, direction, depth, and quality. This helps the therapist assess the overall lymphatic circulation and the best way to drain stagnant fluids.

Lymphatic drainage massage can be helpful in addressing a wide range of conditions. It can reduce fatigue, menstrual cramps, cellulite and water retention, even sinusitis and hayfever allergies. When one suffers from hayfever, the body's immune system goes into high gear as it over reacts to pollen, mold spores or other foreign body invaders. The result is irritation and inflammation of the sinuses. Lymphatic drainage massage through sinus tapping can relieve these hayfever symptoms.

For those suffering from sinus infections, Lymphatic drainage procedures can remove much of this congestive material from around the facial area. It allows the body's own healing system to do what it is intended to do.

What of the many antibiotics and topical nasal steroids on the market? Do they offer relief from sinusitis?

A four-year year randomized non-pharmaceutically funded double-blind, placebo-controlled trial* conducted in 2007 revealed some interesting conclusions. They concluded that 90 percent of the antibiotics and topical nasal spray steroids prescriptions written by doctors for sinusitis sufferers in the study showed no clinically useful effect. Studies also revealed that three meta-analyses have found no evidence for superior effectiveness of any particular class of antibiotics in acute sinusitis over any other, making it unlikely that a different antibiotic would have produced different results. Finally, the use of antibiotics or topical steroids- used alone or in combination - was ineffective as a treatment for acute sinusitis in the primary care setting.

Lymphatic drainage massage should only be used on the advice of a medical doctor and is not intended as a substitute for medical care or as a therapy to cure or prevent diseases.

*Journal of American Medical Association Vol.298 No.21, December 5, 2007 :2487-2496

~ Melissa Gallagher, Certified Lymphatic Drainage Therapyist and Founder of Healthy Being Wellness Center in St. Petersburg, FL .

Visit our website for more information out Lymphatic Drainage or Facial Massage.

Pain in the Koshas

Wound tighter than a drum. Energy bound up in my body. Ideas stuck in my head. Pain in the koshas. That's what life was like before I began the liberating practice of yoga. Without question, I have been on one whirlwind of a journey to liberate the Universal energy that flows through me. The process of letting go (or surrender) has been an interesting one, filled with surprises and delights along the way. But relieving the pain in my koshas wasn't all sparkles and ponies.

The healing or transformation process requires great courage and strength--which I learned to develop on my mat. Prior to the practice of yoga, I relied on addictions to work, money, food, sex/relationships, and alcohol to get through life. By getting on my mat every day, I developed "what it takes" to live fully in reality. Which, by the way, is something we create. But that's a subject for another day.

This process also requires incredible flexibility--in body and, more importantly, mind. Before I began practicing this yoga, I was rigid in my thinking and my physiology. I fell prey to the illusion of rules as safety, and I didn't have much ability to be fluid and let life roll. My energy was so stifled that I seriously felt like I was locked up all the time, even though I was walking freely through the world. I took to yoga immediately, and the longer I continue to practice, the more free my mind and experience become. It's pretty amazing to walk fluidly through the world, allow life to be what it is, and enjoy the natural rhythm of myself and the world around me.

The balance between these two - strength and flexibility - is what I was told I would cultivate through my practice. Indeed, the longer I stay with the mat, the stronger and more flexible I become in every area of my life. Without the inspiring gift of pain in my koshas, I wouldn't have sought out yoga, and I wouldn't be experiencing a new and wonderful reality.

Suffice it to say, daily practice helped me develop the mental-emotional-physical-spiritual strength it takes to be a more fully present and more loving being. Today I show up for life instead of shrinking away from it.

And the journey continues, now with more joy than ever!

Rasa-Lila Fest Interview with Yoga Teacher Colleen Rose

RLF:  Where do you teach yoga?

CR:  Yoga 360 Studio and Spa

RLF:  What type of yoga do you specialize in?

CR:  Inner Power Yoga


RLF:  What does yoga mean to you?

CR:  Yoga takes me to the truth of who I am. It helps me delve and unveil the reason why "this soul dropped into this vessel." As a teacher, yoga to me is pure service. I am here to learn and to share without judgement. As a student, I am here to learn and share without judgement.


RLF:  How long have you been teaching yoga?

CR:  Over 10 years.


RLF:  What made you interested in yoga?

CR:  AS a third generation yoga teacher, I vaguely grew up around yoga. My Grandmother a Hatha Teacher and My Godfather and Uncle as well as his wife are Kundalini Teachers. I was always intrigued by "yogis." Their sense of peace, calm. I did not know what it was but I new I need and wanted some of it. I came for the peace... I stayed for the love.


RLF:  What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?

CR:  As third generation yoga teacher, I approach my professional endeavors with the same yogic principles I emphasizes with my students and in my own life: love, compassion and nurturance of self and others, reverence and responsibility for the planet, and an acknowledgment that we are all connected. With love and laughter, I works toward finding a comfortable balance in of my classes, challenging students to move toward positive change in all aspects of their lives. I emphasizes the alignment principles of Hatha Yoga, and the inner authenticity of Inner Power Yoga, while also incorporating meditation, affirmation and intention to create an inner journey towards healing, self-awareness, acceptance and empowerment.

