OWY Blog

  • Featured Pose: Anahatasana with Prayer Hands

    This month as we focus on gratitude at OWY we are featuring a pose that represents the attitude of gratitude in a very deep way - Anahatasana with Prayer-Hands.  These lovely autumn shots of Mallory in the woods show her working into progressively deeper variations of Anahatasana.  

    1.  Basic Variation - Forehead to the mat

    2.  Chin and Chest to the mat to deepen the heart-opening effect.3.  Press into the fingers and lift the hands to deepen the shoulder stretch.4.  Hands in prayer behind the heart center.5.  Deepen the shoulder stretch with a boster.6.  Further deepen the shoulder stretch with blocks.

    Thank you Mallory Saunders for this lovely photo exploration of Anahata and its variations.

  • Guest Post: Valerie Parker on Gratitude

    OWY teacher Valerie Parker doing a little musing on gratitude as we comtemplate gratitude throughout the month of November.Yoga the “yoke” or the union of the mind, body, and spirit has given me the light in the darkness to see life for what it is to be human, and the ability to be grateful for every moment, the sweet and the sorrow.  Using the eight limbs of yoga to advance my practice, in particular asana and pranayama, I have discovered stillness.  The moment in time between the external and the internal world.  A space in time that allows me to surf and ride the crest of the wave of daily life.   To practice the momentary pause, to wait for an intuitive sense, and ride my impulse and emotions.  After all this is the motion of life in every situation.  A moment in time to view.  The fleeting second to catch an experience in my life journey.

    I am so grateful for my daily practice that gives the gift of time to connect with my true nature, the space and moments to build inner confidence and move forward without judgement of self or others.  And to celebrate the moments of sun rises, sun sets, chirping birds, the scent of autumn and family chaos, daily worries and even fake news.  I am grateful to practice the union and feel the bliss of stillness.

  • OWY October Intention: What Scares You?

    In the month where the slow dying back to winter begins, the month of witches and wizards, we at OWY have decided to take a look at What Scares Us.  Our fears only hold power over us when we keep them locked away, so let's bring them up out of the dark and into the light of our awareness.  Over the years my fears have gotten fewer and fewer and the only thing that changed in me is a complete willingness to look closer, look deeper.  Give it a try. 

    Following is a piece on fear written by Mallory Saunders.  Please join the conversation and share some of your own scary thoughts by responding to this post, contributing to our chalkboards (in either studio), or tag us on social media (#owymonthlyintention and #owywhatscaresyou).  
    - Shannon

    What Scares You?                          by Mallory Saunders

    My Darkness 
    The heavy emotions, memories and experiences that have been repressed, stagnant and festering within.
    The beaten down paths of the dark forest of my mind.
    The reoccurring negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that my racing anxiety and crippling depression drag me through. 

    My truth
    My authenticity
    Opening my heart and being vulnerable
    Taking risks
    Trying something new
    Doing things differently
    Laying down my armor and letting myself be seen 

    My voice, because it is loud and powerful, capable of creation and destruction and doesn’t resonate with everyone
    Seeing myself clearly
    True perspective, un-skewed and undistorted
    The good, the bad and the ugly 

    Judgment from others… but mostly from myself
    Accepting honoring and sharing my life and experiences with others
    Communicating my needs because it makes me feel weak and undeserving
    Making mistakes while expecting perfection
    True intimate connection because of…
    Having my heart broken
    Rejection, neglect, isolation, loss, emptiness
    Pain and Suffering 

    My light 
    Because deep within me I know the truth of my divinity
    I know who I am and what I am capable of
    I know the highest expression of my energetic vibration
    I know the ripple effect of my every choice and decision
    I know the waves of change I can generate through the direction of my intention.
    I know the infinite creative power that lies inside and the thought of unleashing that for the world to see.
    That’s what scares me. 

    Mallory lights up the darkness with more than her LED whip!

