A disciplined distance runner, I began my yoga journey a little over a year ago after a series of injuries. Inner Fire Yoga introduced me to yoga and made my love for the practice grow. It has changed my life physically, mentally and spiritually. I’ve learned how to breath and channel my energy, good or bad, and relax in stressful situations, simply through breathing. I feel truly blessed and grateful to all the instructors and the community at Inner Fire Yoga for making it such a warm and welcoming environment to learn and grow. I love the teachings from the instructors. Each class, they bring a new outlook on things and allow me to broaden my perspective. Thank you to everyone at Inner Fire Yoga for making the experience so special.
Eight years ago, my wife suggested that I try an introductory yoga class at a community college in Seattle to see if it would alleviate my back pain and improve my posture (a problem I was not convinced I had). In addition to learning the basic postures and a smattering of Sanskrit, I discovered that yoga did remedy my musculoskeletal discomforts…and that I actually did have bad posture. For the next few years, my yoga practice was an off-and-on supplement to my regular exercise regimen and was very focused on asana.
After moving to Madison, my wife and I discovered Inner Fire Yoga. Upon arriving home after her first class, she told me, “A power flow class is starting in 30 minutes,” and sent me on my way. My life has never been the same since. After that first class, I was very hot, drenched in sweat, and physically spent, but all I could think about was coming back for the next one. Within six months, I was practicing at Inner Fire Yoga almost every morning, and I completed my first personal revolution within a year. My body grew stronger, my balance improved, and I discovered flexibility I believed only gymnasts and children could possess.
Now that I have established a regular practice at Inner Fire Yoga, I have begun to further explore the facets of yoga beyond the physical. Increasing focus on pranayama has facilitated me relaxing into the postures, allowing them to gently unfold into their true forms. At the start of each morning on my mat, establishing pranayama allows me to assess the current needs of my mind and body, and set my intention for practice. The true gift from my practice at Inner Fire Yoga is the ability to cultivate a calm intensity that remains with me throughout the entire day.
I extend my gratitude to the dedicated teachers at Inner Fire Yoga, for they are our guides along our journey. I am grateful for the dedication and support of my wife, and I honor my fellow 6am Inner Fire Yoga students.
Yoga has been a part of my life for eight years, but since September 2011, I have been traveling all over, working with different non-profits, but also kind of escaping my life in Madison. I finally returned this past November, having not really gone to a yoga class in 14 months. I knew I would have a lot of loose ends to tie up here in town and that I would need a sanctuary. I had gone to Inner Fire Yoga a few times and I knew I needed a warm place so I just went for a membership. Little did I know… In the past three months, I have moved multiple times through snowstorms, gone through a messy break up of a six-year relationship, lived out of my car for a good part of the winter (or a place with no heat), gotten pneumonia twice, lost a very good friendship, and was living in limbo.
However, it did not matter. I had a sanctuary: Inner Fire Yoga. And my angel inside that sanctuary has been Karen Erstad. I tried to make her classes whenever I could because it was her humor, her music, and her insights that have helped get me through this time. She’s got this motherly side to her that is very apparent and a way of moving around the room and laughing that just makes me know I’ll be okay as long as I have yoga in my life.
Karen and her pigtails are truly an inspiration to me and I want to express my thanks to her and the studio.
Also a few shout outs:
To Julie for her pure silliness
To Justin for his sly cynicism that always makes me laugh
To Dar for …just being Dar.
To the manager who’s name I don’t know, who always smiles at me when I walk in
To Rachel for being so sweet
Thanks Inner Fire Yoga! I would have never gotten through anything without all of you and the amazingly wonderful support system of the studio. I’ll be back when I visit, and when I write a book about the crazy travels I’ve had and will continue to have, you’ll be in it!
I have a story I’d like to share with you. I’d been taking Power Flow classes for about 16 months and thought I’d try a Hot Yoga class. I was nervous about it. After my first class I felt taller and my back felt great! I have scoliosis that bothers me quite a bit. After about my 4th or 5th Hot Yoga class I thought to myself half way through that this was too much for me and I should go back to Power Flow. About two minutes after I had that thought, Erin Morris (instructor) said “Marsha, you’ve really come along way”. Well how could I quit after that? I didn’t. I thanked her right after class and I’ve shared my experience with others in the shower room.
Thanks for having this great community!
I happened into my first yoga class at Inner Fire Yoga on a Saturday morning back in January 2009 because I lost a bet to a friend that was a member of IFY!
I vividly remember thinking, “Wow this is pretty hot, this is pretty crazy, and these people are nuts. I can’t do this. What was I thinking!” Needlessly to say, I survived my first class with Joan (barely) and swore I wasn’t coming back, bet or no bet. But I experienced an awakening of energy afterward, and by the time I got in my car I was trying to figure out when I could come back. Crazy, right. I was hooked from the very first class even though I knew I had an extensive way to go.I was middle-aged, overweight, stressed, anxious, and had knee problems; my mind and body knew I needed this incredibly detoxifying yoga. So I kept coming back and the instructors at IFY were exceptionally supportive on my journey. Many people speak about sometimes achieving a ‘runner’s high’. I experience a ‘yoga high and inner peace’ each time I practice at Inner Fire Yoga, and it stays with me until the next time I find myself on the mat. It is one of the most incredible feelings to encounter.
The awareness and gifts that I have received mentally, physically and spiritually since joining Inner Fire Yoga are limitless. The absolute best gift has been my yoga baby, Emma. Ron and I had been unsuccessful in conceiving a child together for nine years and had thought it was no longer a possibility; it was completely off our radar. Then, surprise! Ten months after beginning my yoga quest at Inner Fire Yoga and two months after turning 40, I discovered we were pregnant. To say we were blown away and thrilled is an understatement. I am confident that our ability to have a child is due to my hot yoga practice. I had an amazing pregnancy and throughout it, practiced hot yoga. As my body changed, I found myself needing to come to class, as this was the only place my body felt like my pre-pregnancy self. The instructors at IFY were exceptionally supportive and encouraged me to keep ‘listening’ to my body and it would tell me when I should stop. I practiced up until two days before our beautiful baby girl, Emma, was born. Throughout this time, I spoke to many other students and answered questions about hot yoga during pregnancy and highly recommend it.
My girl was definitely a yoga baby from conception to birth as she refused to leave the comfort of her janushirasana pose in the womb and had to be removed via C-section! Two months after delivering my yoga miracle, I found my way back to my mat at IFY and haven’t stopped since. Even little Emma, who will be three this year loves to practice with me at home with her baby poses. It brings a tear to my eye and smile to my face when she crawls on my lap and says, “Mamma let’s yoga.”
The instructors are truly the best at Inner Fire! It is incredible to practice next to them in class and receive the gift of their experience and advice while they teach. They definitely walk the talk as does Inner Fire Yoga with all the charitable events and community outreach that they support and participate in. It’s a wonderful family to belong to.
Although I have been coming to IFY for four years, I very much consider myself a newbie and have so much more to learn and experience within my practice and can’t wait to see where my yoga path takes me in life.
The cherry on my yoga sundae is that I have dropped six dress sizes and lost 76 pounds collectively since joining IFY: 35 pounds pre-pregnancy and 41 pounds post-pregnancy.
I had taken a yoga course in college, but it wasn’t until I practiced at Inner Fire Yoga that I experienced how invigorating yoga can be. I was introduced to hot yoga about two years ago from a great friend who has now gone on to become an instructor at Inner Fire. I have always been ‘Type A’ and push myself to the limits especially with my exercise routine and after having extensive injuries from running, I decided to give it a whirl again.
“I am absolutely amazed with how yoga at IFY has assisted me in understanding and developing my inner being. It has not only provided me the opportunity to broaden my horizons, but it is also an exhilarating avenue to relieve stress. Through yoga I have learned so much about myself and my surroundings and gained strength and flexibility not just physically but mentally as well. Practicing at IFY is an incredible experience, allowing me to be able to truly push my limitations, yet be afforded with an overall calming nature.
“It’s liberating to know that when I come to my mat, I am surrounded by such positive energy, not only through the phenomenal instructors but the community as a whole. I have found that it’s not just a class to attend but an environment to truly be in the present, and to find and embrace peace in what tends to be a constant ‘on-the-go’ life. Yoga has become an integral part of my daily routine and I look forward to practicing yoga to enrich my life for as long as I’m able.
There are definitely not enough hours in the day. I’m always looking to bleed every last minute out of each waking hour. I’ve continuously failed, while not for a lack of trying, to successfully extend the day beyond 24 hours and the week beyond 7 days. I’ve only gotten better at multitasking all my projects. Granted, physically adding an hour to the day only happens once a year (only to be taken away later in the year). But, I’ve found a way to do it every day: Yoga. While it doesn’t actually wrinkle the fabric of time, it does slow things down considerably. It takes me out of my tendency to ‘rush rush rush’. Every morning I leave my house at 4:50 a.m., and bike the 11 miles across town to settle on my yoga mat in the back corner of the room. Joining me is the wonderful 6 a.m. community of students and teachers that I’ve come to enjoy each extended moment with.
My journey to the mat is not that profound; rather it is the time I’ve spent there that I have come to find profound. I came to a regular practice about three years ago. I was looking for something new, something to slow me down. Starting each day on the mat clears my mind and gets me ready for the day ahead. That ‘extended’ hour each morning, chalk full of energy and movement, gives me time to really focus on the present moment; now, not later. I’m not concerned with cramming in another down dog, or getting in one last headstand. I do what my body feels it is ready for, and I’m in no rush to get there. While perhaps a foreign feeling in a nonstop world, it is a welcomed feeling. Inner Fire has not only been the best layover I’ve had on my commute to work each morning, but its teachers and community have and will continue to cultivate an appreciation for now, not later. I honestly appreciate every moment I get to spend on the mat surrounded by the wonderful community at Inner Fire. Thank you.
Approximately four years ago my daughter gave me the gift of a two-month Inner Fire Yoga membership. And I have never stopped going since!
Prior to moving to Madison four years ago, I had worked at a job that involved sitting at a desk most of the day. Increasingly I was experiencing back problems. Since beginning my practice at Inner Fire, those back problems have disappeared, and I have gained strength and flexibility. I leave the practice feeling refreshed in body and soul. I am so grateful for the peaceful spirit at Inner Fire, for the generosity and wisdom of the teachers and the acceptance of everyone.
Being 67 years old and new to yoga, I have sometimes wondered how long I could continue with the practice and I often laughed inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) as I wavered about during the balancing asanas. It was refreshing to hear Dr. Ruddy relate that one of his teachers is considerably older than I am and still practicing! Then my daughter posted some pictures of 90 year olds doing yoga. I am hoping that will be me! I have gained so much, in so many ways from my practice that I can’t imagine not coming to Inner Fire Yoga and doing yoga…wobbly or not!
“For the first 35 years of my life I ran for exercise, for speed, for stress relief. After I had my first child, the strain of carrying him on my right hip all day combined with long runs with no core strength brought me to a halt with incredible back pain. I couldn’t run but I still had a need for stress relief and exercise so I tried yoga, thinking it would get me back on track as a runner.
My first foray was into a HOT Yoga class and I recall being blown away not only by the heat but by the athleticism of the yogis in the front row. (How did they do toe stand?!?!) As I returned again and again to Inner Fire my back pain diminished and I could run again, but I surprised myself by wanting to spend less time on the road, preferring my yoga mat instead.
Yoga strengthens my whole body. It provides clarity of intention to my thoughts. It brings together power and calmness in a way that is invigorating and enlightening. I love that Inner Fire has dedicated, well-trained teachers who each have great insights to share; from how to get into a tricky position to how to bring more gratitude into your life. I love that there is great music, humor, diversity of practitioners, and a warm sense of community. I love that I can see growth and change in my practice from day to day and year to year. I love how I feel when I leave. And I love that I can look into the future and see myself as an old woman still practicing yoga and still striving to rock a more-perfect Half Moon, still striving to calm my monkey-mind.”
“My yoga journey stared in February 2010. I had recently changed jobs and through that change I met Marit on a professional level.
Marit invited me to Inner Fire to show me her yoga community that she is so passionate about. I stopped by on a weekday over the lunch hour while a HOT Yoga class was in session, and I was immediately intrigued. That same evening I brought a friend with me to take a tour of the studio. We both signed up that same evening and have been practicing faithfully ever since. Recently we both set milestones, completing 400 and 300 classes.
