center fold: dj hyfi and the center.

burgIMG_2999I retired from distance running not long following the birth of my son. After 20+ years of high mileage, my body finally started to rebel: my hips got wonky, I developed a bum knee, my hamstrings would tie themselves in knots over nothing…  even my feet are… well, they’re just disgusting. Even with all these reminders of my physical limitations, I still think of myself as some  25-year-old running phenom (ha), dive headlong into new exercise programs or physical challenges (such as carrying a few dozen 40-pound bags of stone up and down the hill in my backyard), and then find myself arrogantly surprised when I get tired, or my muscles (ha) start shaking, or I’m too sore to even lie down the next day.

Thank goodness for yoga. I mean it. One, it can be as challenging as you need it to be. If you’re an elite athlete and think everything’s too easy for you, there’s a yoga for you. If you’re a beginner who needs to work on balance and flexibility, there’s a yoga for you. Two, if you tend to be a stress ball all day and need to be emotionally untangled, there’s a yoga for you. Three, if you’re an old washed up athlete who struggles to do any kind of exercise, there’s a yoga for you.

And now, if you love yoga but also love electronic music, there’s a yoga for you! Yep. Brandy, Ella, and I, along with about twenty-five other folks, recently attended a 90-minute (!!!) yoga class with a DJ, the Friday Night Live: Cool Music, Groovy Yoga class AND happy hour at The Center.

burgIMG_2933The DJ arranged his sound and light equipment at the front of the yoga studio; as we all filed in and placed our mats on the floor, I felt like I had a little subwoofer in my chest. I worried for a few minutes that the music would be too loud, but before long, the movements and the sound fused together in a way that connected all the senses. The music was so much a part of us and our movements that it seemed to both predict what we were doing and respond to it, simultaneously. I lost all track of time. It was a RAVE of relaxation, if you will.

burgIMG_2947DJ Hyfi works as a “nomadic DJ, on the road, fusing fresh beats with vinyasa.” I admit, when I saw this event come across my newsfeed, I wondered how it would work and thought it sounded strange. How would I quiet my mind in a loud environment? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but having now experienced it, it seems completely natural. Yoga is rhythmic. Breathing is rhythmic. One’s heart beat is rhythmic. Why not give those things a rhythmic soundtrack?

burgIMG_2952The session started with multiple sun salutations and warrior poses, followed by balance work.Suzanne McCahill Perrine’s instructions and cuing were, as always, impeccable. If I couldn’t see anyone to mimic his or her movements, her verbal descriptions saved me. If anyone needed help getting into a pose, she was right there. My favorite part was when the entire group formed a circle and held hands during Warrior III. I got to hold Ella’s hand and the hand of a complete stranger — what a beautiful thing! Another notable moment was how gooood everyone looks doing what I call the “pretty pose” (i.e., Half Lord of the Fishes pose) — all those whittled torsos and strong shoulders and piles of messy hair. During one of the inverted poses, I could see Brandy through my legs and Ella beyond that through Brandy’s legs, and it made me smile the way, even upside down, those two gals look so much alike.

Just when I thought I couldn’t hold any pose for even one more second, sweat was pooling in awkward places all over me, and every muscle fiber burned with constant exertion, Suzanne instructed us all to lie down. I closed my eyes and let myself be carried away by the throbbing music. I might have fallen asleep… I’m not really sure… but for several minutes I thought of absolutely nothing. When I opened my eyes, the lights were dancing all over the room, and I saw faces in the ceiling. First there was a lion. Then I saw a man with a beard, until the beard morphed into a baby, being held by its mother. To the left I saw a caricature of John Lennon, while a man and his cat sat over to the right. Brandy remarked that she had an out-of-clothing experience where she snapped out of her trance and thought she might be nakey… but then she checked and realized she did indeed still have pants on. We really did lose track of time… and space.

burgIMG_2959After peeling ourselves off the floor, we quietly emerged into the lobby of Ice House Studios, where Suzanne had arranged a buffet catered by Food Bar Food and Pale Fire Brewing. Starving from our efforts in the last ninety minutes, we devoured the delicious snacks: falafel fritters with tatziki; tofu and shiitake mushroom croquettes with Thai caramel sauce; and black bean & goat cheese hummus with corn tortilla chips. For the next hour we enjoyed chatting about the class, the DJ, and our lives, making this workout as much emotional and spiritual as it was physical. I also got a chance to check out Ice House Studios: I admit, I had not set foot in there before tonight!

burgIMG_2925 burgIMG_2940burgIMG_2966 burgIMG_2978The space houses both The Center and Breathe Pilates and Yoga. There are two yoga studios with mats, bolsters, blocks, and blankies. The Pilates room contains mirrors and ample equipment, while the Barre room offers mats and balls to its users. Large windows and soft lighting contrast the concrete columns and exposed block walls throughout the old factory. There’s also a terrace — you can make yourself a cup of tea in the lobby and enjoy it outside.

burgIMG_2944Ice House Studios also hosts services provided by several other professionals: Four Seasons Harmony Massage Therapy and Healing Arts; Mary Straub Pargas Yoga Therapy and Holistic Coaching; Kate Miller’s “Be” Bodywork, Yoga, and Aromatherapy; Blue Heron Healing Arts owned by Grayson Pritchard; and Becky Bartells Massage Therapy.