  • Jamie Fitzgerald: A Yoga Journey

    Yoga Teacher Training came to me purely unexpectedly and by total accident.  It was about 6 months prior to my 50th birthday when I became curious about yoga.  I had always wanted to try it, so I talked my neighbor into going to a class with me.  It was not what I had expected at all and my curiosity kept growing.  I continued to go to class about 20 miles away from our home when I overheard the substitute teacher say she was opening a new studio of her own very close to my home.  I was thrilled!  So, for the next 3 months I took as many classes as I could – the curiosity became more of an obsession so to speak.  I just couldn’t get enough.  I always thought yoga was for “flexible people” and all these other things, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Just as I was really starting to get the hang of yoga and some of the basic moves and terminology, our teacher informed us that she was moving!  I was devastated!  What was I going to do and where was I going to go?  She had just completed the teacher training in 2016-2017 at Open Way Yoga – she asked me if I had ever gone to a class there…. I told her that I had not.  She encouraged me to attend a class and suggested that I get into the Teacher Training!  I thought she was crazy!  How was I supposed to do that when I was so new to yoga to start with!  I began checking out this place “Open Way Yoga” and found out that they were just getting ready to start another Teacher Training and that there a few spaces left.  I literally had no time to even think about it – so I sent an email saying I was interested and the next thing I knew – I was signed up ready to go!  What was I thinking!!!!  I can’t do this – what if I’m the oldest person in the class?  I thought “Sun Salutation” was a Beach Boys lyric!  I convinced myself that I made a huge mistake but there was no turning back.  My husband and kids encouraged me to go on with the training and that’s exactly what I did!  This spring I completed the Teacher Training and have not one single regret!  I had no idea of the philosophy, physiology and spiritual teachings that go hand in hand with Yoga – all which have been a huge part of my life and passion!  To sum up my yoga experience thus far: It has been by far a life changing move for me – yoga feels like “home”.

    -Jamie Fitzgerald

  • Kara Myers: A Yoga Journey

    Kara just joined our teaching staff when we opened the Sandusky Studio. Kara is very strong and gravitates towards challenging strength poses.  She excells at taking the challenges and breaking them down into manageable bits for students.  You will also end up laughing for sure with Kara, her irreverant humor is irrepressible!  She teaches Body Sculpt Yoga on Thrusdays from 4:30 - 5:45 PM. -Shannon

    I started doing yoga after my daughter was born. At first my practice revolved around the physical aspect of yoga: the bending, the strengthening, and the bits of relaxation that came after. It didn't take long for my practice to begin shifting into something that at that time I didn't have the words for or understand. My insides were changing. I'd spent most of my life dealing with anxiety, dealing with an autoimmune disease, dealing with trauma, dealing with addiction. All I did was just "deal" with life. Yoga became my safe haven. For however long I moved on my mat, outside pressure didn't exist. I could breathe, and in those moments of breath, I was coping and accepting. I wasn't just "dealing" with my circumstances anymore. I picked challenging poses and spent time figuring out how to do them. I broke a pose down from top to bottom and figured out what I needed my body to do in order to accomplish that particular poses. Arm balances, in particular, were incredibly attractive to me. I felt so alive balancing, or attemtping ro balance, in those poses. My mind would shut off, and I would just let my body do the pose. The focus, the intensity...such a quiet peaceful place I could go to. Every step closer to my goal became a step towards healing. I can look back now and see that those poses and how much of myself I put into them really were about my challenges in life. I was conquering my past. The funny thing is I had no idea what I was doing, yogically and spiritually. Some days I'd spend my entire practice with tears just flowing. I think that after time those moments drove me to search for a much deeper understanding of what was happening inside me. In search for knowledge, I headed out into the world and started taking classes, which only fueled my desire to learn. The idea of a teacher training program with a curriculum, teachers, students, and a space to immerse myself in became more of a need. I found Open Way.

    I took classes and fell in love with the community and the studio. I just knew that this is where I needed to be in my journey. I enrolled in Open Way's RYT-200 teacher training program. As a class, we delved right into all of it: pranayama, meditation, poses, styles, anatomy, chakras, concepts, sutras, history, business, and so much more. We read books, had discussions, practiced a few poses, asked questions. We spent time not only exploring our bodies through yoga, but (as cheesy as it sounds) our minds and our souls. We discussed openly and without judgement how to navigate our practice and our lives through yogic eyes. I got so much of what I wanted and needed plus so much more of what I didn't expect.

    I found a safe space to learn to accept my flaws in every aspect of my life and how to use yoga to improve my overall quality of life. I found a home away from home full of love and acceptance. My teachers Brian and Shannon were open, honest, and knowledgeable. They have an amazing ability to present yoga through their own unique journies and ideas, which sometimes differ. Brian and Shannon have created a space that allows the students to explore different ideas open endedly with everyone being able to add their own dimension to the curriculum. I've met fifteen other beautiful students who provided so much support and genuine happiness for one another as we truly begin down our new paths as yogis. Open Way really proved to be a quality place to learn for all of us.

