Tag Archives: Haute Yoga Queen Anne

Starting the New Year “Sin Culpa”


Before a night of over-eating and drinking, I made sure to start my New Year’s Eve with some hot yoga. When I entered the Haute Yoga Queen Anne studio, Leah (our instructor) had set down small squares of paper and pens next to everyone’s spot on the floor. My gut reaction was to think we’d be writing down our New Year’s resolutions to set our intention for the day’s practice.

This did not sit well with me because I’ve been avoiding setting 2013 resolutions in the first place. I don’t like the idea of setting “goals” because every time I do, I inevitably start feeling bad about where I am in my life — like what I’m currently doing isn’t enough, or too much — goals like: eat healthier, save money, etc. These are all important things, but I don’t need to self-inflict punishment by avoiding all my favorite foods or creating a strict budget. I have great momentum going with where I am in my career and at school, so my intent for 2013 is to keep doing what I’m doing, and make sure I’m having fun while I’m doing it.

Instead, Leah started class with a discussion about how resolutions always tend to make us feel guilty (amen), and said that the start of 2013 was about being guilt-free — “sin culpa.” In the first half of the square piece of paper, she had us write down one thing we want more of in 2013, and on the bottom half, she had us write down one thing we wanted to do away with. So what do I want? I want more balance — 2013 is about giving work and school my best, but while also making sure to do that for myself, friends and family. What do I want to do away with? Well, I could sure get rid of any self doubt and fear holding me back.

And that’s exactly what we did. Leah instructed us to tear our paper down the middle so these two desires are separated. She collected all of the things we want to get rid of in 2013 and put them in a small fire pot (caution: do not try this at home). We watched all of these things holding us back go up in smoke, and then we did 90 minutes of hot yoga. What a great way to enter 2013!

The point is that we don’t have to punish ourselves and dwell on all of the things we want to get rid of. If we just concentrate on  pursuing those things that make us happy, the rest will come.

What are you looking forward to in 2013? How do you plan to stay motivated and on track?


Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone: Trying New Studios


Before I joined Haute Yoga Queen Anne, I tested out about a dozen studios in the Seattle area using new student deals. This allowed me to learn a bit more about the instructors’ teaching style and the community before officially joining. I think this is an important step because, unlike working out at the gym, you are part of a collective experience in yoga class. If you’re not on the same page with the message the instructor is delivering, you’ll just be distracted the entire class and counting the minutes until class is over.

All this is to say that I love trying out new studios because I always find something that I like about others’ approaches to teaching yoga. While visiting my family this weekend in Beaverton, Oregon, I did a quick search for studios in the area and wasn’t surprised to learn that there were but a handful around. Most of the studios are within Portland, and even Portland’s yoga community is still “growing up” compared to the likes of Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Of the slim pickings in the area, I chose to go to Hot Yoga For Life, a studio tucked away in a shopping center right off of T.V. Highway. On the outside, the space looked like it could barely house a practice room, but as soon as you walk in you see that the studio is the size of about four practice rooms combined. It is all very modern and clean, with tons of space to store your things and a nice little vanity area to get ready after a morning workout. What I really loved is that the studio offers all new students a $10 deal for three weeks of unlimited yoga!

I was surprised to see that I was one of four students to arrive 15 minutes before class. I’ve gotten into the habit of arriving 15-20 minutes early to secure my spot in the room. With just about 5 minutes to spare, the room began to fill up with a total class size of about 20. Then again, it was 8:30 on a Saturday morning.

This practice was primarily focused on the physical workout itself. We went through several dancing warrior series and kept flowing for the 75 minutes, as opposed to going through a peak pose. This was great – sometimes you just need a solid workout to energize your body. One thing I was missing, though, was the therapeutic release I get through yoga. There was no Silvia or JL to guide my self-study and challenge me. It was all up to me.

And I hated it. I was way too distracted by my own mind. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, “When is this over?” I was annoyed that my towel kept moving during the flow. Then I couldn’t hold my warrior poses because my feet started slipping on my towel. My mat was right under a heater, and I’ve never felt a mat so hot in my life. I was annoyed that my feet felt like they were scorching as I balanced on one leg.

