Opening Your Heart … When It Wants To Close

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Most of the time many of us will relish the focus on love and romance, with all of the heart imagery that goes with it. But …what if– for whatever reason–your heart is broken? What if life’s up and downs have plunged you into a place where being open is the very last thing you are inclined to do? Life coach and fellow yoga Stephanie Lazzara has a few words for us on this topic.

Heart opening, opening to love and caring for a broken heart….

How do we keep going when the heart wants to close instead of open? How do we fully feel the pain of a love-loss or the intensity of a growing, deepening love and still stay open?

Instead of trying to resist, contract or pull away, what if, instead, we take this an another opportunity for opening further, deeper, wider to love? It means staying in the uncomfortable present moments. We feel our hearts break and swell and mourn and ache in all of the pain and beauty we hold inside. And then it happens, we crack open, release and push up against all of our edges so that every cell of us becomes love.

Each place we are pushed emotionally or physically out of our comfort zones brings us to a greater awareness of ourselves, to our infinite capacity to love and loving, and towards the radical acceptance of ourselves as the vehicle for this love-light to burst out of every pore of our beings, touching the hearts of all we meet. Our hearts may yearn for a deeper loving, a deeper knowing, a deeper being seen. When we are open, we can access parts of ourselves that are hidden or that we hide in the shadows that make us whole and wholly lovable–just as we are.

How can you gently push yourself to expand further into love? When your body is at a limit of a pose, when your heart is breaking, where can you go deeper? While you are there, notice all the parts that come alive, even the parts that are hurting, and then ask yourself:

What does your deepest heart yearn for? Then go in further into this yearning …

Stephanie Lazzara is a certified professional coach, dancer, dance educator, and a regular BYPS practitioner. She specializes in helping her clients navigate through difficult life and relationship transitions and find more ease, clarity, and possibilities in the process of change.


Clothing Designer: Trudy Miller

Can you tell us something about your line?
I design extremely comfortable clothes that make women look and feel fabulous – regardless of age, size or phase in their body cycle.  All pieces in the collection are customizable to flatter individual body shape, and allow for personal expression.

My favorite new way to describe them is “sporty and elegant”.  (That’s the feedback our dear Carolyn Agis is getting when she wears my clothes – and it makes me so happy.)

What inspired you to produce your products and how did you get started?
Women’s bodies are constantly fluctuating – and on a regular cycle at that.  However, most clothes aren’t designed to acknowledge that.  I believe this is one of the primary reasons why negative body image is so prevalent among women, and why we tend to have overstuffed closets with things that fit us ‘sometimes’.

My moment of Divine Design Discontent came to me in a fitting room.  The clothes were telling me that my body was somehow wrong – even though I was fine with it before I walked in there.  I believe the muffin top epidemic/phenomenon was also in full swing.   That’s when I had enough – and decided to take matters into my own hands.

How did you come by your yoga practice?
My yoga practice is extremely varied – I like to mix it up. Initially I came into practice through Eve Holbrook, a truly gifted teacher. I was astounded by the depth of precision in her knowledge of the body, and how yoga put me in direct contact with parts of my physicality that I had never engaged before.

What is unique about your products that you know we will all love?
The garments provide near seamless transitions from hot to cold, day to evening, smart to sexy, pregnant to breastfeeding, etc. (I’ve been told they even perform very well during hot flashes!) My architectural design clients are happy with their spaces for similar reasons.  They are fully equipped to flow easily through their spaces and activities, unencumbered by the superfluous.

About Trudy
For Trudy Miller, architectural design is the multi-disciplinary practice of creating products and environments that do more with less.  From clothing and accessories to furniture and interiors, her primary focus is on surprising and delighting her clients with more than they imagined possible. Trained as an architect via CCNY and UC Berkeley respectively, Trudy has been committed to teaching about environmental sustainability to a wide variety of audiences.  She has taught at Parsons the New School for Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, and California College of the Arts. Trudy also teaches and mentors high school students through the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s DesignPrep Scholars Program. For well over a decade, Trudy has been massaging her design practice and service model to illustrate a whole systems approach towards lifestyle design.  In early 2016, Trudy will launch solutionista.com – A Wellness Concierge Team that helps people make big and small changes to improve the quality of their daily lives; under the theme Find Your Flow in 2016, Trudy and Team Solutionista will offer lifestyle improvement services in the following categories:  Love Your Body, Love Your Space, Love Your Life


Yogawear Designer: Kelly Hsiung of Modern Yogi

Can you tell us something about your line?
Modern Yogi is a contemporary activewear line for yoga practitioners who value comfort and quality in their practice wear without compromising style. Each piece is mindfully designed to provide the support needed in body-flattering silhouettes. All products are Made in the U.S.A.

What inspired you to produce your products and how did you get started?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved color, design, fashion and the arts. My other love is yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for 9 years and became a yoga teacher in 2011. I had an “aha” moment one day when it became apparent to combine my two passions: yoga and fashion.

How did you come by your yoga practice and how is it related to your line?
I used to be easy for me to get very light headed and overheated during the hot summer days in NY. I picked up Bikram yoga to overcome the heat.

What is unique about your products that you know we will all love?
I’m a thoughtful designer. I add unique touches to my designs.  For instance, on my men’s Power shorts, I designed a stretchy 4-way gusset at the base that provides extra mobility for postures like Triangle pose. When designing the Unishort for women’s, I made sure the straps on this piece were adjustable so this style can fit many different body types.