RLF:  What is the greatest challenge you have overcome because of yoga?

CR:  Dyslexia. I get up in front of students, many of whom despite being all grown up, are the same type of kids I was afraid to read in front of for all those years. Sometimes I say raise your right arm when I mean left, and sometimes I say look to the left when I mean right. Occasionally, I still see a student in the room who rolls her eyes when I get it wrong and all those feeling come rushing back, but I keep going. I even call myself the Dyslexic Yoga teacher. Not because it’s funny (although it gets laughs), but because it’s true and I’ve accepted it. I recently named the walls of my yoga studio Grace, Love and Peace. Initially it was just one more way I had chosen to make my dyslexic life easier; knowing right, left, front and back of the studio. But it has now become a constant reminder that as I teach from that place of a little girl who read jumbled words that I must continue to treat myself with peace and love and grace.


RLF:  What top three qualities should someone look for in a yoga instructor and studio?

CR:  Compassion, Presence and Non judgement.


RLF:  What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?

CR:  If you can breath you can do yoga. Come, we will start this journey together.


Colleen Rose
Email *  colleen@yoga-360.com

Phone Number *  (815) 806-0360
Website  http://www.ColleenRoseYogalife.com

For the Love of Yoga: Paddle Board Safety




     On April 28, Jeffrey Comer, 50, of Tampa, parked his car at Fort DeSoto beach, and went out for a day of Paddle Boarding.  Later that evening, his paddle board was found  at the North Entrance of the Manatee River, other than that,  no trace of Comer. The paddleboard was given to Holmes Beach Police Department where Comer’s wallet, car keys, and cell phone were found in his PFD, personal flotation device, that was still attached to his board.

        “Using the information from the wallet, Tampa Police Department conducted a welfare check at Comer's residence and didn’t find him During the 55-hour search, rescue personnel saturated an area more than 560 square miles, an area nearly the size of Pinellas County”, says the USCC web-site.

          Rasa Lila Fest Sponsor, Jessica Cichra, of Wave of Wellness in Orlando, FL shared with me her views on Stand Up Paddle Boarding safety,  “SUPing is an amazing & fulfilling sport that Wave of Wellness wants to share with everyone...but like any other sport, it has it's risks.  We encourage you all to practice safety, no matter how experienced you are!”

     Here are Cichras' top 5 saftey tips:

     1. Research the area you will be paddling.  Look online at local condition & weather reports for tides, currents, & weather forecast.  Talk to locals, they can help you time your paddle with the tides & direct you so you flow with currents.  If you're paddling out & back, always start against the wind & current.  Paddle along the shore so you have a close refuge if the wind changes direction or the weather flares up or if you just need a break.   If you encounter a heavy gust of wind, paddle from your knees (so you are less of a "sail"), choking up on your paddle, with your bottom hand close to the water (giving you a stronger, more efficient power stroke). 

     2. Paddle with a friend.  If your buddy isn't available, be sure to tell someone your planned route & what time to you expect to return.  Bring a fully charged smartphone with your GPS locater turned on & keep it inside a pack (like a hydration pack or inflatable pfd) attached to your person.  There are plenty of waterproof cases available.  This way you can be tracked if you're not responding, or of course, you can call for help!

     3. WEAR a hydration pack & make sure it contains enough water for the duration of your paddle.  You will not only avoid dehydration & it's nasty symptoms, but you will have a happy mind & body & a more enjoyable, longer lasting paddle!

    4. WEAR a pdf with an attached whistle.  There are inflatable pdf's that can be worn around the waist.  They are small & light weight & won't get in the way of your paddle stroke.  If not, at least tether to your board with a leash.  Your board is a flotation device, but won't do you any good if it gets swept away from you.  If you're paddling at night, you must have a light for distress signals & proper navigation lights.  Wear bright clothing...don't count on boaters having the best eye sight.

     5. Work your way up to paddling long distances.  If you were new to running, you wouldn't throw down 6 miles on your first session.  SUPing can be leisurely, but it can also be intense, especially in (sometimes unexpected) high winds or against current.  It's better to start with shorter duration paddles & build your endurance to tackle longer ones.  If you're tired, head to shore to take a break.  You can also sit down or paddle from a kneeling position to rest.  Bring protein-rich snacks to refuel your exerted body.



     Another Rasa Lila Fest sponsor, Tim Ganley, of Yoga Energy Studio, in St. Pete,  offers up some more safety tools to use when Paddle boarding.  Ganely reminds us,  “ There are numerous things that you can do to make your time on the water safer but these are the ten obvious things that should always be in place first.”

     Some of Ganleys' tips may overlap Cichras', but honestly, after the loss of Comer, we all need to have these rules deeply engrained into our  mind, bodies, and souls.