I know, this all sounds miserable, but I hope you’re not making judgments about Hot Yoga For Life because the real message here is that I made it seem miserable. It was my own inability to see the glass as half full and instead make a fuss over nothing.

And that’s the power of yoga – to help you realize how you react when the going gets tough. That day, I was not in a good mood, and not even yoga was going to help me. So instead of making the most of it, I decided I just wasn’t going to like it and would power through for the sake of powering through.

What has yoga helped you discover about yourself? Have you had similar experiences when testing out new studios?

Saturdays With Silvia: Celebrating the Power of Your Feet


Today’s class with Silvia was all about the power of your feet. I’ve never thought to give much attention to these guys before; I’ve always thought the hands to be more superior, allowing me touch, embrace, write, type, feed myself — you name it! Or my legs, which hold up my entire body and allow me to move from point A to point B. But, that of course is not possible without your feet.

Feet become even more impressive when you look at the numbers. Did you know we take an average of 7,500 steps per day? I’ve always considered myself pretty sedentary during the day given my desk job, but when I think about walking from the bus to work, around the office, back home and around the house, it sure adds up quickly! Even more impressive is that our feet house 25 percent of our body’s bones!

I’ve always hated my feet to be honest. I take after my dad – tall and lanky. And with that physique comes big hands and big feet (size 9-9.5 to be specific). Growing up, I felt self conscious going shopping with friends when they’d take a look at the aisles for size 6, 7 or 8, and I’d be at the other end seeing what’s left in the cute stuff for me. For a while, I preferred cramming my feet into smaller shoes just so I could get the cute ones, and later realized that’s the fast track to completely deforming your feet. Mine are already pronated to begin with!

In today’s class, I was forced to really look at my feet — to stretch them, to feel them, to spread my toes out and balance on them. As much as I disliked my feet before, I couldn’t help but be thankful I had any feet at all!

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to think about our body’s health and give thanks for what we’re able to accomplish with extremities so seemingly simple as our feet. What are you thankful for?

My feet 🙂

Saturdays with Silvia: “Greenlight” your Life


I’m so happy Silvia is back from retreat! I’m a fan of all instructors at Haute Yoga Queen Anne, but I have to admit I was missing my inspired Saturday mornings with Silvia. Today’s theme was all about changing your outlook to fit what you want to accomplish. Basically, negative thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is something I’ve always believed, but when Silvia was discussing this tendency in class, I couldn’t help but feel like a hypocrite.

I mean literally all week I have been so down on myself! In fact, this has been going on for months. I’m sure Andrew is sick of me moping around the house after a long day at work saying, “Ugh, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do this,” or “I should have known I was supposed to do it this way…how could I be so stupid?” Instead of looking at my accomplishments, I nit pick at my deficiencies. Someone recently told me, “It doesn’t do you any good to go around comparing yourself with other people because you will always compare your weakest attributes with someone’s strengths, and that’s simply not fair.”

So, when Silvia bluntly said, “If you think you’re never going to lose weight…guess what? You aren’t! If you think you’re never going to be rich…well, you’re right!,” it really hit home with me. This might be a far fetched example, but she told us to think about driving down Mercer street and recall our thoughts about hitting the green lights. If we’re moving through traffic and thinking, “There’s just no way I’m going to make it through this light!,” we really aren’t giving ourselves a chance. The moral of the story? “Greelnight your life.” Think that you will get green lights all the way through right before you hit the freeway on the way to your destination.

There is definitely a connection between positive thinking and one’s accomplishments. It’s time to start cultivating positive thoughts for those green lights!

Q&A with Leah on Owning Her Own Yoga Studio


I’m so happy to share this Q&A with Leah Zaccaria, owner of Haute Yoga Queen Anne. When I started practicing at this studio a few years ago, Leah had just finished up her teacher training and was gearing up to start teaching classes of her own. That’s when I first heard her story of how she decided to leave her job in corporate America to start her own yoga studio — right when the recession hit. I hope you’re inspired by her story and words of wisdom below.