    The best part: I found myself. I found out things about me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I found my body. I found my soul. Nothing is perfect about me, yet in every way I am, and that is such a beautiful feeling.

    Everyday is a new and beautiful challenge as I continue to learn more about myself through my practice: forever learning, forever exploring, forever growing as a yogi. 

  • Introducing Julie Campbell and Faith-Based Yoga

    Introducing one of OWY's several new additions...  Julie Campbell is a graduate of OWY's 2016/2017 yoga immersion and teacher training.  When Juie started training with us she had no intention of teaching, she just wanted more and more yoga.  Our immersion was a way for her to go deeper with both philosophy and practice.  A true student of yoga, Julie has a solid, long-term, foundational practice that inspires the kind quality teaching we look for in OWY teachers.  Julie attends The Chapel in Sandusky and is looking forward to merging her open-minded Christian faith with her love of yoga in this class.  This non-denomiational Chiristian Faith-Based Yoga class starts Sunday September 9.  Read the class description and Julie's Bio here!

    Julie Campbell, RYT-200

    For me yoga was LOVE at first class. While living in NYC, following my fashion designer dreams, I stumbled on a yoga school in the Village. They had a beginner series so I thought I would check it out. The whole experience was wonderful and I felt amazing after class. I wanted to do yoga every day and did as much as my paycheck would allow. After returning to Ohio, I searched to find yoga here. I got some videos and found some classes, but they just didn’t have the same effect……Until I found Open Way Yoga, where I found “real yoga” as well as a community of yogis that are open and welcoming. (A little different than NYC!) For four years I have had a regular studio practice and I completed OWY's Teacher Training in 2017. As a teacher I want to share my love of yoga and inspire students to find some space and peace in their bodies as well as their minds.

    Faith-Based Yoga:   Sundays 5:00-6:15 PM
    We are beings of Mind, Body, & Spirit. This class will relax your Mind, stretch your Body and help you connect with the Holy Spirit that is within  you. Class is based on non-denomiational Christian teachings and will consist of basic flow, restorative holds and end with mediation and silent prayers. All levels of practioner and all levels of interest in Christian faith (including non-believers) are welcome. No yoga experience needed.

  • Teacher's Story:  Mallory Saunders, RYT-200

    Mallory has been an important fixture at OWY since the beginning.  She writes about her inspiring journey below.  Thank you Mallory for your vulnerability and willingness to always look deeper and grow more.  You are an inspiration to our yoga community. -Shannon

    Yoga came in to my life when I needed it the most. I was studying Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati, suffering with debilitating anxiety and depression which stemmed from consuming self-judgment and negative thinking patterns. My self-esteem was crumbling along with my grades and my relationships. I was cold and disconnected from everything and everyone. I isolated myself and became dependent upon others approval for my self worth. At the same time I was completely overwhelmed as waves of repressed emotion and grief started to break to the surface. 

    I lost my older sister Michelle in a car accident at a young age and wasn’t able to process my experience at the time. I found myself suppressing my emotions to appease others. I distracted myself so I didn’t have to feel. Afraid of ever facing that pain again I closed my heart off to deep connection. I grew cold, distant and repressed. I lost touch with myself. At that time I was making unconscious choices, medicating myself with shopping, binge eating, alcohol and marijuana to numb the pain. When I surpassed my older sister in age, the emotion I’d repressed erupted. I hit rock bottom and reached out to my mother, family and friends for help. I started therapy sessions and opted to take yoga classes, focus on lifestyle changes and incorporate alternative therapies into my life rather than take conventional medication. 

