Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Hopkins.
Brittany, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m into yoga and my husband is into bikes. We were living and teaching at an international school in Beijing, China, when the idea of opening a yoga studio and bike shop formulated. In 2014 I moved back to the U.S. to start the biz with free yoga in the park until we found our indoor home in Lakewood, Colorado. To date, we have served yoga to over 5,000 individual beginner and season yogi’s and tuned up over 1,200 bikes.
CLICK HERE to read Brittany and Russ's story of CCYoga & Bikes in VoyageDenver!
This post has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with humanity and living our yoga practice off of the mat.
Last Monday I (Brittany) was listening to an NPR news interview on my way to the studio to teach.
I knew I was listening to a white male interviewer and didn't realize that I was assuming the person he was interviewing was also a white man because of the way he spoke and because he was introduced as being an author and professor at Yale.
The moment the interviewer asked a question along the lines of "What is it like as an African American man raising an African American son in the world today?" Because of deeply embedded racism, my mind did a loop-ti-loop to reassign the image I had pictured of the author and professor at Yale.
It's not that I think authors and Yale professors are all, or should be, white. And yet that was my mental default. This is not okay and this is how obvious, and not so obvious, racism can be as a privileged white woman that has lived most of my life in a culture that values whiteness more than other skin colors and I am committed to spotting it, and weeding out the racism, so that I don't continue to unconsciously pass it on to Isaac, my 2 year old white child, and everyone else around me.
As a small business owner that claims "Yoga is for Everybody." I see many ages, body types, genders, sexual preferences, among our community yet now, more than ever, I see where we have gotten a big huge "NO PASS" for inclusivity.
I am committed moving us towards the day where we can truly say, "All Lives Matter".
In the meantime, below are some resources that I am using to increase my awareness in what I can do to ensure that Black Lives Matter.
I am giving away scholarships to aid us in providing and cultivating diversity in our community and trainings.
1619 - A podcast from the New York Times
Hear To Slay
At The Intersection
Still Processing - A podcast from the New York Times
Code Switch by NPR
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
Writing about Slavery? Teaching about Slavery
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
When They See Us by Ava DuVernay
I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck
13th by Ava DuVernay
FOLLOW and SUPPORT
Denver NAACP Branch
Anti Defamation League- Fighting Hate for Good
Southern Poverty Law Center
Black Visions Collective
The Conscious Kid
WE ARE HIRING
Teacher's and Team Members who's race/background is underrepresented in the western yoga world and especially our current community.
Resources for Kids and Teens
If you are a parent/aunt/uncle/grand parent/cousin/brother/sister, join me at: https://www.patreon.com/theconsciouskid
Follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Here is an excerpt from their recent email:
in love and light,
May allows for blooming, changing, growth and an overall feeling of newness. It allows for a time to share your beauty with the world and open yourself up to new possibilities and growth.
We, as humans, have been through a lot this past month. What if we looked at this as a time to forgive yourself, allow yourself to bloom and blossom, ground down and spread your beauty with those surrounding you?
Yoga and our Baptiste community has given us a place to be unapologeticly us, get messy, to laugh, to cry, to support each other and to live our life for one hour of a time on the mat. What if you took all of that off the mat for the month of May?
Could it look a little like this?
(Excerpt from: Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford)
Let’s Start Over
Let’s start over.
Let’s choose to hold our tongues, swallow harsh words, offergrace.
Let’s choose to love “as is,” because that human being is pretty awesome if we take time to look past the mistakes and imperfections.
Let’s start over.
Let’s choose to LOOK UP, LOOK AT, LOOK IN.
Let’s choose to pay attention, because if we take time to truly see what’s in front of us, we’ll find the person standing there is pretty amazing.
Let’s start over.
Let’s choose to CHILL, PAUSE, SLOW DOWN.
Let’s choose to set aside our own agenda, because if we take time to be available for hugs and kisses, we’ll find that person we’re hugging and kissing is pretty loveable.
Let’s start over.
RIGHT NOW. RIGHT HERE. Let’s not wait another day.
Let’s choose to accept, forgive, and understand.
Let’s choose to live, love, learn, fall down, and get back up.