What is it that attracted you to yoga in the first place?

I have always been into fitness and dance.  I was going through a body transformation, changing my diet and life and I heard hot yoga was a great workout.  Little did I know that it would change my life.  It allowed me the space to be quiet in my mind.  It allowed me the space to see what my life really was and how I wanted to be.  I became awake.

When did you decide you wanted to make the career change to yoga studio owner/instructor, and how did you set that into motion?

I had been in the corporate world for 15 years.  I was not happy. I knew I was meant to do something greater, with more purpose.  I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and one day a co-worker and I dreamed up owning a yoga studio.  I was so passionate about yoga, I thought was a perfect way to marry my business expertise and love for yoga to fulfill my bigger purpose.

I kept my full time job as a CPA for the first 2 years of building my yoga studio business.  It was a huge sacrifice and I did not sleep much.  But, I was able to focus on building the community without worrying how I was going to pay my bills.  I worked really hard for over 2 years and once the studio was profitable enough, I was able to leave my job.  I am grateful every day that I made that transition.

What were some of the greatest challenges you faced in getting HYQA off the ground?

I was a bit naïve when I first opened, having the “build it and they will come” mentality.  It took some patience and extra capital (that I did not really have) to really get started.  Fortunately, I had some key team players like Jenniferlyn Chiemingo that got people in the door quickly.  And after 6 months, hyQA was doing quite well.

HYQA has such a distinct community — what people/events do you think contributed to its unique character?

hyQA is all about community.  I have always told my teachers to be themselves, to teach their own style and from the heart.  I wanted to be my own person, why would I put restrictions on them.  If people are allowed to be themselves, they feel safe.  I want everyone to walk through the doors and feel welcome, to feel like they belong.  The relationships and friendships that I have seen develop here are so amazing.  hyQA is not just a place to practice yoga, it is a home away from home, a place to build yourself and community.

It is also very important for me to reach the greater Seattle area.  Giving back through events like Yoga for Hope or sponsoring projects like Africa Yoga project stretches us greater than just Queen Anne.  I also just recently partnered with another yoga studio to bring in a national teacher.  If we can bridge the communities together, we can do more.  I don’t fear competition.  Competition just leads to greater awareness for yoga at large. We all can be successful, life is abundant.

What’s your advice to professionals who work full time and who would also like to teach yoga on the side?

Try to stay balanced. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Be present and prepared when you are teaching.  Stay the course and answers will be revealed.

Any last thoughts on your journey from corporate America to yoga studio owner/instructor?

You can do anything you set your mind to.  You just have to be willing to take the risk and put in the work.  I am so grateful I had the courage to make the huge leap that I did.  I finally feel like I am on the right path.


I Brought My Co-Worker to Hot Yoga


This week, I brought my co-worker to hot yoga, making this her second class…ever. I have to admit, I felt a little weird bringing someone along to my hot yoga sanctuary. I’m so used to going solo — and apparently I have a reputation for “my spot” (front row, second spot from the mirrored wall) because Maria saved it for me and quickly realized I’d be taking a back-room seat this class, per Allison’s request.

I should clarify that Allison isn’t just any co-worker, so this makes this sweat session much less awkward. We started at our firm together as interns and quickly became friends outside of work — we even went to Cabo together and shared a parasail. True friends!

Monday night, I picked Allison up from her place in Queen Anne, and we headed over to the studio for my favorite 7:30 p.m. class with Jenniferlyn. As soon as we opened the doors, I felt the welcome tropical heat thaw my skin, and Allison just as soon remarked, “Dang, it’s so hot in here!” Yes, yes it is. And then I started to see this experience from the eyes of a newcomer.

As we entered the practice room, I ask Allison where she wants to lay our mats down, and she looks at us about two feet into the room and points to the back corner. Ok, back corner it is! We were a few minutes early, and I used the time stretching, while Allison explained to me that she can’t touch her toes but still made valiant attempts to do so.

