Greetings!

Welcome to almost 2020! Most importantly, I want to thank you for supporting our family-owned business for 19 years! Yes, we opened O2 Somerville in 2001. Believe it or not, running a yoga studio is not easy and my family has gone through some really difficult times, but we are still here. I am very proud of that fact and we couldn't have done it without you! In honor of our anniversary, you will see some fun pop-up sales and maybe a contest or raffle. In the meantime, it is the perfect time for me to continue with my "How I Built This" project as in our last installment, I had just gotten my business in NH stable and running smoothly. I get nervous when things feel too comfortable so I did what I always do: I made my life a bit -- no a lot more -- chaotic. 

One of my teachers, Katie, was moving down to the Boston area. She was looking for work and couldn't find what she wanted. She came to me one day and asked, "Would you ever open another yoga studio in the Boston area?" I thought about it for about 10 seconds and said, "Yes, I would think about that." My mind started racing with ideas. I talked with Steven about it and he agreed to start looking at spaces with me. We looked in JP, Cambridge, Brookline, and then Somerville. My friend Laura Cuozzo was and still is a big part of what made O2 become O2. She pushed me to start teaching yoga way back when I was at the gym by rallying a bunch of friends to get my class off the ground. She also explained to me that yoga was getting popular and that I was the perfect teacher to bring it to New Hampshire!  She helped me come up with a name for the first studio. (More on why O2 is called "O2" in an upcoming installment.) She later pushed me to do my first Teacher Training and retreat in Mexico. Laura lived in Somerville and really wanted the next O2 to be nearby. She called me one day to tell me there was a place for rent right around the corner from her on Highland Avenue and Cedar Street. So my husband Steven and I went to check it out. 

Now, Steven is a builder, designer, and carpenter (and yes, that is his last name). Each time we would walk into a space I would see one thing and he would almost always see something else. We even looked at a space in Brookline that had been a funeral home. There were tile floors with drains in them, no kidding. That one we both said no to. Next was the parking garage that they wanted to rent to us. We would need to put in ceiling and walls... But often, I would go into a space and say, "Oh yeah, this would be perfect." He would then tell me all the things that he saw that were wrong with it. He has always been the Yin to my Yang, so to speak, and he was the one that was going to have to do all the work on the space, so I always deferred to him. I walked into our current yoga studio and saw a dingy video store with a porn section in the back, blocked off by a wall of plywood. Ick. Steven took one look at it and said, "Yup, this is perfect." 

You may not know this, but Steven is not just the love of my life but the brains and brawn behind all things O2. He is the one ripping up floors, building front desks and walls, and spray-painting ceilings. Just last spring he replaced the furnace and put down new carpet in the lobby. Steven is by all accounts an unsung hero and a big part of what makes O2 not just special but intact. 

Okay, so I am going to let you in on a little secret: There was one more factor in my decision to open a yoga studio at this particular location. There was another yoga studio nearby. I had gone a couple of times with Katie. It was the opposite of everything I believed a yoga studio should be. I won't go into details but I will say that it was run by someone that I didn't respect nor trust and who I thought was not just egotistical but somewhat predatory. I decided that I wanted to go head-to-head with this guy. 

Our new landlords were actually the original owners of the building and of the previous business. It used to be a neighborhood pharmacy right down to a big marquee and soda fountain. The panel next to the changing rooms is part of one of the original signs we found. And, the wall in between the studio and lobby is the riser that held the stools for the soda fountain that Steven and our friend Charlie insisted needed to be part of the new space. They used chain falls and pry bars to stand it up. The landlords had been in Somerville for many years and were and are some of the most wonderful people we have ever worked with. We signed the lease on a Friday and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, Dylan, on Monday. 

I asked Steven what he thought I should do, and he said, " I think you should do what you always do and don't change. There will never be a better time to do this. We can make it work." And you know what? We did. Yes, I remember having morning sickness and throwing up in the aisle of Home Depot. Yes, I remember driving back from Somerville in my convertible pumping breast milk and freaking out the nearby drivers. Yes, I remember terrifying the new students by teaching them handstand and then falling out of it and hearing them gasp when they learned I was eight months pregnant. And the list goes on, but we not only made it work, we survived to have this anniversary. 

For now, celebrate the New Year with us with our 31 Days for $31 sale, lots of exciting schedule changes, two great workshops, and lots more to come! In the meantime, keep being the compassionate, loving, humble, bad-ass yogi/yogini I know you are!

