Joel Chesebro | October 2017

Joel Chesebro | October 2017

As I push my way through my mid-forties, a life spent skateboarding and practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu combined with a detachment of observing the state my body was in, was catching up with me. After complaining to a good friend about chronic aches and pains he invited me to a Power Flow class at Inner Fire Yoga. That class simply re-engaged a yoga practice that had lain fallow since my mid-twenties. As I slowly started to address the aches and pains in my physical body on the mat, I began to realize that there were deeper issues that needed my attention. I began to address my lack of observing and caring for my physical self. Yoga taught me the importance of following the instruction of the teacher in the room, and more importantly, making an effort to be still and listen to the teacher inside of me. Those simple acts have made a profound impact. The last few months I have found myself drawn to the precision and cadence of the 26 and 2 Hot yoga classes. Recently my focus has been on the moments and space between the asanas; observing the impact that mindfulness in my practice on the mat, and how that affects the greater practice that is life. I am slowly learning that I have a choice and can choose to respond and not just react; both to the way I feel after standing bow (my personal nemesis pose) and to the things, large and small, that "trip my trigger" off the mat. I am deeply grateful for the community that is Inner Fire Yoga, to all those who practice and teach. It is a luxury to be able to practice alongside each of you. 


The Nadler/Bernstein Family | September 20177

The Nadler/Bernstein Family | September 20177

Jane: Rose and I took our first class at Inner Fire on January 1, 2012 as a New Year's Resolution to reduce stress and anxiety and we've been practicing regularly ever since. Our first class was a Hot Yoga class with Karen Rigsby and we both had to step out a few times because of nausea, but we persisted, finding our groove in the energetic and joyful 6:30pmPower Flow classes. In the past few years, I've gravitated toward mostly Inner Fire Flow classes. For me, this sequenced class is more meditative and the pace allows me to really settle into each pose. I feel calmer and stronger with each passing day. Steve started doing yoga a few years after we started. Whenever our schedules align - which is rare - we all three make it to the same class for what we call "family yoga". This summer, I completed the 200-hour summer intensive yoga teacher Training with Joan Bliefernicht. Wow. That experience really helped me deepen my practice even more. Among the many things I love about yoga is the way my practice keeps evolving. Inner Fire Yoga offers so many choices of classes, a variety of great teachers, and a dedicated community of yogis. With every class, I feel like I'm learning something new. I've started to practice six to seven times a week, mixing Inner Fire Flow and moderately paced Power Flow and it just never gets old! 

Rose: I started practicing at Inner Fire Yoga with my mom as a New Year's resolution nearly six years ago. After struggling with anxiety throughout high school and college, I turned to yoga to help cope with stress. I had taken sporadic yoga classes throughout Madison but had never found a studio, teacher, or community that felt comfortable. Although my first class at Inner Fire was tough -- I knew that something was different right away. Yoga at Inner Fire was not just about bending my body or reminding myself to breathe as my previous yoga experience was; this yoga felt like a full-body, soul-changing experience. Not only did I immediately fall in love with the enveloping heat in every class, but I felt welcomed into a community of teachers and yogis that I had never experienced before. Everyone was always so kind and welcoming and the wide variety of classes made it easy to add a regular yoga practice into my life. My practice continues to shift and change over the years. Some months I religiously attend evening Power Flow classes to get my heart rate up and other times I am more drawn to the quiet repetition of Inner Fire Flow. Regardless, through various job beginnings and endings, heartbreaking breakups, a grueling 2 years of graduate school, and overwhelming life milestones, Inner Fire Yoga has always been there, grounding my body and calming my mind. 

Steve: I'm a long-time runner and cyclist, and over the years my hips, lower back and legs were getting kind of tight and stiff. Jane once suggested that yoga would be helpful, but I did not like the yoga class that I tried somewhere - they were asking me to do things that my body just did not want to do. Jane and Rose had started practicing at Inner Fire Yoga and they loved it, so they suggested I give that a try, and it has been just right - the warm room, the choice of classes, the emphasis on doing what works for me and not having to force my body into some prescribed (and often painful) shape - it's just what I was looking for, and just what my aging body needs. 


Michelle Mettner | August 2017

Michelle Mettner | August 2017

My yoga practice has been my sanctuary and my center during a very chaotic time of my life. I began my practice as a way to counter balance weightlifting and running, but quickly found that a regular practice helped m

I started at Inner Fire in 2013 with a one month trial membership. I came with a friend from a workout class. We were curious. I had never practiced yoga and wasn't sure what a hot studio meant. My first ever yoga class was the Inner Fire Flow 75 with Dar. If you were there, I was the "you in the green top" and, needless to say, I learned quite a bit in that first class. I also learned to put my mat in the front of the room and, while focusing on the breath, I was also sending silent prayers for a periodic opening of the door. I went on to try and love more classes with Dar, and the rest of the amazing teachers. It did not take long and I was hooked: the heat, the breath, the postures, the balance, the alignment and, over time, the mindfulness of the practice. I wish I had known of this amazing life changing practice decades prior. And yet, it came upon me at just the right moment.  

I found yoga, or yoga found me, when I needed it most. Two years before I came to Inner Fire, my husband had died in a car accident. I was 4 months pregnant with our youngest daughter and had a three and one year old at home. Life as I knew it changed dramatically in a flash. When I discovered Inner Fire Yoga my daughters were 2, 4 and 6. Working to support us and solo parenting was hard; it still is. Enter yoga practice: A mindful practice, physically challenging and an incredible community of people -- life's burdens checked at the door and the luxury of time on my mat. Nothing else I had tried had quieted my mind and helped me regain focus, purpose and peace. I crave both the physical challenge and the mindfulness of the practice. Some days are more one than the other. It all keeps me coming back again and again. 

When not on my mat, I have a job I love -- overseeing the legal and government affairs for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. I am proud to have my daughters see me passionate about a career I love and dedicated to a yoga practice I embrace in every way. Parenting, lawyering and lobbying are fantastically rewarding work, but also can be incredibly stressful. And so, I practice as regularly as possible. 

I come to Inner Fire to hear Hope say just the right things, in just the right voice and play all the right music; for Dar, Bonnie or Georgia to offer a jolt of empowerment; for Adrienne, Julie and Megan to encourage me to dig just a bit deeper -- in that way that nearly gets you to forgive the five more breaths in utkatasana. Lately, I have really taken to the beautiful physical and mindful learnings and challenge of Karen and Joan's practices. I show up and dedicate the 60 or 75 minutes to me first and then I smile to myself as I quietly dedicate my practice to my daughters. 

800 classes later and I am still up front just in case I can mindfully will the door to open for a moment. I practice regularly for me and for my daughters. I practice at Inner Fire Yoga for the amazing community of people who all seem to give out far, far more than they take. 

e be calmer, less reactive, and gentler. I take from my regular practice more than just physical strength, but the mental strength to let things be as they will be without pre-judgement. Inner Fire has been a home away from home.

I began practicing yoga nearly ten years ago in a tiny Iyengar studio on a whim with a friend. Since then I have practice yoga in four different countries, three languages and two main styles. I've found that despite the differences in form, the focus and clarity that a regular practice brings me has remained the same. Originally I started practicing just twice a week--as a supplement to other activities. Now I practice nearly every day and my other activities have become supplements to my yoga practice. When I find myself overwhelmed by my daily responsibilities I find myself returning to my breath to re-focus myself.


Danielle Delaney | July 2017

Danielle Delaney | July 2017

My yoga practice has been my sanctuary and my center during a very chaotic time of my life. I began my practice as a way to counter balance weightlifting and running, but quickly found that a regular practice helped me be calmer, less reactive, and gentler. I take from my regular practice more than just physical strength, but the mental strength to let things be as they will be without pre-judgement. Inner Fire has been a home away from home.

I began practicing yoga nearly ten years ago in a tiny Iyengar studio on a whim with a friend. Since then I have practice yoga in four different countries, three languages and two main styles. I've found that despite the differences in form, the focus and clarity that a regular practice brings me has remained the same. Originally I started practicing just twice a week--as a supplement to other activities. Now I practice nearly every day and my other activities have become supplements to my yoga practice. When I find myself overwhelmed by my daily responsibilities I find myself returning to my breath to re-focus myself.


Rachelle Winkle-Wagner | June 2017

Rachelle Winkle-Wagner | June 2017

Yoga has and will continue to save my life. Yoga is where I feel safe, free, back to my full self. Yoga is where I can set down the roles that I play the rest of the time. I can just "be" - I am fluid. Inner Fire Yoga is a community that offers sanctuary to me on a nearly daily basis. 


I have been practicing yoga for 13 years now. The last five years, I have been at Inner Fire Yoga and this is where my practice expanded into a lifestyle. For the first seven years of my practice, I practiced once or twice a week at the most. I still felt huge benefits of yoga, even practicing once in awhile (for those who practice once a week - it is still very worthwhile!). When I moved to Madison five years ago, I wonder what it might be like if I were to step up my yoga practice and make it more of a lifestyle than an occasional weekly class. I started going twice a week, then three times a week, then four times a week, then five times a week. Now my almost-daily practice sustains me. I am calmer and more flexible, on and off the mat. Off the mat, I am a professor at UW- Madison, a partner to my husband Mike, and a mom to two fabulous girls (ages 8 and 5). After making yoga a lifestyle, I am a better writer, thinker and teacher at work. At home, I am a better mom and a better partner (I have more energy and I am more peaceful and loving). My family sometimes sends me to yoga classes (they pack my mat and push me out the door sometimes) because they recognize that I am quite simply a better person when I come home.

What I love most about yoga is something I learned from one of my early teachers, Tataya Radtke. She said, "every day I remember, and every day I forget, and every day I remember." For me, yoga, on and off the mat, means that I may not always have every pose in a way that looks good in the mirror or to those around me, but if it feels good in my body it is the right pose for me. It may mean that some poses really don't fit my body very well and I may not ever present them in a way that looks very pretty. But regardless, when I step on the mat and I do yoga I am the expert of my body, I am the expert of my life, I find "The Person" who I have always been. That is all that matters. I challenge myself and try the poses that are difficult and I fall out of them, but it is not about the poses for me. It is about the daily practice of yoga-as-life, on and off the mat. And I am so grateful that Inner Fire Yoga has offered that to me. 


Kurt Lin | May 2017

Kurt Lin | May 2017

I can't believe it's been 8 years since I first walked into Inner Fire Yoga. I had recently moved to Madison and wanted something to get me exercising again. I figured yoga would help with the exercise and my golf game. I remember walking into the community hot yoga class and almost passing out. The room was packed and the temp was around 105. Even with the encouragement of the instructor, I needed to leave the room halfway through! Making sure that I was well hydrated for the next class, I somehow made it through a few more hot classes. Then I found out that there were more classes than the traditional hot classes and I took my first power flow class. After initially being concerned that I would be uncoordinated and inflexible, I fell in love with the class. Each instructor helped me learn more about each pose and with verbal cues and hands-on assists, I slowly became more adept at power flow. What's amazing about the classes is that I continue to learn. At first, all I wanted to do was to make it through the class without stopping. Then I wanted to power through each class. Then I slowly learned about the subtleties of each pose and the importance of breath and the interconnection between the two. I now take classes about 5 times a week and each class continues to be different. 