My yoga practice has had many benefits. I find myself calmer both personally and professionally. In addition, over the last 2+ years of practicing yoga and eating healthier, I have carved off over 30 pounds.
I am a true believer in a regular yoga practice and spread the word whenever possible about Marit and her staff at Inner Fire Yoga.”
“I have been coming to Inner Fire since May and I absolutely love it! I moved up here from Texas around that time and for the first time I am not working – which is something I’ve always loved. I was so concerned about being in a new state with nothing to do and yoga has completely saved me! It gives me the structure my job did but also peace of mind and discipline which is just amazing. The first class I took was Hot with Dr. Ruddy and his teaching method made me want to come back. All the teachers do an awesome job of describing how to do the pose without having to look a the teacher which is SO helpful & is what was missing with my yoga practice in Dallas. I just wanted to pass along how in my situation, Inner Fire got me out of a slump & has given me something to look forward to everyday!!”
“I was definitely one of those people that felt like yoga just wasn’t for me because I’m not very flexible. I’ve been an athlete and committed exercise enthusiast my whole life – my friends would even say that I have a bit of an addiction. I’ve played volleyball, taken hundreds of aerobics classes, and I even became a water aerobics instructor. But I had never made the time for improving my flexibility. Before practicing at Inner Fire, I had only gone to yoga a few times in the past because I was humoring my friends.
When I went to my first Inner Fire Yoga class, I was being a good “exercise buddy”. But for the first time in my life, I was completely hooked! Maybe it’s the heated room, the great vibe of the community, the mastery of the very skilled instructors, or the way my body feels – or likely the marvelous combination of all those things that makes Inner Fire Yoga so special – that has changed my opinion drastically.
I’ve been taking four to five classes a week since May 2011, and while I’ve made only modest gains in my flexibility over this last year – and trust me that’s something to celebrate – I’ve gained so much more than I could have imagined. I started my yoga journey during a very stressful time at work, but regular practice made all the difference for me then, and it continues to provide me some peace and an opportunity to “go within” unlike any other form of exercise or meditation practice. I’ve even searched for hot yoga studios when traveling for work or visiting family and friends! I just can’t say enough how much I love this practice and how positive my experiences have been at Inner Fire!”
Thank you so much for posting these mp3′s of class!
I had been coming to Inner Fire for the past couple of years or so. I’ve been to many, many studios over the years, and considered IFY to be my home base. Though I tended to be more of a quiet soul, I loved the fostering of community at the studio. The diversity of asana styles and approaches was a wonderful way to learn about my own personal practice. I love my home practice, but its the sequencing progressions, and a teachers voice leading that I miss the most! (Didn’t think I would miss the cork floors as much either!)
Sincere appreciation to you, Marit, for having the conviction to take a chance on this business venture — now community evolution. So many have dreams without the abandon to follow them. The effect that the studio has had on so many is not always visible to the eye or audible to the ear.
As for me, I’m now living in N’Djamena, Chad. This is an austere environment with so much poverty, HIV, TB, malaria, and abuse of all kinds… it is so present “in your face” here. I find myself once again realizing that I need less than I have. A dichotomy between the excess that I have and the scarcity of what is here will be my yoga for the nest two years. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m exhausted and cranky at times, and learning/finding joy more than I would have expected… this is NOT a pity party! I admire so many of the people I have met already.
And yet, I have found yet another oasis in this place — these podcasts! Please continue them! I would gladly pay to have them continue as a subscription! They allow me a modicum of relief from my own inner craziness in this chaotic place.”
“I first started doing yoga because of a back injury I had suffered years ago from wrestling. I used to run and lift for workouts, but it was just too hard on my lower back and, quite frankly, just not worth it. I needed a different kind of workout that wasn’t so abrasive on the body. A friend of mine suggested I go to Inner Fire Yoga because of the extremely knowledgeable and friendly instructors there. I tried a HOT yoga class and fell in love with Inner Fire right away.
One class was all it took to notice a difference in my lower back and my overall well being. I was hooked instantly. I liked the challenge that it brought physically on my body, but also mentally as well. It is a perfect way to balance out the wear and tear I put on my body from running a wrestling school. Yoga is perfect because it helps me build strength, balance and flexibility, and, surprisingly, it’s a good cardio workout. In fact, I put my wrestlers through yoga sequences for workouts now and they love it!!! I also feel very at peace while I’m doing yoga. It has lowered my stress level tremendously and reminds me to remain present and not sweat the small stuff in life. I learn little life lessons every class I go to from the awesome and wise instructors. Yoga isn’t just a workout; it really is a lifestyle.”
“I literally came to my first yoga class at Inner Fire Yoga broken. I had a shocking pink cast from my armpit to my fingertips, encasing my left arm in a perpetual 90-degree angle so my ulnar bone could repair from a break caused when my friend and I collided on our bikes. It was a power flow class, and I was determined not to miss a move or moment of the “workout,” cast be damned! It was only yoga, after all. I was used to much more grueling workouts, having completed several marathons (including Boston!), ultra-marathons (50K), and long-distance bike rides like the Horribly Hilly and Door County Century. I also spent loads of time in the gym taking “boot camp” type classes and lifting weights. To me, yoga was the equivalent to taking a nap, or washing the dishes maybe.
For better or worse, this was my basic mindset: Just Do It! Go For It! PUSH! Not quite ready to admit yoga was a challenge, I still found class at Inner Fire Yoga intoxicating; I kept coming back for more, even long after my cast was removed. I loved having “permission” to back off if I wanted to — if I felt I needed to. I was surprised by how much I needed to. With the brilliant guidance in class, I was finally able to take a breath and take stock of my body and my self. Not only was my arm in need of recovery, but also my hips hurt (REALLY BAD!). I actually had difficulty sitting at my son’s lacrosse games, or driving to the store, or even sitting to check email. Walking up and down stairs was torture. Before yoga, I never gave myself the chance to acknowledge the extent of the pain and exhaustion I felt all over. My feet hurt, my neck was sore, and my shoulders were stuck and didn’t move the way they were supposed to in down dog or up dog. I was stunned by my lack of flexibility and the amount of actual fatigue I felt everywhere.
Lucky for me I kept coming to the mat! I stopped running all together for the first time in over 25 years. I cut back on my biking and I stopped going to the gym. I was thinking yoga was a stepping-stone to get back to my routine. Otherwise, I wondered, how would I survive? Running, biking, pushing myself physically is what I enjoyed, and how I reduced the mental stress of my life. Both my BS and MS are even in the field of Exercise Science. This is who I am, I thought. Without it, who am I? Yikes.
Slowly, things changed. Little by little, I felt less pain — I felt less exhaustion. While lifting plates into the cupboard, I found movement in a spot in my shoulder that I didn’t even know was stuck. My neck didn’t make a creaky noise when I looked to the side. I could sit through a lacrosse game, and walk up and down stairs easier. My muscles shrunk, but I didn’t get flabby, and even more amazing, my abs became flatter than EVER! With Inner Fire Yoga, I found a new avenue to have fun, to decompress and at the same time not overdo, and yet still get a workout. (OK, I can finally admit it’s challenging!)
I didn’t accomplish the personal revolution of four classes per week for 12 weeks or the 30-day HOT yoga challenge the first or even second time I tried. I didn’t finish the HOT yoga challenge until this past winter, about two years since my first class with the broken arm. I occasionally run, bike and do other workouts, but amazingly it’s not such a pressing “need” anymore. Wonder of wonders — I like the challenges on the mat! It feels good. I may or may not go back to the fanatical fitness pace I had. But now I know either way, it’s all right. I’ll be alright. Besides, I still need to practice handstand and scissors and crow… so many exciting challenges are waiting!
By far, the most important gift that Inner Fire Yoga teachers have given me is to learn how to dance on the edge of effort and surrender. Applying this concept on and off the mat has helped me heal my physical aches and pains and recover from exhaustion, but also has allowed me to gracefully enter a new gentler, sweeter, slower, yet still challenging phase of my life. With Inner Fire Yoga, I’m in a good place. Thanks Inner Fire! Without you, I don’t know if I would have made it in one piece!”
Amy Dowd: I vividly remember my first yoga class taken two years ago. It was Dar’s Aroma Flow class, and I was celebrating my 40th birthday by trying something new. Not knowing, I showed up for class with my hair and makeup done, complete with bright red lipstick. I must have been quite a sight. The most difficult part of the first class was staring at my reflection in the mirror for 60 solid minutes; while the best part of the class was pretty much everything else. Dar’s humor, knowledge and aroma oils were invigorating. I loved being among so many inspiring yogis. The next day my body felt different, awakened.
My life and relationships have since been transformed through a regular yoga practice at IFY. I no longer cringe at my reflection in the mirror; instead I learn from it, occasionally even embracing it.
The comfort of the warm, yellow-walled rooms at IFY has become my sanctuary. This is where I go to breathe, to connect and to be inspired. My mind and body are stronger than ever before. I am continually amazed at the level of dedication and expertise that the teachers at IFY bring to each practice. We are fortunate to have this little gem of a studio in Madison.
Nathan Dowd: I began practicing at Inner Fire Yoga seeking a replacement for running and hoping to prevent worsening joint problems from years of wear and tear. I have learned so much from the unique styles and personalities of each of Inner Fire’s teachers. I love that at Inner Fire I can oscillate between Hot yoga, Flow, and Yin classes depending on my mood or what I need physically.
Shortly after beginning a regular yoga practice at IFY, I began work on my doctorate. Phrases like, “Dad you’re so mean”, had become a regular exclamation that my children fired at me. Not that I was a terribly flexible person before, but the stress and long work hours were getting to me. Yoga has helped me find a way to balance everything. Coming to a class at Inner Fire is my chance to focus on solely on myself for a short while and let go of any external barriers. Now my kids say “Dad, aren’t you going to go to yoga today?” I can honestly say that yoga has improved me as a person, husband and father.
Amy and Nathan Dowd
“I am writing this on the 40th day of my personal revolution. A number of days before I started this adventure, I mentioned the notion to one of my friends who responded, “Only 40 days? Shouldn’t you be doing at least 80 or even 120 days?”
Like so many of us, I lead a really busy existence, working full-time while raising two beautiful and energetic children. I spend any spare moments I have enjoying ultra-distance events like the Ironman, century-long bike rides, and long, long runs. I fly around most days like my hair is on fire, and I’ve pretty much given up on sleep until the kids head off to college.
The 40 days program was a totally different endeavor than anything I had tried in the past. While the program focused on yoga, healthy eating, and meditation, it offered so much more. I came away with many new ways to combat stress, promote patience, and reduce reactivity. Perhaps, best of all, I learned how wonderful it is to be present (at least when I am able to stop and do so.)
I am relatively new to the yoga scene, having practiced for only one year. When I started in February 2011, I practiced at Inner Fire two to three times a week. As 2011 came to an end, I started doing yoga almost everyday. If I couldn’t get to the studio, then I would practice at home (often sharing my mat with our golden retriever and at least one of my kids.) Through the 40 day program, I saw how beneficial a regular practice is for me. The more yoga I did, the stronger I felt. I even ran a 50K (31 mile) race in the middle of the program, felt no ill-effects, and recovered quicker than usual.
I did not find the healthy eating part of the program to be especially taxing. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not do the fruit fast because it fell during the week immediately after the 50K run, and I did not think that would be a smart idea. I would like to try the fast another time.
Personally, the meditation aspect of the 40 days was a real challenge. For over 45 years, I have gone as hard and fast as I could. The idea of sitting with my eyes closed while doing absolutely nothing blew my mind. Who would do that? The program started with five-minute meditations and ended with 30 minutes. Now at the end of the program, I can do five minutes. To be honest, 10 minutes feel interminable to me. I guess I really could use a 120 day program, maybe then I could extend my meditations to a full seven minutes.
Karen and Jackie did not teach as much as lead us through the program. I am making the distinction because they truly joined us on this journey, sharing their fears and frustrations as well as their successes and joys. They challenged without berating and provided a safe environment where we all could share our thoughts and ideas.
I would definitely recommend this program to others. As is often the case, I think you get what you put into it.”
“I came to yoga soon after my wife and daughter started at Inner Fire Yoga and convinced me to give it a try. I had not researched what yoga was all about, but rather went into it with an open mind. In my two years here at Inner Fire Yoga what I have come to learn and appreciate most about yoga is the inherent duality of the practice. I love how yoga allows you to challenge yourself mentally and physically, but also encourages acceptance of your limitations and weaknesses. I also like how it subtly teaches you to move your body and mind in new directions, yet promotes stillness and contentment with where you are in your practice, as well as in your life.
