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Loveinvoke: A forum for fitness conversations

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Blog by Francesca [New Loveinvoke blogger-in-chief]

When I first started taking classes at Invoke in September 2010, it was with an air of skepticism and without the intention to make yoga or Pilates a regular part of my workout routine. At the time, I was an unabashed cardio junkie. Running marathons. Cycling. Taking an intense spin on the elliptical. These were my definitions of exercise.

But then I got hooked -- at first by the blissful rigor of Nicole Schoville’s Pilates classes, then by the joy of heated Vinyasa yoga. Not only did I enjoy these workouts immensely, I saw the transformative effect they were having on my other athletic pursuits, as well as my ability to handle stress and my overall life outlook.

Two and half years later, I’m fully a yoga and Pilates convert. And now I feel like there’s a huge void in my week if I don’t make it to Invoke at least a couple of times.

Perhaps some of you have similar journeys -- or more interesting stories. Certainly many of you share a love for being well and staying fit and active and have incredible insights to share. This Loveinvoke blog is an outlet for all of that -- a venue where those of us who love wellness can exchange ideas, inspire one another and perhaps light a spark in others to try a new fitness endeavor.

I’m excited to be taking over as Loveinvoke’s blogger in chief. You’ll find updates from me regularly, but, more importantly, I want to hear from you. If you’re interested in sharing your stories or have ideas you’d like this blog to explore, please email me at jarosz.f@gmail.com. To stay tuned into the latest on the blog, you can also follow Invoke on Twitter or Facebook. And I’ll be posting about the blog from my personal Twitter account.

Thanks for taking the time to check out Loveinvoke.com. I look forward to sharing our fitness journeys in 2013.

Jarosz is a former journalist who loves to write, run, practice yoga and lead communications efforts for The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform nonprofit. Follow her on Twitter @francescajarosz.


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Peace in chaos: An overachiever’s journey through three days of utter serenity


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Blog by Francesca [Loves Yoga, Invoke Yoga & Pilates student, Communications]

I, like many people, have a tendency to speed from task to task through life – always trying to maximize efficiency so I can check everything off my to-do list. When that to-do list in complete, I think, I finally can relax.

On the Friday morning before I departed for Invoke’s yoga retreat in New Harmony, my Type A orientation felt like it was hyped up on steroids. I had experienced a week of hectic frenzy at work and an overbooked social calendar. I was leaving Indianapolis for the retreat with a few unchecked items on the to-do list, a groggy head from insufficient sleep and a painful stress knot in my shoulder that was producing a dull headache. I shouldn’t be going on this retreat, I thought. I could really use the weekend to be productive.

But shortly after I got outside the city limits, my attitude began to soften. That was helped in part by the good company of my car companion, Lisa, and the charm of the small Indiana towns we drove through on our southward journey. When we arrived in New Harmony, we found an idyllic Main Street and a friendly recovering hippie whom we asked for directions to the Barn Abbey, our home base for the weekend. Rather than point us there, he got in his beater truck with a “Buy Local” bumper sticker and drove us to our destination.

My warmth toward the experience grew that afternoon as mom, who practices yoga in Springfield, Illinois, arrived and we started the first yoga session. During that session, instructor Ahna Hoke delivered a message that felt as if it was directed right at me: Life is always stressful. There are always multiple tasks you’ll have to accomplish and a myriad of obstacles to overcome. The secret, she said, is being able to find peace in the midst of all of that – and to use that peace to propel yourself forward.

She may as well have said, “Francesca, put your to-do list on a shelf and make some time to be in the moment.” So I did.

I fully embraced that mindset for the weekend. I stayed away from my cell phone (the few Instagram photo updates aside). I had authentic and engaging conversations with brand-new acquaintances. And I took time to notice the beauty of the art, nature and people surrounding me. All of this was propelled by my yoga practice, which trained me to be in tune with the movement of my body and the activity of my mind. I also find this to be true in my regular practice, but on this retreat – surrounded by this group of kind people in a place 200 miles away from distractions – I was able to hone it more intensely.

I left New Harmony on Sunday with a tinge of sadness about parting from the special time, place and community we had formed in our few days together there. But I also felt a new sense of empowerment about the things I’d learned to embrace on the retreat – the sense of calmness and serenity I’d found was possible. My challenge, then, was to take that back to the real world and find it, as Ahna instructed, in the middle of chaos.

It is, in fact, a big challenge, but one that I progress towards conquering daily, with each unexpected life event and every work-related conundrum. My sense of urgency has not changed; I still work to be efficient and fill my days with productivity. But I do so with a new sense of appreciation and an intention to find joy – not just after the work is complete, but in the midst of it.