And, the merchandise. You can find beautiful jewelry by Rhoda Miller of Rhodarts, Lily and Laura bracelets made by artisans in Nepal, colorful tote bags, essential oil kits, and candles. Body products, journals, mats, socks, and headbands. Icehouse, Breathe, and The Center shirts and other crucial apparel, just in case you arrived without something.

And if you’ve never really explored the Ice House in entirety, you can take a class or get a massage at Ice House Studios, grab a perk-up at Black Sheep Coffee, shop for clothing and jewelry at The Yellow Button and Hugo Kohl’s, eat dinner (or breakfast or lunch, for that matter) at Pure Eats, and then savor a beer at Pale Fire Brewing. Too bad you can’t just move in there. Oh wait, YOU CAN.

Ice House Studios are located on the second floor of the Ice House, which is located in downtown Harrisonburg on Liberty Street across from Turner Pavilion. Coming up on April 30, it’s the return of Detox Retox — an outdoor yoga class in the circular drive of Pale Fire Brewing! Click to see the classes offered at The Center and Breathe. See you there!
burgIMG_2949 burgIMG_2962burgIMG_3008Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

burn, baby, burn: breathe.

Breathe entranceFor me, and maybe for you, this is a stressful time of year. Work is busy, yes, but in addition to that, the holidays are approaching. Soon there will be costumes to make, turkeys to cook, and presents to wrap. Days and weeks barrel forward at breakneck speed, and I feel like I’ve turned into a hummingbird, crazily flitting from this to that at eighty beats per second, hovering only briefly at what’s beautiful and nourishing. I find I have to make a conscious effort to SLOW DOWN. To pause. To breathe.

A couple Saturdays ago, Brandy and I decided to push the pause button for an hour, long enough to enjoy a class at our local Pilates studio aptly named Breathe. Opened in January by Rebekah Budnikas, Breathe offers Reformer (machine-based), Mat, and Barre classes, plus private training. The class we took was a Barre class, meaning that many of the exercises are performed at the barre. Not the bar, the Barre. I like going to the bar, but I soon discovered I also like going to the Barre.

Brandy and I were both grumbly that morning, irritated by the residue of that week’s frustrations. Plus, Brandy had somehow managed to pull a muscle while sneezing, and my neck and shoulders were killing me because I’d spent an awful lot of time in my paper-grading posture. If it weren’t for her and our agreement to meet there, I might have been in a sour enough mood not to go at all. You know how that is… it’s all too easy to talk yourself out of doing something good when you’re feeling rotten. But you also know that’s the best time to do it because you’ll feel so much better afterward.

Breathe studioSo, we went. The light-filled studio contains room for about ten participants. All the equipment — mats, hand weights, etc. — are provided by Breathe and were already neatly set up for us. Instead of long mirrors spanning the walls entirely, Breathe installed a series of framed mirrors of different shapes and sizes, and I noticed a familiar stained glass piece or two.

Breathe ZN Stained GlassOur instructor, Alexi, greeted us warmly and eased her students into the class with her precise instructions and gentle voice. At first it seemed easy… place your hands lightly on the Barre and slowly bend and squat and dip this way and that, and Alexi spoke so nicely and innocuously… but the intensity increased and I found myself more and more challenged. Which is a euphemism for “my thighs are on fire.”

Breathe Barre red ballIt’s not a cardio class (although they do have one on Monday evenings); you won’t be totally huffing and puffing and drenched, and that’s why you might be surprised at what a thorough workout it is. It’s a class of a thousand little movements… set to songs by Gloria Gaynor and Red Hot Chili Peppers and whoever it is who sings “Sexy and I Know It.” Alexi would instruct us to get into plié position and then lower ourselves until our knees were just over our toes. Then she would tell us to hold it there, and then when I thought I would finally be able to straighten out and rest my quivering muscles, she would tell us to go a tiny bit lower. It was that tiny bit… that tiny bit! that made all the difference.

Breathe leg upBrandy was behind me doing the same thing, only with her 27-pound camera strapped to her torso. Several times we exchanged little panicky glances in the mirrors, but just when I thought, “That’s it. I’m gonna have to take a break,” Alexi would guide us to another move like shoulder raises with hand weights. The class glided along quite quickly… much faster and more enjoyable than a long hour on a treadmill in front of a TV. And the practice makes you really focus on getting specific body parts to do specific movements. There really was no room in my brain for worry. I was thinking only of my calves, my triceps, my knees, my belly. Focusing on the tiny movements, rather than seemingly massive obstacles.

Breathe stand ballsBreathe collageIt was a much-needed shift for me and my psyche that day… a necessary reminder to sweat the small stuff, because so much of the “big stuff” is out of my control anyway. Leaving there I felt like I had worked really hard, but lining that sense of accomplishment was… what’s it called? Oh, yeah, serenity. Peace. Calmness. I actually had to try to remember what I was supposed to be worrying about.

Breathe serenityIf you need a temporary respite from the suffocation of life, please visit Rebekah and her staff at Breathe. They’ll treat you to an out-of-mind experience and a body full of shaky muscles.

Breathe is located downtown in the Wine Brothers building, on the same block as You Made It! Pottery and Clementine. They offer morning and afternoon/evening classes, and for the month of October they’re offering a special. You can even register for classes online and they’ll be ready for you when you arrive. See you there!

Breathe b and kCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.