Because life-despite its challenges and daily disappointments- hold moments of JOY, HOPE, COMFORT, and PEACE when we choose to start over and offer a second chance to others and ourselves.
When you choose to hold onto guilt, regret, anger, the negative impact reaches far beyond us. This day is too precious to ruin in such a careless way. Today you can offer your loved ones and yourself the gift of starting over-starting over begins with the words,”I am sorry” to the people you love, and “I AM HUMAN” to yourself.
The journey is not about what happened yesterday; it is about the choices you make today.
Happy Spring Everyone,
Courtney Boland, yogi, Social Media & Business Development for CCYOGA
It is quite amazing how the yoga works. I am pretty sure that almost everyone who has taken on the practice has seen some sort of change or another. Maybe it is in the way your physical body looks, feels and moves. Maybe it is a shift in your thought process and way of looking at the world. Maybe you show yourself more kindness, gratitude or forgiveness.
No matter what the change, it's not an overnight shift or a miraculous miracle. It is often something that occurs over time and maybe you don’t even realize it until you stop and ask yourself if you have noticed any type of change in your life because of yoga.
Here is our take on transformation and yoga at Container Collective Yoga:
- Courtney Boland (yogi, entrepreneur, social media gal at CCYOGA)
For me, personally, I noticed that it has calmed me down (if you can believe that!). I have always been a multitasker, “go getter”, the energizer bunny, the “don’t rest until you are dead” kind of person. And for the life of me I could not understand what was wrong with people who were not the same way I was. That was until I walked into my first Baptiste yoga class...well, maybe not my first, but possibly the 5th or so! I learned to B R E A T H E...yeah, as simple as that. B R E A T H E. Deep inhale in, long exhale out and after doing that time and time again I saw it come off my mat and into my life. Difficult decisions in my life were made with ease, I stopped to listen, to think, to pay attention. Breathe and acting with intention has transferred off my mat and into my life leading me to quite the transformation.
- Mike Vaughan (yogi, YTT 2020 Grad, Yoga Teacher, dad, amazing man)
Who would’ve thought that by signing up for a restorative yoga class that it was going to take me on a life changing path. Yoga for me has been an incredible journey in transforming my mind and body. It was key to me losing 50+ pounds and continues to help keep me fit. It’s calmed my mind and relaxed my anger and irritability. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way.
- Jackie Huberty (yogi, CCYOGA Team Leader, runner, mala maker)
Yoga has transformed me in the way I view myself & the ones I love. Physically, it's transformed my body & my body image. I used to have an incredibly unhealthy relationship with my body & the way I saw it in the mirror. I now love how strong I am & seeing muscles (especially in my arms!) that I never thought I'd have. Mentally & emotionally--yoga has transformed the way I interact with my thoughts & emotions. I used to allow my thoughts & emotions to fully "run the show." While that hasn't gone away, I have created a mind-body connection through yoga that helps me tune into emotional shifts & unhealthy thoughts much more quickly. I can feel tightness in my chest, shortness of breath & understand that it's a signal from my body that anxiety is creeping in & I use my Ujjayi Breath to slow everything down. Yoga has also taught me that feelings, thoughts, & life events are not permanent & can, instead, be transformed into experiences of learning & growth.
- Amy Taylor-Tuma (yogi, YTT 2020 Grad, Yoga Teacher, Colorado Native)
Yoga has made me less reactive off the mat especially professionally. I work in a fast paced residential agency where I have to make urgent decisions regarding where to move an at risk adult. I have learned to slow down and breath. Allowing yourself a few moments to assess the situation before reacting creates the foundation for a solid decision to be made.
We would love to hear from you on how Yoga has transformed your life on or off the mat!
The Container Collective Crew
Ahhhhh, February. The month of love. Where little kids make homemade cards decked out with glitter and hearts to pass out to all of their friends and crushes. Where heart-shaped candies are found everywhere exclaiming “be mine” or “true love”. Where single people avoid all restaurants because the risk of gagging over googly eyes, hand-holding or even the “surprise engagement” popping up at the table next to them is just not helpful. Where some couples agonize over where to go or what grand romantic gesture will capture the heart of their loved one on February 14th. And of course, the time when cheesy love ballads are playing, yoga teachers are talking about all the heart openers and you are just trying to breathe through it all.