Jarosz is a former journalist who now leads communications efforts for The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform nonprofit.


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How to Experience Pure Joy in a Broken World…and other lessons from the Buddha


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Blog by Stephanie [Loves Yoga, Invoke student, Practicing yoga & pilates 18 mos, Freelance Marketer]  

Twenty-five hundred years ago, a man who was a wealthy Prince, had a wife and child and great riches but he was distraught that the world had suffering. He left everything behind to seek enlightenment. He gave up food almost entirely and all earthly goods. He would practice meditation but he soon came to realize it was a temporary escape from the problem and not a permanent solution. Near starvation, in constant prayer and living a life of solace, he felt no closer to God and not enlightened.

Buddha then realized that as a child, he looked at the grass. He recognized the perfection of that blade of grass and of the world that gave itself to him. Everything is connected. We are all in this together – plants, animals, insects, humans.

This same message of connection is echoed by instructors at Invoke downtown Indianapolis, such as the lessons I’ve learned from Ahna Hoke during her Vinyasa or Align & Flow classes: when we step in that room to practice, we are a community. We are connected. Just as we are connected with the earth we walk on, the vibrations of the sounds we here before we enter, and the birds we pass along the way. Our energy is a part of their energy and theirs a part of ours. We are accountable and have impact on perfect strangers. And the Buddha teaches that any random person walking down the street has the ability to be enlightened.

Buddha felt a sense of pure joy sitting under a tree meditating. I felt this feeling many times, especially during this past week. I travelled to the beaches of southern California, and I would walk by myself and just smile. And my smile was pure and I felt it in my soul, from the inside out. I felt joy and connection. For me, my yoga practice and the time I spend in nature, near trees, birds and the ocean help me be more present and bring me glimpses of pure joy.

From this broken world can come pure joy. We just need to connect and open our eyes to all its glory.

Disclaimer: I am just a regular woman sharing what she learned about the Buddha. I’m not a Buddhist by trade. I just recognize there are great life lessons I can learn in any walk of life. There are many “experts” on the subject of Buddha. See Dr. Google or Wiki Pedia, PhD for more info. ;)




Feeling "unyogavated"?

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Ever felt “un-yoga-vated?” I have. And I’ve had it bad lately. In fact, I’ve been so unyogavated that I’ve had the title of this blog written on a blank piece of paper for three months. And I couldn’t even blog about it.

I think I’m finally coming up for air. Starting to see the sunshine relief that yoga gives me. I think at times in our lives, we don’t even want to do what is good for us. We know it’s good. We know we’ll feel better. But still, we choose otherwise. I think this can be akin to relationships. We make choices, whether it’s choosing the wrong person or taking a wrong path, which we hope will be end up right. And we try so hard to make it work. But it won’t. Square peg. Round hole.

For the past two months I haven’t wanted to go to yoga. I’m not certain if that’s reflective of what was happening in my life personally or because I became so busy with work but nonetheless, I felt dread thinking of being in warrior position and the burden that would bring to my muscles. I rejected exercise of any kind -- and especially not yoga. I wonder if I didn’t want to make time for myself or if I didn’t want to face my spirit off balance by the imbalance I was keeping in my life. And for me, yoga is so introspective – it forces me to come face-to-face with the challenge of being present, in the moment and getting life’s priorities in check. I am not my past. I am not my future. I am in this moment alive and so blessed. When my life or my spirit is not balanced at the time I hit my mat, you will come face to face with that.

Often times, avoidance can be an easier path to take.

I think I initially lost my way when I started doing other work out routines – following The Should’s. Do you know these people? They are our friends, family and resident experts that say “you should do weights three days a week,” “you should do bootcamp,” “you should run stairs and do cardio interval training four times a week”…so I followed The Should’s and I got lost. And I and lost the joy in my yoga workout routine.

I went back to the way of the old – dreading a workout, burdened by it, feeling the weight on my shoulders of my complete and utter failure as a woman if I chose not to work out. These are the feelings of over 20 years that are rooted in being raised by parents who probably single-handedly spearheaded the entire Should’s movement. But for the first time, I quieted The Should’s when I started doing yoga regularly. I was shocked by actually wanting to workout and wanting to go to class…all for the first time in my life. Yoga brought me joy in my spirit and acceptance of my body that traditional workouts never had. Yet I turned away from it.