The first 10 minutes or so of class were fairly manageable. The focus of the class was on ujjai breathing, so we laid still on our mats doing some basic stretching exercises and worked on our breathing. It wasn’t until JL instructed us to raise our feet above our head, interlace our hands behind our head and start doing some serious crunches that I got my first worried look from Allison.

The rest of the class continued just that way — Allison and her worried face. In our down dog she’d look under her arm at me and mouth “What the eff ?!” as the rest of the class was two steps ahead, jumping to the front of their mats and moving into our dancing prayer — Serie A. What seemed like this simple, intuitive move now all the sudden seemed so foreign as I watched Allison follow the steps and move through the motions.

When we moved into our balancing series, she just gave me this look like “no way in hell am I attempting to do that.” I couldn’t keep myself from laughing, and the girls next to us were visibly offended by the fact that Allison was whispering in class to begin with, not to mention using profane words.

She took frequent water breaks and sometimes just sat in child’s pose, but soon the 75 minutes were over, and class was finished. From the moment we entered the door, to our closing Om, I felt like we were in a different country just seeing it all through Allison’s eyes. I thought she’d never attempt hot yoga again, but the next morning she sent me an IM saying how great she felt from last night’s class and how she wants to go again this week. Maybe I have a yogi in the making!

Jenniferlyn Chiemingo: “My Journey to Yoga”


I’ve been taking classes with Jenniferlyn Chiemingo (JL) since I started practicing yoga, and there are many other yogis who can say the same. JL makes yoga accessible to the average person with great music, inspiring words and an energizing flow. I’m excited that JL has decided to share her story on “Yoga for the Soul” of her journey to yoga from her news producer role in San Francisco. In her own words:

When I was a kid in the 1970s (Yes, I am that old) – my mom did yoga.  She married young, but still wanted to be a cool hippy.  Growing up, we had yoga and meditation books around the house that my sister and I used to giggle about and make fun.  Little did I know I would make a career out of this path!

I’d always wanted to be a TV News Producer.  And I am the kind of person, who, once I decide something, it is done.  At 13, I decided.  I was relentless in my pursuit of that dream. I worked at a local cable television station, I applied to college to study journalism, and even watched Tom Brokaw nonstop. 

I graduated at the top of my journalism class and secured a job in the Midwest right out of college.  Not bad, really. Granted it was a small town and the ‘TV station’ was in the middle of a corn field, but I was the six and ten o’clock news producer. I was also the top writer, editor, and janitor too 😉

From there, I moved up quickly becoming an Executive Producer in a top 50 market by the time I was 24 years old.  It was high stress, but I thought I loved it. I was married young but then divorced young too.  I lived in tiny apartments and had to defer my student loans because of my measly salary. 

Then I moved up again. San Francisco.  I wasn’t sleeping, I had lock jaw, my chronic back injury flared up and I was married again.  We wanted a baby. But after three years of trying, we were still alone.

The doctors all said it was stress.  My mom suggested I try Yoga.  (Um, no way.) I was a runner, a cyclist, not a chanter and stretcher.  But mom made a bet with me; she would pay if I went to three classes.  Of course I hated the first; I tolerated the second and LOVED the third.  I was practicing several times a week. It helped me sleep, it helped me laugh, and it helped me find peace in a high stress job.  Then 9-11 hit. 

I was surrounded by horrific images and honestly felt so much pressure and pain.  I realized that day; my life was passing me by. I was a 3-time EMMY nominee but I had no children, barely saw my husband and was really unhappy.
I went home to my husband and said, ‘I want to be happy. I want to have a family.  I love yoga. I think I want to be a yoga teacher.  Can I give up my BIG salary?’ 

With time and planning, I did give up that job and that salary. 
This year, I just passed the 10 year mark of teaching yoga. That’s equal to the time I was a TV News Journalist.  I have a son and my husband and I have been married 13 years now.  Do I credit yoga with all this change, transformation and growth – You bet I do. 🙂 

You can join JL at Haute Yoga Queen Anne for one of her regular classes — you won’t regret it!