What is also amazing is the community of teachers and yogi at Inner Fire. Through my time at Inner Fire Yoga, I have had the pleasure of taking classes with many great instructors. There are too many to name, but each has provided me with insights into yoga and life in general. I've also have been inspired by many of the yogis in class. I'm always amazed at some of the more experienced and graceful practitioners as well as inspired by newer yogis progressing in their journey. Inner Fire Yoga has definitely changed my life for the positive and I plan on continuing practicing yoga for the rest of it. Unfortunately, although I have increased my flexibility, my golf game hasn't gotten any better.


Jim Doyle | April 2017

Jim Doyle | April 2017

I would never go to Inner Fire. It is too hot and too hard. Its teachers don't know what they are doing. It has an unfriendly atmosphere. They laugh at people like me, too old and too stiff. I can't take my phone into class. - Jim Doyle

APRIL FOOLS!! Two years ago Inner Fire Yoga's manager Michael Hoefferle wrote an April Fools' issue with a false student profile of me. Little did he know that I had actually been thinking of coming to Inner Fire for some time. Friends had been telling me what a good place it was and how it would help me. Like many men, I was intimidated. I didn't know how to get started. I thought I could never do it. So I took Michael's joke as a sign and a challenge and began coming to Inner Fire. I wish now that I had realized years earlier that there was no reason to be intimidated. Inner Fire met me at my beginner's level. 

I have now been practicing two or three times a week for two years. Under the patient tutelage of a great teacher Karen Rigsby, and the encouragement of those friends, I have slowly progressed from what I call "walrus yoga" to a slightly more elevated practice. I have realized all the benefits my friends told me about and more. Flexibility, strength, balance, breathing, endurance have vastly improved. Chronic lower back pain has largely disappeared. I have always been a pretty disciplined and determined person, and yoga has channeled those qualities in very positive direction. And it has certainly taught patience and humility. 

Like many others, I workout a lot. Yoga has become an integral part of my fitness program. I hear my yoga friends talk about how they find peace and relaxation in the practice. Frankly, while maybe I will get there someday, that's not me. I find the practice at Inner Fire with its heat and movement, to be a hard challenge and one that I appreciate more and more with each passing week.


Archana Malla | March 2017

Archana Malla | March 2017

In general, I've always had a hard time taking time for myself or my health. I used to scoff at the idea of hot yoga. I didn't understand why anyone would subject themselves to raised temperatures and exercise at the same time. A few years ago, my daughter convinced me to try an intro to yoga class one afternoon, "just to do something new together". Even though it was challenging, I left feeling calm and invigorated -- enough to try another class the next day! We started going a few times a week, and with each class, I gained a lot of confidence. Stress from my every day life melted away once I settled into a child's pose. 

When my daughter went back to school in the fall, I promised myself that I would try a heated class, worried that without a friend to go with, I'd again let life get in the way.I knew a new challenge is what I needed. I had heard about Inner Fire, and decided I would try at least one class. Stepping inside, I felt at home at once. The atmosphere was incredibly welcoming from the start. My first class, I had to leave my mat to avoid overexertion, but it led to the most amazing savasana. Even though it was hard, I kept coming back. I left each class extremely sweaty but satisfied, and each time, the poses got a little more manageable. I learned to leave my frustrations at the door and appreciate every breath from start to finish on my mat. Today, I love walking into class and catching up with the familiar faces around me. I notice my improved posture and a general inner calm I never had before. Thank you Inner Fire and the community of yogis for helping me help myself.


Janice Binter | February 2017

Janice Binter | February 2017

Hi there! I probably know many of you by face, if not by name, mostly just a quick "good morning", then onto my mat I go. Getting onto the mat and into the nice, warm room at Inner Fire Yoga is such a wonderful and peaceful place for me. It's in my nature to be constantly on the go; my partnership at Studio 924 Hair Designs (in my 28th year!), working full time and outside forces of great friends and family, all of which I love. I seem to never slow down, but coming to IFY, all the great unity with all of you and so many great teachers, the awesome warm space just fills me up with gratitude. Dedicating my practice every time to those that I can give strength and wellness to is profound, and it makes me forever thankful every single day. I can honestly say that I credit my yoga practice and dedication, on average five days a week, to the aforementioned.


Back in the mid 70's and moving to Madison, I joined Vic Tanny {any of you remember? :-)} aerobics and all the bright, funny, spandex. I was into aerobics, then I was onto the Princeton Club: swimming, body pump, and spinning, until one day (ten years ago), one of my spin Buddha's said "Janice, you have got to try this Bikram yoga thing." And so it began. (Thank you José.) In December of 2006 I joined Bikram of Madison (now IFY). I don't think I ever went back to the gym; the feeling of calmness and cleansing, flexibility, better posture, balance, strength, focus, more energy, (God forbid) lower stress, digestion, inner calmness, I could go on and on.


For years I practiced and practiced to get that pose, now I practice to keep the calm breath and just be. I feel it's always practice and I just love to see people of all ages and sizes join IFY, to reap the benefits of life that I feel. I've learned to appreciate so much, the boost of confidence and inner peace, we are all so different and so wonderful.


A huge thank you to Marit for the wonderful space and talented teachers (I love all the cues that get one into the poses). My favorites at this point are Inner Fire 75 and Hot, I love the heat and the pace. I think they both give one the chance to just be in every pose. Both are so detoxifying, while working different muscles. Hot pushes me, but yet calms me.


Life can be amazing, awful, painful, and then amazing again. Breathe in the amazing, hold in through the awful, then relax, and exhale. That's just living, soul healing, amazing and ordinary. Breathtakingly Beautiful.


May your head hang heavy, may your heart shine high.


Erik Bergeson | January 2017

Erik Bergeson | January 2017

During my freshman year of college, I broke myself. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. I allowed the state of my body - specifically, my back - to deteriorate to the point at which it could no longer support me, and rightly so. On New Year's Eve of 2014-15, it finally gave out. I spent the next three weeks writhing in agony, crippled by muscle spasms, scarcely able to pull myself out of the prison of my bed. I felt broken. Helpless. Hopeless. It felt like there was no end in sight. If this was to be the rest of my life, then it was not a life worth living. 


When I returned to school at the end of January, I knew that I had to make a change. My friend Chris brought me to my first yoga class, and for the first time in six months I felt GOOD. I felt in control of my back and my body, and not the other way around. I felt happy. I knew that I could never go back to the way things were. And so began a new chapter, wherein I made the enrichment of my mind, body, and spirit the center of my life. In September of 2015 I came to my first class at Inner Fire, and I haven't looked back. I hope one day to be an instructor, that I might facilitate the healing of those in dire need, as once I was. Thank you all so much for practicing alongside me each day. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year! Namaste.


Ed Corcoran | December 2016

Ed Corcoran | December 2016

I began a Yoga practice in 2009 while seeking relief from a chronic lower back pain coupled with 3-4 chiropractic visits per year. Working as construction pipe fitter for 15 years had taken its toll on my body.

I really loved the Hot practice but at that time, the Power classes moved too fast for me to keep up. This Hot practice fit me. I loved the complete body detox, peace, and calm I felt after each class. Thus began an on again/ off again practice for the next several years. 

Throughout the years I have always come back to Yoga. I feel so much better about life when I come to Inner Fire. The teachers, so many happy, uplifting Yogis, and the quality of the studio, keep me growing and healing.

This latest personal revolution cycle I have added many teachers and classes to my practice, including power flow. There has been so much improvement in my spirituality and my interactions with this world. I am much more present and focused in my daily activities. I have a much more positive outlook and intention and am happier and more content. I have also been feeling physically better than I have felt in many years. "Yoga fixes it". Whatever "it" is, bring it to the mat. I look forward to practicing with all the beautiful spirits here at Inner Fire and other studios around the world. I have not been back to the Chiropractor since 2009. I am very grateful to Yoga for this opportunity to share my story and the many other benefits that continue to reveal themselves.


Li Li | November 2016

Li Li | November 2016

Like most people, my yoga practice journey started as a means of physical stretching and stress reduction. Three years ago, as a new mother, I was not able to balance my roles as wife, mother, and student. I was also fighting both postpartum and my inherited tendency towards depression as I struggled with the shame and fear of not being good enough. It was my husband who suggested I practice yoga as a way of healing and intentional distraction. 

When I first stepped into Inner Fire Yoga, I felt there was something special about this studio. The heated room brought me a sense of warmth that reminded me of my hometown in China, and the collective practice reminded me I was not alone. After the first class of sweat, I felt rejuvenated and relieved. Since then I have been a regular practitioner at Inner Fire Yoga for the last three years. 

One thing that Inner Fire Yoga teachers have in common is their passion for teaching and heartfelt sharing of knowledge, both of which are the foundation of the great Inner Fire community. Because of their daily guidance, I started to realize yoga practice is equal parts physical and mental where my mind, postures, and concentration slowly come together. Instead of focusing on how the postures should be set up, I started to focus on my breathing; as a result, I slow down and can take a step back and reflect. Now I see that the yoga practice is an observation of life that helps me to accept myself not being perfect. I am becoming OK with wherever I am in my life because, life, like practicing yoga is not about reaching a destination, but more simply heading in the right direction. 

Thank you Inner Fire Yoga community and teachers, you help me to experience the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. I feel I have received new gifts of courage, compassion, and gratefulness. I feel calmer, more grounded and significantly less anxious. I have reconnected to my family and most importantly I feel truly comfortable with myself for the first time in my life. Thank you all.


Claire MacDonald | October 2016

Claire MacDonald | October 2016

I arrived at the studio for the first time in April of 2015 feeling broken and desperate for help. For years I've struggled with depression, anxiety, and body image issues, and I needed to heal from my stress, self-doubt, and past relationships. I'll never forget the relief and emotional release I felt after my first class.


I've been practicing regularly since September of 2015, and have since developed mental and physical balance, strength, patience, and discipline. The mind-body connection I tap into in my daily practice has positively affected my outlook in every area of my life. After I started practicing, I realized that caring too much about what other people think of me just isn't important, and criticizing myself for my shortcomings wouldn't get me anywhere. I stopped caring about the things that didn't matter - even things like the way my tummy folds over itself in a certain pose - that's my body twisting and releasing energy, that's me becoming stronger. I learned to do what feels good in my body and what's best for myself. 


Sarah Maughan | September 2016

Sarah Maughan | September 2016

I first started practicing yoga about a year and a half ago and it was the best decision I could have made for myself. I tried other forms of exercise at different gyms throughout the last ten years and not only did none of them stick, but I never really saw results. I would dread going to spinning or body pump classes and would constantly watch the clock excited for it to be over. I also tried out a few yoga classes at one of the big gyms in Madison and always wondered why I was not a fan. I now know that it was because it wasn't heated. I could never imagine going back to practicing yoga at a non-heated studio. When I discovered Inner Fire, I will admit the heat took some getting used to, but now I love it and wouldn't want it any other way. The instructors at Inner Fire are so great, and I honestly look forward to each and every class that I attend. I quickly discovered after joining Inner Fire that it became super easy to incorporate into my daily routine not only because of all the convenient times and class choices, but also because I know and can see how good it is for me. It's my must have thing. My thing that I HAVE to have in my life. 