     Ganleys' top 10 tips:

     1. Wear your life jacket. Your board floats on its own, it does not need a life jacket attached to it. It is federal law that any one outside the surf zone must have a life jacket and whistle with them.

     2. Wear a proper (for stand up paddling) leash with a quick release mechanism that attaches you to your board.

     3. If a safety issue does occur stay with you board. It is easier to see a board floating on the water than a person. (If it is more dangerous to stay with your board than not to stay with your board, then, please, do not stay with your board.)

     4. Have a float plan in place with a responsible adult. Some one should always know where you are going and what time you are supposed to be back. They should also know what to do if you do not return.

      5. Know your waters. Whether you are paddling on the ocean, on a river or on a lake you need to know if there are any safety risks related to the area.

     6. Know your weather. There is no bad weather, there is wrong gear. And sometimes the paddle board is the wrong gear. There are just certain times that you should not be going out.

     7. Do your hard paddle first. Paddle out into the wind or into the current first when you have the strength and energy. That way you can rest more on the way back in.

     8. Wear your cell phone in a dry bag that is attached to you.

     9. Take a safety class by qualified instructors.

    10. Always paddle with a pal. Try to find a stand up paddle club in your area. If there isn't one, create one!


       We at Rasa Lila Fest dedicate this blog to Jeffrey Comer and his family and friends. They all are in our hearts and minds.  I hope his story stays with you during your next trip out on the water, it might save your life.

     If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Comer, you are asked to contact the Coast Guard at 727-824-7506.


Please be safe, have fun, and enjoy every day for each one is a gift.


For the Love of Yoga: Bella Prana's New Studio Space is Open!



      This weekend the very excited highly anticipated grand opening of Roni Sloman’s new studio space for Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation.  The re-opening party on will be Friday April 27th from 7-9 pm. The new studio is located at 1000 Kennedy Blvd. on the corner of Kennedy and Edison. It is one block east of the current Lotus Room and is on the south side of the street. Yes I can tempt you with food and drinks at the party, but if you are like me, your get to SEE the new space!



If you can’t make it Friday night, here’s a little For the Love of Yoga sneak Peak:

      The new space will offer 2 studio spaces with tons of natural light. Bella will be the only yoga studio in Tampa with sprung floors! This means that there is foam blocks 1.5 inches tall set about 6 inches apart underneath the floor. When you jump or place your weight, the floor will have give in it to absorb and help to protect your joints, prevent injuries, and reduce aggravation of past injuries. Unlike The Lotus Room, Bella will have ample parking; I mean there are PLENTY of spaces!! 

     The studio will be offering some new classes that include Hot and Warm Flows, and you can REALLY let the sweat flow without worry because the new space will have SHOWERS! YES, showers and changing rooms for men and women!  Not only did they add the hot and warm classes, but they are offerring a mixture of  Kids yoga! From babies to tweens, there is something for every age throughout the week.

     You will be delighted by not only the selection of new classes, but the plethora of Tampa Bay teaching talent under one roof.  I am sure one of your favorite Lotus Room or  Bella Prana teacher has a class on the new 50 plus class schedule offered thoughout the week. 

     Pricing is a bit different.  Bella drop-in rate of $13 will go to $15, but packages will continue to be available allowing you to pay as low as $9.90 per class, and Bella students will now be able to purchase more package deals!

Grand Opening Weekend Special: Brand new students can enjoy One Month Unlimited for $39.00! (Students who practiced at either at The Lotus Room or Bella Prana do not qualify)

1 Year Unlimited Yoga on Sale our Grand Opening Month for $1,000.00!

Bella Prana will be honoring non-expired Lotus Room packages until June 1st.

For this weekend only Bella Prana has created a special schedule for Saturday and Sunday, see it below.  Then the regular schedule begins Monday morning the 30th, 2012.

Saturday April 28th 

9:00am - 10:30am           Flow Level 2 DJ Class Chay Prieto
9:30am - 10:45am           Shelly Yoga
12:00pm - 2:00pm          Core Workshop w/ Stephen Kaleda
11:15am - 12:30pm         Hatha with Carla Jimenez 
1:00pm - 2:15pm            Power with Eric Wheeler
2:30pm - 3:45pm            Hot Flow 1 Tina Tidwell
2:30pm - 4:00pm            Flow Level 2 with Ashley Halley
4:30pm - 5:45pm            Stress Relief Yoga with Dina Georgoulis
4:15pm - 5:30pm            Heart Openers with Megan Weathers
6:00pm - 7:15pm            Donation All Levels Class with Shari Feldman

Sunday April 29th  

10:00am - 11:30am         Flow Level 2  Chay Prieto
9:30am - 11:30am           Foundational Meditation Class
12:30pm - 2:30pm          Power Level 2/3 with Stephen Bickle
12:00pm - 1:15pm          Donation Crystal Bowl Meditation
2:00pm - 3:00pm            Free Kids Yoga - All Ages
3:15pm - 4:30pm            Gentle with Karen Kessel
3:00pm - 4:30pm            Warm Flow 1 with Erin Wheeler
5:00pm - 6:30pm            Hot Flow 2 with Stephen Kaleda
4:45pm - 5:45pm            Donation Yoga Nidra with Laraine O’Neill
6:00pm - 7:15pm            Donation All Levels Class with Shari Feldman