I look forward to the many lessons and poses that yoga has to offer, and I can’t think of a better place to learn and practice. This is especially so because of the quality of instructors at Inner Fire Yoga. It was obvious to me from the beginning that I was being taught by individuals who have a diversity of experience, a great deal of patience, and a thorough knowledge and respect of yoga.”
“I decided to try the 30 HOT yoga classes in 30 days challenge as a way to prepare for the final weekend of teacher training at Inner Fire Yoga. I wanted to completely immerse myself in HOT Yoga as much as possible, but given the time of year, I knew it would be a real challenge to make time for daily practice. I discovered that taking on the challenge during the holiday season forced me to slow down, roll out my mat, and take care of myself for 90 minutes each day! In other words, one can always find an excuse for not taking on the challenge, but perhaps the more hectic times are the best.
The benefits of doing 30 HOT classes in 30 days are numerous both on and off the mat. I certainly began to feel stronger in class, but I also felt more energetic throughout the whole day. I noticed that I did not suffer the typical afternoon slump where I would otherwise need a cup of coffee, and I found that I needed less sleep at night. Also, after class eight or nine, I noticed a change in my body, and while losing weight was not an intended goal, it was a nice byproduct! I truly felt more relaxed, more patient, more present, and more productive.
It was interesting to notice the change in my HOT Yoga practice. For example, I started really feeling my spine “round” in rabbit and head-to-knee pose in a way I hadn’t before; “lock the knee” had a whole new meaning by class 17 or 18; and I no longer dreaded trikonasana since I’d figured out how to hold the pose with the “front of my body” and not in my lower back, as Dar says. There were some days that I really had to drag myself to the studio, but once I completed my first round of pranayama, I felt so happy and relieved to be there — every single class! A few times I had to double up classes in order to complete the challenge, but those days were honestly my favorite, and after the second class of the day, I felt AMAZING. Even if someone thinks that they don’t have time to do the 30 day challenge, I highly recommend trying two HOT classes in one day!
My family and the Inner Fire community supported and encouraged me throughout the challenge, and I admit to feeling giddy every time I put my silver star on the challenge poster. It was very satisfying to complete what I set out to do, and as a true HOT Yogi, I plan to continue my HOT practice as close to daily as I can… but I am also excited to have the time to FLOW again!”
“I’ve learned far more lessons from yoga than I ever imagined I would. Perhaps the most important: life, and its many intricacies, is a journey.
That journey brought me to a wonderful place called Inner Fire Yoga, the inspiration of an amazing woman I’ve had the pleasure to know for several years, Marit Sathrum.
My wife, Maureen, and I had talked about trying yoga for about five years when we finally found ourselves in a Monday night HOT yoga class with Amy Roland, our first introduction to yoga. Ninety minutes later, completely washed out, I think we were both a bit taken aback by the experience. But then we both had the best night’s sleep we could remember, and somewhat to our surprise, found ourselves in the same place the following Monday night.
When I arrived at that class, I had just turned 50 and for the previous 15 years had enjoyed a healthy lifestyle and a love of exercise, including biking, running, weight training and rowing. But I knew I was neglecting flexibility, which is what first attracted me to yoga.
While it’s never too late to begin a yoga practice, I suspect waiting until after you’re 50 is less than optimal. This was particularly evident the first time I tried, and I do mean tried, the half pigeon pose. But I suspect the challenge of slowly unlocking hips and other joints has its own rewards, and it certainly allows me to appreciate the physical benefits of my practice, which are obvious.
That first winter I began practicing, I maintained my summer weight instead of the normal 10-pound gain. The next spring my first jog and bike ride were pain free, and I ran my best Crazylegs time ever. I sleep better, handle stress better, smell better, digest better, have better skin and more.
I am convinced it’s not just the yoga, but it’s also this place we all gather to practice and the community that has formed around it. Inner Fire has a unique quality that’s hard to define, but easy to feel. It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people.
Thank you Marit, Karen E., Ken, David, Darlene, Joan, Amy, Jackie, Justin and Carrie. You have helped me along my journey, and it is my honor and privilege to have you as teachers. Namaste.”
Congratulations to both Scott Lamps and Ida Pajunen for completing the 30-day HOT yoga challenge! Both yogis sweated through – and survived – 30 HOT yoga classes in 30 days. Here’s what each one had to say about the experience:
Inner Fire Yoga: Do you have any tips for those who may try it next? Ida Pajunen: My best advice is to not over think it and go for it! I almost didn’t sign up for the challenge because I was pretty sure I’d “fail”. Once I signed up and got in the routine of it, I realized that I was doing exactly what I thought I wasn’t capable of. That confidence really helped with the mental aspects of the challenge. It also helped me take it one day at a time. Thinking about 30 classes in a row is daunting, but thinking about it one class at a time is much more manageable.
IFY: What was the best benefit you experienced from doing the challenge? IP: The best benefit was feeling more in control of myself in terms of my mood and eating habits. I felt my mood didn’t need to dictate the rest of my day. I felt that I didn’t need to act on every thought that crossed my mind. My sugar cravings disappeared and I felt generally happier, healthier, and in control.
IFY: What was the most unexpected benefit you experienced from doing the challenge? IP: I’ve noticed my focus off the mat is much different than it was pre-challenge. I’ve been able to work much more energetically and for longer periods of time without feeling restless.
IFY: Any other feedback? IP: Drink A LOT of water!
Ida and Scott are also an incredible musical artists. Believe us: www.idajoandtheshow.com
Inner Fire Yoga: Do you have any tips for those who may try it next?
Scott Lamps: Have faith in the process. In Bikram’s book, he says not to worry about what you eat. Eventually, he says, your body will stop wanting what is bad for it. I found that to be true over the course of the challenge. Oh, and drink as much water as you can find.
IFY: What was the best benefit you experienced from doing the challenge? SL: It is tough to single out one benefit because there are so many. I would have to say strength and the confidence that comes along with that. I didn’t know I was capable of building such strength in my body, especially in my legs and core. It opened my eyes to the untapped potential in my life.
IFY: What was the most unexpected benefit you experienced from doing the challenge? SL: I discovered my own practice. After trying so many different approaches to the class – going hard, going easy, modifying postures, doing more than one class in a day – I realized that the answer is largely in the question. The action of going to class every day is the most important part. The rest actually does take care of itself to a large extent.
IFY: Any other feedback? SL: Trust your body and trust the class. They say “Do 30 classes in 30 days. It will change your life.” It is true. You will not feel the same, you will not see yourself in the same way, and you will not see the world in the same way.”
Scott Lamps and Ida Pajunen
“I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 10 years attending a formal class maybe once a week. My mornings always began, and still do, with a few asanas. When I did practice I always felt better, but it was not a priority in my life. Then last year I took some of Karen Erstad’s classes through the UW Health Wellness program, and felt fantastic. Through her encouragement I decided to give Inner Fire a trial run. Little did I realize that this decision would change my life! After my first class there was not a doubt in my mind that purchasing a membership would be one of the best investments I would ever make.
Establishing a regular yoga practice over the past few months has helped me greatly both physically and mentally. Physically, I have more energy and things seem to ache less, especially after sitting at a desk all day. And I have never slept better in my life! Although the physical benefits are amazing, the most profound change is in my mind. Once I step on my mat the rest of the world disappears. The stresses in my life fall to the back of my head because during class nothing I do will change them. This was challenging to do initially, especially since I have a difficult time sitting still. But, I simply focus on being present with my breath and let any thoughts pass. After every class I ALWAYS have a smile on my face, and feel lighter and more alive than I had before entering the studio. I truly believe that everyone can do yoga, but it may take time to find the right fit. I feel lucky to have found the right fit in classes at Inner Fire. If everyone practiced some yoga each day, I think the world would be a lot happier and healthier place!”
“Prior to discovering Inner Fire Yoga six years ago, I had never tried yoga nor did I practice any form of exercise on a regular basis. Little did I know, at that time, that Hot Yoga would become my way of life. I now practice yoga at Inner Fire on average four times a week and cannot imagine my life without it. Yoga has helped me find myself and has brought balance to my life physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. While I am practicing yoga I feel a sense of calmness that inevitably carries over into my daily activities. Hot Yoga feeds my soul and when I am on my mat, I am at peace. Yoga is what I do and I fit everything else in my life around it. I am so grateful for Inner Fire Yoga and feel absolutely blessed to be a part of its community.” SK
“In May of this year I was recovering from shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff. I was also suffering from low back pain that had become constant after plaguing me off and on for years. I began to wonder if I would ever live without the pain again. My wife Susan had introduced me to Inner Fire Yoga awhile back and I had enjoyed it but never practiced regularly. I was desperate for relief though and saw yoga as a last hope. So as soon as I was cleared by my doctor, I jumped in. I’ve been practicing four or five days a week since May. Being able to do a strenuous workout was an immediate benefit and after a month I really began seeing improvement in my back and also with the strength and flexibility in my shoulder. Each week it seems I am pushing myself a little harder or trying a new variation of a pose and my whole body keeps feeling better. It feels like I’m turning back the hands of time. Thank you so much to Inner Fire Yoga and to all the amazing teachers.” MK
Susan and Mike Kitts
“A physician friend encouraged me to do yoga to help ease my chronic neck and upper back pain. I didn’t think it would really help, since I had tried many things over the years including massage, acupuncture, physical therapy…the works. But I decided to give yoga a try (I figured it couldn’t hurt!) I work with a lot of yoga enthusiasts, and asked them where to go-one who has been doing hot yoga for years told me he thinks it is going to make him live forever! With that kind of endorsement, I knew I wanted to try Hot Yoga. It took me awhile to muster up enough courage to come through the doors, but I am so glad I did. It is seriously the best decision I have ever made with regard to my health – physical and mental. I have been coming 3-4 times /week since March 2011, and it has already made a big difference in my life. My neck and back pain are virtually gone (no more ibuprofen or heating pad), I am getting stronger, my balance has improved, and I just feel great overall. Most importantly, I love it! My favorite is the Hot Yoga, but I enjoy Inner Fire Flow, Power Flow, Yin – all of it. The teachers are compassionate, inspiring and wise, and the staff are welcoming and friendly. I could go on and on, but I will stop here. Simply put: Inner Fire Yoga is the best!”
“I have only been doing hot yoga for one month, but I just have to give big “Thank You” for having such a great place that I can’t wait to go back each time. I wish I had time every day, but for now I will take 3x/week. My running (used to do at least one half-marathon/year) has struggled over the last couple of years, coupled with what I thought were simply aging issues, my husband being deployed overseas last year, and then I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism. So, there is a pill that will eventually help some of my health issues, but I can’t tell you what the yoga has already done for me. I FEEL GOOD AGAIN! And I love listening to each and every teacher talk about the organs and how we work what with each move… I could go on and on about what your classes have done for me already, but I’ll spare you as I could go on and on and on … I will tell you this though, I am waking up rested and happy again and that means the world to me. I have so much ahead of me with my new venture in hot yoga, both internally and externally. So again, “Thank You” for what my first month has done for me. Blessings to all of you!”
“I began my yoga practice a little over a year ago to try something different in a hot studio. I’ve always been active, participating in recreational sports like softball, volleyball, racketball and tennis as well as jogging and biking but injuries and accidents have curtailed my abilities and involvement. I was looking for something I could do without getting hurt and could break a sweat! My daughter Zoe, was also looking for an activity as well, so it made for a togetherness we could share. I had no idea what has been missing in my life since practicing yoga which can be described as life changing.
I work full time as a Mobility Specialist for the visually impaired, and as much as I love my work it can be emotionally demanding. I have been always one of those people that worry about how things are going to work out and what is in my control or not. I have in the past reacted to the bad stuff with worry and anger. I’ve especially experienced angst when life doesn’t go the way I want it to. Well, it’s taken me awhile to understand that we really can’t control much except how we interact with it all. Yoga practice is like a therapy for me. I listen to the words of the instructors sharing a positive attitude, and sense an understanding that we practice as a community to support each other in all that life brings us. When I attend yoga class I am always welcomed and have found others with similar pursuits.