    I was 20 years old and terrified to attend yoga classes at my college campus. My body was toxic and at its heaviest. A direct reflection of the feelings I held inside. My anxious mind raced giving me every single excuse and reason not to go. It took literally everything in me to drag myself out of bed and walk alone to the rec center in the winter cold and get to class. I was afraid, but I longed for a change, so I did it anyway. I knew I was lost and I was committed to finding myself again. In the class I was incredibly uncomfortable in my body, but I found out quick that I was even more uncomfortable in my mind, in who I was and who I was becoming. I was observing my mental state, jumpy, reactive and filled with incessant degrading self talk, judgment and comparison. At the end of class we laid in stillness, in presence. The thoughts slowed and I was able to connect with my true self. I realized then how powerful this physical practice was and became invested in going deeper.
    It took me 2 years of trying to create a consistent practice and failing over and over before it really started to feel like an essential part of my life. The benefits were noticeable and significant regardless of my inconsistency. I loved yoga, but often found myself resistant to putting in the effort. I reality I was scared of sitting with myself and really processing the heavy emotions that would surface. I was terrified of the darkest parts of me, but even more so intimidated by the infinite potential I was starting to realize was within me.
    I am a student of Yoga and the past 7 years of practice have led me on an incredible journey of physical and emotional healing, self awareness and inner growth. Through Yoga I found relief from the mental state that was drowning me. I have and continue to create a healthier lifestyle for myself and those around me. I have learned how to accept and process the heavy emotions, anxieties and fears that had accumulated within me and have realized I have only just skimmed the surface of who I am and who I’m meant to be. I’ve peeled back layers and walls that were built up over the years to protect me. I’m learning daily how to open my heart up and live from a space of love, compassion and truth.  By doing so I hope to inspire others and spread this heightened awareness like wildfire. I am a 200HR RYT through Yoga Alliance. I attended the yoga teacher training immersion at Open Way Yoga with Brian and Shannon in 2014. I have been fortunate enough to continue to teach for the studio ever since! Huron is my hometown! I am so honored and grateful to to be able to offer Yoga to our community and to assist in the healing, growth, and expansion of the amazing people in this area! I am a very versatile teacher with the capability of leading all levels of students. These last few years of teaching and I have gained experience instructing everything from restorative to prenatal, kids yoga, yoga flow, body sculpting and hot yoga classes. My classes tend to focus on specific areas of the physical body and often reference correlating energy centers of the subtle body. We work towards gaining control of the inner fluctuations through breath control and movement. Truly finding stillness within the chaos. Encouraging personal growth both on and off the mat through developing strength, flexibility, balance and control. I merge structured postures, with specific vocal cues and combine them with feminine delicate movements as we flow from one posture to the next. I break down challenging positions to make them more digestible, creating a foundation to build upon to advance practice. I will push you to you to the edge of your comfort zone and help your realize you are capable of more!
  • New Classes on the Winter Schedule

    Yoga Basics with Valerie, 4:30-5:45pm Tuesdays

    Valerie finished our teacher training in February of 2016.  If you come to class, you've seen Valerie, she spends a lot of time practicing at the studio.  She has a very thorough and thoughtful practice which comes through in her teaching.  We’ve had requests from school teachers for a class at this time, so spread the word.


    Fixed Flow with Brian and Mallory, 6-7:15pm Thursdays Mallory and Brian will pair up to teach a class that will begin with the same consistent vinyasa flow every week.  The second half of the class will vary according to each teacher’s flavor but will draw from a loose set of predetermined poses.  We're big fans of this type of structured repetition.  Practicing this way allows the body to sink quickly and deeply into the poses and it offers a way to track our progress as we do the same poses week after week.  It also supports a more meditative atmosphere and gives more freedom for the teacher to pay attention to students.


    Yoga Flow with Brian, 9-10:15am Wednesdays

    This is our general All Levels class.  Options will be given for both advanced and beginning students.


    Open Practice with Shannon and/or Brian, 10:30-12pm

    This was formerly named Study Hall which created some confusion about what we do during this time.  Not so onerous as high school study hall, this is really an open practice time, so we've renamed it:  Open Practice.  Come practice yoga in your own individual way.  What do you want or need to work on?  Do it here.  Be inspired by others, ask questions, seek guidance.  Sometimes a small group ends up taking turns working on a pose such as forearm balance, giving each other support and encouragement.  You may need to get out of your house and away from distractions to work on your practice or use the time to ask for more depth about poses or ideas that we can't cover in general classes.  Meditation, pranayama, philosophy?  Sure, it can all happen here.


    Community Class, 12-1pm Sundays

    The teachers for this class will come from the current pool in our teacher training program.  The class is free and generally has a somewhat informal vibe, so it can be a good place to bring someone who is newly interested in yoga. 


    The rest of the classes you know and love from the fall schedule are unchanged.  See you at the studio!

    -Brian and Shannon

  • Welcome to The Fall Schedule!

    I'm very excited about the studio class schedule and the number of interesting workshops lined up between now and the first of the year.  Most of the changes to the schedule are shiftings of teachers to different time slots.  Follow your teacher if you can, and also check out the new teacher in your favorite slot.  There's something to be learned from every teacher on the schedule!