Studio's Pricing Below:

Single Drop-In Class $15.00
5 Class Package  $58.00 ($11.60 per class)
10 Class Package $108.00 ($10.80 per class)
20 Class Package $198.00 ($9.90 per class)
1 Month Unlimited Yoga   $150.00
3 Month Unlimited Yoga   $400.00
6 Month Uniimited Yoga   $680.00
1 Year Unlimited Yoga  $1200.00

I am excited about the new Bella Prana and I hope you are too, see you on the mat!






Erin Wheeler is a mother, writer, and yoga teacher in Tampa, Florida.  Her weekly column, The Balanced Life, covers yoga postures, yoga happenings & events, around Tampa Bay.  Her company Lucky Cat Yoga brings the art of yoga to anyone, anytime, at any place!  “Like” Lucky Cat Yoga on Facebook and see her teaching schedule.  Follow her  @luckycatyoga on twitter.




"Whoever gossips to you will gossip of you."

- Spanish Proverb


You know the type - there's a gossip in everyone's life.  It may be a friend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger.  Regardless, it is the person who shares with you any amount of information about another, either about what they have accomplished, or more often, what they have not.

Why does a gossip perform his or her service so readily?  Self-aggrandizement is often the culprit.  Knowing such valuable information about another as to be able to share it, reasons the gossip, reflects favorably on the provider of such knowledge.  In fact, however, gossiping is nothing more than the act of judging others.

When a friend passes judgment on another, might it be that, in your absence, they also pass judgment on you?  In most cases that is true.  Thus, one measure of another's character might be the presence or absence of such a tendency.

Steven Covey (of "Seven Habits..." fame) offers a solution when he says, "If you do not judge others, they will not judge you."  In other words, if you are of such character as to never discuss the merits or actions of others, unless they are favorable, it is highly likely that others will reciprocate in kind.  If someone makes a negative comment about another, Covey suggests that your reply might be, "That's interesting.  He has always spoken very highly of YOU."

Many wise men, in many languages, over many centuries, have repeated and paraphrased the maxim "Judge not, that ye be not judged."  It's easy to neutralize the gossip's sting by practicing such clear advice!


For the Love of Yoga: Moses Love and I Love Yoga Apparel

     Teacher, student, Yogi, Author, and Clothing entrepreneur Moses Love, of the I Love Yoga apparel line, will be presenting his Organic Inspirational Vinyasa Flow class for tonights sold out opening event at Rasa-Lila Fest.  I had the opportunity to speak with Moses this week and get to know him a little and found inspiration by the story of another human’s art. 

     Yoga found Moses when he was a small child, “I would see my grandmother practicing Yoga, she practiced till she was 90. I remember watching her at 7 or 8 years old, it really imprinted into me, an energy field of a peace, curiosity, a wonder seeing her being so graceful and intentional and moving in her body.”   Love found meditation at the age of 18 and cultivated a practice of pranayama and philosophical studies.  Around 28 or 29 Love began “the study of asana.” 

     Hot Yoga is what “opened the door” to the asana practice for Love.  “It was really powerful for me, I remember being on, what I considered to be a spiritual quest, having the sensitivity, compassion and connection to all life forms, that had been there for me, but to actually experience it  in my physical body the synchronicity of moving and breathing, that I had missed.   I was a professional water-skier, waterskied my whole life, surfed, snowboarded, tennis, and college football; I had spent my whole life being very active.  I was BLOWN away when I did my first hot yoga class. It really opened up a whole new realm of possibility, of really being at peace, really being connected to god, and being connected to the things that matter most, It was a profound experience.  I continued to practice and continued to study and never looked back.” 

 I LOVE YOGA apparel will be on sale in the Green Bus tonight for a trunk show from 5-6.

Come and meet Moses and his wife Zeina today and tomorrow at Rasa-Lila Fest 2012!


For the Love of Yoga: Heat Yoga and Fitness

     Since I started writing about Yoga, I am continually fascinated by the stories expressed to me how people find yoga, and how yoga is changing their lives.  Stephanie Kaisowski’s has added another inspiring story to my journey as a writer. Owner and instructor of Heat Yoga and Fitness, 25022 USHY 19 North, Clearwater, FL 33763, Stephanie tells her story of living more than half of her life suffering from chronic back pain.  Loving the art of movement  all of her life, in modalities like cheerleading, dancing and running, Stephanie was asked by her doctors to stop running to prevent further damage to her spine.  Confused and frustrated about letting go of her love of movement Stephanie unfortunately suffered the tragic loss of her sister 5 years ago.  “Three months after her death, a girlfriend of mine was trying to drag me out and get me moving again, I tried yoga for the first time and I actually felt good for the first time since everything that had happened; it quickly became the one thing that got me out of bed every morning.” 