It has been an especially interesting ride these past few years with having loved ones die, placing my mom in a nursing home, raising daughters, and working in a demanding job. I think yoga is helping me begin to transform my life, especially my attitude. I go to yoga class to clear my head, to feel better, to see friends, and to detox. I have been attending classes at least 5 times a week for over a year now and found a community of all ages, that share a passion for finding an inner peace with warm physical movement. My husband has certainly seen an improvement with how I am taking on life. I hope that little by little (one by one) we can share our insight with those around us to have a healthier more reasonable society.”
“I started yoga a little over one year ago as a way to improve my fitness and flexibility for triathlons. For me, I was initially interested only in the physical benefits of yoga. However, with time I have learned that the physical nature of yoga paves the path to the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. What I have also come to appreciate about yoga is the special community of diverse yoga instructors and students who all participate in teaching and learning from one another. By giving of ourselves and being open to receive, we can all learn to lead healthier and happier lives. While I do believe I have improved both my fitness and flexibility over the past year, the studio mirrors don’t lie. So I am glad I have the automatic monthly renewal plan since it looks like I have a life long yoga journey ahead of me.”
Anthony M. D’Alessandro, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
“I’m born and raised a Southern California girl. I love the heat, so it didn’t surprise me when I fell in love with hot yoga. I did a two week trial
in the summer of 2009 and started attending classes whenever I could—once a month or so– until the summer of 2010. Achilles tendonitis stopped me from running and playing soccer which worsened my cholesterol problems and I was suffering from hypothyroidism. But what made my life really stressful were the three teen-aged daughters and a busy husband I lived with. I felt like I needed an activity that would not stress my body more than it was feeling already, so I signed up for the summer personal revolution.
I know yoga at Inner Fire has changed me. My thyroid is now completely and miraculously, normal. While I had hoped to lose more weight, I feel firmer and stronger. More importantly, I have learned how to breathe again. While I still need meds to lower my bad cholesterol, my good cholesterol, which was never high, now is great and I know it’s the yoga. After reaching my summer goal, I was not sure how I could fit yoga into my busy teaching and family schedule but I did it and now I am seeing a change not only in my body, but my mind and my spirit.
I started yoga for the physical benefits, but I am finding that it is teaching me to be more aware of my environment; how I treat my physical self with the air I breathe and the food I eat. I am hearing some of the emotional and psychological teachings in little bits here and there. I am beginning to understand that Yoga is about uniting the body with the spirit and the mind. The other day at the end of a yoga class, the guide asked us to accept forgiveness in our lives–it was really meaningful to me. I offered up a prayer right then and felt a wonderful wave of forgiveness. It made me better understand how the spirit, mind and body come together and need to be in balance. After only 6 months of practicing yoga regularly (4-6 times a week), I know my journey has only begun.”
Teri Parris Ford
Artist and Art Teacher
Student Government Adviser
Sword & Shield Newspaper Adviser
James Madison Memorial High School
Thanks – as always – for class last night. I came in with a bunch of anxiety and left as a sort of peaceful jell-o. Your encouragement and compassion are important to so many people.
There’s a saying in marathon running: “God gave us legs to run 20 miles, then gave us a 26.2-mile race!” It’s an incredible truth: I’ve run five marathons now, and the same phenomenon has happened every time. After about 20 miles, the legs are spent and everything is hurting, and for me all time stands still. What happens next is either immense presence, or infinity – which I’ve come to understand are one in the same – and a fantastic opportunity to transcend time and bodily pain in favor of an inward journey. Just as you said last night, it all comes down to deciding to stick with it: for 60 seconds or for 60 minutes – just one instant into another. I’ve evolved emotionally over the past few years as I’ve become a runner. This past October I ran the Athens Marathon – the 2,500th anniversary of the ‘original’ marathon – and found that I was able to focus in to an incredible, timeless place, where time and pain seemed to vanish and the present moments became evident. I went on that pilgrimage thinking that perhaps I would be able to somehow connect to that first run so long ago, and discovered that it wasn’t about something in the past – but something entirely relevant to the exact present. (Here’s a link to my race report)
I give credit to my practice at Inner Fire Yoga for being the single most critical and essential part of all my training for running, triathlon – even the Ironman. I couldn’t have done it without Inner Fire Yoga. I’ve signed up for my second Ironman – here in Madison this fall! What I think will be the most important part of my training – just as we develop in class – will be to set aside preconceptions, inflated egos, and past experiences to approach the race with a joyful and open beginner’s mind. Thanks so much for giving me a place to build the foundations for an entirely new and improved life.”
“It’s difficult to verbalize the profound impact Inner Fire Yoga has had on my life. Initially seeking yoga was a way to drop weight before my wedding (which it did!), it slowly turned my life upside down as I began to question my assumptions and look inward. I realized the life I had been living was anything but my own: I grew up as a child actor and then pursued a performing arts career that I felt was expected of me post-college. Yoga taught me to put myself first; there is a big difference between being centered and being self-centered. I was finally able to accept that the only opinion of myself that truly mattered was my own. Now, after nearly two years of consistent practice, I am so thankful for the loving support of the Inner Fire Community as I begin my transition to a career in counseling.”
“I adore this yoga studio. While there are several studios within walking distance of my home, I religiously biked 30 minutes each way to attend class at Inner Fire Yoga. I was a pretty novice yogini when I started here, but by regularly attending classes, I was able to improve my form greatly and understand why people are so crazy about yoga. I have been to a few other yoga studios, and this one is unique. The teachers are dedicated and caring, and a sense of community emanates from the studio. Inner Fire also offers interesting seminars and trips which are great to augment your practice. Their bathrooms are nice, although they only have a few showers. They also have a nice seating area with books and complimentary hot tea.
I avidly attended the Power Flow and Inner Fire Flow classes because Hot Yoga can sometimes be too much for me. I would highly recommend taking classes with Karen, Ken, and Joan. Because the teachers made adjustments as needed, and were very in-tune with individual levels, I always felt like I left class having grown in my practice.
I would highly recommend taking advantage of the New Student offer if you are new to yoga or want to try Inner Fire Yoga.”
“When I first started practicing yoga almost two years ago, I didn’t go regularly. I went once or maybe twice a week and skipped a few weeks here and there. And then a friend took me to Inner Fire Yoga for the first time. Honestly, I wasn’t immediately sold on the heat and the intensity right away, but I kept with it and I soon understood why so many people keep coming back: it’s addicting. At first I started going three times a week but then I began to crave it everyday and the more hectic things became in my life – graduate school stress, an illness in the family, etc – the more I felt like I needed the calm that the studio offered, the momentary stillness of mind that occurred periodically throughout class, the small successes that came with the hard work, the energy of the dedicated people around me, and my favorite part – the wonderful feeling of remembering what it feels like to breath and to breath deeply.
The benefits of my dedicated practice at Inner Fire have surprised me from the beginning and continue to shock me everyday as I notice positive changes in my body, mind and even my relationships due to my increased calm and generosity. There’s no question that unlimited yoga at Inner Fire is the best $100 I spend all month.”
“Before finding hot yoga at Inner Fire, I had given yoga a good old college try on several occasions spanning many years. I’m a runner and someone under constant deadline for my work in the media and as much as I knew I needed help on flexibility and posture and mindfulness, I found myself antsy, bored, frustrated and watching the clock each class.
But one day I stumbled into a heated class at Inner Fire and half-way through, I started to cry. Not sad tears, just some sort of amazing release that caught me off guard. The heat felt so good on my body and mind, the sweat pouring off my body felt so cleansing, and the calming instruction was exactly what I needed to regroup. I felt my center, maybe for the first time ever…a level of euphoria and peace I desperately needed.
From that day on, hot yoga (Flow and a bit of Hot), became part of my life. I hesitate to call it an addiction, because that word can ring negative. What I do know is that when I’m diligent about attending 2-3 classes per week, things feel right-my relationships go better, my work is more creative, my body feels alive.
When I walk out of a hot yoga class, I feel beautifully spent and calm and I’m grateful. I sing that from the rooftops to my friends, family, and on my show because I do believe it has saved my life.”
The Kathleen Show
(email message) “Thank you to all the amazing yoga teachers there creating such beautiful healing truly amazing experiences. The kindness, softness, honesty and peace created can just bring me to tears – it is all so beautiful what is happening there I can’t possibly describe it – Thank you so very very much.”
“My first class was with a friend, who was a regular member of Inner Fire. I was instantly hooked but didn’t immediately commit myself due to my busy schedule. It wasn’t until many months later when I realized through a tragedy that I needed yoga. I began my dedication to this practice after a very close and dear friend passed away. I was able to channel my confusion, grief, and sadness into a harmonious place inside, through each movement and breath. I found that it was the best workout possible for my mind and body. Yoga brought me out of a dark place and shed light on all that is beautiful inside of us all. I will eternally be grateful for this gift and will continue to show my appreciation through my practice.”
(email message) “Hi Marit, Just wanted to say thank you. I am a new part time resident in Madison. Luckily my sister and law introduced me to Inner Fire Yoga two months ago. I loved the classes so much I promptly signed up for yoga/pilates classes at our local health club when I returned to our home on the west coast. While my Oregon club does a great job, the can’t come close to the bar set by Inner Fire. So…when we return to Oregon for the next few months, I am sure going to miss your classes (70!) and instructors. Thank you for all of the new classes to accommodate your yogi’s schedules and need for personal space during class. Congratulations on running such a wonderful business and contributing so positively to the Madison community.” Sheila Hart
“(email message) Hi Inner Fire, I am so grateful for studios such as Inner Fire across the country. I travel for work currently and do a stint at MGE in Madison every other week for a few days. I live in the Chicago area and when searching for studios in Madison, it was an instant attraction. I had a class yesterday with Darlene Vander Hoop and it was awesome. Darlene is a gifted teacher and I was blessed to be in the class. My only regret is I will not be coming to Madison on a regular basis; but who knows, the universe does work in strange ways. God Bless and thank you,”
A testimonial Tamal shared with us after giving his workshop at Inner Fire Yoga in October:
“I briefly thanked you last night, but wanted to write a short note in addition, to let you know how much I enjoyed your class. It was such a special treat, especially having you sing and play at the end. The class was challenging and inspirational. You have such beautiful energy and I am sure it was felt throughout class. I hope that you will come through Madison again so I will have another opportunity to take one of your classes. I will definitely check out your studio the next time I am in Santa Monica!
Thanks again for coming!! I LOVED the class!!!”
“I retired at the end of June 2009 after 30 years as a registered dietitian working with Child Nutrition Programs. Since my husband still has years to work before he can retire, my short-term retirement goals were humble: 1) get at least eight hours of sleep a night (which hadn’t happened in a long time), 2) increase my physical activity level, and 3) declutter the house.
Goal 1 was easy. I turned off the alarm clock the day after I retired and now wake up whenever I want, usually about eight hours after I’ve gone to sleep.
Goal 2 took a little longer. Well, eight months to be exact. I had been looking at the Inner Fire website, wondering if I could do it and if I could afford it. But it wasn’t until a friend from church mentioned that she was hurrying off to a class at Inner Fire that I actually signed up for one of the Saturday introductory classes. (Thanks, Jenn!)
In March 2010 I started practicing at Inner Fire Yoga, and have taken 3 or 4 classes a week since then. I had tried yoga on and off, here and there, since about 1970, but never stuck with it for more than a few weeks. This was strange, since intellectually it seemed to me like yoga would be a perfect fit. I think the difference is that until now I had never been part of a studio dedicated to yoga. Yoga classes offered through various recreational programs, books loaned to me by my quirky California aunt, and public TV series/DVDs are no substitute for a studio the caliber of Inner Fire.
Inner Fire provides the instructors, community of learners, and facility to keep me coming back. Most important are the instructors. I love that they keep learning and sharing their new insights with us. I love the variety of instructors – I learn something new from each one of them. Even though the dialog is prescribed for hot yoga and the sequence is predictable in Inner Fire Flow, each instructor has a slightly different approach that helps me learn more. I love the way they tailor the classes depending on the presence of new students or regulars – I learn something to improve my practice in either situation. I love the way they urge us to do the asanas correctly, focusing on the intent, providing hands-on corrections when I can’t figure out if my hips are level or my back is flat, but honoring individual abilities or difficulties while still praising the attempt.
The community of yogis and yoginis at Inner Fire is so helpful and supportive. I remember when I first started hot yoga and was dying after class, someone told me, “You were in the hottest part of the room today. Next time try over by the door.” And my first yin class after several months of doing hot yoga – I was carefully lining up my mat perpendicular to the mirror and someone gently told me, “Joan likes us to put our mats in a circle for yin.” I’m now trying to offer that same help when I can.