For me, its also super fun to see my strength and flexibility increase as I get older. Is it weird to say that sometimes in class I impress myself? :) I get a little tickle of pride every time I do an arm balance, or a backbend. I'll secretly think to myself- 'I'm a 35 year old mom who can totally do a headstand. Yep. I'm slightly cool- if only to myself.' :) 

One huge thing that I've learned practicing yoga is the importance of breath and how it intertwines with mindfulness. This combo has carried over into my life in a huge way. I have learned throughout the last year and a half to be present in the moment, how to slow down, and how to be conscience and aware. This comes into play in a huge way in my job and with the time I spend with my husband and daughter. And I have Inner Fire to thank:)


[Ed. Note: Sarah takes many amazing pictures for us and is the co-owner and operator of Urban Anchor Photography.]


Rachel B. | August 2016

Rachel B. | August 2016

I first came to Inner Fire Yoga on the recommendation of a physical therapist after not having balance in my regular workout routine, and I have definitely found that here. Spending more time on my mat has taught me not to be frustrated with imperfection in my practice, but instead see it as unique expression and opportunity for growth. 

In living and traveling other places I have never been to a yoga studio with so many skilled teachers, I could easily name 7 or 8 favorites. It's truly amazing to go to any practice and know I am going to feel both challenged and refreshed. 

One of Inner Fire Yoga's greatest strengths is the community of friendship and encouragement here. I have met so many wonderful people that I love to practice alongside and have made Madison feel even more like home. Namaste yogis!


Sue Hogg | July 2016

Sue Hogg | July 2016

It has been over a decade since I walked into Inner Fire Yoga and had a life-changing experience...found one of the loves of my life...hot yoga. Here was a place where I could face myself head-on. The challenge of pushing & pulling, "dancing" with the forces of gravity, and having the heat to work in, were so incredible. I couldn't believe it! Having had a serious back situation, surgery, broken my 4th & 5th metatarsals, fractured my radius, a meniscus repair, over 120 stitches, nearly bleeding to death, an emergency hysterectomy, cancer, & other issues, I could & can fully participate! And I'm a grandmother, "Suesue", to boot!

It is awesome to be surrounded by such amazing fellow students, putting in such effort, focus, determination, breathing right through it. We often share experiences later of how we felt at the beginning of class, & the remarkable shift at the end. It has been a truly great way to begin the day, even at 6 am.
 

My heart goes out to the talented teachers, who often practice right along side of us, and offer their inventive cuing & inspiration, as we move & groove. Each teacher has a special way of creating a class that restores & motivates us to make this particular class our own, to modify or intensify, & that the body is new different every day. We get to listen to beautiful music playlists, and even teachers' peaceful singing right in the room.

What Inner Fire brings to the world is such a contrast & laboratory for life, so that you can practice your practice, & then find it easier to roll with the flow of the day, no matter what it brings you. I also love the way yoga opens up & heals the spine, helps with forward-head carriage, & revs up the core. It's quite amazing how strengthening & stretching these areas with the heat, has such influence on the body's posture. Love it!

It blends in so well with my own work as a Vitality Coach. I look at teach about the nervous system how to become more athletic & live a life of high quality. It is a study of that person's obstacles, physically, intellectually, spiritually, what they really want. Some of my students were diagnosed as autistic as children, and now are learning more about where they are in space & where their passions lie. Others want to create a more successful business or feel better in the work they do. It is quite something how some of the aspects of yoga fit in with studying you your possibility.

And all in all, Inner Fire makes me a better person, more loving, a better coach, more appreciative of the new day...more athletic, I am forever grateful. Thank you so very much to Marit, Michael, Kate, & all who make it such a wonderful place to practice hot yoga!

Sue recently started selling her energy bars at Inner Fire Yoga. They are so yummy! If you would like to learn more, check out this article Sue wrote about them.


Tristan Prescher | June 2016

Tristan Prescher | June 2016

I found Inner Fire Yoga at a very important point in my life and I am so thankful I did. To be honest it was a little bit of a fluke how I first began my practice here. I had recently moved from the far-east side into a new place with my fiancé. I am not new to the Madison area - I completed both my undergraduate and graduate education at UW (Go Badgers!) but it is definitely a different experience as a working professional. I was looking to get into a new exercise routine and was familiar with yoga (Mostly from Jillian Michaels DVD's which is SO embarrassing to admit). My best friend was visiting for the weekend and we were driving down University Avenue and she pointed out Inner Fire and asked if I had ever tried it. I signed up for the New Student Special that Monday and the rest is history! My first class was Power Flow with the lovely Miss Julie Logue and I thought I was going to die. *SPOILER ALERT* I did not die and was actually rather intrigued by the detoxification and total body workout I felt. Initially I became addicted the physical benefits - increased heart rate, sore muscles, extreme sweating, attempting new poses/balances, etc. Now I find myself looking forward to an occasional Slow Power class to wind down and concentrate more on my breathing and mind. 

Several months after joining Inner Fire Yoga my only sister was diagnosed with Lymphoma - the same type of cancer my mother passed away from when I was younger. To say that it was a shock to my system was an understatement. I attended my usual Power Flow with Julie that evening in silence and honestly cannot remember a single minute of practice. After a few days I felt comfortable opening up to my Inner Fire family about what was going on. They were attentive, supportive and genuinely concerned about what was going on. They surprised me with some wonderful gifts and continue to ask how she is doing with treatment today. I honestly don't know what I would have done without them and Inner Fire. My practice allowed me some time to simplify my world - just me, my mind, my body, my breath and my mat. I never struggle about what my dedication will be at the beginning of class. Yoga has helped me (a previously glass half-empty pessimist) to put out positivity, even in the seemingly worst circumstances and I am eternally grateful. That's not to say that my work is done. I will continue to work and confront the bodily and spiritual challenges that life brings. I am humbled every day by how much I still have to learn. As cliché as it sounds, "Life is a journey - Not a destination" and I am happy that Inner Fire and its wonderful community are with me on my journey!
Special thanks to my regular teachers Julie, Sandy and Adrienne!


Lisa Witkowski | May 2016

Lisa Witkowski | May 2016

Seven years ago, I was in a very intense space. I was raising three small children, I had started a new career as a counselor, my place of employment burned down (random, I know), and my beloved dog died. The inevitable stress turned me into a person I did not want to be. My usual calming routine of running that I had relied on for years was no longer providing the solace I needed, and my feelings of anxiety and depression were only made worse with daily aches and pains in my hips, knees and back. I had experimented with yoga a few years back and enjoyed it, but the thought of experiencing that same yoga in a heated room sounded perfect. I always loved running in high temperatures and thought hot yoga would be a lovely blend of silence and a physical challenge. With beach towel in hand, I showed up to a Community Class at Inner Fire on a Saturday, and am proud to say I stayed through the entire class. Shortly thereafter, I was a member and attending regularly.

Most days, I pick a class, find a spot under the heater, say a prayer, and breathe. I know my mind is elsewhere if I can't balance on one foot, and it still amazes me that focusing on my breath always brings me back to the present. I truly appreciate the teachers who encourage compassion and provide brilliant information about how creatively our bodies are made. And I have a special place in my heart for the teachers who offer me grace and a smile when I occasionally arrive late or leave early. I love the classes that are packed full of people - extra hot and humid. I appreciate the inspirational people of all ages who practice with me, particularly those who have lived longer than I, and those with the kinds of scars and tattoos that indicate a unique and possibly tough life. I love that my kids are impressed with my near 40-year-old splits and handstands, but am even happier that they see me take time for myself in a healthy way. There was a day when I received news that a client of mine had died. Filled with grief, I called my husband and said I needed yoga and, per usual, he said "go." Equipped with my 'just in case' yoga clothes in the car, I went to Inner Fire. As tears and sweat poured down my face, I felt so relieved and thankful to have a safe and effective space to step into and cope with my feelings.

Still, there are mornings I wake up with some anxiety about the day. The what-if's and to-do lists bring about a scatteredness that I sense will never go away. And yet, I feel confident that the heat burns off some of that extra angst and makes me a more "normal" person. I no longer use heating pads and ibuprofen, or beg for someone to massage the knots out of my back. I use the time on my mat to connect with my Faith, my values, and my feelings. And although I may never be the "calm" person I used to wish people would see me as, I will go through this life being the sensitive person I'm supposed to be. Full of feelings and intensity, and tearing up easily at all the brutiful (brutal and beautiful) life around me. Yoga at Inner Fire helped me accept that. Grateful, Lisa
 


Jeff Ford | April 2016

Jeff Ford | April 2016

I found Inner Fire Yoga when my daughter started taking lessons at 4 Lakes DrivingSchool next door. At that time I was in the process of looking for a yoga studio, so for a variety of reasons (convenience, need to heal some old injuries, attractive intro rate of $30 for the first month...maybe subconsciously I thought conscious breathing would help during our driving lessons on University avenue?), it seemed like a good time to get started.

Karen Erstad was my first instructor and I loved everything about her approach--verywelcoming, accessible, good cues on poses, not too much talking--but what she did say was a nice combination of humor and wisdom, and I always enjoyed her stories of how yoga connected to her everyday life.

In the beginning, some of the poses were, let's say, "aspirational", but I never felt like I didn't belong, and over the course of the last year I've tried most of the classes. I learn something worthwhile from every instructor. I guess I can call them all successes, if success is defined as survival with glacial progress, no significant injuries, and learning something about myself every day. My approach is Beginner's Mind meets Groundhog Day. Don't assume anything/start over every day, become a little more aware, and try to find some humor in the attempt. Keep breathing. I suppose I'd characterize my current state as "trying hard not to try too hard" and letting my breathing dictate how far a muscle will stretch, or how long a pose can last.

Yoga is one of my good habits, 3-5 times/week, usually Inner Fire Flow 75. It helps me have patience as I try to learn how to play the piano. My systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are both 7 points lower than last year. Drinking lots of water keeps me regular and the intense sweating really helps my skin tone. Yoga helps me concentrate on just the present, losing the distracted parts of my mind and coming to my senses.  


Erika Hanson
March 2016

I came to Inner Fire Yoga for the first time after deciding to join my sister and some other girlfriends on a four day intensive Jivamukti yoga retreat. This was at a time in my life when I was seeking to make some changes, but not sure how to begin. Having not practiced yoga in over twenty years and worried that I was not prepared to do four days straight of yoga, I asked to join a dear friend who I knew practiced yoga somewhere in Madison. As it turns out it was Inner Fire. After several classes here, followed by the retreat, I found a physical discipline that also met the needs of my heart and mind. I consider Inner Fire Yoga an important part of my life here and am grateful to be able to share in such an inspired, knowledgeable and experienced community of yogis, both teachers and students.
 