I think in life, my journey will continue with the ups and the downs, the should’s and the shouldn’ts, the motivated and the unyogavated. I just hope I keep fighting to make my way back to the mat. If I do, I know the journey will be a good one.

Thank you to Erin Morgan and the other instructors at Invoke who make it easier as they greet me with a warm “welcome back” and a big smile each time I come back.


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New Health & Fitness Blog

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Blog by Jamie [Invoke Pilates instructor]

Jamie, a favorite downtown Invoke pilates instructor, embodies the charm and smile of your best friend. Her sessions combine classic Pilates accompanied by her rhythmic, finger-snapping "one-and-two-and..." count reminiscent of a dance studio teacher, all the while she is giving your body a total toning workout. Her background in ballet, modern dance, strength training, body conditioning and postural anatomy let's you know you are in good hands. Jamie has been featured as a Fitness Consultant in HEALTH Magazine & Dance Magazine and continues to write her own blog featuring health, nutrition and fitness topics.

Here are a few excerpts from her blog. Check it out at www.integratedform.blogspot.com

 

Signs You are Too Sick to Work Out Above the Neck: Stuffy nose, scratchy throat, headache-OK to work out...read
How to Prevent Osteoporosis Here are some essential and specific ways to protect your bones: Diet. Bones are dynamic organs that thrive in a mineral-rich environment. If you eat a lot of refined foods, you are likely to have weak bones and poor teeth. Follow the dietary programs outlined in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, which are low-acid diets that support the health of your entire body....
Benefits of Cutting Back on Meat If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:
● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;...
Read Jamie's blog now.

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My Evolving Journey

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Blog by Betsy  [Invoke student, Yoga & Pilates]

I am not new to Invoke Yoga and Pilates Studio.  In fact, I have been a long time devotee, having started practicing there back in the summer of 2007.  I remember my first class vividly.  I had been practicing Pilates with Ana Caban of GAIAM DVD fame, so I was practically certified to teach myself.   I was ready to step it up with an actual class, so I arrived at Invoke for an evening class, after circling around at least five times trying to figure out how to get into the studio.  That’s how you spot the rookies, when they try to open the locked door in the large practice room.  Oh, for shame.    I discovered that Pilates is easier when the instructor can’t actually see you and you can pause whenever you want to get a Diet Coke or answer the phone.  I received a lot of modifications during class, which were very helpful and also very humbling.  I was not as strong as my self-practice had lead me to believe.

I continued to attend regularly and found myself immersed in the only exercise I had ever really enjoyed.  The Invoke instructors were approachable, easy going and helpful.  It wasn’t long until everyone knew my name and I felt very comfortable.  I loved that I could exercise on my own terms.  It wasn’t like high school sports or conditioning, when someone was pushing me to my limits.  I knew my own limits and soon the instructors did too.  For example, after 5 years of practice, my hamstrings are still too tight for me to hold my legs straight at a 90-degree angle during an abdominal series.  I bend my knees and no one gives me guff about it.   I usually just get a wink.  I also have never been afraid to rest.  No one needs a hero, in my opinion.  You may have noticed me in class as the girl who is lying flat on her back pondering the phrase “pelvic floor” as you grunt through a 12 count series that I just decide to skip.  That’s not to say I’m lazy.  Maybe I am.  Actually, I prefer the term lethargic.  At this point Amy, Nicole or Molly might shoot me a look of encouragement, ignore me, or actually come over and say, “come on, Betsy.”  In any case, it is always just what I need.

I avoided yoga for the first 3 years at Invoke. I was intimidated by the whole idea.  By then, I had settled into Pilates, increasing my flexibility and strength, while hopefully avoiding the whole lengthening idea.  At 5 feet 11 inches, I’ve kind of cornered that market.  No need to lengthen myself anymore, thanks.  Erin and Laura initially encouraged me to try Vinyasa, and finally I mustered the will power and strength to go.  It was totally different, and I loved it.  I was mesmerized by the breathing, flow and communal experience of a yoga class.  I struggled a bit with the Zen parts of it, as I have a very sarcastic sense of humor, and I have a tendency to laugh at the most inopportune times.  I have more than once set my intention to not fart during class. I can hardly forget Eric getting me up in a headstand as everyone else did the same.  I actually shouted, “look at me people, I’m doing it.”  That wasn’t exactly my finest moment, but in true yogic acceptance,  my fellow class members and Eric just smiled.