Last, the facility – what a calm, welcoming, clean, respectful place to learn and practice. The on-line scheduling tool is a great incentive for me – once I’ve scheduled my classes online, they’re on my calendar and part of my week. Having clothing, mats, other supplies, and a massage therapist on-site makes it even easier to continue practicing.
The benefits I’ve realized from practicing yoga at Inner Fire have been both expected and unexpected. The expected benefits include maintaining low blood pressure, better posture and balance, and improved focus. The unexpected, but no less welcome, benefits include the ability to “hover” in a semi-seated position for more than 15 seconds if needed without my thighs quavering (Thank you, Utkatasana!), no dry skin last winter, more body awareness, and mental clarity.
Retirement Goal 3 is still waiting to happen, but maybe with the lessons I’ve learned while practicing yoga at Inner Fire (just get started, that’s the hardest part; joyously celebrate every improvement, no matter how small; keep working and improvements will come) my house will eventually be as decluttered as my mind.”
“I was always intrigued by the Inner Fire Yoga sign at the end of the building when I dropped my kids off for driver’s education classes. I convinced myself that with my non-traditionally shaped yoga body and limited yoga experience (a few classes of Hatha Yoga in the church basement and knowledge of the preschool version of downward dog – reach up high, reach down low, walk your feet back nice and slow, downward doggie here we go) would not qualify me for entrance into a studio dedicated to yoga. Thankfully, a colleague began attending Inner Fire and encouraged me to try. I went with advice gleaned from the Inner Fire Yoga website and my colleague which included hydrate before, take water and towels with you, and stay in the class and out of the corner (all which proved most helpful). I was warmly welcomed at the desk and directed to the classroom to begin my Hot Yoga experience.
I am now beginning my fifth month of Hot Yoga at Inner Fire Yoga and I am only sorry that I did not start sooner. I am not bored with the sameness of the 26 postures. I find comfort in the routine and continuous challenges from what each day and instructor present.
I am benefiting from a consistent yoga practice in many ways. In honoring myself with the time to practice, I no longer feel left out at the end of the day having done for others and not for myself. I am gaining strength and flexibility. As a preschool teacher, I look forward to applying my increased flexibility to the seated criss-cross applesauce posture during our group-time floor series!”
As a mother of 6 and owner of multiple family home daycare sites I experience my daily amount of stress. Up until 3 months ago, I religiously attended the gym in an attempt to relieve some of my stress. I became your typical gym rat, working out timelessly on the elliptical, treadmill, or bike. It seemed like I was always in competition with myself, trying to go farther, faster and for longer periods of time.
One day, my oldest daughter, Makenzie, approached me with an idea that would change my daily life quite significantly. She invited me to try yoga at Inner Fire with her for the first time. At first thought I was intrigued, nervous, excited, and skeptical all at once. The idea that stretching on a mat would be a “workout” had me in disbelief, but I tried it. Only five minutes into my first class I came to the realization that Power Flow is anything but stretching on a mat. Figuratively speaking, that first class really kicked my butt!
Now, only three months after my first class, yoga has become my biggest hobby. Not only has it been a wonderful exercise, my flexibility has increased while my stress has decreased, and my mood has been lighter and more pleasant. It is truly an amazing feeling to be able to surrender and just be. That is what yoga has done for me thus far.
My new challenge within my practice is to let go of my ego, my expectations, and doubting my doubts. If I continue attending classes regularly at Inner Fire Yoga I am certain that meeting these goals will be possible. I’m excited to see where else yoga will take me in life and for the upcoming journey that I will have on my mat.
“I started doing yoga as part of a general effort to improve my health, which I had neglected for the better part of the prior six years. My sister had taken me to a hot yoga class in Seattle (which, I will add, I saw mostly from my back!). I was intrigued enough to search out and try classes at Inner Fire Yoga when I returned to Madison.
First, a bit about my prior state of health. When I started at Inner Fire Yoga I was: overweight by about fifty pounds, pre-hypertensive, pre-diabetic, experiencing chronic stress, poor sleep and taking something like eight prescription medications. Prior to this period of poor health, I was an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast and in generally very good health. Off the record, I think the decline was somehow linked to that GW Bush and/or that Dick Cheney, but I suppose such idle speculation is pointless and divisive.
I started taking Yin classes in March and, at the same time, carefully focused on my diet. I tried to systematically under-eat, mostly fruit/protein-mix smoothies, nibbled on some high grain crackers, drank lots of water and never touched sugar/sugary products except for the fruits. I ate very little meat, salad based dinners. The Yin classes were amazing in helping me begin to understand what was going on in my body… to feel it. It sounds ridiculous as I write it down – how could I be so oblivious for so long?
One of my favorite things about my experience thus far has been the diversity of instructors at IFY; four Yin classes each week with four different teachers, and each with a slightly different perspective and approach. They all, however, emphasize the importance of adapting your practice to your body and letting it guide you – finding your personal edges and exploring them. I can still recall how good I felt at the end of classes, physically, almost as if my body was trying to tell me something (doh!).
One month with the above program (3-4 Yin classes a week) and I dropped from a 38 waist pant back to 34 (where I had been 8 years ago). I also lost about 30 pounds, and then another 10 over the next several months. I’ve stopped taking almost all of the prescription “medications” without a hint of a problem.
Over the last month I’ve started experimenting with the non-Yin classes and have been enjoying them a lot. The instructors are wonderfully accommodating to my can’t-help-but-improve balance and stamina! For anyone just trying to break into an exercise routine, I’d start with Yin. For one thing, you can practice the breathing and meditative skills necessary to survive the other classes! Ok, I’m half kidding about that … just experiment and openly listen.”
“Inner Fire Yoga studio’s effects are far-reaching. Because of the excellent staff and studio more people throughout Madison are going to work/home healthier, in a kinder mental space. I don’t know how to explain all the changes that are happening just for me. My old knee and leg pain vanished within the first month, this is a tiny example.
Since I started at Inner Fire a few months ago, I am seeing yoga opening up not just my body. It is opening up my mind. With a chance to kindly face stiffness I didn’t have any idea was even there. That letting go of stiffness in the body translates into letting go of stiffness in the mind some how. Instead of clinging to our thoughts we can notice that they come and go. Yoga lets it flow.
The biggest reason I am learning yoga is because it is a very powerful tool for mindfulness meditation training which I’ve been studying for years. Yoga practice at Inner Fire is completely transforming my ability to apply mindfulness techniques of body sensation awareness through out the day. We can spin huge stories out of one simple body sensation (like a twinge in your back turns into a story about losing your job, etc.) or we can kindly and with a curious mind recognize a sensation just as it is, notice its qualities, notice it come and pass and change; letting go of the story lines. It can be difficult to remember to do this in the heat of a moment. The more yoga I do the more it becomes a habit of noticing and even getting comfortable with what is uncomfortable.
What an unusual gift to be able to work with so many different teachers in such a nice facility. Each teacher teaches something more. The excellent staff and the space gave me an opportunity. It is still opening doors. For the first time I went to a work shop (Theresa Murphy’s). I realize it is Inner Fire giving me these chances to open to yoga. I hope yoga keeps opening up my stiff/judging/wanting/fearing mind areas. I can’t fairly express my gratitude for the teachers, organization and excellent space at Inner Fire Yoga. With such a large number of students flowing in and out of Inner Fire Yoga daily, it’s impossible to measure its impact on the city of Madison and beyond.”
“Hi Marit – Just wanted to thank you again for bringing Theresa Murphy to us at Inner Fire. I participated in the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon workshops. As a yoga teacher and a long-practicing yogini, I found such freshness in Theresa’s teaching; many of the asanas were new to me and I particularly liked the slow, deep work we did in yinyasa. Not only her physical instruction but her dialogue were inspiring and memorable to me. I now use some of her words of wisdom (“Yoga is not about self-transformation but self-acceptance,” for example) in my teaching. I am also now reading “The Places That Scare Us” by Pema Chodron after hearing Theresa quote from this book.
So once again, I feel such gratitude to you and to Theresa for enhancing my yoga world in this way.”
“Two years ago I was diagnosed with chronic gastritis caused by diet and stress. Furthermore, I have been unable to ride a bike for three years because of a severely tight I.T. band on my right side. Fortunately, I am able to run. I used ibuprofen to ease my pain causing stomach problems. Physicians put me on prescription antacids to help cure me. None of the western medicine did much to ease the problem. I had to seek out other solutions to stem the tide of my discomfort. I stopped all pain killers, alcohol, and caffeine. I began by going to Inner Fire Yoga–I gravitated to the Sunday night Yin class taught by Joan. This class really helped me out. It slowed my body and mind down. I bought the 20 package option–and went once a week. I remembered the posses, and began doing them at home. I dramatically increased my flexibility. I am able to run–unfortunately, I still cannot ride a bike because of the I.T. band.
Like most Americans, I was rushing from work to social activities while inhaling convenience foods and caffeine. I thought I was eating healthy foods–I was vegetarian and shopped at the Willy Street Coop–I ate organic food–yet many of the foods still came out of boxes or cans–processed with an over abundance of preservatives and sugars. With the help of chiropractor Dr. Kim McGriff at Discover Family Chiropractic, dietitian Katy Wallace of Human Nature, and Michelle Buchannan of Isthmus Acupuncture, I changed my diet eliminating processed foods and sugars. I dropped thirty pounds and increased my flexibility even more.
Yin class, along with a dramatic change in diet, has helped ease my stomach problems. I still struggle with some discomfort. I still have stiff muscles. However, yoga at Inner Fire has changed my life dramatically as I am healing and eating amazingly well. I am calm and have not taken a pain pill in 18 months! My advice to anyone suffering from chronic discomfort or pain is to slow down, breathe, eliminate sugar and chemicals from your diet, and do YOGA! It is my intent to fully heal my stomach and get back on a bike. I miss biking way more than cake.”
Reprinted with author’s permission from business review website Yelp:
“I’ve been to my share of yoga classes throughout college and afterward, but nothing compares to my absolute love and devotion for Hot Yoga. It’s Hot Yoga, which means the room is ideally heated to 105 degrees with 50% humidity; so you’re hot and sweaty. It’s done this way so that your muscles are looser and you are able to get more bang for your buck when you stretch.
The first class that you go to you will likely feel sick and dizzy. Don’t worry; this goes away, you just have to push through. The great thing about Inner Fire is that they offer a two week unlimited membership for $20. This encourages the beginner to push past the first vomitous 90 minute class they think they were crazy for taking to hopefully get a chance to love Hot Yoga like the rest of the fanatics that are in the front row.
In addition to offering Hot Yoga, Inner Fire also offers Yin Yoga, which is incredibly relaxing, Power Flow Yoga, which is in a kind of hot room and some people are crazy about, and they’ll have some kind of special class every couple of months that will feature a great teacher from around the country. With your membership you can go to any one of these classes.
The other great thing, which I think is a brilliant business move on the part of Marit Sathrum, the owner, is that they also have what they call the “Personal Revolutions,” which you can choose to participate in. You basically either commit yourself to practicing either 52 classes in 91 days or 65 classes in 91 days (if you’re hardcore). They have charts up on the wall where you mark the classes you’ve completed with a tiny sticker (who doesn’t love stickers?!?!) and if you complete the challenge you get a medal!!! A MEDAL!!! It may seem kind of lame, but it takes a LOT of work and you feel really great at the end of it and as a bonus you’re more toned and fit because you’ve been going to yoga so much! They also put lists of the people that complete the challenge on the website, which makes you feel even better about yourself. What gym is going to give you that kind of praise?!?! Also, it’s good for the studio because it encourages you to continue to come back again and again. IT’S A GREAT IDEA.
Okay. The building is really nice, they just moved into it a couple of years ago. The locker rooms are clean and nicely outfitted; there are three showers and they just expanded the women’s locker room so you won’t bump into all the other sweaty people after you’re done. There are two practice rooms, one smaller and one larger. The floors in them are cork floors; the entire studio was build with green principles; which are really nice because they don’t stink like the carpet they used to have.
The instructors are great; my personal favorite is Darlene, who will always tell stories about how she first started Hot Yoga when she lived in California in the 70′s and it got huge. How cool is that??
Okay, it’s clear that I’m totally biased about this place, but I just love it. The people are great, the atmosphere is clean and nice, and they have a great business model. I’m sad every day that I realize I can’t go here because I don’t live in Wisconsin anymore…”
“As a freshman looking to de-stress from finals, I came to Inner Fire Yoga® four years ago. The stress rolled off right along with the sweat – and that’s when I knew – like many others who have come to cherish this heated studio – that I was hooked.