   Stephanie was inspired again by the art of movement through yoga and moved on to get her certification becoming a 200 hour RYT.  Teaching part-time Stephanie found her true calling as a teacher and made the leap of faith and became a full-time yoga teacher.  Stephanie’s healing through yoga flowed into opening her own studio and now Heat Yoga and Fitness has been open for over a year and a half with great success. “We are really happy with our progress and looking forward to expanding more!”


 Heat Yoga and Fitness
is committed to their students offering a multitude of yoga and fitness options.  Specializing in Hot yoga, that is hatha based, in every class having a focus on abdominal strengthening.  They offer hot yoga and hot Pilates that run 75 minutes in a room that averages 105 degrees.  Having something for everyone, Heat Yoga and Fitness also offers two 60 minute classes, Hot Power Pilates and a Warm Intro class, both heated to 95 degrees.  “We have suggestion boxes in both bathrooms and listen to our members and their needs.”


     Heat Yoga and Fitness is a Rasa-Lila Fest Sponsor for the 2nd year, check out their Heat Fitness and Yoga booth and introduce yourself to Stephanie and her instructors on March 31, 2012.



“We have been promoting the festival in the studio and are hoping for a lot of our members show up; I am not teaching, so I am very happy to be  a student and check out all the classes and workshops, I am really, really, excited to support yoga and the community Saturday!” 

You can also check out the schedule and other class options on their web site.

Want to read more about a Heat Yoga and Fitness experience? Check out Amelia Bartlett‘s blog on www.rasalilafest.com




Erin Wheeler is a mother, writer, and yoga teacher in Tampa, Florida.  Her weekly column, The Balanced Life, covers yoga postures, yoga happenings & events, around Tampa Bay.  Her company Lucky Cat Yoga brings the art of yoga to anyone, anytime, at any place!  “Like” Lucky Cat Yoga on Facebook and see her teaching schedule under “info.” Follow @luckycatyoga on twitter.


Rasa-Lila Fest Interview with Yoga Teacher PositiveLY Pat Conklin

RLF:  Where do you teach yoga?

PC:  I teach Laughter Yoga throughout Central Florida … and beyond. I offer mobile Laughter Yoga services, so I go wherever I’m called to teach or speak, be it a yoga studio, gym, healthcare facility, church, school, event, conference, or business.


RLF:  What type of yoga do you specialize in?

PC:  Laughter Yoga is both my specialty and passion: It is the only type of yoga that I teach. I’m this passionate about Laughter Yoga because I’ve experienced its healing and transformative power on a deeply personal level.


RLF:  What does yoga mean to you?

PC:  To me, Laughter Yoga signifies “transformation,” and I don’t say that lightly. It’s not uncommon for people who have known me for many years to remark on the changes they’ve noticed in me since I started laughing. And if you had told me four years ago that today—in my mid-fifties—I would be leading others in laughter, speaking in public, and starting a business for the first time in my life, I would have replied, “You must be joking!” That’s how dramatic the transformation has been for me, and IN me. It’s also why I believe so strongly in Laughter Yoga’s power as—in the words of its creator Dr. Madan Kataria—“a life-changing experience.”


RLF:  How long have you been teaching yoga?

PC:  I’ve been laughing for three years now and teaching Laughter Yoga for more than two. I can say that laughingly today, but it’s really true: Before I found Laughter Yoga in early 2009, I wasn’t laughing much. In fact, I had lost my laugh altogether.

I’m certified as both a Laughter Yoga Leader and a Laughter Yoga Teacher, which means not only do I lead Laughter Yoga sessions, I train and certify new Laughter Yoga Leaders as well. I’m also Central Florida’s only certified laughter life coach. And because I take laughter and its benefits so seriously, I’m committed to my specialty as Central Florida’s authority on laughter for wellness. As such, I’m an active member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) and a student in the AATH Humor Academy—a year-long program of study exploring theory, application, and research in humor and laughter.


RLF:  What made you interested in yoga?

PC:  One morning in November 2007—quite out of the blue—I discovered that I no longer had the full use of my right arm and shoulder. As I was getting dressed, I was struck by a sudden, stabbing pain in my right biceps, one that would persist for days, weeks, months … years. That morning marked my entry into the world of chronic pain.

And then, things got worse! I was already feeling enormous strain from years of tending to elderly parents long distance, yet my load was to grow heavier still as I started a new job, I lost my father shortly thereafter, and I assumed all of the responsibility for Mom’s care. Now, on top of working full-time, I was spending my nights and weekends dealing with lawyers, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and a mountain of paperwork. And, because of the chronic pain in my arm, I could no longer sleep.

Three doctors, a steroid injection, and many months of physical and massage therapy later, I was exhausted, depleted, and still in pain. I soon found myself in the depths of a dark and vast cavern—with no apparent way out. Most nights, as I tried to capture a few elusive moments of sleep, I prayed not to wake up the next morning. I was close to giving up.

