"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

14 March 2014

Affordable Yoga in Pittsburgh!

Updates to original article from Aug. 2009.

Yoga. Outdoors. Free or for Just a Few Bucks. Seriously? YES- right here in Pittsburgh! Visualize yoga-ing on a brilliant summer morning or evening on the cool grass, energizing the body, breathing deeply, practicing pratyahara (sense withdrawal) by tuning out the sounds of the city to find your own inner happy place.  Of course, there are indoor classes, too.  Some classes are seasonal, and are open to all levels of students, from beginner to advanced. Move your body and rejuvenate your spirit while getting a good soaking of Vitamin D (or visualize it when inside)!   

Photo by Melissa McMasters

Stretch, strengthen, center, and breathe at FREE CLASSES hosted by
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. At Schenley Plaza across from Oakland's Carnegie Library, teachers guide students through a full practice on the plaza lawn- both yoga and tai chi!  All summer (check the Plaza's schedule for dates), take a Monday lunchtime yoga class at 12 noon or venture out on Saturday mornings at 10am. Some days the classes are serenaded by local musicians. If the weather is iffy, classes may be held under the pavilion at the plaza.

The Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh offerfree indoor classes, welcoming students of all skill level!  At the Squirrel Hill Library, grab your yoga fix with Phyllis Berkovitz on Tuesday evenings at 5:30 or on Saturday mornings at 10am.  On Wednesday evenings, Amy teaches Power Yoga at the library's Brookline location. 
(Thanks to Heidi Zelli of Pittsburgh Yoga Examiner for the photo and for tips.)


There are yoga professionals all over this fine the city with a mission to make yoga accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. You can catch one on most days of the week!  

On Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm, catch a class in Frick Park near Squirrel Hill just off of Beechwood Blvd and Nicholson, otherwise known as Blue Slide Park. Into the Fall, instructor Linda Meacci leads yogis through a mindful, challenging class surrounded by trees, bird song, and community. If there is anything more than lite rain, class will be cancelled.  During colder months, classes move indoors (currently at Third Presbyterian Church in Shadyside).  Cost is by donation (suggested donation $7)!  For more info, contact Linda at 412-427-4781 or lmeacci@hotmail.com.

Head indoors for a class at Folding Space Yoga, which explains the "pay-what-you-can system" on their website, stating that students simply pay "whatever you can spare".  Visit their site to check out their class schedule.  OWednesdays at 7:30 at The Union ProjectStef Zito teaches a donation-based Vinyasa Flow class (pay what are you able or a suggested $10 donation). Every Friday night from 6:30-8 pm, Breathe Yoga Studio offers donation-based classes that are pay what you can/wish at their studio on East Carson Street.

Schoolhouse Yoga's studio in the Strip District holds Community Classes two times per month on Sundays from 12:00-1pm. Classes are taught by Schoolhouse's teacher trainees, and all are welcome to attend!

Check out these great opportunities to learn from compassionate teachers, and begin or grow your yoga practice at a cost anyone can afford!


Ahh... that post-yoga zone when the mind feels refreshed, the heart feels calm, and the body feels expansive and strong can be even more wonderful after a class under the glow of the sun and with the earth under our feet. And without depleting our pockets! Who could turn that down? But to make sure your practice fosters bliss rather than stress, it's important to come to class prepared.

Firstly, arrive early to get a good spot, and leave time for parking (especially in Oakland)! I've missed the beginning of several classes because I couldn't find a parking space or because I didn't anticipate the huge turnout of yoga students. For outside classes, as the days can be very sunny and warm, put your sunscreen (water/sweat-proof) on and bring water to stay hydrated. Wear cool, unrestrictive clothing in lighter colors, and you may want to have a hat and sunglasses with you just in case the sun is too bright. To all classes, bring a mat if you have one, and/or a large towel as they tend to slip less (mats can become slippery on grass and from perspiration). I prefer to use my mat for classes on the grass, sometimes on top of my towel, but I always end up using my towel for something during class. I've found it helpful to bring an additional small towel or cloth for wiping away moisture from my body and my mat, and for covering my face if it's super sunny during sivasana (final relaxation).

A final pointer?  Honor your body's limitations and don't push past your comfort zone. An asana (pose) should be comfortably challenging, not painful. If you have an injury, it's best to bring this to your teacher's attention before class, if possible, but don't be afraid to ask questions during class or after.  A good teacher will honor your concerns and want to make your experience as safe and "comfortable" as possible to enable you to reap yoga's many physical and mental benefits.

Finally, keep it enjoyable! 


When searching for a class, especially if you are new to yoga, try to remember that all types of yoga and every teacher may not be a good "fit" for you.  That's okay and normal!  Within yoga there are many schools of spiritual, mental, and physical practices.  Similarly, yoga teachers (even those within the same discipline) personalize their teaching style and philosophy.  Your own needs will shape your yoga preferences, determining whether an intense physical workout or a gentle recovery class with some meditation thrown in is your cup of tea.  If you don't encounter a perfect match right off the bat, I encourage you to try again!

Happy yoga-ing!

29 August 2013

Quote of the Week: Home

“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.” 

~Lady Bird Johnson

Photo credit: "V", by Lee Peiling

28 August 2013

Joy in the Little Things

 The tiniest, simplest moments create joy.


little birdies all wet and puffed up from the rain
tomato blossoms!
my face in kitty fur
jazz music with my love, on the grass on a cool evening
baby cardinals chirping
pumpkin chocolate chip bread
someone loving my art
sewing on the porch on a sunny afternoon
a spontaneous dinner out instead of cooking
the scent of feathers, of a rose surrounded by rose hips, and of lavender soap


27 August 2013

Rewild Your Life!

So the writer of one of my favorite blogs, Nature Is My Therapy, posted about a challenge hosted by We Are Wildness called "Rewild Your Life."  For 30 days in September, the participants will attempt to spend at least 30 minutes a day in a natural setting for 30 days without electronics (except to take pictures).  The goal?  To "help you reconnect with that inner wildness deep down in your soul!"  Don't you love that?

This challenge really appeals to me, as I have a very deep connection to the earth and nature that is an enormous part of who I am and how I feed my "soul".  A connection that has been mostly blocked due to coping with an illness that drains the heart and darkens the spirit.  When I do meet with nature, I find tremendous joy.  A challenge like this will hopefully provide motivation to clear up and rebuild my earth-y connection.  :)  I'm excited to start! 

25 August 2013

Earth Song

I happened to watch the video for Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" this week. It'd been so long since I had seen it, but it comes closer than anything I have seen in a long time to showing the kind of desperate, heart-breaking, incomprehensible grief and intensity I feel over the devastating destruction of the planet and abhorrent suffering of all living beings.  Such a grief and anger and helplessness that goes beyond expression and comprehension.  HOW CAN ANYONE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN, to choose greed and self-interest over the protection and sanctity of lives, of LIFE?  I don't understand.  I only hope that more and more people are inspired to do something, anything!  Each action, no matter how big or small, makes a difference and fights back!