The blissful easygoing lightheaded feeling I get when I leave class is another reason I keep coming back practice after practice.
But the teachers and the community are ultimately the reasons why I come to Inner Fire Yoga®. In every class my body gets exactly what I need, regardless of the teacher I am taking from. Even when I traveled to South Africa, the yoga studios were no substitute. I was most homesick for the community at Inner Fire Yoga®. I even got excited every month getting the newsletters when I was abroad.
I have watched Inner Fire Yoga® grow out of the carpeted Yoga studio on University Avenue into the amazing studio it is today. I am so proud to be a part of this community.”
“At this point, I’m three classes away from finishing my second personal revolution in six months [she finished!]. I’ve come a long way from the girl who was nervous giggling in the back of my first Inner Fire Flow class in January of 2009. Although I didn’t become completely immersed into my yoga practice until October, from the first moment I stepped into the doors I felt a special connection to the studio and the instructors. I knew my life was about to change. I didn’t know I was searching until I found everything I ever wanted at Inner Fire Yoga®; I have been transformed physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am taking my passion for yoga to a new level and hope to be certified to teach by next summer. If I can do for one person what Marit and her instructors did for me, I know I will be infinitely happy. Thank you all for being such an inspiration! Namaste.”
“I’ve been an athlete since the age of 6 when I first started Taekwondo, earned my first degree black belt by age 9, and over the years played basketball, indoor and outdoor volleyball, racquetball, surfed, amongst other sports, and then in college I became a varsity athlete for the UW-Madison’s Women’s Rowing Team. In 2009 I was gearing up my training for Ironman number two. I felt out of balance by only swimming, biking, and running, and knew a fourth discipline would be necessary in order to keep my body, a lined, and injury free. At the age of 35, I knew I needed to start treating my body with more respect while training for such grueling events.
Through friends I heard about Inner Fire Yoga®, and their Hot Yoga class, and decided to try the two week trial. In April 2009 I took the intro class to Hot Yoga and fell in love with the discipline and the heat! During the two weeks I tried all of the classes, including Joan’s Yin class. I knew this place was meant for me!
Totally unexpectedly on May 14, 2009 I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. My world went upside down. June 9th I underwent surgery which included a bi-lateral mastectomy, 15 lymph nodes removed under my left arm, and Phase I of reconstruction. It would be a minimum of a month before I would be allowed to do anything active, and was told that I now and forever would be at high risk of lymphedema (major and unsightly swelling due to lymph fluid retention in the arm). I would need rehab to gain range of motion and loosen painful newly developing scar tissue, and connective tissues throughout my entire left arm and into my left and right pectorals.
On top of the rehab work, the doctors prescribed a very intensive chemotherapy schedule due to the highly aggressive nature of the cancer; which includes 2 months of bi-weekly, and 3 full uninterrupted months of weekly chemo treatments. Additionally I volunteered to participate in a clinical study which would add another month to my chemo regimen. Upon completion of chemo I would then undergo 5 ½ weeks of radiation.
After enough time passed from surgery and rehab was complete, I felt the best chance I had to stay strong during my cancer fight was to fight with my Inner Fire. In July I began to walk, and by September was walk/jogging, had weekly acupuncture and began taking Hot Yoga to help detoxify, and work my muscles despite the effects of weekly highly toxic chemo. I used Yin as a way to balance my monkey mind, and lengthen and loosen my tightened, and war beaten body.
Through this integrative approach I’ve found a way to train for a marathon which I’ll participate in 2/21/10 – National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer!
I’m currently in radiation treatment and all signs point to me winning the cancer war! Thank you to the instructors and my classmates at Inner Fire for your support and encouragement through this extremely difficult time. Inner Fire has been a house of healing for me, and I’m grateful you’re in the community, bringing light in a dark time. In the present, and looking forward I’m excited to continue a new life practice, to heal through the power of yoga!”
“Growing up and throughout college I played sports and lifted weights to try and stay in shape. My long time friend from home had tried for years to get me to give hot yoga a shot, but it wasn’t until a string of knee injuries forced me to explore other options that I took him up on it. I started going to Inner Fire Yoga® once or twice a week toward the end of August 2009. Now, just a few months later, I try to make it there 5 times a week! I’m in better shape now that I had ever been before I began practicing yoga. I only wish I had known about this while I was still playing football and basketball, as I’m sure it would have prevented my knees from ever getting so messed up in the first place. A year ago I would have never in a million years imagined I’d be doing this, but now I plan to practice hot yoga for the rest of my life. I am so thankful to Inner Fire Yoga® and all the instructors, without whom I maybe would have never been able to start on this journey”
“I am an individual who has found yoga practice later in life (in my 50′s) which has helped me immensely in my current career as a professional horse trainer. After 20 years in (and sometimes unexpectedly out) of the saddle, I have experienced some serious wear and tear on my body.
Four years ago I started to practice yoga very sporadically. In the last seven months I have found “my flow” by committing to a more regular practice of at least 3-4 times a week. The difference it has made in my world is astounding. Problems that once seemed insurmountable in my personal life are now manageable, insights have grown clearer. Physical limitations from previous injuries and weaknesses have started to fade as my practice grows stronger. On top of all of this, I find it so satisfying and enjoyable.
In addition to the classes, having Rich Schumann do his massage work has really helped me break through some chronic pain and stiffness that I had been experiencing for years.
The opportunities that lie within the walls of Inner Fire Yoga® are enormous. I really have enjoyed working with the staff and getting to know the individuals that make it so special. It truly is a wonderfully supportive community and we are all lucky to be a part of it!”
On the final day of a health club trial, I dropped into a yoga session just for fun. At the end of class, Darlene (who happened to be a substitute instructor that day) invited me to Hot Yoga Introduction at Inner Fire Yoga®. By the end of the Intro on February 21st, I thought I might like this stuff. Then I took the full Hot Yoga class a few days later and recall my thought changing to ‘holy crap’. It was hot, it was tiring, and it was amazing to see what all the students could do. Being a little competitive, I came back wanting to do better. Now, after 8 months, I have gained many benefits.
- more flexibility – as seen in my golf swing
- dramatically reduced pain in my lower back
- a calmer sense of being
- weight loss of 40 lbs (lost weight in the first 4 months and still maintaining that loss)
I can safely say all these benefits are attributed to yoga,
as yoga is the active change I made to my life. Thanks, to all the instructors at Inner Fire Yoga®, each of you do a great job!
In particular, thanks Darlene for the first invite. I don’t know why you happened to invite me to the Intro class, but I appreciate it.”
P.S. I think my girlfriend/wife Lynn likes me more, too.
“I started doing Yoga at Inner Fire Yoga® because I hurt my back four years ago and after going through a couple cycles of rehabbing and thinking my back was fixed only to hurt it again I knew it was time to try a different approach. I decided to try yoga because I had done a little in college and I remembered how it made me feel more flexible and I thought that would help relieve my back pain. I still remember walking into my first class last winter and wondering if I had made the wrong decision, the heat was staggering and I could feel the sweat beginning to bead on my forehead before I had my mat rolled out. I stuck it out and walked out of class feeling tremendous, my back felt better than it had in months and I was elated. I was already hooked almost immediately and was in class the very next day.
I tried to fit Yoga into my schedule for the next few months, then last summer I was able to start coming on a regular basis. I was amazed at all the benefits to a regular yoga practice, my back was feeling great, I was losing weight and my stress level was dropping. I liked it so much that during a week and half off from work I decided use Inner Fire Yoga® as my own personal yoga retreat. I took at least one class a day and after doing it for seven days straight I was amazed at both the physical and mental improvement that were beginning to happen. It is hard to describe, but one day in class I felt like a fog had lifted from my mind. Ever since that day I have felt more at ease, more focused and better balanced in all aspects of my life. It was on that day that I realized yoga was not something I would be doing for the next few months but for the rest of my life. Yoga has changed me inside and out and I look forward to continuing to discover the benefits of my practice.”
“I am deeply honored and blessed being a part of the *Inner Fire Yoga® Community.* Yoga nurtures the deepest part of who I am. A daily practice is truly transformative infusing mindful calm awareness. Over time a sense of wholeness within emerges, feeling integrated and balanced *Physically *Mentally *Emotionally *Spiritually.”
Karin Medall November 2009
“Starting a regular yoga practice this summer has been one of my best experiences. I do yoga every day and sometimes twice a day. I have had incredible changes that I was not expecting when I started yoga; I have lost 10 pounds in three weeks and I feel a lot more relaxed and more flexible. You too can do yoga and you are going to be surprised at the many positive changes you will experience in your life.”
“I have been doing yoga at home for about 10 years but last year that I decided to join a studio and chose Inner Fire Yoga®. I liked the flexibility to drop in at my convenience, the variety of classes and the friendly atmosphere. As a divorced father I travel on a regular basis for my full-time job, go to school and have a teen age daughter. Some days are pretty stressful and it is nice to be able to look at my schedule plan on taking a class or two and know how good I will feel when I get there. Even though I am not one of the people who can make it to class on a regular basis it is still one of the balances I look forward to and will continue to include in my life. I look forward to finishing school this fall because the added free time will mean I can take evening classes whenever I am not traveling. I hope to deepen my practice at that point and maybe I can join in on the challenges and see just how many classes I can take. Thank you for the work that goes into maintaining the quality of your studio and your classes.”
“My first Hot Yoga and Power Flow classes were beyond challenging… However, with the help of the fantastic instructors at the Inner Fire Yoga®, I realized that yoga was unquestionably the thing for me; In addition to improving my physical and mental well-being, I found a way to not let anyone or anything steal my peace. For that, I will be forever grateful.”
“I started attending Inner Fire Yoga® classes last summer, and it has been a great experience practicing yoga here. You know you are furthering and developing your practice and at the same time gaining physical benefits that you take with you outside the studio, benefits of strength conditioning, increased flexibility, better balance, and greater endurance. I do a lot of walking and running and I can feel a real improvement in terms of balance and endurance especially.
The instructors know their art and how to teach it to others, and they understand the intangibles as well, how yoga is more than the poses and forms the basis for a way of looking at and experiencing the world in a positive way. The sense of well-being and peace that I derive from my classes is difficult to quantify but it is very real and welcome in what can sometimes be a stressful life.
Recently I was inspired by a woman who received recognition in class and a bracelet for reaching the Throat Chakra by attending 700 classes. It was great to see and hear the response of the class to her accomplishment. Seeing her honored like that was a good example of the mutual support and sense of community that you’ll find at Inner Fire Yoga®. No matter what level of Chakra I might reach, I know I’ll enjoy each class along the way.”
“I joined the “Personal Revolution” because I thought it would motivate me to attend more yoga classes and I was right. For the most part I felt good along the way. There were times when I was tired and didn’t really fell like going to class but the “Personal Revolution” motivated me to go. I started taking yoga classes to become more flexible and have more energy. Yoga has helped me to achieve both. I believe having participated in the Personal Revolution has inspired me to attend yoga classes on a regular basis. I would definitely participate in the Revolution again. I am very thankful to Marit and all of the instructors of Inner Fire Yoga®. I find that each instructor has something different for me to learn.”
“I started doing yoga because I thought it would be a fun way to work out. Not long after I began taking flow classes at Inner Fire Yoga®, I was hooked. It was only a matter of time before I took my first Hot Yoga class, I still remember how awkward I felt, but again, it was only a matter of time before I was hooked. This past summer I decided to try the vitality challenge. This dedicated practice to yoga inspired me. I learned to challenge myself beyond my boundaries and to be patient and persistent. All summer I celebrated incremental improvement and as I look back, all those small pieces have added up to something quite substantial. Not only am I much more flexible and strong (emotionally and physically), but I lost two dress sizes and gained a ton of confidence. Through finishing the challenge, I realized that my yoga practice at Inner Fire Yoga® is irreplaceable not only because of the yoga itself but because of its supportive community of students and teachers. I want to do this until I’m 105.”
“What a difference a year makes. The workshops, challenges and my personal practice has taken me to a deeper flexibility. At 61 it has lowered my blood pressure. I breathe deeper. I am able to relax on the outside and on the inside. My spiritual path has become clearer with many additions falling away. I am focused on the present moment with satisfying visions of the future.”