So in the spirit of Love Ballads and Heart Openers, here is not only a cheesy playlist, but some extra special heart openers from Container Collective Yoga Studio in Lakewood, Colorado to YOU:
"Wild Thing, you make my heart sing, You make EVERYTHING Groovy. Wild Thing, I think I love you."
Talk about a JUICY heart-opener that not only evokes a sense of freedom, levity and even a touch of ecstasy. I don't know about you, but every time I enter into this heart opener, I find my chest opening, my head dropping and a lightness enter into my soul. It not only provides the heat to encourage our hearts and chest to open, but gives us the courage to be vulnerable and to release. A strong base is certainly the key to lifting your heart toward the sky, pulling your shoulder blades onto your back and providing freedom in your expression and emotion.
"You're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiration. You bring feeling to my life."
Of all poses that we could call absolutely stunning, this heart opener certainly takes beauty to another level. Dancer works on strengthening your back, legs, and ankles. Not only does this open your chest and shoulders, it stretches your thighs, groin and abdomen. Want to work on improving your balance and focus? Dance your way into this pose with our Baptiste Power Yoga Community!
"Once more, you open the door and you're here in my heart and my heart will go on and on."
Talk about feeling like you are pulling your heart open over and over again (how many up dogs do we really do each class?? No, really, how many, because it is a lot!) And that is the beauty of it, we open our hearts more times than we know during a 60 min Container Collective Yoga class in this pose. The key to this gem of a pose is to breathe. By entering up dog on an inhalation your heart lifts, collar bones spread and energy flows right to the source of it all. Bringing your shoulder blades down on your back automatically spreads your chest wide to receive all of the breath and energy needed to guide you through a power yoga class.
"I can see it in your eyes, I can see it on your smile, you're all I've ever wanted my arms are open wide."
Fish pose...ahhh wait, supported Fish pose (even better). Through rooting down and lifting up Fish Pose makes you feel energized, free, in full surrender and open to new possibilities. Not only does it strengthen your upper back muscles and the back of your neck, but allows for strengthening of your upper back muscles which can improve the flexibility in your spine and your posture. All of that hunching over while working on your computer or collapsing into your phone can be reversed in this heart lifting and mood lightening pose.
Happy February Collective Community
Courtney Boland (Social Media Yogi here at CCYOGA)
It is quite amazing that as humans we crave interaction and intimacy, yet we often unconsciously prevent ourselves from meeting new people, the people that might prove to be very important to us. We tend to get caught up in our own dramas, memories of past failed relationships/friendships, the worries that sit on our shoulders daily, buried in our cell phones or even stacking bricks to keep putting up that wall that we feel may make us safe. We lose our ability to see that we are yearning for connection just as much as others are.
Here is our take on community and what it means to us here at CCYOGA...
“Similarly to the concept of “home,” I often think of community as more of a feeling than a specific place. When I’m in community, I feel accepted, safe, and seen. While humans are beautifully unique, we are all wired for connection. Coming together is not only fun and entertaining, but is a strong reminder that we’re indeed not alone, and are perhaps way more similar than we might think.” -Laura Saracho
“Community is everyone just making it onto their mat and doing what they can. A common ground or love is what brings us together. At the studio, there is an eclectic group of people and we all share commonalities other than just yoga. I’ve gotten to know this through teaching and sharing that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It feels like a safe haven from issues and troubles outside of the studio. For the time that we are there we are all working on the same things, physical strength, flexibility, presence and breath.” - Meghan Trujillo
“Community is a group of people I share a common interest with. People that I enjoy seeing and spending time with as well as care deeply about. We are all brought together by common interests, kindness, love, passion and the desire to belong and be accepted.” -Anita Ritchie
“Community is family. The kind you get to choose. A group of people from all walks of life, connected through experiences who make a stand for one another. Everyone has an interesting story and a drive to be a better person. Sharing this space with everyone is what gives me a sense of community.” -Heidi Schumacher
CommUNITY brings out the best in each of us. It supports us, regardless of job, age, sex, political affiliation. It is a place where you can go to just be you, with your all of your amazingly positive attributes as well as your flaws.