And then, one day in 2009, I found Laughter Yoga. Actually, I believe Laughter Yoga found me. To my astonishment, the day I started laughing (for no reason!) was the day that everything started to change for me—a testament to Dr. Kataria’s words, “When you laugh, you change. And when you change, the whole world changes.” I’m here to tell you that laughter heals—and that’s no joke!

RLF:  When did you decide to dedicate yourself to yoga personally and professionally?

PC:  For me, Laughter Yoga is so much bigger than a personal interest or line of work. It’s a calling that I know deep in my heart was set in motion from the moment of my birth. You see, up until the second grade, I lived on a street named “Jolly Way.” No kidding.

A few short months after experiencing my first “laughter meditation”—which had culminated in a healing watershed of tears streaming down my face—my pain had diminished, my mood had lifted, and my outlook had brightened. There was indeed a way out of the enormous cavern I had entered: not through heavy-duty painkillers or anti-depressants … through laughter! It was then, in May 2009, that I traveled from my home in Orlando to earn my Laughter Yoga Leader certification, and my dedication to spreading the joy and power of Laughter Yoga began.

Today, I look upon that morning four years ago when chronic pain entered my life as the greatest gift I have ever received, for it put me on the path to connecting with my purpose in life: bringing joy, positivity, and hope to each person I reach through Laughter Yoga.


RLF:  What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?

PC:  It’s been enormously gratifying for me to share Laughter Yoga with my Central Florida neighbors during the past two years. In fact, it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve had the great privilege and joy of working (laughing!) with so many wonderful groups, among them, medical professionals; brain and spinal cord injury patients; cancer survivors; business leaders; public servants; churches; students and teachers; seniors; library patrons; and the members of my laughter clubs. I’ll ask you, how many people get to go to work to laugh? Life is good!

On the surface, laughing purely for the sake of laughing may seem utterly ridiculous. The impact, however, even after a single session, can be remarkable. I’ve received comments like, “This was a super experience, and I actually felt I was breathing better afterwards,” “I felt myself forgetting about (my) problems and felt the physical release of stress,” “I really enjoyed the group activity: laughter with colleagues that barely speak to each other,” and “Fun time. Got some people to laugh I wasn’t sure could.” I’ve heard from some of my laughter students that Laughter Yoga has softened their anxiety or depression, and I’ve celebrated a birthday with a cancer patient that her doctors said she’d not live to see.

Still, the most rewarding thing for me about teaching Laughter Yoga has been helping people to find the joy within themselves—to show them how they have the power to be happy despite their external circumstances, as captured by one of my students when she said, “I will look at life differently now.” In our modern culture of fear mongers and “humordoomers,” to have such a gift as laughter that can shift your mood, your perspective, and your behavior within a matter of minutes, I think that’s simply amazing.


RLF:  In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of yoga?

PC:  As far as the benefits of Laughter Yoga go, the question for me is not so much, “How do I start?” but rather, “Where do I stop?” A gentle form of cardiorespiratory exercise, Laughter Yoga is the world’s HAppiest aerobic workout. Its blend of easy and fun “laughter exercises” with yoga deep breathing engages the facial, thoracic, and abdominal muscles; improves breathing; decreases muscle tension; increases pain tolerance; boosts brain power; enhances communication and social bonding; and promotes a healthy mind/body balance.

From my own experience, I know Laughter Yoga to be a powerful tool for coping with pain, lifting mood, cultivating a positive outlook, and reprogramming the body’s automatic reaction to stress. It’s also a healthy way of releasing internal pressure and pent-up emotions. And it’s a great outlet for adults (and children) to “let their hair down” and be just plain silly, to create, to explore—to play—something many of us have either sidelined or even forgotten how to do! In the three years that I’ve been laughing, Laughter Yoga has connected me with a global community, as well as with many of my immediate neighbors whom I had never before met. But in my view, Laughter Yoga’s greatest benefit is acceptance: Laughter Yoga provides a safe space for each of us to express our authentic selves without fear of being judged by others.


RLF:  What is the greatest challenge you have overcome because of yoga?

PC:  If I were to tell you that the greatest challenge I’ve overcome through Laughter Yoga is chronic pain, I’d be painting only a small piece of the picture. Laughter Yoga has been a real lifesaver for me because, more than anything, it brought me hope—hope that I desperately needed to keep going. My Laughter Yoga practice has also given rise to a new-found courage to break free of self-limiting beliefs that were ingrained since childhood, opening a whole new world of possibilities for living outside of the box that was my former home. For such a simple thing, laughter has changed my life in ways that are both profound and quite marvelous.


RLF:  What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?