Love, Mimi
Focus of the Month: The Vinyasa (moving with breath)

Elliott here. We're returning to our roots in January by focusing on the transitions between poses, or the vinyasa. Whenever we have a new student who's nervous about taking that first class, we always like to say, "All yoga requires is moving and breathing at the same time: on the inhale, do this; on the exhale, do that." "Vinyasa" is a term that has a few translations, like "to move with the breath," or "to place carefully." At O2 we frequently use it to refer to the often-repeated pieces of a Sun A: chatturanga, up dog, down dog, which together are used as a re-set button between a series of postures. It's a great chance to reconnect with your breath (and down dog, believe it or not, eventually becomes something of a resting pose).  

The transition asks us to maintain awareness as we move, to keep track of the breath as we move, and above all it keeps us moving. The keystone of this practice is that we're never static or still too long. The vinyasa transitions help us keep the fire or heat going in our practice by keeping us active.

During the month of January, our teachers will play with the idea of "vinyasa" -- be it a standard Sun A or another series of postures -- giving you all a chance to focus on this foundational and crucial part of your yoga practice.

Start off 2020 with yoga that really pays off. Build strength, reduce stress and save money in January AND February. On January 1 only, buy our 31 Days for $31 Class Pack, in studio only. Then for every day in January that you practice, take 1% off your February membership. So if you practice 15 times in January, you'll save 15% in February.

Happy New Year!

On Tuesday, 12/31, we will only hold our 9:30 a.m. Intermediate class and our 12 p.m. Basics class. All other classes are cancelled. However, keep your evening free as we will hold our annual NYE workshop with Ann from 10 p.m. to midnight! Click here for more information or to register.

On Wednesday, 1/1, our 6:30 a.m. class is cancelled. Otherwise, we will be open all day, from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Even when a class isn't in session, the desk will be (wo)manned so you can drop in anytime to purchase our 31 Days for $31 Class Pack!

New Year's Day Schedule

9:30 am Basics w/ Mimi
12:30 pm Intermediate w/ Mimi
4:30 am Basics w/ Jeri
6:00 pm Intermediate w/ Toby
7:30 pm Basics w/ Mary
January Schedule Changes

We will be updating our schedule quite a bit this month:

1. Deb's Tuesday and Amy's Thursday 6 a.m. Basics classes will move to 6:30 a.m.
2. Ann Marie's Wednesday 6:30 a.m. Rajas class will move to 7 a.m.
3.The Friday 6:30 a.m. Astanga class will now become a 7 a.m. Intermediate class taught by Deb.
4. Mimi will now teach the Tuesday Intermediate class at 9:30 a.m. and the Basics class at 12 p.m.
5. Jeri's 4;30 p.m. Basics class will be added on Wednesday.
6.Jill will take over the 12 p.m. Rajas class on Friday.
7.The Friday 7:30 p.m. Rajas class will come off the schedule.
8. The Sunday 12:30 p.m. class will change from Rajas to Basics and will be taught by Amy.
9. A 7:30 a.m. Rajas class will be added on Sundays, which will be taught by Rotating Teachers. 
Treat Yourself to Maya Tulum in 2020
Week 1: 6 days, 2/23-29
Week 2: 7 days, 2/29-3/7

Have you set New Year's Resolutions to "do more yoga" and "spend more time at the beach"? We can help with both this winter as we return to the gorgeous Maya Tulum resort in Mexico for our 19th annual retreat. Email mimi@o2yoga.com to save your spot. More retreat specifics here.
Upcoming Workshops
 New Year's Eve Class with Ann Panopoulos

OM your way into the new year -- join Ann for our annual New Year’s Eve Class!

Whether new to yoga or a seasoned yogi, come and enjoy a fun and invigorating 2-hour class surrounded by the supportive and amazing O2 community. Bridge this year to next with an incredible practice ending with an OM circle through midnight. 

When: Tuesday, 12/31, 10 p.m.-midnight
Where: O2 Yoga Somerville, 288 Highland Avenue
Enrollment: $50 advance/$55 day of

***This class tends to fill up fast -- we strongly recommend preregistration.***

Some additional info about this very popular class:
 
- PLEASE ARRIVE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE START OF CLASS.   We will start on time  and want to make sure everyone has a comfortable spot to practice. The front door will be unlocked 30 minutes before class.
 
- EACH STUDENT MUST REGISTER INDIVIDUALLY. Buying multiple drop-ins for this class will NOT reserve spots for your friends so make sure each person planning to attend registers online or at the desk.