Now as I enter my 22nd week of pregnancy, my journey at Invoke continues to evolve.  I was truly touched by how authentically excited the staff was by my announcement.  I have not attended a class since when I am not asked how I’m feeling or doing.  Chuck greets me with “Hey momma” and a hug.  I am given modifications and encouragement to keep me going.  I have even started attending prenatal classes with Cheryl, which have a totally different vibe of connecting my needs with those of the tiny life I am growing.  As I reflect on the relationships I have formed at the studio, I realize that for all of the growing and learning I have done, the staff has not changed.  Invoke Studio is a family, and I’m so glad I found it.

-Betsy


My Very First "Om"

Blog by Meghan  [Invoke student, New to yoga & pilates]

A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, and I’ve slowly changed my routine to live more mindfully. I was inspired by friends who found fulfillment with yoga and pilates and I wanted to get involved. I signed up for Invoke’s Intro to Yoga Workshop to learn about proper technique after taking some community classes. Marjan explained the importance of breath and alignment and she showed us how to practice with purpose, instead of simply going through the motions.

Now that I’ve learned the basics, yoga has become comforting, inspiring and exhilarating all at the same time. Tonight in the Anusara class I experienced my very first “om” with Ahna and even did a handstand (with help, of course!). The fact that I was comfortable enough to chant with a new group of people and then trust them to safely flip me upside down is incredible. Those last quiet moments during savasana were especially meaningful to me since I pushed past my fear of the unknown.

Throughout my journey I’ve discovered that there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to a healthy mind and body. I only know what has worked for me, and I’ve found that success requires a balance of both physical and mental commitment, and being open to trying new things along the way. I’m grateful for the people at Invoke who have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and I look forward to new experiences in the studio!

-Meghan


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Finding the Joy in My Journey

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Blog by Stephanie [Loves Yoga, Invoke student, Practicing yoga & pilates 18 mos, Freelance Marketer]

I went to last night’s heated yoga class at Invoke Yoga & Pilates Studio taught by Eric Bryant. I love his classes because he has a way of breaking down and dissecting each position and even dissecting the transition to each position. I learn every time he teaches. His calm and continual instruction keeps me mindful and my mind quiet so I can make room for being present – at least for the hour and fifteen minutes before I rejoin the real world.

Eric’s class was all about transition. This really resonated for me. It’s what I have been struggling with the past five years. He shared a personal story about how transition can be uncomfortable and difficult. But it’s necessary. I thought about my life and my almost five years here in Indianapolis, and how life has taken me here and how a continual unsettling and uncomfortable feeling haunts me that I am “in transition”. Break ups, a divorce, moving across the country, new jobs, lost jobs…I feel like I’m in a constant state of flux searching desperately for my destination so I can finally settle in and be comfortable…and just be.

But what if I shift my point of view to believe that the transition is every bit as important as the destination? As Eric said, the transitioning from each pose is every bit as important as the pose itself. Maybe I’m just in a really long transition between poses. Or maybe, life is just a series of transitions with no real destination…because eventually the destination will change, and you’re back again in transition.

Looking at life as yoga, I could find more joy in my journey and embrace my transition between life’s poses.

-Stephanie


Coming home

Blog by Stephanie [Loves Yoga, Invoke student, Practicing yoga & pilates 18 mos, Freelance Marketer]

Going to a heated yoga class after a two-month hiatus away is like going home to your mom after a stressful year away.

I spent the last two months making excuses like being too busy with work, or cleaning, or travelling and other priorities that put me last. Unfortunately, I fell into a routine where I found an extra hour and a half of my day, but it was at the expense of…me. Tonight, was my first class back since the end of December, just before the holidays, and the fruit cake of excuses that accompany it.

It felt so good being back. Like going back home. I walked into Invoke Studio, saw Erin behind the desk, with a sudden look of surprise framed by a big smile, saying “You’re back!”

And my Invoke coming home was timed perfectly with a homecoming class taught by Miss Laura Henderson, my spiritual cheerleader and fearless yoga leader.  It’s like coming home – it’s having the smell of my mom’s homemade pasta sauce fill the air when I go back to Ohio and walk in the door and know I’m home. It’s the feeling of your best friend since grade school nod at you knowingly because no one knows you and accepts you like she does. It’s the inexplainable feeling yoga brings you – a step closer into presence, calmness, contentment, and love of yourself and others around you, for me, has only been consistently found on my mat. At first, it was intimidating, just like someone else’s family can be unknown, uncomfortable and frankly a little intimidating, but once you fall in love with it. You belong and you remember all over again what it feels like.

I’ve been away far too long. I’m so thankful, I’ve found my way back home.

-Stephanie


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