PC:  I’ve noticed that when I tell people I teach Laughter Yoga, they’ll often say, “I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough.” I think for many people who have never tried yoga, there can be an almost automatic assumption that you’ve got to be super flexible before you even set foot in a yoga class. For them, my suggestion is, “There are many different types of yoga to suit all kinds of needs, so if you’re interested in yoga, have some fun exploring until you’ve found the type that’s just right for you!” For instance, Laughter Yoga involves only simple laughter exercises, yoga deep breathing, and play—no mats, no poses, no joke!


For the Love of Yoga: Yoga Stage


     Yoga Stage is an innovative company, striving to help the yoga professional flourish in their art.  This week, it's  all about the yoga professional.  I can tell you first hand, making it as a full time instructor is a hustle for sure! My husband Eric and I have been full time instructors for the past 6 months.  Before that, he and I taught about 8 gigs a week between us, now it's about 8-10 a week for each of us!  I was so happy to hear about Yoga Stage and had the opportunity to speak to Jessica Ewart, one of the owners of this Chattanooga, Tennessee based company set up to help people like my husband and I thrive in the yoga industry.

     "Yoga Stage is an industry web site for yoga professionals.” Ewart explains. Ewart and Jeff  Krupcale are the founding partners of Yoga Stage.   Ewart, having a background in the music business as a promoter would create press kits for bands for touring.  When she began promoting herself for her yoga career, she found it was a difficult feat to search the web in particular city, make calls, mail out her own press kits, from that the birth of idea began to expand. 

     Yoga Stage connects studios, festivals, and students to view the yoga professionals bios, video submissions, press, and testimonials to decide if a particular teacher is a good match. “It takes allot of the leg work out for teachers who don’t have allot of time to actually go from web site to web site, make calls, send in submissions.”  Yoga Stage creates a platform and includes one stop shopping for yoga professionals who are making careers out of teaching.  “The teachers that we represent, we manage them and book them all around the country and all around the world. It’s fun, really fun.”

     Yoga Stage is one of a kind in that it is the only online database.  Ewart and partner Krupcale believe, and are committed to “seeing Yoga Professionals get paid enough so that they can teach full time. We all invest thousands of dollars in our trainings and there should be a return on that investment.”

     Yoga Stage is free to students of yoga and helps them by taking the  web searching legwork out searching for studios, their favorite styles of yoga, or a specific teacher, along with workshops, festivals and trainings.  This is an additional help for the Yoga Professional to be found by potential students on a wider scale.  Students also can also RSVP to classes online and share their plans via social medias resources.

     In partnering up with studios, venues, and businesses, Yoga Stage posts “calls for teachers.” Teachers who become members of Yoga Stage can use the online resources such as creating a Yoga Press Kits, or YPK™ and post this info on the Yoga Stage Web site. Press Kits are used in many other industries especially the music industry. Using YPK (Yoga Press Kits) helps provide information like education, special skills, past experiences that can be viewed by potential clients or students. Yogis can ultimately use Yoga Stage to create thier very own teaching tour.

. For teachers there are a couple of membership options standard or premium.  You can then choose if you want to pay monthly or yearly for your chosen membership.  Both memberships include a YPK, Bios, Testimonials, press, ability to post teaching calendar, and browsing the submission of  “calls for teachers” feature. 


  • Standard membership ($5.99 for a month, 10.99 for the year) also includes: 2 photo submissions, 1 audio file, 5 monthly credits.


  • Premium Membership ($65.00 for a month and $119.00 for the year) also includes: Browsing Premium “calls for Teachers”, 10 photos, 5 audio files, 2  videos, and 20 credits.


     Yoga Stage and Rasa Lila have joined forces to find the next Rasa Lila teacher  to be featured at the Orlando Festival in October.  Holding contests like this one is another way Yoga Stage helps the yoga Professional find work.  Clothing Brands, television, and magazines often  use Yoga Stage for searching for talent to represent a brand.  If you are interested in being a part of the Rasa-Lila Fest Teacher search, Yoga Stage will give you 3 months for free for just entering! Click here for the details.

     "The Yoga industry is a multibillion dollar industry, and most of the money is not going to the teachers.  It’s going to the magazines, clothing and product industries.” Ewart shares, “Teachers should be able to make a living.  I want teachers to feel empowered in this industry not defeated. Yoga Stage can be the tool to help accomplish that goal.   Not everyone is going to make a $100,000 but, I want them to be able to make a living, live a middle income life, and the standard American dream without having to work an additional 2,3,4 other jobs.” I love the sound of that, I  am off to sign up!

Look for Jessica's Business of Yoga Workshop, From Local  to Global,at Rasa-Lila from 2:00-2:45 on March  31st, 2012.





Erin Wheeler is a mother, writer, and yoga teacher in Tampa, Florida.  Her weekly column, The Balanced Life, covers yoga postures, yoga happenings & events, around Tampa Bay.  Her company Lucky Cat Yoga brings the art of yoga to anyone, anytime, at any place!  “Like” Lucky Cat Yoga on Facebook and see her teaching schedule under “About."  or follow @luckycatyoga on twitter.