Richard Hamel
February 2016

When Erika approached me to be Inner Fire's February Yogi of the Month, I was excited, although I tried to keep my enthusiasm under wraps. Why I'm not sure! I guess I've been waiting to share my journey ever since I began to notice the inspiring stories of my fellow yogis on the plaques lining the walls of Inner Fire. When Erika, a former 5th grade student of mine from Shorewood Hills Elementary, asked, how could I resist?

At times, lying on my mat waiting for class to start, I'd practiced my "little speech." It always started, believe it or not, with "Yoga saved my life ..." It may sound like hyperbole, but starting yoga at Inner Fire saved me from something. From my undisciplined self? From my ageing self? From losing touch with myself? With yoga I felt centered and focused, and it allowed me to find resources within myself I didn't think I had.

Yet, it's been physically and mentally challenging. There have been times that I've turned left at the stoplight rather than right into the parking lot of Inner Fire. 'Not today,' I would say. Inevitably, I regretted those days but never a day I committed to my practice.

Initially, I treated hot yoga like a cardio workout! It reminded me of football two-days in high school; though I don't ever remember my high school coach shouting, "If you're too tired, just do child's pose, remember it's your practice." The physical aspect is still challenging: I may never "give my knee a little smooch," in Standing Split (though my Standing Moon pose has improved hundredfold). Now, however, the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga capture my imagination. When I dip into Warrior II, I feel it in my bones and muscles, in my mind and in my heart. At the end of the day, I own my yoga practice, and that knowledge or feeling brings with it a sense of personal satisfaction.

The fact that I can often find the reflection of my wife, Brenda, in the mirror at Inner Fire, practicing with me, winking or nodding in my direction, is especially gratifying. To the wonderful community of Inner Fire instructors, especially Karen, who share their positive energy with their yogis, thanks.


Laura Patterson
January 2016

Admittedly, I did not fall in love with yoga after the first class. Saying that out loud makes me feel a little guilty. However, I have never cheated in this yoga relationship and always been with one yoga studio, Inner Fire Yoga of Madison. Several years ago, I purchased a 2 week package at the original, one-room, cozy, Inner Fire studio located at that time at the end of Blackhawk Ave near where I live, with the goal of trying 90 minutes of Bikram Hot Yoga. It was hard, nauseating, frustrating, disappointing, and simply, not possible. I quit without even finishing my 2 weeks and that was in the winter time when it was cold outside! My routine of running, biking, hiking, skiing, canoeing/kayaking, weight-lifting at the gym, and traveling continued; but, without yoga. 

Then, my sister-in-law, who I often went on trail runs with and who is 20 years younger than me, asked me to join her for a class at the new Inner Fire studio. Excited to tackle this challenge again, we stepped into another hot, nauseating, small room; however, my experience was different this time. I am not sure why: maybe I was more open, relaxed, focused, and positive, with a teacher that connected to me and awoke that curiosity. After that, I paid for a few classes before I really committed to the 90 day Hot Yoga challenge and completed it. That is the history of my yoga beginning and over 800 classes later, I am still hooked. 

Over the past years with a regular yoga practice, I can feel a transformation in that I am a better person to myself, family, friends, coworkers, and patients. For 16 years, I have been a small animal veterinarian (where I go by Dr. Laura Oxley) in a clinic environment, which can be very stressful with nervous, anxious pets and questioning, concerning owners; but, also frenetic staff that are working hard to please everyone, just like me. I enjoy what I do and am proud of the service I offer (at Healthy Pet Veterinary Clinic on the east side of Madison); however, I realize that I possess certain qualities NOW that I did not have before yoga. Patience, relaxation, acceptance, mindfulness, and awareness are all traits that I have garnered from practicing yoga. Primarily, I attend power flow and inner fire classes with some of my favorite teachers, Adrienne, Julie, Karen E. (hope she is doing well in Colorado), Georgia, and Sandra H; but, truthfully all of the teachers are unique, challenging, enjoyable, and offer me an opportunity to expand my yoga knowledge with each class. 

Although, it sounds like a cliche: Yoga has allowed me to explore myself, become empowered, confident, enjoy every day, and really understand what it means to be alive. There are days when I am tired, sore and just plain worn out; however, if I go to yoga I am able to leave all those negative feelings, thoughts, and pain behind. I still enjoy all those activities I mentioned above, except for a gym membership, and rejoice in the sense of community, self-worth, flexibility, and strength that Inner Fire Yoga offers. Thanks for being here and offering so much.


Erica Johnson
December 2015

As a former athlete and avid runner, I look for intensity and challenge in anything that has to do with being physically active, and in the beginning that is what yoga was for me; it was all about the physical practice. Now, yoga is so much more than that. My mat is a place for me to get out of my head and into the moment. It's a safe place to open up and let go. I have also learned to listen to my body and know that it is okay to be kind to myself, whether it be in class or in life. My love for yoga at Inner Fire does not just stem from the physical and mental practice; it also comes from the inspirational teachers and fellow yogis. It truly is a community, a family of like-minded people. I have met some amazing human beings who have become lifelong friends.


Tony D'Allessandro
Novermber 2015

This photo, taken by Lauren Werner, which I call “Warrior 1 Triathlete,” displays the reasons I began my yoga practice at Inner Fire Yoga five years and nearly 900 classes ago. I will be honest, at first I focused only on the physical nature of yoga. I wanted to improve my triathlon performance by increasing strength, flexibility and balance. Inner Fire has more than delivered. This year I qualified for the half Ironman world championship in Austria and in 2014 I just missed qualifying for the full Ironman world championship in Kona, Hawaii. 

Depending on how I am feeling I will alternate my practice between power flow, inner fire flow and hot yoga classes. The variety of classes, instructors, students and yoga community at Inner Fire is unparalleled. Although I initially focused on the physicality of yoga, I have come to appreciate many other benefits. I have found myself becoming more mindful with a new sense of inner peace, equanimity, patience and tolerance.

While Inner Fire Yoga teacher Darlene Vanderhoop says I don’t have a Yin bone in my body, my future practice of yoga will be more restorative, adding a little Yin to my Yang. But first I have to qualify for Kona.


Lizzie Ryan
October 2015

I first began my yoga practice in January 2015 at Inner Fire Yoga. Deciding to begin a dedicated practice of yoga is certainly one of my greatest life decisions. I never would imagine that I would come this far since then or that yoga would become such a crucial and amazing part of my life! Before finding Inner Fire Yoga, I would practice yoga here and there, but never with the dedication that I do now. It was the heat, the tight-knit community and the welcoming teachers at Inner Fire that inspired me to stick with yoga as a daily practice. During my first class at Inner Fire, I knew I was hooked. Since then, it has certainly changed my life. I instantly began to feel the positive effects of yoga as soon as I began practicing. I quickly found increased flexibility, better balance and stress relief. However, the greatest benefits have taken more time. It has been a gradual process, but yoga has given me the gift of high self-confidence and increased mental clarity.

Throughout my journey, I have felt both my body and mind transform. It is a wonderful thing to one day find yourself in a pose that you never thought you would get, even the day before! I enjoy setting goals for myself through conquering poses; even the most basic poses can always be improved upon.

I use yoga as a way to find balance. If I am overflowing with energy and need a way to channel it, I choose a sculpt class. If I need rejuvenation — Power Flow, and for ultimate relaxation, Yin. Regardless of how I am feeling day to day, my day does not seem complete if yoga is not a part of it.

I am quite lucky to say I am now a part of the Inner Fire Team, working as a Sales Intern. I am thrilled to be working for a business that I have so much gratitude for.

Practicing yoga has taught me dedication in all aspects of my life — in fitness plans, in my studies at UW, in relationships with friends and family. I have had multiple friends tell me that ever since I began practicing that I radiate happiness. That is perhaps one of the greatest compliments I have received, and it’s certainly thanks to Inner Fire!


Eric Reimy
September 2015

I have been surrounded by Inner Fire Yoga for much longer than I have been practicing. I’m married to Bonnie and I have been privileged to watch her begin her practice, grow within her practice and become the excellent teacher that she is. In the meantime, I had taken a class once or twice a year for a while but never started a practice. In between having lower back issues and Bonnie telling me that I was beginning to be perpetually grumpy, I finally listened to her and began yoga last summer.

Starting a yoga practice for me began as a purely physical thing. Yoga is good for your lower back they said. Wow, it’s really hot in here, how am I not going to pass out? You want me to do what with my legs? Fortunately, I am fairly obstinate. I kept coming and kept listening to my excellent hot teachers: Hope Henley, Karen Rigsby, Lauren Werner and Dr. Ruddy.

Now that I have a regular practice, it is more about the meditative side. Yes, my lower back is better. I am more flexible and I can do that thing with my leg for the most part. There are still about four or five extra savasanas in my standing series. From the excellent teachers at Inner Fire Yoga, I learned that listening is about hearing the room, the ‘drop your hip’ instruction, the novel yogis, the experienced yogis and sometimes the music from the flow class next door. I find that the meditative side of my yoga practice has taught me to listen better to the world. I now hear new things all the time and that is why I continue my practice. I also laugh a lot more now. Namaste.


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Judy Genin
August 2015

I first started my yoga practice over 10 years ago at the old studio, Bikram Yoga Madison on University Ave. I was overweight and was dealing with some health issues. I was soon hooked on the hot yoga and practiced, on average, five times a week. I loved it! I slowly lost the extra pounds and felt healthier than ever before. I went through the teacher training with Marit, Joan, and Karen Rigsby. I completed the training but never taught since I went back to school. I carried the knowledge and yoga principles over the past 10 years but rarely made it to the studio.

I recently retired after having spinal fusion surgery. I came back to Inner Fire Yoga shortly after my recovery from surgery. The regular practice has erased all back pain, and I feel like a new person. I so enjoy coming to the studio, and it warms my heart to just be around other yogis.

I decided in May that I wanted to share my practice of yoga with others and signed up for the Summer Intensive Teacher Training through the studio. I am starting my final week of training, and it has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had. The wealth of information from all the studio teachers has just made me want to know more and more. I am very excited to begin this new journey in my life and hope I can pass my love of yoga on to others as I continue my forever-evolving practice.


Jennifer Bosben
July 2015

The best way to start my little story of Inner Fire Yoga is with a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the wonderful teachers. Thank you, beautiful teachers, for your never-ending energy, patience, kindness, creativity, generosity and humor! Under the guidance and wisdom of these teachers, I’ve slowly morphed from a tippy, twitchy, flopping and dramatic running-from-the-room at triangle and, again at fixed-firm student, to someone who feels calm, centered, meditative and loves the heat.

I started attending hot yoga classes at Inner Fire Yoga in the spring of 2013. My lovely friend and yoga instructor, Hope, had been telling me to try out a class for a looooooong time. Hot yoga sounded not very appealing to me. My husband actually tried out Hope’s class first and came home telling me he KNEW I would love it. So, yes, I tried it, and yes m’am, I loved it. However, I was a big baby for many, many, many, months. I could not stay in that hot room, let alone focus in a pose. I was channeling my inner fainting goat. BUT, that Dr. Ruddy is pretty magical. During his 4pm Saturday sweat lodge I felt like he was talking to me when he said, “Don’t be so dramatic – it’s just yoga. It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect.” Ah-ha. So I dropped my expectations (and tried hard to tackle and strangle to death my inner critic…still working on that) and began to focus inward and on my breath. Slowly things shifted and changed. Now Inner Fire Yoga is my sanctuary, my church, where I come to ground myself, wring the bad stuff out, and hopefully, connect to my fellow-yogis and all of humanity in a kinder, gentler way.


