New Lewisburg Yoga Studio: Yoga Dear – Interview with Founder Leanne Matullo

Tucked into a little side street off Market Street is a new yoga studio in town. Leanne Matullo, the founder of Yoga Dear, has brought health, happiness, and a new sense of community in this new year to Lewisburg. Her mission for Yoga Dear, an acronym for “Developing self-Esteem And Respect,” is to forge a mind body connection through fitness and individualized practice in a comfortable yogi-centric community. Through the practice of yoga, Leanne believes we have the power to create a unique sense of self and place in the world. I sat down with Leanne to learn more about her background, philosophies, goals, and to discuss the joy that this creative and spiritual movement can bring to all.

When did you start practicing yoga and why? 

I was a dancer in college1434931486428 and after I stopped performing, I wanted to get into yoga. I took my first yoga class in Pittsburgh six years ago and actually really didn’t like it at first. I kept going back though. After a couple of times getting used to the foreign language, crazy poses, and focused breathing, I began to enjoy it.


What do you love most about practicing yoga and yoga itself? 

Yoga offers infinite possibilities. There is always something to work on, there is always something new to master. For me, yoga is a freedom – freedom from your mind, from around you. It is just you and the mat and your movement. That is peace to me.

 

Tell me about your studio. - What inspired you to open up a studio in Lewisburg?

Everyone asks where “Dear” comes from. I started out teaching for at risk youth and focused on developing self esteem and respect – so that is where “dear” originated. I want this studio space to be approachable, fun, and playful, where we can meet new friends, laugh, and interact with the energetic and enthusiastic students and teachers.

What makes your studio different/better than the ones in the local area or offered at KLARC?

Yoga Dear focuses on a more individualized practice while still building a community with the others around you. I wanted our niche to be a powerful style – we are going to work and we are going to feel it.

Many people in this country still equate yoga solely with movement and do not consider the spiritual aspect. How do you deal with this at Yoga Dear? 

Most people come here for movement but can still benefit from the spiritual aspects especially as they come further and further into the practice. Throughout the class, we weave in pranayama [breathing techniques], ancient yoga texts, philosophy to incorporate meditation and spiritual aspects. It can be a learning practice as well, since we mention the limbs of the eight-fold path to yoga. These are respect for others (yama) and yourself (niyama); harmony with your body (asana), your energy (pranayama), and last four parts [your thoughts (dharana), and your emotions (pratyahara); contemplation (dhyana); ecstasy (samadhi)] which all relate to meditation.

Since yoga combines body, breath, mind and spirit, how can someone gradually increase progress in each of those four areas? 

FullSizeRender_3Yoga is transformative and healing. It is hard for me to explain but after taking 2 to 3 classes a week, I have become more spiritual because of the results I have seen. The book Living Your Yoga explains this.*

What advice would you tell a first-timer attending a private yoga studio? 

Give me three classes and then make a decision. If you come in with an open mind and know it is okay to not know all the poses or fall, that is totally fine. Everyone falls in first yoga class. Most importantly, have a good time and laugh.

What in your opinion are the greatest health benefits of doing yoga? 

In a culture that sits a lot, I believe that overall mobility is the greatest health benefit. Additionally, yoga is a great way to use the mind body connection as a huge anxiety and stress relief. You learn that you not only can watch and observe your thoughts but control them as well.

Do you actively meditate? 

I meditate every morning to set the tone of my day. The practice is very grounding for me since I am such a spiritual person. Sometimes I do it for two minutes, sometimes fifteen, with music or silence, on my own or guided.

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After we wrapped up our interview, I stayed to attend the Power Flow class taught by friend and roommate Heather Oros. In such a warm and welcoming space, I felt at ease, allowing for a deeper awareness of the interactions of my body, mind, and spirit. Although the more advanced teaching was distinct, detailed, and serious, the atmosphere remained playful and fun, enabling me to feel comfortable trying new things. By observing and feeling the overall energy in the room during savasana, it seemed that each individual found their own personal level of achievement and reward in their practices.

 

*Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater Ph.D. is about discovering the “meaning of yoga beyond its familiar poses and breathing techniques to include the events of daily life”

Classes:FullSizeRender

Yoga Dear Beginner, Sunny Side Up (early morning Asana class), Yoga Dear 1 (beginner/intermediate), Yoga Dear 2 (intermediate/advanced), Power Flow, Peaceful Practice, Yoga Barre, Gentle Yoga, and Asana Junkies

Click here for a description of each class

Click here for class schedule

This Friday January 29: Yoga Dear is hosting yoga and happy hour at 5:30 PM. The night is going to consist of a 50 minute yoga class and then happy hour with wine and beer! $15 for members, $20 for non members! 21+ only. Please reserve a space on the Mind/Body Connect app.

Memberships & Pricing

Yoga Dear Memberships:

  • 10 Visit Pass – $120                   Expires three months after activation 
  • 1 Month Unlimited – $100     Expires one month after activation
  • 3 Month Unlimited – $265     Expires three months after activation 
  • Yearly Unlimited – $80/month with yearly contract
  • Also, for a limited time, students can get a monthly unlimited pass for $50.

Drop-in Rates:

  • Drop-in Class – $15
  • Student Drop-in – $10 (Please bring your student ID!)

10% Discount on all services for senior citizens (65+), veterans, and active duty servicemen and women. ID’s required at time of service purchase. 