Hot Core - Yoga Energy Studio in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

Being completely honest, I've driven past Yoga Energy Studio (YES, for short) and not thought much of it. It seemed rather small, just off on Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete and with so many things to do in my busy life (italicized for sarcasm), I'd never stopped in. A friend invited me to go and since I've taken up yoga blogging, I've been a real yes-girl, up for anything. What I was in for was an awakening. 

The studio wasn't large, but it had a very big personality. There was a mural on the far wall, tapstries and posters hung in every available space; there were paddle boards hanging from the ceiling, various exercise equipment and a shelf just for small statues and stones and photos. There was a chalkboard wall and a very accomodating locker area that I could never imagine being filled. All I could focus on was the space, comparing it to what I'd seen - the large open studios and the fancy entranceways and striking details. But I felt a weird feeling as I set down my mat, cautiously trying to be as far away from the heat sources (though there was no escaping). Looking around, talking to the instructor, Nice (pronounced like the city in France), and allowing my body to heat up and relax, I felt oddly at home. 

The class filled quickly and I was glad I arrived early, we were packed in like best friends in no time and before I could scooch and find what I hoped would be some personal space, we began. 

A great deal of the class is a meditative blur, and that is in all honesty. I can remember moments in Crescent pose, eyes nearly rolling back in my head from the sheer strength I was feeling and exherting simultaneously, or the times when I looked down and saw that even my shins, my elbows, the tops of my feet, were covered in droplets like I'd just been hosed off. The rest of my practice was just breathing and moving, challenging and succeeding, pushing and pulling, meeting myself for the first time. Every once in a while Nice would pop over, and her smile reminded me to do the same as she politely guided me to a Forward Fold that left me looking through my legs at my neighbor behind me and aware of all the toxins I was sweating out, simply by having my nose so close to my skin. 

At the end of class, we did a couple breathing exercises, my favorite being the forced rapid exhale and left me feeling breathless and full at the same time. Savasana was a dream, my heart calming down to rest and my body temperature adjusting to make it almost warm, rather than hot. I left in a daze, quickly shivered by the breeze outside against my soaked skin. Reflecting over the practice, it was the most meditative I've ever felt in my life, as there were no other things to do in each pose but breathe. There were no mirrors to remind me that I was doing it right, and there was no looking around or waiting for the next pose or waiting to be challenged. There was only looking inward and finding every nook and cranny from which I could squeeze strength or endurance or peace, and I found in more places than I knew existed. 

You can visit Yoga Energy Studio (YES, isn't that wonderful?) at http://www.yogaenergy.com/index.html or 1010 Central Ave, #102, 33705.

Free Yoga - Curtis Hixon Park Tampa, FL Every Sunday Downtown Tampa

          It was another beautiful, full turnout for Free Yoga in the Park on Sunday; energies were flowing and good vibes were all around. It was hotter than normal, the seasons changing and the time change leaving it still sunny at 6pm. People played and rested and watched us all over the park, but 50+ of us all collectively sat in a calm seated position and waited to begin. Our host, Francine of Yoga Downtown Tampa let all of us know at the beginning that our normal instructor was in Europe so we'd be led by another instructor, Dale. Something about Dale, his sense of humor or his positive glow, gave me the impression this would be a great class. It was.

          We started on our mats, doing small stretches, movements, and lots of circular rocking to warm us up. His practice was different and seemingly out-of-order - my favorite style, than most yoga practices I'd done and I could feel myself getting into it. He spoke often, discussing poses and providing many beginning to advanced modifications for many poses, something we don't normally see in the park. One consistent question he'd ask, usually jokingly, was "Could you find Savasana here?" It was so small but after a few times he'd say it, I asked myself - Could I find Savasana in Warrior Three with falling over and looking ridiculous? Could I find Savasana in his 'Skyway Bridge' pose? Each time I asked, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and for a moment, no matter what pose I was in, I found peace. 

          Dale's practice was almost what I'd call sneaky; he'd have us on our backs doing simple and effective leg stretches, then stand us up and say "Some people are better standing than on the ground - find your balance!" and the lot of us would suddenly be in standing leg lifts, kicking the person next to us and being reminded to smile, all the while laughing. At one point, he had us in forward fold and had us bend our knees, bringing our elbows to our triceps and at that point I nearly said aloud "He's tricking us into crow!" I know that when I hear just the word crow I cringe, knowing how hard that pose usually is and how I can hardly ever hold it. But without even thinking, I just picked my legs up freely and was standing there in crow, looking around at the crowd as we all realized we'd just been led into doing a pose that wasn't as hard as we thought. 

          It was a great day to conclude my Sunday, having a great teacher and a great practice remind me that there are so many things I get to learn and experience for the first time. His practice gave me another new perspective on yoga, something each class I write about has given me, and these perspectives remind me that there is so much to look forward to with my practice, with my body, and with my life. There will always be something new and exciting to surprise you and teach you along the way, and these moments remind me to keep my mind and heart open to all I can receive. 

*Note - Sorry for misspelling your name Dale!