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Kaitlyn Hetzel
June 2015

Once upon a time (2013) I began my yoga journey at Inner Fire Yoga. By no coincidence, my first class was taught by Ally Hrkac, a brand new yoga teacher and BFF (est. in 2008, in the Witte 606-A dorm­­­). It was in this first class where I found my second best friend, Savasana, and my new love of heated yoga.

Since then, I’ve learned I actually love the classes that push you hardest, like Sculpt or Julie Logue’s Power Flows. It’s typically my main source of exercise, especially in the winter months when I’m grumpy about how cold I am. It’s perfect for Wisconsin. In the summer of 2014, I was awarded with a scholarship to practice at Inner Fire Yoga (#ScholarshipAthlete). It was such a humbling experience for Inner Fire Yoga to allow me to practice, when financially I wasn’t able to sustain going to class as much as I wanted to. I will always be grateful to have received that opportunity. Today, I work at Inner Fire as a Yoga Advisor, checking fellow yogis into classes and snacking on the candy bowl.

I love yoga for a few reasons (none of which are chair pose, by the way). One of the main aspects I love about yoga is the sense of accomplishment after completing a class, learning a new pose, or balancing in half moon without falling on my neighbor. Some of these yoga moves can be pretty intense, and you feel so proud when you find yourself being able to do something you never could before. I think Inner Fire provides a good balance by encouraging you to “reach higher, burn brighter,” but if you’re not feelin’ so high ‘n’ bright today, that’s cool too. No one’s going to judge you. Your practice is your own, and you are the only judge of your progress.

I also love how yoga encourages you to ‘remove yourself’ from your day. It’s the only hour where I’m off the grid — no texting, sending emails, creeping on Facebook, or talking to Ally about her Tinder (don’t tell her I told you). It’s perfect for when you need to be alone with your thoughts and focus on yourself. At Inner Fire Yoga, you’re surrounded by people looking for that same escape from their day. You’re all in it (out of it?) together.

So, while I credit Ally for getting me started with yoga, it was Inner Fire Yoga and its community that kept me coming back after my first class. I really enjoy meeting everyone that’s a part of this community, and I’m so appreciative of everything they’ve taught me so far. I couldn’t imagine a better environment to grow in my yoga practice, and I’m so grateful that it’s been such a big part of my life.


Connie Bettin
May 2015

 

It’s simple, really. Inner Fire Yoga is my sanctuary. My get away from it all space. My time to breath, reflect, recharge, let go and grow. Like many, I ventured into yoga to lose those stubborn pounds that had become a permanent fixture over the years. I’d always been active and sporty, but time has a way of slowing the metabolism and storing extra layers like some ancient need to survive the coming of winter. Plus, I was nearing 50 and asked myself when exactly this journey into fitness was going to begin? I’d gone to the Bikram Studio on University years ago and learned it was now Inner Fire Yoga. So, off I went to a Saturday yoga class. Little did I know that both rooms would be filled to the brim with mats separated by mere inches. Trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I found a spot near the front. Not my game plan, but I told myself to enjoy and try not to fall over. And then it happened. Ninety glorious yoga minutes in a room full of sweaty yogis united by breath and movement. I felt fantastic! It wasn’t pretty, but who cared. I looked around a lot that morning for guidance and inspiration. Everyone seemed so happy. Happy to be at Inner Fire. Happy to be practicing yoga. Just, happy. It was a big yoga party and it was infectious. I fell in love with yoga that day and I knew I’d be back—695 more times to be exact. Now, I fully expected to reap the physical benefits of yoga and IFY did not disappoint. Crazy, challenging sequences (@Adrienne Leslie) have made me stronger and more flexible than ever before. I find myself in postures I never dreamed possible and the muffin top is (mostly) gone. What I did not expect, however, was the spiritual and emotional impact both on and off the mat.

For context, mine is a profession of service. I practiced and supervised clinical social work and family therapy for twenty-some years—guiding others toward change while seeing, feeling and absorbing the pain that is all too often the human experience. As a program manager for Dane County Human Services, I now run an AmeriCorps program with thirty-five millennials eager to serve their community. I teach, create systems, write grants, problem-solve and support members in any way possible so they in turn can help struggling students improve their educational outcomes. They’re amazing and make me proud every day. I love my work and have no regrets. But service professions take an emotional toll. They require giving of self until most days you’ve got nothing left to give yourself, let alone family or friends. So that magical Saturday years ago is when I found my respite. My sanctuary. A time to recharge and take care of myself. No phones, requests, problems to solve, issues to mend, needs to meet, just me and getting that leg up over my head or busting that arm balance for the first time. My time. My power. My peace. And it’s not just about that sacred time on the mat. It’s about the moments when an IFY teacher says something that resonates to your soul and changes you—fundamentally and completely. There was the time I walked into the studio righteously angered with a colleague in search of affirmation of my rightness. There was Julie at the desk greeting yogis as is her usual custom. Surely, Julie will affirm me. “Connie!! How’s it going?” I grumbled. She listened. As I’m walking to the changing room, she says, “…everyone’s a teacher.” Really?! I want sympathy and instead get some Zen side comment?!? Ok, whatever. But, “everyone’s a teacher, everyone’s a teacher” stayed with me through class.   

What am I supposed to learn? What am I supposed to learn…about myself?! Hmmmm, got it. Yes, everyone, every moment, every event—hard or easy—teaches us something about ourselves. The frustration turned to contemplation. The need to be right turned to a desire to discover. I’m sure Julie does not remember this 30 second exchange, but it changed me and for that I’m grateful. Then there’s Dar. There isn’t a Darlene class where I don’t learn something about yoga, life, California, chakras, playfulness or myself—who knew my parents lived in my hips? Justin taught me that I can take yoga beyond what I thought possible and is just super cool. Recently, Hally started practice in Shavasana-who does that? BTW, I love Hally. She an advocate for justice, rides bikes for nachos, listens to Pat Benatar and writes the most hilarious, insightful yoga blog ever! So, while in Shavasana, she asks…”how do you feel about rest?” Rest? Well, I tend to fight it like I’m doing right now. This realization allowed me to let go in the moment and I’ve continued to ponder rest as something I need to embrace, not fight. And so the lessons go. It seems in every class, there’s a moment.

I fully recognized the profound impact yoga played in my life when I found myself taking deep, pranayama breath during the tough times. It now comes naturally. I hear Karen Erstad’s voice, “you are stronger than you know,” then take a deep, full breath and proceed to face with grace, calm and determination what life throws at me—and it’s thrown some curve balls, sinkers and high heat the past few years. But, everyone has something. I just hope they too find their way to a yoga mat for the respite and care it has brought to my life.

And so I bow to my IFY teachers and fellow yogis and say thank you and Namaste.


Joe Kolafa
March 2015

As a person who found a calling in very few sports growing up, discovering a passion for a physical practice like yoga in my 20’s was somewhat of a surprise. How gratifying that practice would become in my life was even more surprising to me. It was the physical aspects of the practice that initially spoke to me: the less haphazardly I found myself in the different poses, the more I found connection with the abilities of my body and my mind.

It should serve as testament to their wisdom that every Inner Fire Yoga instructor I’ve been privileged to take classes with has opened my eyes to wonderful new aspects of yoga. Teachers like Lanie McManus will always hold a special place in my heart for inviting me to explore a more healing, subtle body practice. They’ve led the life-affirming journey I’ve taken on my mat and empowered me to embrace change, love, and the purpose of it all.

I feel fortunate and grateful to share my practice with such a fun, dynamic community. I’m also continually inspired by the spirit of outreach at Inner Fire Yoga and would someday like to share the gifts I’ve received here with incarcerated and other traditionally underserved populations.


Arati Shrestha
March 2015

Yoga has been my life saver. Before yoga, I loved to do heavy work-outs as I was more conscious about my weight and building muscles. Weight lifting and running had always been my choice of exercise, but doing them repeatedly began to hurt my upper back. Ultimately, I lost hope in achieving a fit and active lifestyle. Not only that, but being a full-time hair stylist put a lot of pressure on my neck and shoulders. Finding my way to be healthy and active again, I decided to try yoga. I got a lot of feedback about yoga saying that my neck pain may get worse if it is not done properly, but after seeing the dedication from Gurus, all fears and pain were out the door. The Inner Fire Yoga instructors are so helpful with teaching me ways to cure my stress and pains. I have truly found my home. If I can’t make it to a class I feel like something is missing from my day. Sometimes after class it’s as if I am leaving my massage therapist appointment!

The instructors at Inner Fire Yoga are my motivators in life. They make me feel like I am being taken care of. I am also so glad I introduced yoga to my family. They have really enjoyed being part of the Inner Fire Yoga community and spreading the yogi love. All my favorite things are now in one place! My yoga and my family! Inner Fire Yoga is such a welcoming environment, filled with lovely people. I cherish every moment I spend there. My favorite part of yoga is the savasana at the end, accompanied with the beautiful songs and chants the instructors sing for us. I’ve found my home!


Bill Kokott
February 2015

Golf has always been a part of my life. After several years playing tournament golf on the North Florida PGA Tour and having competed in several PGA Tour events, my focus turned to teaching others to play the game. A student of mine was taking yoga classes and convinced me to try it. I came to Inner Fire Yoga to take the introductory month so I could tell my golf students that I was familiar with yoga and that it would be good for them. Well, that was over three years ago and yoga became a frequent practice for me.

I have benefitted greatly from the classes and workshops at Inner Fire, both professionally and personally. As a coach of the Men’s Golf team at Madison College, and instructor of junior golf in the First Tee program, much of the yoga wisdom has given me a new perspective. Such concepts as staying in the present, letting go of outcome, and not being afraid to fall, have their equivalents in golf too. Yoga has given me new insights, a different frame of reference, and respect for a student’s limitations. It has made me a more effective teacher and coach.

Swinging a golf club from the same side all my life and bending over a golf ball through many years of practice left me with muscle imbalances and occasional back problems. After a year practicing yoga and learning to love every twist and upward facing dog, the back pains have largely disappeared. I know flexibility has increased in some ways but those over use imbalances are still a work in progress. I attended a five-week Yoga Bootcamp instructed by Karen two years ago, and a component of the workshop was more mindful nutrition. We were asked to keep a daily journal of what we were eating and to attend a weekly meeting to discuss our findings. It also involved the difficult task avoiding fast food, but I have kept that as a rule of mine today. As a result I am about twelve pounds lighter and feel much better.