Thank YOU you for being such a huge contribution in all of our lives.
The CCYOGA Team
I am open to the possibility of anything and everything!
I've been trying to find health and balance in my life, unsuccessfully, for almost two years now. Burnt out on exercise regimens and fad diets, I signed up for 40 Days of Yoga with Container Collective, just to reset before jumping into the next workout plan and diet. My only goal was to improve my yoga practice. At the Welcome Meeting, I realized there was going to be a lot more to the 40 Days than just yoga. This was the best possible surprise. The meditation, reading, and journaling gave me perspective and tools I need to deal with the stressful and contentious situations that occur day-to-day in life. I found that being "mindful" of what I was eating, finding the balance between fueling my body and fueling my soul, produced better results than any of the restrictive diets I had tried before. The yoga made me stronger and I expanded my practice... six wheels don't get the best of me anymore! And I found a community! Showing up to the studio almost every day, I built relationships with the teachers, my fellow 40 Day yogis, and everyone else who came to their mat. I never felt alone in my journey. Without the accountability and encouragement, the results of my 40 Days would be very different. For that, I will always be grateful to CCYOGA.
Before the 40 Days with CCYOGA my experience with yoga/meditation/mindful eating was intermittent.
During the program I found empowerment to change my habits and my life, but with ease.
Weight loss wasn't ever a focus of my journey, but I lost 7lbs and 3 inches off my waist during the 40 days. While the number on the scale is exciting, I also just felt really good. I finally understood what people mean when they say their body feels awesome. My body feels stronger from the yoga. The meditation has helped me move past a focus on petty weight loss, and mindful eating has cleansed my body and given me the light and lean feeling.
I'm not sure that I thanked you, so THANK YOU for facilitating this 40 Days. It was a life-changing experience. I hear people say things like "life-changing" and often roll my eyes, but this time I feel like I get it.
there is so much more I could say but if I said everything I'd never shut up.
Written by: Courtney Boland (Social Media Yogi)
There are three main attributes that one needs in order to not lose it while heading out to do their grocery shopping...or while getting familiar with their yoga practice.
Picture this: It is a Sunday morning. I get up, workout and head to the grocery store to get my weekly grocery shopping done. Once that’s finished I can get on with the last day of my weekend and enjoy the Colorado sunshine. Ready to get it over with, I pull into the Grocery where it takes me a few turns through the rows to find the right spot because all of Denver has the same plans this morning that I do. Once I secure a cart and try to maneuver my way to the veggies it seems as though everybody and their mother are purposely putting themselves in my direct path. Forty-five minutes later due to the frustratingly enormous amount of people and some minor cart crashes I make my way to the cashier line that is about 8 people deep.
You see where this is going right? An hour and a half later I make it home not only frazzled but annoyed by how much time it took and how it seems as though every piece of my patience has been sucked out of me all because I was planning ahead for the week and trying to get stuff done.
Yoga, my friends, can be very much like grocery shopping.
We all have those moments where we are thinking, “Could someone please take me out of this present moment and beam me into the future? I just want it all to be over!”
With yoga you simply have to show up and do the work. I say simply, but I don’t really mean that it is simple. It’s not easy and yes, it’s totally frustrating at times...but that’s the work.
What it really takes is consistency, time and patience.
If you don’t grocery shop each week, you won’t have food to eat...not good, right?
Well, if you don’t regularly get on your mat then you won’t see any progress in your practice or change in your growth. Coming to your mat on a consistent basis doesn’t mean going hard core every second of the hour, but rather meeting yourself where you are at that day. Maybe one day you take a power yoga class and are a complete yogic rock-star and the next you take a restorative class (probably because you overdid it the day before). Regardless of if you modify your practice or not, the key is in your consistency. Creating any type of routine for your mind and body is the beginning step in creating new patterns for yourself.
If only we had more of this…
We take the time to plan out when we will head to the Grocery so it is in our schedule and gets done. So why not schedule in time for YOU and your MAT? Scheduling your week ahead and putting in your yoga plan can take a lot of pressure off of the “we never have enough time in the day” feeling. The key here is remembering that you are taking the time so TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t rush your practice. Listen for cues, focus on your flow, your breath, you, and how your body and mind are feeling. Once you make the time TO TAKE THE TIME you will see your mind start to settle and your practice start to unwind and develop into something maybe you weren’t even expecting.