Updated Testimonial (1/20/10) “Reading over my testimonial of a year ago, I realize that yoga has further permeated my life. I participated in my first personal challenge last winter at Inner Fire Yoga® and because I was out of town four weeks during that time, I ended up practicing nearly every day for a number of weeks. The results were more dramatic than I had ever experienced: weight loss, increased strength, a growing inner calm, and an addiction to those silly little stickers.
Because of my long experience of practicing at Inner Fire Yoga®, it finally occurred to me that what I wanted to do with my retirement was become a yoga teacher. I enrolled in a Level 1 training at Shoshoni, a lovely ashram nestled into the mountains near Boulder. My training there confirmed my decision to teach yoga and I am now following that new path with great joy.
And I’m currently into my third personal challenge at Inner Fire Yoga®, happily adding stickers to my name.”
Past testimonial “As I transition from my 35 years of teaching to searching for my new identity as a retiree, Inner Fire Yoga® has become an integral part of my life. I’ve been attending yoga at Marit’s studios for six years, but in the last few months I’ve been doing classes with much more frequency, sometimes six or even seven times per week. As a result, I’ve lost weight and feel stronger in parts of my body that I’ve never even felt before (shoulders, wrists, hips, etc.). But most importantly, my increased yoga practice has helped to ease my mind and allow me to be in the moment rather than worry about what I should be doing to be productive.
I enjoy the diversity and challenge of all the classes at Inner Fire Yoga®: pounding through the 10:30 intermediate flow on Sundays with as much grace as I can muster, relaxing and deepening into the asanas in yin, and disciplining myself to quiet my “monkey mind” in the Hot Yoga series. Recently, I’ve discovered the tranquility of the Inner Fire Flow sessions. Because it’s an integration of hot yoga and flow, Inner Fire Flow strikes a balance combining the best elements of both. Like hot yoga, the Inner Fire Flow asanas are sequential, but less rigidly or predictably so. I find that I’m not always anticipating the next sequence as I am in hot yoga. The flow between the asanas creates a sort of gentle, quiet dance and when the hour has expired, I feel as if I’ve had a solid workout, but with tranquility. I will continue to practice all the forms of yoga offered at Inner Fire, including the balancing act of Inner Fire Flow.”
“My husband and I have been trying to conceive a child for the last 2 years. We have what western medicine techincally calls ‘unexplained’ infertility. This simply means that their methods of diagnosis aren’t able to pinpoint any one thing that is wrong. After doing more research, I began to see that while western medicine couldn’t makde a diagnosis, Eastern medicine would say that there are signs in my body showing that my reproductive system wasn’t in optimal health. From a their perspective, I likely had some hormonal imbalances and my body’s ability to get rid of toxins was hampered.
To make a long journey/story short, I decided Hot Yoga would be a great addition to my ‘fertility routine’ to help me reach optimal reproductive health. I’ve been regularly attending class once a week since this past October. While we haven’t yet concieved a child, I wanted to share with you that I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my body which is showing signs that my hormones are back in balance. I haven’t been this healthy, reproductively, in at least 5 years. As an added benefit, this practice has also help me deal with the emotional strain of the ‘infertility’ diagnosis. I’ve learned to accept this journey that I’m on, live in the present, and focus on the positive in my life while having hope that we will have our family someday soon.
Thanks for helping me along this journey in my life.”
“Inner Fire Yoga® is a gift I give to myself daily. My yoga practice is a moving meditation that allows me breath and movement to strengthen physically, mindfulness to move on the mat, and a source of joy in the energy of this yoga community. These are powerful reasons to return to Inner Fire Yoga® to engage my body-mind and spirit!
Finding Inner Fire Yoga® has helped me to become physically strong and disciplined. Through beginning Hot Yoga, I have experienced weight loss, loss of inches and generally a lighter being in my body. Detoxing in the heated studios has been a benefit to me in reducing colds, flu and loss of energy. I believe that this yoga is even helping me to age more gracefully!
Adding Vinyasa Flow classes to my Hot Yoga schedule, I have found the balance and calm needed to guide me through recent challenges. My yoga practice has positively affected every aspect of my life. I look forward to coming to practice each day with studio members and I am grateful to Marit, teachers and staff for creating such a special space.”
“The summer vitality challenge at Inner Fire Yoga® was the best thing I have ever done for my body and my mind. When I signed up, I set my dedication as discipline. While I did form a discipline to meet the 52 class goal, I also gained confidence. I felt that if I could stay in the room, do every Hot Yoga posture, or make it through Orianna’s class, I could do anything. What surprised me most is that yoga can heal old wounds and erase the negative effects of the past. A regular yoga practice can heal the mind and body in a way I hadn’t expected.”
“Lost weight – 25 pounds in three months. Better eating habits – want to eat less. Better focus on tasks and conversations. I dislocated my ankle and the stiffness has gone away. I had high cholesterol and it has come down.”
“After just four months of practicing Hot Yoga, I feel confident saying that it has brought me the most well-rounded wellness I could imagine possible. I discovered Hot Yoga when looking for more of a “mental workout.” I had tried meditation, but could not seem to keep my mind from racing through the stress of work, relationships and everyday life. And, while my exercise practice at the time – a rotation of jogging, jump-roping, swimming, and workout videos – helped my physical fitness, I was still never fully present, free from life’s stressors. I would jog four miles, still thinking about work or other concerns in life. With Hot Yoga, for the first time, I found myself fully present for ninety minutes. Mindfulness is a necessary part of this intense routine, and from it, I have found a clear connection with my mind and body that leaves me energized, motivated, confident, and alive.
This vigor is something that must just happen naturally with regular practice. In the last four months, I’ve noticed the vitality I feel throughout the day. I approach life with more righteousness and intentionality than I ever have. And then, in yoga class, it becomes clear where I’m getting this energy. Sometimes, the instructors will make the connections between how we practice yoga and how we practice life. In a difficult posture, Marit might tell us that, just like in life, we have to just breathe through the discomfort. And she might remind us that each breathe is a new breath, like each moment in life is a new moment – a fresh moment to do with what we choose. And Dar might remind us how the complexity of the yoga postures match the complexity of life. And how with minor, mindful adjustments, the postures (and life) can be conquered. The instructors say these things, and I realize how Hot Yoga has handed me a toolkit to use in my life. I notice how present I feel in my life. How attentive, deliberate and forgiving I am with my own actions. I realize how much I learn about myself every day with both my triumphs and my stumbles. And every day, tough or easy, I feel capable and in tune with my every step. So, in yoga, I have found the 90-minute break from thinking about life, but I have also created very useful habits in approaching life.
In addition to this priceless mental wellness, my yoga practice has brought me an incredible physical fitness practice. This workout has replaced my other fitness practices, and has yielded much greater results. My previous practices all included some drawback: tight Achilles from jump roping, back and hip pain from running and knee pain from some workout videos, etc. In fact, those comprised the list of ailments I wanted to mention to my doctor at my annual physical. However, after beginning to practice Hot Yoga just 2-3 times per week for a month, I only had one pain left on my list when my physical came around. I not only found a workout that didn’t aggravate ailments, but I found one that healed. My Achilles, knees, and hip were pain-free. So, when I asked my doctor for a physical therapy referral to deal with my back pain, she recommended that I stick with the yoga routine for another month to see if the back pain healed, too. Her trust in the healing power of yoga was added reassurance that this practice is something worthwhile.
For me, the healing benefit of Hot Yoga has been an added bonus to the obvious physical exercise that keeps me fit and controls my weight. The intense 90-minute routine involves two sets of 26 postures with brief resting postures between. The workout offers cardiovascular, muscle strengthening, muscle toning, and detoxification benefits. From the various calorie calculators I’ve seen, I burn over 500 calories each workout. Using the “Activity Calculator” from when I was in Weight Watchers, I find that I burn 9 points during each workout. That’s almost a third of my daily points. And this benefit is obvious to me, too. I’ve noticed, since I’ve started regular yoga practice, I do not have to keep such close track of what I eat. It’s two-fold: I can be a little more lenient with the calories I intake, yet, I don’t have cravings as strong as I used to have. I feel more fit than I ever have.
Finally, because this practice is offered in the form of a class, I get the reward of attentive instruction for every workout. This should not be overlooked. When I belonged to a health club, I always wished such instruction existed. I would often be unsure if I was using the machines and my time to my optimal benefit. At Inner Fire Yoga, I don’t have to seek out or pay extra for quality instruction; it’s part of the class…and it’s high quality!
Although Inner Fire Yoga offers hot yoga styles outside of Hot Yoga, all of the classes provide equally intense, well-instructed fitness. I’ve tried one other class, so far, but plan to try others (I just love Hot Yoga!). Every class offered is at least 60 minutes long. And I feel so strongly that regular practice, with any combination of the classes offered, at this studio is as good, or better, than any other fitness practice I’ve known. I can’t imagine regular yoga practice ever not being part of my life again. For physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, my life craves it.”
Lynn Kirsch Buechner
“I stumbled into my first Hot Yoga class with no idea what I was in for. First of all, I didn’t know how disciplined Hot Yoga is or how hot the room would be, and I definitely didn’t know that classes lasted 90 minutes! Needless to say, that first class was a real eye-opener! I struggled through the poses, looked like a complete moron, and was hit by waves of nausea every other pose (thanks to my poor decision to drink a bunch of beer the night before). In spite of that torturous first class, I kept coming back because how great I felt afterwards. This form of yoga had no mercy for the garbage I’d been putting into my system, and the pain of detoxing was worth the amazing fresh feeling that kicked in after class. Gradually I increased my practice from once or twice a week to at least three times a week, and then before I knew it I was spending more time at the yoga studio than I was at the library. When I heard about the yoga challenge I jumped at the chance to really dedicate myself to my practice, and now I’m at the studio nearly every day. In addition to losing over 15 pounds since my first class, the discipline of Hot Yoga has helped me in a deeper way. If I can’t make it to class it feels like something is missing from my day and that it is incomplete. The 90 minutes I spend in Hot Yoga is the time were I leave all of stress and tension from school and work behind and find some peace of mind. My yoga practice has played a large role in the transformation I’ve undergone in the past year – I was ready for a change and needed a catalyst. I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that my yoga practice has gotten me through difficult times and I really don’t know where I’d be without it.”
“A little over a year ago, I joined a friend at my first Hot Yoga class ever, and soon signed up for a “Personal Revolution”; a commitment to attending 40 classes in the following eight weeks. As I was planning two spring break trips to Florida, and had been exercising regularly most of my life, including a fair number of yoga and Pilates classes, I was sure that I would find the classes challenging, but not too….
Twenty years ago, I had my first two children and began my career as a mother. Many of my previous jobs had included babysitting and with a degree in elementary education, I felt fairly prepared ……
One midnight, after about eight weeks with infant twins, I had my first Zen parenting moment. Looking over at my weary husband (propped next to a very bright-eyed baby on the couch), the realization struck; no person would ever go to sleep because I thought it was time. With practice, they might, perhaps, sometime, go to bed when we asked, but never sleep.
From the sunrise of each day when I wake and enjoy my first cup of coffee, to when I fall asleep at night (often when my book falls on the floor) I continue to be amazed by the complexity and variety of surprises this learning curve called parenthood can toss my way. Whether it is the result of the marvelous diversity of personality in each offspring that can present from the same potential genetic code, or the repetitive experiences, yet fascinatingly individual, that result from having multiple children in a dozen years, I leave each day in wonder at what remains to be learned.
After showering away the salt from the first class, I realized quickly that it would take a few more yoga classes to master this program, and that the revolution would motivate my attendance. Three personal revolutions later, I feel closer to achieving Hot Yoga beginner hood, and expect each class to bring more understanding of what I still do not know. Like the unexpected reward of a teenage son’s hug, or the compliment of a daughter’s request to borrow a pair of shoes for homecoming, the first time Dar told me my triangle looked better was an event to share with my husband; motivation to work even harder, as well.
Rested and rehydrated after my first labor (and likewise my first Hot Yoga class), my body felt different-lighter with soreness bringing awareness of new muscles. Later, I realized the privilege of knowing a new community (whether yogis, mothers or both) encompassing enough diversity of purpose and background to be interesting, but sharing essential common goals.”