I am especially grateful and feel very fortunate to have had such a fine staff of instructors to learn from at Inner Fire Yoga. There is always a welcoming, positive, and encouraging environment in class. I also have come to appreciate how motivating the simple phrases heard in class are, like “stay with it,” “you can do it,” or just the word “nice”, when I so badly want to get out of pose. I truly enjoy coming to yoga and being part of a room full of people, each for their own reasons, trying to better themselves. It makes me feel that I am in the right place.


Allie Dienger
January 2015

When I first walked into Inner Fire Yoga I discovered a passion that had been in and out of hibernation. As a lifelong student committed to growth, yoga has been a mirror for me, a lens offering new perspectives. Throughout my practice, I am continually learning. I love the way a yoga class can call for a personal transformation, a personal shift to gratitude. Yoga serves as a constant reminder that we are all unique human beings meant to believe in miracles. I love walking through the door of Inner Fire Yoga because I so often feel that my whole being can exhale and just let life be. I do my best to show up as myself, unguarded, and ready to learn. Ready to breathe. Ready to sweat. But most of all, ready to smile.

Once I started on the yoga path, I wanted to share its abundance. Slums. Love. Poverty. Children. Sickness. Connection. Homelessness. I signed up to be a part of the Africa Yoga Project. Traveling to Kenya, Africa I completed my 200 RYT. Teacher Training at the Shine Center in Nairobi was where I learned to treasure life’s simply joys. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to teach yoga throughout Kenya’s slums, jails, community centers, and at a deaf school. These experiences taught me to expect the unexpected.

I am beyond grateful for the teachers at Inner Fire Yoga that have guided me, helped me clear my mind and embrace the present moment. Each teacher at Inner Fire Yoga has touched my heart in a unique way and inspired me to continue on this beautiful journey that began with one single step onto a mat.


Sue Massey
December 2014

I discovered Inner Fire Yoga a couple years ago. I am now a yogi lifer.

My practice is very personal. I love the flexible schedule at Inner Fire Yoga. It works really well with my crazy, busy calendar. Sometimes I feel like taking a Slow Flow class, and other times I am into a Power, Yin, or an Inner Fire Flow class. I love switching them up. I can dial-up the class depending upon where I am on that particular day. I love the variety of techniques taught by all of the teachers. It keeps class really interesting: there is something new to learn every day. I love the feeling of community at Inner Fire Yoga. For most of my life, I have battled an eating disorder. Inner Fire Yoga has helped me to release stress on my mat. It has felt like a healing miracle. I have never been so happy, so at peace within, so spiritually connected. In fact, I am so devoted to the Inner Fire Yoga community, I wrote about it in my recently released memoir, Letter From the Heart. Inner Fire Yoga will always hold a special place in my heart. The studio warms me through and through. And for a near non-sweater, nothing feels sweeter than to sweat in a yoga class.

 

Marisa Roembke
November 2014

I started doing Hot Yoga very intermittently 10 years ago. I can’t remember my initial interest, but was definitely drawn to the heat. I wish I had a story of spiritual enlightenment or an instant passion but I didn’t. Prior to the last year or so, I had never practiced yoga for more than a few months at a time for whatever reason; work, family, time. I have gone to different hot yoga studios in Madison, Tempe, AZ and San Luis Obispo, CA. We moved back to Madison in 2010 and I eventually found my way to Inner Fire Yoga. I started practicing at Inner Fire Yoga because it was convenient from work and home. I sit at a desk all day long and was searching for an activity that I could do regularly. I found was out of shape and stressed with work. I wasn’t finding the connection at the different gyms I was going to. I again started yoga intermittently, but with frequent excuses. Then I developed hip pain and was sent to physical therapy and soon I realized I could accomplish some of the same therapy through yoga. I knew I needed regular practice. I started going regularly, started feeling better and suddenly I was hooked. That was over a year ago and I have been committed ever since.

I started doing only Hot Yoga. My work and family schedules change often so I have the opportunity to benefit from different instructors. I love going to different instructors because I learn different things from their different cues. My greatest accomplishment is in Triangle Pose. I used to feel a sense of dread when it was time to do the pose. It is still a work in progress, but I have made great strides. My nemesis pose: Standing Head to Knee. I try to approach it head on. My favorite poses: Half Moon, Forward Fold and Tortoise. They just feel good. Standing Bow is the most beautiful pose and someday I will be able to hold it the entire time. I also love it whenever I get an assist in class.

I have recently started to incorporate Yin into my practice. I now want to step out of my comfort zone and try the Inner Fire Flow classes since it follows a set sequence and incorporates many of the classic Hot Yoga poses. I feel strong when I do yoga, I have increased confidence and a general sense of calm. It is not just the superior instructors at Inner Fire Yoga, but the welcoming community that make it such a great place. I’m always happy to see friendly faces in class that share the same passion as I do. I like that I can call myself a yogi.


Kate Mroczynksi
October 2014

I am honored to be chosen for the Inner Fire Yoga student spotlight. I started practicing yoga a year ago when a professor from my program challenged our class to make a lifestyle change. She wanted us to make a change in our life, big or small, and practice it every day for one month. This experience helped us gain perspective into how it might feel when we, as therapists, ask a client to make a change in their life. I am currently a student in the Master’s of Occupational Therapy program at UW-Madison. For those who have not heard of occupational therapy (OT) before, the profession helps people throughout the lifespan participate in meaningful occupations/activities that they need or want to do through various interventions. OT looks at individuals through a holistic lens; emphasizing wellness, prevention, and life balance. OTs can work in school settings, hospitals, or clinics and are usually on teams with physical therapists and speech and language pathologists.

Upon starting the OT program, I was feeling overwhelmed and experiencing a great deal of stress as our program began with an intensive anatomy course and cadaver lab. I attended UW-Madison as an undergraduate and was very familiar with the campus; however, I found it difficult to adjust to graduate life. I was not sleeping well at night and tried multiple relaxation techniques. I knew I needed to make a change in my life if I was going to successfully make it through the program. To be a successful therapist, I first had to balance my life before I could assist others. Inner Fire Yoga opened a campus location in the Lucky building around the same time my professor challenged us to make a lifestyle change. I did not know very much about hot yoga, however a couple of my friends practiced regularly and encouraged me to go. I decided to challenge myse lf to workout daily, but wanted to spice up my workout routine which consisted of the treadmill and elliptical. Inner Fire Yoga was the perfect alternative and with its $30 Intro Offer, this one month trial allowed my to try the studio without having to commit to a membership right away.

I was nervous for my first class as I walked in the heated room at campus and felt like I could barely breathe. I thought, “How am I going to workout, when I can barely just sit here?” I did not raise my hand when the instructor asked if it was anybody’s first class. I did not want to be judged by everyone else in the class who I was sure was extremely experienced. I thought, “Alright I can do this. I’ve played competitive sports my whole life. It’s go time.” My one goal was to not leave the room and I did not, so I was quite proud of myself. I have been hooked ever since that first class at the campus studio. The benefits I have gained from a regular practice have been abundant and my life has changed for the better in ways I could not have imagined. I love practicing yoga, not only for the physical workout, but also the spiritual aspect. When I practice for an hour a day, I feel like I can truly breathe and let go. All of the teachers at Inner Fire Yoga create a safe and welcoming environment where mistakes are accepted. I love to learn new things and I sincerely appreciate the supportive and encouraging atmosphere. Trying new arm balances is my absolute favorite and I have been working on perfecting my headstands. As a student in a professional graduate program, the level of academia and research can be intimidating. I find Inner Fire Yoga to be a place where I can escape the competition of academics and where I can calm my mind. I will graduate from my occupational therapy program in May, and hope to offer what I have learned at Inner Fire Yoga to clients who may have anxiety or need life balance. I plan on getting certified as a yoga instructor so I will be able to incorporate yoga and life balance into my career as an occupational therapist. If I can help one person feel more balanced in their life and find the same peace I have found through yoga, I will feel successful in my career and as a person.

Thank you Inner Fire Yoga staff and community!


Susan Conaway
September 2014

Wow! It is an honor and a privilege to open my heart in a different way to all of you at Inner Fire Yoga. You may not know me, but may have seen me in the yoga studio standing on my ‘sunshine’ mat, wearing my favorite purple top, and, most likely, in a hot spot as I begin my practice of the 26 postures. Depending on the day, I may be serious and quiet, smiley and inviting, high energy and sweating buckets, or simply open hearted and focused on my breath. Most of all, as I begin each class, I am grateful to be present among all of the amazing mentors who have guided and encouraged me to unfold a new path of self-healing and self-awareness: body, mind, and spirit.

I came to Inner Fire Yoga in May 2009. A friend wanted to celebrate my college graduation and the beginning of a new career with me. She thought we could begin our day with hot yoga, have lunch on Monroe street, and then browse some of the fun shops! That celebration was the beginning of this beautiful journey.

Inner Fire Yoga was recommended to me in 2007 by my naturopathic doctor (‘Dr. Jill’ in Janesville where I currently live and work). She had written a prescription for yoga to be a part of a suggested course of healing while I was working in a high stress management position, attending school and snacking on diet coke and jelly beans. She said, “Go to Marit’s Inner Fire Yoga studio on University Avenue. It will be your alchemy!”

Finally, with my friend, I showed up on my yoga mat. The heat was crazy! I looked at my friend and said, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this.” She replied, “Lay down on your mat and just breathe!” Dar was my teacher that day with her lovingly sarcastic welcome and beautiful smile. I had read her bio and was excited because our ages were just a few years apart. She had been instructing and practicing yoga for many years and was one of Bikram’s early students. I had a few concerns with that first yoga practice. I knew I was not ‘bendy,’ but felt comfortable knowing that this was a beginner’s class. It was a challenge to look into the mirrors for 90 minutes, but I knew that this could be a means to practice kindness to myself. Finally, after years of competitive athletics, my knees were in need of healing. This first hot yoga class was the beginning of a beautiful adventure for me.

After practicing hot yoga for five years at Inner Fire Yoga and traveling to various Bikram studios in my spare time, this journey has continued to unfold. To those that do not practice yoga, I tell them that I have lost body fat, improved how I feed my body, increased strength, increased flexibility, improved balance, decreased negative attitudes, increased kindness, and learned how to live a calm, low stress, and joyful life. To my fellow yogis and amazing instructors, I do not have to explain the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. We show up on our mats, breathe in harmony, and enjoy the playful present moment. YOGI’S JUST KNOW!