24 hours notice is required for any reservation cancellations. Please email info@o2yoga.com with questions.

 The Basics of Basics: An Introduction to O2 Yoga

This is an in-depth course geared towards the beginner -- whether you're brand-new to yoga or simply brand-new to O2. This workshop's goal is to break down foundations of the vigorous O2 style with a strong focus on breath, bandhas, and Sun A's with plenty of time to ask questions. Class size is limited to allow for individual attention.
 
When: Sunday, 1/26, 2-4 p.m.
Where: O2 Yoga Somerville, 288 Highland Avenue
Enrollment: $45 (includes a complimentary drop-in class card to be used for any O2 Yoga class)
 
  24 hours notice is required for any reservation cancellations. Please email info@o2yoga.com with questions.

Staff Spotlight: Deb Hicks
by Melissa Sances

For Deb Hicks, yoga might be a necessary evolution, the next step in plan put in place more than 20 years ago by her martial arts instructor, Master Ennis.
Or, more accurately, by Deb’s mom.
“Yeah, I have my mom to thank because [at the age of 12] I was obsessed with Jackie Chan and all things martial arts,” Deb admits. “All my screen names were Jackie Chan-related: ‘Shanghai Noon,’ ‘Shanghai Knights’ … So my mom found this martial arts school and we were sitting in Master Ennis’s office and he’s like, ‘Come out into the studio, the two of you! Take off your shoes.’ And I was like, ‘No, mom, don’t!’ But then she did it with me … which I guess was nice that we could do that together.”
Under Master Ennis’s steady instruction, Deb became a second-degree black belt within six years. She was also introduced to Tai Chi. “I found it incredibly boring,” Deb says with a laugh. “But I feel like today I might find it really interesting because its slow and deliberate movements force you to pay attention to different parts of your body. We did this exercise where you slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other, as though you’re taking big, uncertain steps across a sheet of thin ice.” Still, it would take many more years for Deb to embrace a similar mindfulness – through yoga.
In 2017, a friend and longtime O2 member told Deb about the 31 classes for $31 deal that the studio runs every year on New Year’s Day. She bought a card and practiced as much as she could, and on January 31 Deb thought she was finishing out the month with what was now her familiar Tuesday night Basics class. Instead, she was initiated into Astanga.
“So I go into the studio and I notice that everyone’s setting up their mat differently, and I was like, ‘Maybe they change the direction of the room every month,’” Deb remembers. “During that month of course I set up in the back of the room, because I didn’t want to be in the
front. So I set up in the middle of the class, because I thought that was the safe spot. I started to suspect something, so I walked out to the desk and I said, ‘Just to confirm, this is the Basics class, right?’ And Elliott was like, ‘This is Astanga Second Series; it’s the most advanced class we offer. We’re going to do seven headstands.’ But he wasn’t telling me I couldn’t do it, so I did it.”
Empowered now, Deb applied for work study, and then she started coming to class even more frequently. After a couple of years she felt she was starting to plateau, so in 2019 Deb took O2’s 200-hour Teacher Training to deepen her practice. Not only did she bond with her fellow trainees, she decided to become an instructor. After teaching Karma classes for several months, Deb is now on the schedule for the Tuesday morning Basics class at 6:30 a.m. and the Friday morning Intermediate class at 7 a.m. In a way, though, she feels like she’s right back at the beginning.
“In martial arts, working up to black belt you’re like, ‘Oh, I know so much.’ And then you become a black belt and you’re warned this, you’re told this, that black belt is the beginning of the journey. Yoga mirrors that a little bit,” she explains. “Especially with teaching. One week you’ll go to class and be like, ‘Oh, they forgot to do that,’ and then the next week you’re like, ‘Oh my god, how do you do this? How do you remember everything?’ It’s a humbling experience and that’s where I feel I am right now. I’m a teacher but I don’t know that much.”
Perhaps she’s right where she’s supposed to be.
ABOUT O2 YOGA...
 O2 Yoga provides students a place to grow in their practice, to be challenged, to work towards goals, and to be part of a community. Our Astanga-inspired, athletic, vinyasa classes all build on a theme — every month, a specific focus inspires our teachers' unique sequences — which gives students the chance to learn more about a posture or major tenet of the practice. Every teacher at our studio has gone through Mimi’s 200-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training Program , so the O2 style shines through in every class. Can't get enough O2? Visit o2yoga.com for more information on the studio, and always feel free to email us with questions at info@o2yoga.com.
O2 Yoga Somerville
288 Highland Avenue
Porter/Davis Square