An Evening With…Josie Schweitzer of Thank Yoga

Think about the last time you blew a bubble. As children, we’d revel in the opportunity to take a lousy sud on a neon-colored wand and animate it with a quick puff of breath. This simple game could never disappoint. We were creating something out of nothing, and something that could float for that matter. Even better.

With age, our bubble blowing days become few and far between. It is not a form of play that most adults would consider. Imagine the dialogue: “Hey man, want to hang out tonight and blow some bubbles?” Nope, doubt you will overhear this on a Friday night. But I think it is a damn shame because I think there is something to be learned from this simple form of play. Hear out my bubble theory.

As children, the world is open and the options seem endless. But over time, our wide open view of the world begins to narrow until we look through a self-constructed periscope. We may have many ideas of things we could create or dreams we could follow but we kill them before they even have a chance to form. The soapy film never even leaves the wand.

It is easy to let the fear of failure stop us from taking risks or trying something new. We all hear the cliched phrases over and over. Follow your dreams. Face your fears. Live your passion. We all likely agree with these sentiments but then brush them off like lint on a suit coat. We make rationalizations about how what we want to do is not practical. We say, “Oh it may work if I have X or if I could be like Y but for me it is just not realistic.” We validate our fears. We give them power.

This is why Josie Schweitzer is an inspiration. She doesn’t buy into this way of thinking.

Josie, yogi extraordinaire and business woman, is all about facing her fears. But, hold up. Let’s be clear. If one of those motivational posters with an image of a snowy mountain in the background comes to mind (you know the ones you find on the walls of every high school classroom), then you’ve got it wrong.

For Josie, facing fears means taking a different approach. There is no battle or fight. There is no war against personal demons. There is no attempt to struggle up the big bad mountain. Josie knows that even when the bubble pops, there is always more air to breathe a new one into existence.

Josie encourages people to recognize the feelings that are holding them back and then provides them with the physical guidance needed to release them. Limiting fears are pushed out like stale air. Yoga is her vehicle.

The approach is simple. It comes down to the breath. This is the basis of life and it is also the foundation of her business; Thank Yoga.

For the second edition of my “A Day With” series, I had the privilege of shadowing Ms.Josie. It was a warm August evening filled with yoga and Columbus spirit.

So take a big breath in and come along with me as I enter Josie’s bubble.

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Name: Josie Schweitzer

Age: 29

Passion: Yoga

Location: Columbus, OH

How we met: I started coming to Josie’s yoga classes during the fall of last year. I had been searching for a power yoga studio with good musical taste (very important for me..and Josie definitely knows what’s up in this department) for awhile in Columbus to no avail. After my first class at Thank Yoga, I knew I had found the place. Thank Yoga is unlike any other studio in the Columbus area. It is young, challenging and the classes have the right balance of strength and flow.

Our evening began at the studio with the first of two yoga classes.

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As people filter in to the studio, there is a flurry of warm exchanges. Josie greets everyone with a quick hello and a hug. It is easy to see Josie’s background as a hair dresser come through during these moments. She has that effortless ability to make people feel at ease. Mini life updates are shared as people drop off their things, sign in and unroll their mats.

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Class begins with setting an intention for practice. Josie reminds the class that there is no “right” intention. It could be anything from dedicating your practice to someone or to eating a tasty cheeseburger. The point is to have a purpose. When poses become challenging, this purpose is where you can fix your attention. It is like your home base in a came of tag. From there, Josie leads everyone through some warm-up stretches and breathing exercises. She grounds you at the beginning and then quickly picks up the pace and turns up the heat.

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Sensky_ThankYoga-9Josie walks around the room and gives people adjustments, all while guiding the practice with an assured rhythm that comes from years of practice as an instructor at other studios before she decided to open her own.

During a class, she knows when to push and when to back off. She often reminds the class that they are in control. It is their practice. They can chose any option that works for them. With this attitude, it is easy to see how yoga is a metaphor for life. The Thank brand extends into all realms of daily existence. This is what people take with them when they leave the studio.

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Thank Yoga just celebrated its one year anniversary and has steadily built a following within the community. Josie is a believer in organic growth and trusts that the universe will give us what we are ready to handle at any given moment.

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The next class began around 7:00pm. Excuse the break in photos as I attended this session.

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After my hour of yoga, I felt invigorated. There is a special yoga high that is equal parts exhaustion and elated energy. I love walking outside into the cool air after. Everything seems more crisp.

After the yoga classes, Josie and I headed to Wild Goose Creative for a local variety show called What’s Up Columbus. Josie was one of the special guests being featured for the night.

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What’s Up Columbus was held in a cozy arts space in the campus district of Columbus. It was essentially a variety show with a bit of stand-up, humorous interviews with local “celebrities” and music to round out the night.

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The host for the evening had a sarcastic, self-deprecating style of humor that elicited bouts of short chuckles from the audience. Although the turn-out wasn’t huge, the concept was cool and there were some entertaining moments during the interviews with Josie and local photographer, John Cropper. The interviews consisted of that unique sort of awkward humor where the guest is put on the spot and made to squirm. It was all in good spirit though and Josie was a good sport.

She was asked about her favorite “secret” spot in the city and revealed that there is a rooftop downtown where she frequently goes alone to do yoga with a cityscape view. But alas the secret remains as she would not divulge the location.

Sensky_ThankYoga-29_Wild Goose CreativeThe night ended with a performance by a local band called the Devil Doves. They described their musical genre as “clusterfolk.” The name definitely piqued my interest, and I was pleasantly surprised with their sound. It made for easy listening and a warm feeling.

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I want to thank Josie for allowing me “behind-the-scenes” access. Her constant drive and willingness to work hard for her vision is an endless inspiration for me and countless others in the Thank community.

Just check out the Thank Yoga Facebook page to see what I mean. Her daily posts are a true reflection of her humble nature and positive mindset.

She is living proof that developing a passion you believe in may be work but it is never draining. As I observed her for an evening, it was plain to see that she carries a lightness in her spirit.

My mind wanders back to the bubble and back to the breath. With one exhale, something beautiful can be created. As it floats along, this beauty brings joy to everyone in its presence. With Josie and Thank Yoga, the same holds true.

Namaste, my friends.

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