Shannon Smith
July 2014

Our family moved to Madison in August of 2009 and prior to that, I’m not sure if I’d ever even heard of Hot Yoga. My only exposure to yoga had been a DVD that someone suggested when I was nine months pregnant with our last child and miserable with back pain. The DVD started with Child’s Pose, so that’s as far as I got. It was pure bliss. I thought, why bother with all that stretchy nonsense? I’d found what I needed from that yoga stuff.   Fast forward about a year and one of my new Madison friends told me I should try hot yoga at Inner Fire Yoga. What she really meant to say was, “YOU NEED YOGA! YOU’RE DRIVING YOURSELF CRAZY!” When I asked exactly what hot yoga involved, she said “It’s yoga in a hot, humid room and it feels really good.” Well, I practically shouted, “No way!” as emphatically as only someone with naturally curly hair would understand. In my mind, yoga was only for little old ladies, celebrities and people too lazy to run, right? I had never been lazy a day in my life. For me, even from a young age, life was a flurry of constant movement. I was always trying to be the best student, then later, the best wife, mom, doctor, daughter, friend, cook and housekeeper and there was no time for laziness. At that time, our children were 2, 4, 6, and 7 and I was working hard to build up my new medical practice. I woke before dawn, not because of an alarm, but because my mind was in panic mode all the time: Don’t let up! Don’t relax! Keep moving forward! All of this fuss and energy really wasn’t quite as noble as it sounded. I had something to prove (to myself and anyone watching): that I could do it all and do it all well. Look at me! I’ve succeeded where those before me have failed! I felt that if I backed off, or eased up, everything would fall apart, so I kept moving and pushing and kept checking things off my endless list of thing to do. In truth, I was a hot mess. I had a lot of annoying headaches and muscle tension in my neck and was often short tempered, especially with my kids.   I’ve always been physically active however, aside from gymnastics when I was little, there was no exercise that I really loved. For me, exercise was always about losing weight or maintaining weight or doing penance for what I had just eaten. So on Thanksgiving Day of 2010, while visiting friends in Chicago, my husband suggested a hot yoga class. I wasn’t as quick to dismiss him because he’d said the magic words, ”You’ll burn a ton of calories” which was precisely what I needed to hear before I stuffed my gullet full of all of my favorite foods. Well, I didn’t die in the class, and that’s saying something. The studio was no Inner Fire Yoga, but it sure felt good to stretch my muscles that were tight from so many years of running, stair climbing, weight lifting and elliptical training.

I returned to Madison and went to a hot class (alone, so as not to embarrass myself) and tucked myself safely in the back of the room. I tried hard not to look at myself in the mirror and hoped no one else could see me either, with my loving bulges from my all my babies I was about as graceful as a Mack truck. I approached Hot Yoga with the same vigor I attack anything I really like and promptly did four days in a row which ended up with me in Urgent Care for IV fluids.

Trying to be a super mommy and wife, I naturally felt guilty for taking time away from my family, so the 6 a.m. classes became perfect for my sleepless schedule. I loved that I was briefly unreachable on my sacred little rectangular mat. There was no one to need me, to spill on me, to call me, text me, or mommy me. There I was with sweet David and his “ten points of pressure” and Ken who, in our home, became affectionately known as my “yoga husband” as he helped me to learn the basics and the lingo while gently erasing my skepticism about yoga.

I remember with vivid clarity being in Karen Erstad’s class for the first time. She had us do a straddle forward fold with our hands clasped behind our backs and she said to fold forward and “be gentle with yourself and let all of your burdens fall off your shoulders.” I immediately started to cry. That was the moment at which I began to “unravel” and gain insight into understanding that I was so busy taking care of everyone else, that I was chipping away at myself in the process. The concept of being gentle with oneself was completely foreign to me. Always pushing, working harder, never easing up, relentlessly people pleasing and hating my body: my healthy body that birthed four healthy, wonderful kids and had run a marathon! Who knew that along with gallons of sweat, I’d also shed some of the weight I was carrying on shoulders and heart? I started my yoga journey as a means to burn calories for goodness sake and instead, I learned about forgiveness and peace and breathing in life instead of check-boxing my way through it. In my adult life, I’ve always been very conscious of how lucky I am, but I am now so much more grateful for the moment, in the moment. When I stand in Tree Pose and I lift my arms and raise my gaze to the heavens, I say “Thank you for my life.” I’m keenly aware of the luxury of being able to practice yoga. I’m thankful that I have a loving and supportive husband and kids that celebrate my every new posture and arm balance. Thankful that I was born in this country with all of its riches and abundance. Life is good and I’m a better person because of all that I’ve learned on my mat. I’ve done enough yoga to know that the postures have very little to do with the magic of yoga. The magic that slowly and subtly creeps into every aspect of one’s life. It’s been a long process for me and though my life is certainly no less busy, it feels less crazy. I am stronger and healthier in my body and mind. I will never be a size 2, or 4, or 6 and I no longer care. I am no longer a people pleaser. When all is said and done, I want my husband and children to be proud of me and I want to be proud of the life I’ve lived.

I know that Inner Fire Yoga is a special place. My husband Jeremy knows it, too. When I was ranting and raving about how awful the winter was and how I was going to pack it up and move to Mexico, he smiled and said, “I know we’ll never leave here. You could never leave Inner Fire Yoga.” He’s right. He has been my single biggest supporter throughout my entire life and he has never once batted an eye about my time on my mat. I look forward to the day when we can practice together without having to get a babysitter! It used to take me a good thirty minutes to unwind when I went to class. Now, all I have to do is open the door, hear Julie’s laugh (unmistakable and straight from her soul) and I let go of the pressures of the day. Her music and jokes, challenging sequences and the lovely way she doesn’t take herself too seriously have me coming back again and again. I have to give a shout out to Hally, too. Her beautiful soul, grace, strength and amazing voice have moved me to tears more than a few times. I swear I’m going to show up one day in an “I heart Hally” t-shirt. Adrienne has inspired me to try Peacock Pose and is the single most radiant ray of sunshine I’ve ever met. Michael’s dry sense of humor is hilarious and I always leave his class having learned something new. Lanie is my fellow naturally curly haired yogi, I so enjoy her Saturday class. I love Karen E. in spite of horse pose. I love her words of wisdom and shared stories about motherhood. I thank Marit with all of the gratitude in my heart, for having the vision of Inner Fire Yoga and filling it with only the most outstanding teachers that I now call friends. A lot of people go through a mid-life crisis, but at 43, I feel like I’m just now hitting my stride and living my life the way I was meant to live it. With gratitude, peace, presence of mind and a little less coffee, than I had before. Namaste.


Karl Harter
June 2014

Most of my life I’ve been in pursuit of movement: basketball, baseball, football, running, rugby, biking. I was always in motion. Running became a passion for me. Wherever I was I ran: New Jersey, New Haven, New Glarus, New Orleans. I even ran a marathon in Yonkers, New York during the Summer of Sam. My wife Christina became my favorite running partner, but after two hip replacements my running days ended and we looked for another exercise activity we could do together.

She suggested yoga. I had just read an article on the Bikram Yoga craze and it sounded agonizingly fun. On a whim, we wandered into Inner Fire Yoga. Over the years I had dabbled in yoga, stumbling into a few asanas at the Mound Street Yoga Center in the late 70’s as a prelude to studying zen meditation. I was even fortunate enough to sneak into a couple classes taught by BKS Iyengar in Pune, India in 1986. I was intrigued, but never hooked. So I kept at my usual routine: running, playing basketball and lifting weights. I was happy, endorphin-enriched and oblivious! However, life pushes us in unexpected directions. Nicked and dented by a pernicious cancer, I was forced to confront my vulnerabilities and my mortality. I was forced to find new ways, or old ways, really, to keep my mind and body up to the tasks and the blessings that each day presents.

I came to Inner Fire Yoga in 2009 because of the heat. I stayed because of the people. Dar was the teacher that very first day, and, as we say in NJ where I grew up, she is a piece of work: a rambunctious yogi diva, wise and witty and maybe a little bit divine. It wasn’t just Dar though. When I undid my eyepatch and stood stiff as a car hood ornament on my mat (Dar’s words, not mine) nobody blinked or snickered, or maybe even noticed.

 

I was just another body slick with sweat, attempting the impossible, trying to do a perfect standing bow pose, Dandayamana Dhanurasana. In time I discovered that Inner Fire Yoga held more gems than just Darlene. I almost popped out of savasana and started dancing the frug the day Dr. Ruddy sang “Under the Boardwalk” at the end of class. With my third eye closed I can see beatific Amy R. filling the room with her infectious bliss and gentle prodding. The feisty, tough love Erinn who can’t hide that she cares, as she breaks out the birthday popsicle treats after class. Adrienne is all amped up, glissading between the mats on Sunday chanting to Shiva and Vishnu for divine permission to kick my sorry ass. Sage Lauren is always mixing dialogue with wonderful childhood stories, and Hope has her soft voice and kindness. Karen has her humor and her readings and talk of letting go.

It’s not just the teachers, it’s the yogis too. Like bad boy Randy who is mischief on a yoga mat; steady in his faith and the two minute shower. Mary diligently staking out her same holy spot with her mat and her perseverance, and Amy H. with her sparkly shoes and big heart, the guardian angel of the place. Ryel is so serene as she glides ho-hum into another perfect pose that will take me two lifetimes and comic book superhero powers to achieve. Then there’s Brooklyn Jenni with her headbands and that sly, “here we go again” smile, and old friend Richard who is steadfast in the corner. The crew at the counter are always chattering, nattering, and dispensing good vibes like bite-size candy.

Inner Fire is more than a place to practice yoga. Inner Fire is a community of people who care, who connect through the beauty of asana, through the dichotomy of movement and stillness, and the joy of pushing past pain to catch a glimpse of something inside. In the search for ourselves we find our commonality with others who strive as we strive. And so I practice the poses, I sweat and strive, but no one will ever accuse me of being a nascent yogi. When the teacher beckons our minds be quiet, devoid of thought, free of illusion, my brain is singing “London Calling” by the Clash. If you see someone dancing on his mat, it’s me. I’m the scruffy grey haired, one-eyed hippie stoner boy in the back row, wobbling, tilting, tottering my way through things I may never understand, like Dandayamana Dhanurasana.


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The Tullis Family
May 2014

From left: Gavin, Tim, Paige, Mary.

Tim Tullis

1. Who was the first to come to Inner Fire Yoga?
Wish I could say I thought of it, but Mary and Paige were the first to start yoga.
They talked so much about how they loved the poses and teachers that a few months later I gave it a try. Uncharacteristically of the two, I found that they weren’t exaggerating and soon I was totally hooked. Then, finally, after four years of listening to Mary, Paige and me talk about yoga and share poses and tips, Gavin gave it a try just a few months ago.

2. Has yoga changed you personally in any way, if so how? Yoga has definitely had a positive effect on my life. In short, I feel from both a mental and physical aspect, that it has made me a more balanced, agile and stronger person. Most importantly, yoga has taught me to strive to be in the moment, and when I can’t, then to breathe.

3. How has practicing together impacted your relationship with one another? We have always been a close family, and practicing yoga together has only made us more so. Yoga has been a great environment for us to watch and help each other experiment and take chances with new poses and ideas.

Favorite Pose: Crow into Handstand

 

Gavin Tullis

1. How did each of you decide to try yoga at IFY? Despite the fact that my Mom, Dad, and sister practiced yoga at IFY and loved it, I stubbornly avoided trying it. It seemed like every week someone in my family tried to persuade me to come to a class. Each time I refused, until last November. The mix of cold weather, the fact that I was getting sick of my running/weight-lifting exercise routine, and my recent exploration with meditation finally convinced me to get over my fear of the unknown and come to a class. My first class was a Power Flow with Lanie and I was pretty much hooked from then on.