“When I first thought about doing 35 yoga classes in 49 days I had no idea how it would even be possible. How would I ever find the time to attend that much yoga? Somehow, when I started the personal revolution it was like the yoga found me. I tried to go every day, and I always looked forward to it. After starting off doing just Hot Yoga classes, I decided to attend a couple of flow classes. I found that the combination of the two deepened my practice to such an incredible degree. My body began to feel solid, contructed, yet loose and graceful. Now, after completing the revolution, I notice a different perspective on the world. My stress response has lowered and I maintain a natural feeling of well-being throughout the day. Nothing in my life has been so powerful or made such a positive impact on my mind, body, and spirit than this personal revolution.”
Personal Revolutionary (35 yoga classes in 49 days)
“My first few Hot Yoga classes were a real struggle, to say the least. Skills that I had become proficient at in kindergarten, such as distinguishing the left side of my body from the right, were suddenly lost as I struggled to stay upright on both feet, forget that one-legged balancing series crap. Lucky for me I took a class with Alex within my first week or so at the studio. I knew that he had to be the smartest man alive after he explained that tight hamstrings were usually to blame whenever people said, “I have really long legs and extremely short arms”. Something that I swore I had and have now affectionately renamed T-Rex arm syndrome. Every class I attended seemed to prove to me that I was not alone in my quest to lengthen my arms and shorten my legs as others with T-Rex arms filed in to class. Soon enough I realized that I didn’t really have T-Rex arm syndrome I had hunch shoulders or a curved spine, which as I write makes me appear more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and less like a prehistoric carnivore. But slowly, leg by arm by shoulder by back, my body began to figure itself out. Under the tutelage of Darlene “be thankful you’re not in a nursing home”, Alex “root to rise”, and Joan “you all look so great in that pose” I thought that maybe I’d get myself back in line and learn something about having some compassion for my body’s quirks, which amazingly enough I did. So, here’s to all you crazy staff that work inside the orange room with the blue stripe, without you I would still be using the long-armed reacher to pick stuff up off the floor. And a special thanks to Michael, the man behind the desk, I wouldn’t have made it to 35 classes without the vegetable stickers.”
Personal Revolutionary (35 classes in 49 days)
“The impact that yoga has on the quality of my life is what keeps me coming back to the studio. The skills of balance, self-acceptance and mindfulness that I learn in class radiate outward into other aspects of daily living. With regular practice, my body and mind have begun to feel stronger and more resilient. Yoga has been, and continues to be, a positive and empowering experience.”
“I look so forward to going to yoga classes at Inner Fire Yoga®. They offer the opportunity to take me to my edge, to take risks, and to find peace in the intensity. Having had back surgery, knee surgery, a broken arm, a broken foot, and hysterectomy over the last decade and a half, I wondered if there would ever be another something out there that would continue to really challenge me. Studying & teaching dance, Pilates, & Gyrokinesis, and loving to hit it on my bike, I had been craving another direction to explore. And there it was, right on University Avenue! I knew I loved Hot Yoga minutes into my first session. The class was focused, very focused….students respectful of each other and the teacher’s fabulous cuing. The poses in Hot Yoga were different from other styles, and the heat was like a paradise for stretching and strengthening. The energy was very positive and encouraging for any age or athletic ability. There were building blocks to each asana, and everyone was focused on what they were doing. Very inspiring!
After these months of studying, I still love the classes as much as ever. Each time I learn something more about the body, where it bends, where it can create space, what to tweak to find something entirely different, and what it might feel like to be really grounded. It’s a never-ending look at patience, discipline, being peaceful in the middle of tension, and letting go, really letting go! What the experience brings is joy, a great feeling of accomplishment, a wonderful cleansing of toxins, and a new look at the world.”
Finished 3 months yoga challenge
“I found Hot Yoga in July of 2003, when I roared into class looking for a way to balance my weight lifting regimen. I was bench pressing 165 lbs. and was nearing the limit of muscle my body could adequately carry. I thought I was coming to a stretch class, because I’d always experienced yoga in a gym where that’s all it is! I knew it would be hot but I sauna every day at the gym so my efficiency expert mind said “Oh, good, I’ll work out and sauna together!”
I’ve taken classes here in Madison and over 100 classes in ten states across the country. One of the many things I appreciate about Hot Yoga is the fact that I can take class wherever I travel.
From 1996-2000, I lost over 70 lbs. and in 2001, I started my own business helping others find permanent weight loss (Catalyst Coaching LLC, www.patbarone.com). I only work with permanent weight loss, which happens from the inside out with attitude and belief change. Less than 3% of dieters keep their weight off after 5 years, which is the marker for permanent weight loss, and I’m determined to change that percentage number in my lifetime.
As a professional personal trainer and certified weight loss coach, I’m a big fan of Hot Yoga for many reasons. My personal training mind loves the way the yoga addresses every single aspect (every muscle, every tendon, every tiny fiber!) of the physical body. My coaching mind appreciates the way the yoga facilitates change on the emotional and spiritual planes.
I spent my first year figuring out the poses. The second year was about emotions. (Darlene may remember the first time I got my butt down in fixed firm and burst into tears.) My third year was all spiritual exploration. So far, my fourth year is about consciousness in the body. I know there’s no end to the learning in the yoga studio and I’m very grateful for that.”
“I’m really glad I signed up for the 3 month challenge. It was a great way to get into yoga, full steam ahead. I noticed the benefits almost immediately. I would come out of class extremely wet but energized and basically feeling good all over. I felt stronger and more toned. I did a variety of classes with a variety of instructors which made the workout different each time so I never got bored. I loved it when Kellie sang to us at the end of class.
Today I feel better both physically and mentally and hope to continue with yoga for total well-being. A great big thank you to all involved at Inner Fire Yoga® and I hope to continue to see you around.”
Finished 3 month yoga challenge, 65 classes in 13 weeks
“I have been coming into Inner Fire Yoga® now for around 3 years. As I recall, my first visit was one of frustration and massive sweating. Everything was new, and most everything was uncomfortable. I remember getting angry at the poses often back in those early days…but eventually learned something that changed my practice for good….breathing into the postures.
After that, I noticed that things got better, both in the studio and in my life. I started coming at least once a week and always looked forward to the challenge. It wasn’t until I attended a posture clinic that I seriously considered doing the 30 day challenge. It started to make sense to me that yoga should be a daily thing instead of a weekly thing.
Now that I am done with the 30 days there is a lot to report. I have always been a believer that a healthy mind lends itself to a healthy body…and visa versa. Well, I really feel that I have better control of my motor skills now than ever…and that mentally I have a lot more clarity. My posture has improved dramatically and so has my attitude about life. Once you start to open your body up, your mind seems to follow suit. I have lost considerable weight and changed my diet quite a bit. I find myself naturally gravitating towards a healthier diet and my energy level has increased because of it. I am definitely looking at everything in my life from a more positive perspective now and I find that I trust my intuition a lot more without asking for someone else’s opinion. Lastly, I feel that I have a much better handle on controlling stress and that I am a lot less fearful of life in general.”
Finished the 30 day challenge
“Many thanks to Marit for bringing Hot Yoga to Madison. I appreciate that Hot Yoga is lineage based, each pose carefully builds on the previous asana and prepares for the next one. A hot room increases flexibility and facilitates detoxification. What more could we ask for? We didn’t have to ask… Marit has added power yoga classes so that we can cross train.”
Practiced more than 1000 yoga class at Inner Fire Yoga®
“Yeah! I just completed my 30 Day challenge and I feel great. I wanted to start practicing yoga to strengthen my spine. I have had several major car accidents (not because of my driving) in the last couple of years and at the age of 28 I felt like I was 80! I couldn’t do the workouts that I had been doing because my spine had no stability. I had been to the chiropractor and the physical therapist and although they all helped it always seemed like it wasn’t enough to make me feel “good”. Practicing at the level that I have been has given me so much more than stability, it has given me power and balance. Strength has returned to my spine and I found that my hips were also causing some of the imbalance that we were having trouble correcting. Opening up my body to realignment at all levels has given me a new center that feels powerful. I feel like I shouldn’t qualify for the senior discount and it has given me life again. There were other bonus benefits that I didn’t expect. My mind tends to travel at a mile a minute and it’s always working on something that hasn’t happened yet, this practice has allowed me to slow that down. Not to stifle creative flow but to allow myself an hour and a half of time to focus on nothing else other than myself and I tell you that I needed that. I love starting my day with a Hot Yoga class I feel so balanced and centered and then I can go out and take on the world. Try it, it won’t be easy, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth it! See you in class.”
Finished 30 day yoga challenge in April 2006
“I began practicing Hot Yoga in March 2003, and to my surprise, it was the exact exercise that fit my personality and body type. I found that I liked to exercise when I could see and feel the improvement in my body and mind. When I became pregnant with my first child 8 months later, it made complete sense to me to continue with the yoga to keep my body and mind toned for the health of the pregnancy and the impeding delivery.
If you consider labor contractions as being periods of work followed by periods of rest, it’s not hard to see how that correlates with practicing a posture followed by a savasana. My first labor was 16 hours including ~2 hours of pushing during which Jasper and I did really well because we both were accustomed to feeling my body go through cycles of working and relaxing. I was able to conserve energy by only focusing on the muscles which required work and by relaxing the rest of my body completely during the contractions and breaks in between. We had no need for medical intervention other than local anaesthetic to repair a tear.
After my first birthing experience went so well, there was no doubt in my mind to commit myself to my practice during all stages of my life. When we became pregnant with our second child, I remember friends and family asking if I planned to practice yoga throughout the pregnancy again and I could only reply with a big “of course!”
In addition to keeping my body in shape during the pregnancy (relatively minor shortness of breath and no back pain or indigestion), I also needed the mental focus of a yoga practice to help me through a fast delivery of our little girl, Kemaya. Her total labor was a bit over 5 hours…however, we went from a 6-7 cm dilation to holding our baby in about 25 minutes. So it was a very intense delivery at the end and probably the most amazing thing my body has ever done. Though I couldn’t exactly relax through those last minutes, I was able to trust my body and the process. I never felt afraid and I think my yoga practice helped me to keep a level head. Before we knew it, delivery was over and we were holding a happy, healthy, alert little girl. Again, we needed no medical intervention.
As far as recovering from birth, I must say I needed 6 weeks after Jasper’s delivery to get back into yoga…I feel much better after this second delivery, but again it’s not something I want to push. Starting yoga back up was really different because I felt like someone had given me someone else’s body that didn’t know how to balance or even twist it’s legs together in Eagle Pose. However, time and practice brought me down to a size smaller than I started out the first pregnancy and I hope to be back there in no time now that I have two little ones to keep me on my toes.
I had been doing Hot Yoga for 8 months prior to my pregnancy and just prior to conception I completed the 13-week yoga challenge where I practiced 5 times per week. Literally, I was in the best shape I had ever been in my life. I felt great about myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Interestingly enough, my body knew I was pregnant before I did. I immediately decided that I would continue with yoga for the duration. Marit was great help explaining the modified poses to me as well as a modified attitude. She explained that I needed to think of class as being a place to relax, stretch out, and reconnect with myself and body.
There were many benefits to doing yoga such as absence of back pain, indigestion, shortness of breath, and other common complaints of pregnancy. Another benefit of the pregnancy series is that there is a lot of focus on balance and stretching the pelvic region. This kept my body and muscles toned for the birthday.
During childbirth: While I dealt with the pressure and pulling sensations I did a lot of visualization and mental exercises to keep my body focused on its goal. I would imagine the cervix being pulled over the baby’s head like a turtleneck sweater and I often reminded myself to open like a flower (just like Darlene tells us to do). I intently focused on relaxing every muscle of my body not involved with the contraction, I realized that I just needed to let go and allow my body the freedom it needed to dilate. I think yoga really helped me with this part because my body awareness was so strong. I could isolate which muscles were allowed to relax while the others worked to their fullest. After the contraction released I would just remind myself that there was a built in Savasana before the next contraction. During those times I was able to fully relax–the pressure, pain, fear, and other feelings would disappear and I could focus more on my mental imagery. Staying in the moment kept me calm and level headed–like Moira says, “don’t think, just notice.” I honestly feel that practicing the release of the pose into Savasana helped me to effectively conserve my energy for the pain management and pushing stages of delivery.
Jasper was born at 8:02am and was 9 lbs and 19 ½ inches. We were able to deliver without any medical intervention other than a little local anesthetic for repairing a tear. He was very strong from the start and loved to nurse. At his 2 week appointment he had already grown 3 inches and 2 pounds! I strongly believe that doing yoga during the pregnancy helped me provide the best environment for him prior to his birth and the best birth for him because I trusted my body, my intuitions, and myself.”
Testimonial of Hot Yoga during pregnancy