    New This Fall

    Sunday Meditation 6-7pm:  These will be lead by our visiting yogi, Jen Divis.  She will lead the sessions in the style of Dharma Yoga, the institution where she is finishing her 500 hour RYT program.

    Sunrise Yoga, Wednesdays 7-8:15am:  This class isn't brand new.  Mary taught this time slot for the summer and has graciously agreed to continue on through the fall.  We're thrilled to have her teaching this All Levels class.

    Shifting Personel

    The weekday 9:00 am slot is where the shifts occurr.  

    Mallory will be teaching Body Sculpt on Tuesday mornings and Shannon will teach Body Sculpt in the Thursday 9:00am slot. This duo presents a lovely twice a week practice opportunity for those of you interested in this style.  One of things they both have in common is that the classes are both Good Solid Yoga, as I like to say. None of their yoga expertise is lost with the Sculpt emphasis.

    Jen Divis will be bringing us Dharma III Flow all the way from NYC!  Wednesday morings at 9am.

    Sherrena will be teaching the Friday 9:00am Yoga Flow class.  This will be a general All Levels class, infused with Sherrena's welcoming warmth and well planned flows.

    My 9:00 am Monday class, Yoga Basics will stay as is.  I'm really enjoying teaching this class, slowing WAY down.  Many of our more seasoned practitioners have been attending.  They tell me that they get a lot out of it, tweaking their alignment in some basic poses.

    Shannon and I are in our Saturday and Sunday 9:00am spots as usual.  It's a nice week of classes at that 9:00 am slot.

    All the times and teachers in the evenings are the same.  Jen Divis will teach a Dharma III Flow class Thursdays at 6:00pm.  I'll write more about Jen and what she'll be teaching in a later post.

    Stay tuned for info on our great selection of fall workshops!

    Yoga Immersion and Teacher Training:  
    This year's group is shaping up and we still have a limited number of slots open for this fall's training.  If you've been considering it, it's time to commit! 

  • Monday Meditation

    Monday Meditation

    Meditation is often the last thing I get to in my practice and as such it often gets left off, so on Mondays I put meditation on the top of my practice list.  

    I have a few different meditation practices that I do.  One is to simply sit still for 20 minutes, no moving.  If you have tried this yourself you know it's not as easy as it sounds.  As soon as the timer starts, I get an itch on my nose or I remember the laundry needs put in the dryer or that I need to send a text.  Sometimes I don't get through the 20 minutes in one sitting, but that's ok.  I allow myself to accumulate time in smaller chunks when needed, 5 or 10 minutes at a time.  There are things about not moving that are advantageous to a meditation practice.  One is that it puts space between desire and action. "My nose itches...I want to scratch it....no, I'm not moving...ok....sit with it....feel the itch…don’t react to it, just experience it…breath into it"  Often, it goes away.  

    This space between desrie and action can be useful in our lives.  Think of the times you may be upset and feel like sending an angry text.  Give the feeling some space.  Allow yourself to experience it.  Don't repress it.  Don't act on it.  Simply feel it.  Sometimes it softens.  When I can manage to let myself have this space, I never send those texts and am always glad I didn't.  

    Another example I like to use is with hunger.  A natural desire for sure, but our conditioning gets in the way.  Hunger arises and if we act habitually we can end up making choices that aren't so good. (I head for donuts!)  Putting a little space between the desire to eat and the action can give us the opportunity to make better choices. Pause, experience the hunger, get in touch with what the body really wants, then act.  Here's another way of putting it:  act rather than react.

    Sometimes I soften the practice and allow some movement to occur, but I'm deliberate about it.  For instance I may make small subtle motions rocking my pelvis back and forth.  It feels good in the spine and helps me find a good seat.  And it's not like anyone is watching or keeping score.  If you need to move, then move, but do so consciously and deliberately, with intention.  "I'm going to scracth my nose now.  I'm moving my right hand up to my face..."  Think of minimizing movent.

    Give sitting still a try and see how nicely it affects the rest of your day.  Choose a nice quiet place with no distractions and find a way to sit as comfortably as you can.  Sitting on a bench or low table can be really comfortable.  Settle into stillness and set your intention not to move.  Try to find the stillness from deep within your body and let it radiate outward rather than imposing it from the outside. Meditation can be extremely challenging.  It doesn't always feel good when you're doing it, although sometimes it does.  The benefits accumulate and can show up after practice, later in the day.  5 minutes a good length of time to start a practice.  If it feels good, you can always do another 5!