2. Has yoga changed you personally in any way, if so how? Yoga has changed me in several ways. After yoga, I feel more open and comfortable in my own skin. Sweating and struggling through difficult poses next to complete strangers has taught me to feel less self-conscious and afraid of failure. Moreover, yoga helps me become a calmer more mindful person. I am better at focusing and living in the moment, rather than getting run over by my own thoughts.

3. How has practicing together impacted your relationship with one another? I think practicing yoga with my family grounds me. I am lucky to have a close relationship with my parents and sister, but sometimes I take this relationship for granted. Doing yoga with them reminds me of how much my family supports me.

4. Has yoga helped you get through any difficult times? This might not seem like “difficult times” to most seasoned adults, but yoga has helped me deal with the anxiety and stress of being a recent college graduate. The mindfulness and breathing techniques of yoga have helped me view my challenges more positively. I actually credit yoga with reducing my anxiety when I interviewed for and started my first job!

Favorite Pose: Wheel

 

Paige Tullis

1. Has yoga changed you personally in any way, if so how? Yoga has taught me how to breathe through stressful situations. I’ve found it easier to roll with the punches of everyday life and stay patient.

2. How has practicing together impacted your relationship with one another? Practicing yoga at Inner Fire gives us more of an opportunity to spend time with each other at the end of the day. We all have rather different schedules, so it’s nice to be able to take a breather together.

3. Has yoga helped you get through any difficult times? I would just like to say that Inner Fire Yoga has given me a whole new community outside of school and home. It’s wonderful to have somewhere to go after school and unwind with a bunch of amazing and kind people.

Favorite Pose: Dancer’s Pose.

 

Mary Tullis

1.Who was the first to come to Inner Fire Yoga and how did each of you decide to try yoga at IFY? Paige wanted to exercise with me but didn’t care for running which I was mostly doing at the time. I had experienced a few yoga classes through work, so I suggested we try yoga. When researching yoga classes, I came upon Inner Fire’s website. It seemed like a welcoming studio and more importantly the classes weren’t segregated by age. Paige, who was 13 at the time, and I were able to take classes together. After fumbling through our first few classes we were hooked on the yoga and Inner Fire’s amazing community and teachers

3. Has yoga changed you personally in any way, if so how? Yoga helps me manage my stress that I experience as a public school teacher. Also, it helps me put my stress in perspective and appreciate all the good things in my life!

4. How has practicing together impacted your relationship with one another? Practicing together, whether it’s just two of us or all of us, gives us the opportunity to be together more often. Plus it gives us a common interest to enjoy talking about.

5. Has yoga helped you get through any difficult times? I had a health scare a year before starting practice at Inner Fire Yoga. Yoga helped me move on and not dwell on the past.

Favorite Pose: Arm Balances especially Twisted Scissors!


Kim Groshek
April 2014

Compassion, love and honor. An Inner Fire Yogi since 2009, and with 7 U.S. marathons and 65 half marathons under her belt, Kim Groshek is one serious athlete. Those numbers pale in comparison to Kim’s dedication to yoga, she brings an equal amount of passion and enthusiasm to her yoga! Arriving at the studio 6 a.m. every morning, she is dedicated to taking care of her body. The healing aspect of yoga, she says, gives her balance.

She never really saw herself as a yogi, in fact, the way she saw it, everyone else who practiced yoga were strong, balanced, and at peace. She considered herself, as she says, “A klutz and not well balanced.” When she first started yoga she would position her mat in the farthest back corner of the room, she compared herself to less than a beginner with the other yogis in the room. She felt as if it were a struggle to do each pose. “Half the time I was holding my breath and trying so hard that I couldn’t enjoy it.” With the compassionate lessons from each teacher Kim’s yoga practice grew into a unruffled experience. The meditative quality of yoga and kind soft-hearted teachers at Inner Fire Yoga drew her to continue. Eventually, with daily practice, the focus on breath, meditation and strength came easier to her. She started lifting judgement and control and realized that not every yoga practice is going to be the same. It got easier. She knows now that each day she practices yoga it will be different and she is okay with that.

Kim arrives at yoga with a fresh set of eyes, honors her body, and loves herself without judgment or control. Instead she honors her body and brings compassion and love to the Inner Fire Yoga studio each day.


Bethany Allen
March 2014

A little over a year ago I was in search (once again) for something to help me deal with the stress and anxiety in my life that was all consuming. I had been introduced to yoga two and a half years before after losing my mother to cancer, and I had what I would call a, “weekend practice.” In the two years since first doing yoga I had sold my home, moved to Madison with my children, found myself in a job that left me very stressed and unhappy, I had gotten out of “yoga” shape, and to be honest I was very nervous about going back to Inner Fire feeling like a complete mess! I remembered that when I had practiced yoga in the past it was the one thing that had allowed me to escape whatever worries or concerns I was dealing with at the moment, if only for an hour. After weeks of persuading from my yoga teaching friend and neighbor, I decided that I would give it another go and sign up for the 30 day yoga special at Inner Fire Yoga. And so my journey began.

My first class back on the mat was rough. I was so concerned with how I looked and if I was doing the poses correctly. I left feeling like I had made a big mistake, as if yoga wasn’t for me. However, I’ve never been someone to give in so quickly, and since I had already paid for a month I wanted to get my money’s worth ( I’m a frugal mom of four) so I decided that I would go back the next day; in fact I would go every day for the entire month! It took me about two weeks to start to realize that things were changing with me. I was actually looking forward to going to yoga class and I really started to see some other changes in me, inside and out.

I have always had issues with insomnia and after just a couple of weeks of regular yoga practice I noticed I started to sleep better, it was deep sleep and I was waking up more refreshed than ever. I also started to notice that I wasn’t as stressed at work, the job was the same, but I was starting to be different. I was breathing deeper and learning to breathe through the stress instead of letting the stress literally take my breath away. With these seemingly small, but profound changes I decided to make a deal with myself, “Okay Bethany, if just a few weeks of doing yoga every day can make these kind of changes just imagine what doing yoga for an entire year could do!” Could I really do it? An entire year of yoga, every day, I would put my yoga practice a priority in my life and see where it could take me! My kids thought I was crazy (nothing new) but they also were very supportive and excited to see and experience the changes yoga brought to my life.

Three months into my journey I walked into a meeting at work and was told that my job was being eliminated. I was faced with yet another life changing event in my life. Unlike all the times before when life changing events had happened to me this time change was different. I had my moment of shock and awe, and I cried; but then something amazing happened, at least for me it was amazing…I MOVED ON! I let go and I moved on! This was huge in my world as I had never been able to let go and move on so easily with anything in my life. I knew at that moment that yoga had become my way of coping, of dealing with life. I had searched high and low for something to help me through those times in life that were challenging for me and I had finally found it in yoga!

Every day I made yoga a priority in my life and everyday my life got a little better; it’s still challenging, but those challenging moments were becoming easier and much more manageable for me. After months of power flow, slow flow and some yin I decided to take on the 30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge. I had not done hot yoga in three years and I thought I wasn’t where I needed to be physically, but guess what? I did that too! With the help of the other yogis in the challenge encouraging me, and the always super inspiring yoga teachers at Inner Fire Yoga I was able to complete the 30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge. On February 8th, 2014 I completed 365 classes in 365 days, every day (with the exception of the one day that mother nature forced Inner Fire Yoga to close its doors; and for anyone counting, don’t worry I doubled up a day during the hot challenge) one year of yoga done. Now my new challenge begins which is a lifetime of yoga, and I think, no, I know I can do this one!

I have learned a lot about yoga in the past year, but I have learned the most about myself. I continue my yoga practice with a four to five day a week practice, although I will admit that on the few days I am not at Inner Fire Yoga I miss my yoga family! I would like to thank everyone who encouraged me and supported me over the past year, especially my children, who are now practicing yoga with me. Namaste


Katja Schindler
February 2014

In 2004 I followed my heart to Madison – my boyfriend of a few months got a job here and asked if I would move with him. I had just gotten really hooked on Bikram style yoga in Seattle, so I told him that as long as I could get a job and find a hot yoga studio, I’d move with him. I was so lucky when both transpired! On my first trip to Madison for a job interview, I also took a class at Inner Fire Yoga. It felt like home – so welcoming and warm. I’ve been coming ever since.

Despite my love of yoga, it hasn’t always been easy to commit to my practice. A busy schedule, my job, snow storms – all these things have challenged me over the years. I even participated in one of the yoga challenges and fell short by two classes. Then in 2012 I faced my biggest challenge. Both my dad and husband died – within four months of each other. It was devastating. My husband, the guy I had followed to Madison and eventually married, was only 38 when he died of cancer.

I was in shock for at least a year. I tried to do yoga, but I couldn’t focus. I felt too raw, too weak, and too tired to even drive myself to the studio. The best I could do was walk my dog (well, she walked me) and drag myself to work.

But slowly, as I started coming out of the fog, I knew I needed to get my strength back. And I started attending Inner Fire Yoga regularly. The more I went, the more I craved it, and the better I felt. My initial classes were so shaky. My muscles were weak, my heart was hurting, it was hard to concentrate, and I always ended up with tears streaming down my face. Thankfully, they mixed in with the sweat! But, on the inside, I knew what was happening. Yoga was helping me heal. It was strengthening me in more ways than just the physical. It was so comforting to come to a warm room, to hear the instructors talk about inner strength, to hear them talk about finding gratitude and compassion in every moment and about having unshakable courage. Their words encouraged me, and continue to encourage me every time I attend a class.

Much like yoga, moving through loss is a process that continues to challenge. It’s something that changes you forever, but you can learn to breathe into it, to move through the tough moments, to find stillness and balance in the storm, knowing that it won’t last forever.

I have always loved yoga, how it connects mind and body and soul; and how you never exhaust the possibilities to learn and grow – you just go deeper. Every teacher at Inner Fire Yoga is different, and I feel like I learn something in every single class. I have tried other studios, but keep coming back to the warmth, passion, and community of Inner Fire Yoga, and for that I am so grateful. And did I mention the candy bowl? I’m thankful for that, too!


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Eric Anderson
January 2014

I started to look for a yoga studio in Madison a little over two years ago. After doing a few endurance runs and triathlons, I began to develop knee pain in my day-to-day life that wouldn’t seem to go away. Due to the knee pain, I cut out running and biking was never really my thing, so I decided I would swim and compliment that with some yoga. I had practiced yoga a few times before with my mom and sister, and the asana practice had resonated with me. My plan was to sample a bunch of the studios in Madison in order to find a place to practice regularly.

Well, my plan didn’t get very far. The first place I went to was Inner Fire Yoga, and I liked it from the beginning. The staff is very welcoming, and there is a great selection of classes led by amazing instructors in a heated studio! I was not so fond of the heated studio part in the beginning. It was a great practice in humility to pay for classes in which I would be in child’s pose for over half the class! But the energy in the classes kept me wanting more, and eventually I was able to actually stand in the standing series. After the first month, I knew I didn’t need to try any other studios, I had found my home.

I am grateful for all the teachers who have helped me develop a regular asana practice and a clearer mind. Also, thanks to all the other yogis who bring great energy to the classes and keep me wanting more!