About Kelly
Kelly Hsiung is a yogi, entrepreneur and New Yorker. Driven by the love of yoga, fashion and wellness, Kelly combined the things she’s most passionate about and founded Modern Yogi. She is a certified yoga teacher with a background in Retail Marketing and a degree in Business Administration and Art. Kelly has a meticulous eye for design details and is obsessed with creating apparel that empower her fellow yogis.


Savasana, Interrupted

It was with great, great sorrow that the BYPS community said farewell to our other location on Fifth Avenue and 15th Street in Brooklyn, which closed on December 31, 2015. A number of us, myself included, shed tears when we first heard the news of the impending closure. Many longtime members of our community considered our South Slope location their “yoga home” for a number of years, and have spent the past few months, since the announcement of the necessity to close, coming to terms with this change, wrapping their heads around negotiating the commute to the Lefferts’ location, and the subsequent adjustments in scheduling and logistics that now have to be made.

Change tends to have both good and bad elements to it; one great thing that has come from this event has been to bring our already close-knit community of yogis even closer, as significant upheavals can sometimes do. We’re all using our practice to process the grief over leaving a beloved space, realize our gratitude for having been able to practice there, accept this change gracefully, and find a way to turn toward the positive with regard to this and other of life’s inevitable shifts.

I will let the memory cards from the Fifth Avenue lobby, written by some of our community members in the final days of the studio, tell their stories:

What happens in the studio stays in the studio. That means my head will always be here – Y

Thank you for providing a lovely, safe, and friendly sanctuary! This was my home away from home, 2013 – 15! XOX – J

S. Slope, Dec 2015: You are my home studio – that happens once in a life! – C

Dear BYPS – I have been practicing here since the start – Thank you.  – S

Beautiful studio I will certainly miss. Great memories! – D

2007 – 2015 – With whole-hearted thanks to you that walked through these doors and the space that held each of us with such grace, allowing for extraordinary transformation. – J

This studio has made me a better teacher and a better person. Thank you, South Slope! 2011 – 2015 – P

And when you are gone, I will miss your gentle noises. Namaste – S

Completed my 30-day challenge today!! Thank you for being a part of my life. I’ll miss you, South Slope! – T

Thank you Roody, Jessica, Denise, Jessica M, Peter, & the 6:30am crew! 2011- 15 – A

Memory highlight  … Sharing clementine oranges with my fellow yogis on 30-day challenge back in 2013

The smell … – A

From brittle and tense to juicy, lean, and calm, to teacher of health and peace. I’ll always remember you as the gentle push that the new me needed. Thank you for the love, light, and support – S

On December 31st 2014, I took my first ever Bikram class here. Thank you, South Slope, for completely transforming my life. – J

((heavy sigh)) Thank you for healing my knees and making me strong and confident. Some days offer profound insights and deeper understanding of how I interact with the world.

I will miss this studio so, so very much as it has been the most vital healing space when I was in a fragile and difficult space in life and this studio saved me!!!! Love you so much – K

Been coming here regularly since 2009. One of my favorite memories is trudging to the studio through the snow piled up high on the quiet streets. Hot yoga in snowfall. Thank you for an amazing community – A

12-30-15 Thank you BYSS for being an amazing constant in my life for over six years. I’m very sad to see this studio go but I am hopeful for a new incarnation. Park Slope needs this space and all of the wonderful teachers! Best wishes – YJ

2010 – 2015 When my doctor gave me the all clear after six rounds of chemotherapy and seventeen radiation treatments, I returned to Bikram a cancer survivor … ready to work, sweat, love, and connect. This studio was always love!! – L

Such a warm and welcoming community of yogis! Thank you for lighting my passion for yoga. – C

When I first moved to South Slope seven years ago, finding this Bikram studio made me feel like I’d found my new home … a constant source of healing and growth. Thank you!

Started at Flatbush in 2007; continued when South Slope opened; bounced back and forth. I love the peace and space you’ve provided. Thank you, South Slope! – K

This studio–this community–has been such a strong and important place for us these past five years. Thank you. – J & T

2011 – 2015 This studio has been such a special place in my life! I feel like I grow into myself and my “adulthood” through my practice here. So much love. – M

What C said! I will never have another home studio. Forever grateful! – A


Teacher Story: Katia

What tips can you give students to support their practice off the mat?
Just basic stuff: drink plenty of water, eat a high-quality diet, and sleep 7 hours every night.

What lead you to teacher training?
I knew pretty early on–during my second class–that one day I would teach this method.

Dealing with personal injury
After I stopped dancing ballet, I discovered that my skeletal system was quite twisted, and that my hips were constantly inflamed, a situation that has never quite resolved completely. Bikram Yoga helps me to manage this condition by realigning and creating more space in my joints, increasing the blood flow there and making my body feel better.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your teaching style or philosophy?
I teach from a perspective of believing that it is an honor to be standing in front of people who are allowing me to guide them through their yoga for 90 minutes. It’s my responsibility to give a challenging class while at the same time keeping it light emotionally. In addition to inspiring the students, I have discovered that I must find something different to teach or emphasize each and every class. We have many practitioners who have challenges such as injuries, different conditions, or perhaps recovering from surgery; I use my medical experience to help them practice safely, and in turn, working with them helps me to understand their conditions better.

Anything else?
Bikram Yoga definitely makes me a better and more balanced person. I believe that yoga changes the world for the better. Everyone has to try it!