This word! Ahhhh how many times have I heard, “You have to be more patient!” (Well if the cashier would just scan the groceries faster I would be more patient!)
The truth of the matter is that being patient helps you to feel peaceful and calm. It helps you to avoid toxic emotions like anger and frustration and improve your relationships with both others and yourself. It enables you to slow your mind and body for mindfulness, growth and even an attitude shift. It is one of the hardest emotions to cultivate. It seems we are so good at it when things come easily and not so great when we are presented with a challenge or even that “advanced pose” you have been attempting and failing miserably at for the past few weeks. In order to develop patience we need to put in effort. This will allow for the ease to come with the effort.
With consistency, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Lou Tolstoy
And maybe you find that Sunday morning isn’t the best time to go to the Grocery, maybe it’s the best time to make time for you and your yoga mat.
You know that friend (or maybe it was even you at one point) you know, the one who you invited to join you for a yoga class and the first words out of their mouth were, "I'm not flexible enough for yoga" or "I'm just not bendy enough"?
Well, guess what? That was me and I felt that exact same way. I wasn’t a dancer or gymnast or even someone who could remotely touch their toes. I wasn’t that person who could bend like Gumby and make amazing shapes on their mat. I started this practice because I hurt my back probably from over doing it with running, boot camp and boxing. I was told that yoga was supposed to be good not only for recovery and stability, but for my mind as well. Since I couldn’t go full on with what wasn’t working anymore, I decided to give it a shot.
Here is how my first Baptiste yoga practice went:
For my first few classes I was convinced- ABSOLUTELY convinced that everyone was looking at me wondering what this not-so-bendy person was doing taking up space in the room. But I then came to realize that NO ONE CARED! It really didn’t matter! We were all in the same boat...pushing ourselves, meeting ourselves where we were at in the moment, breathing together and trying not to lose our shit on the mat or in daily life.
Baron Baptiste stated it perfectly, you had to “show up and suck until you can show up and shine”.
So what if you can’t touch your toes. So what if you think you’re not flexible.
Just show up. Suck, shine, smile, breathe, whatever. We are all in this together one yoga pose at a time. And hey, who knows, maybe your hands wind up reaching just a little closer to your toes in the process!
In our modern society we are conditioned to always be "doing." We fill our schedules to always be busy and even during lulls we grab for our phone, turn on music or television, or worry about what just happened or is next to come. Sitting still in complete silence can be quite a challenge. One of the ways meditation is so rewarding is that you train your ability to slow down, turn off devices, disengage from the busy world, and just breathe. The simple act of sitting still for 5 minutes in a quiet room can be daunting when we live our lives constantly "doing", but with practice it gets easier. After practicing meditation regularly you may even find that your ability to be still and present is showing up in other areas of your life.
On your yoga mat you have tools to help you be present with the given moment and pose. Use your drishti (gaze) to focus on a single spot of the room or mat and really see what you are looking at. Breathe actively with your ujayi breath to remain focused. Begin with your foundation, your feet, on your mat and travel up each part of your body engaging your muscles along the way, all the way to the crown of your head. Do this purposefully with each pose. If you notice your mind wandering to events that happened before your practice or your to-do list, recognize them non-judgmentally, then return your attention to your mat.
Try this on during child's pose. Press your forehead down into your mat and set your gaze to one point. If your eyes are closed, focus through the center of your forehead. Breathe slowly and fully. Ground your hands into your mat and press your hips down toward your heels. Remain here for 10 breaths. If you find your mind wandering, notice it, then return to your pose.
As Baron Baptiste states in 40 Days to a Personal Revolution, "Our culture leads us to believe that our problem is with food, or our boss, or our relationships, but really, these things are not the problem. The problem is that we have disconnected from consciousness and gone to sleep." This week off your mat, try on being present. In conversations with your friends, family, coworkers set down technology and engage fully. Presence is a practice; for both on and off your mat.