Student Rates (Please bring your ID!):

  • 10 Visit Pass – $95        Expires three months after activation
  • 1 Month Unlimited –  $90   Expires one month after activation

New Student Referral Program

Bring a new-to-Yoga Dear friend, parent, sibling, significant other to class and you’ll both get $25 off your next service.

 

 

Enjoy and Namaste!

Carly

The Importance of Yoga for Students

 

Yoga classes have been popping up more and more around college campuses partly due to the unhealthy amount of stress students face on a daily basis. Chronic anxiety takes a toxic toll on the body and mind and yoga provides an outlet. Although I am far from a yoga aficionado, I am always happy when the semester starts back up and I can try out the plethora of yoga classes Bucknell’s KLARC center offers. I always feel the benefits of attending even just one class a week. Yoga allows me to release my stresses, embrace the present moment, and appreciate myself and my surroundings. Yoga’s benefits also extend into my hours and even days after the class. Here are some compelling reasons to attend a class:

Reduce Anxiety and Manage Stress

According to the American Yoga Association, anxiety increases when we don’t exercise because our muscles build tension, our breathing becomes constricted, and our mind undergoes a state of restlessness. By performing the practice, we regulate our breath while relaxing our body, and by doing so, we release muscle tension and flush fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients throughout our brain and body. Additionally, by concentrating simply on inhale and exhale, we recenter our awareness to our essential being: our breath.1

Increase Focus and Brain Function

Concentrating on one’s inner self and breath while reducing anxiety and stress leads to impressive cognitive results. In 2013, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that people who did hatha-style yoga for 20 minutes performed better on brain tests that measured focus and working memory than people who walked or ran on a treadmill for the same length of time. Study lead Neha Gothe, a professor of kinesiology, health and sport studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, observed:

“It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of  information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout….The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities.” 2

Improve Sleep Quality

Between balancing academics, extracurricular activities, and a social life, sometimes sleep isn’t our first priority. According to a study conducted at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, “70 percent of college students receive less than the eight recommended hours of sleep.”3 Yet sleep is vital for a person’s health and well-being. The most important component to falling asleep is having a calm mind when you hit the pillow. Yoga can aid in this. The International Journal of Yoga has found that the slowing of breath and focus on the present shifts the “balance from sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response,” and as a result, lowers heart rate. Thus lowered heart rate creates tranquility, a greater sense of well-being, and less anxiety. By converting what we learned in yoga into our mindset as we wind down for the night, we have the power to normalize our sleep cycle. Asanas, pranayama, and yoganidre all relieve any stress, tension, and fatigue you may be feeling, providing you the power you need to fall asleep and creating a more restful slumber.4

Additionally, substantial evidence concludes that sleep plays an essential role in learning and memory processes. Scientists have recently been able to manipulate sleep to reach such conclusions. Many studies have found the absence of sleep impairs neurocognitive processes (among other processes), thus resulting in worsened school performance. By sleeping more, we can actually study less.5

Appreciate Yourself and Feel Powerful

Yoga has taught me to not be so hard on myself but rather thankful for myself. I realize that I don’t need to stress the small stuff and, by doing so, I develop a new perspective of problems I am facing. Certain poses, such as the warrior II pose, awaken my own power. By working every muscle and releasing tensions, I feel the connection, both mentally and physically, between relaxation and strength. As I search for stillness of body, I end up discovering stillness of mind. I also feel better about myself because even the simple act of attending a yoga class adds balance to my life and achieving a balanced life is essential for my personal effectiveness and happiness.

Other benefits of practicing yoga include boosting immunity, perfecting posture, lowering blood sugar, building awareness, improving relationships, and encouraging self-care . It’s no wonder that a study by the Yoga Journal found that 20 million people in the US practice yoga. If you haven’t yet joined the yoga revolution, here is your chance. Namaste.

Yoga teachers (and my house mates!) Heather and Chloe strike a yoga pose after a successful and sweat inducing yoga class.

 


KLARC Yoga schedule:

Mondays
9-10: Vinyasa Yoga with Keri (will begin in Oct)
3:30-4:30: Yoga with Chloe
6:30-7:30: Restorative Yoga with Taylor

Tuesdays
9-10: Yoga with Lisa
4:30-5:30: Power Vinyasawith Heather
Wednesdays
9-10: Vinyasa Yoga with Keri (will begin in Oct)
Thursdays
9-10: Yoga with Lisa
3:30-4:30: Power Vinyasa with Heather
7:30-8:30: Yoga with Chloe
Sunday
4:30-5:30: Yoga with Staci

mindfulness yoga

Sources cited:

1. “How Yoga Helps Reduce Anxiety and Manage Stress.” American Yoga Association. American Yoga Association, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.

2. Castillo, Michelle. “Yoga May Improve Focus, Ability to Remember New Things.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 10 June 2013. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.

3. Shragge, Rebecca. “Sleep Deprivation Soars among College Students.” The Aggie. The California Aggie, 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theaggie.org/2010/02/17/sleep-deprivation-soars-among-college-students/>

4. “Yoga.org.nz/members-preview.” Yoga and Insomnia. Yoga.org, 5 Aug. 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. http://yoga.org.nz/benefits/physiological_benefits/yoga_insomnia.htm

5. Woodyard, Catherine. “Abstract.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Dec. 0005. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/>.

  1.  “How Yoga Helps Reduce Anxiety and Manage Stress.” American Yoga Association. American Yoga Association, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.
  2.  Castillo, Michelle. “Yoga May Improve Focus, Ability to Remember New Things.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 10 June 2013. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.