Yoga Upstairs

Author Archives: Yoga Upstairs

April 6, 2018

The Animal & Higher Spirit Within

Yoga allows us to enjoy both the animal spirit and the higher spirit with-in.


Look at most animals on the planet. If they aren’t sleeping or eating, they are usually moving, and stretching. Hunting, gathering, migrating, playing, bathing—it’s all movement. Most of us in modern life spend the largest percentage of our waking hours sitting- often with posture that is detrimental to our bodies.

Yoga gives us a chance to stretch like cats as they transform from slumber to wakefulness, or like dogs as they stretch out their muscles before getting ready to wag their tales and plunge into their puppy ways.

Even the dolphin pose in yoga allows us to recall the fluidity of our marine cousins.

Standing on one leg and bending the other into a sideways V may be called the Tree Pose but when I get my balance right and spread my arms like wings, I feel like a grand bird that could fly at any moment.

Paleo-diets were a big rage in modern times, but we may want to take an evolutionary look at those nomadic ancestors for more than food. They didn’t need to schedule walk dates or pick-up games with their buddies to make sure their bodies moved. Even more recently in human evolution, what pioneers needed exercise pals or classes?

Humans are animals too and posing like cats, dogs and warriors can remind us of the value of flexibility and strength. 


Granted most animals had to keep moving or they would get eaten. If they sat around too much they would be prey, not predator. I am grateful we have evolved so that we can sit and pray (or chant) and be safe from predation.

We can pose in a place where we are safe to dream, float leave our sense of corporeal being or really connect to our bodies to help them. We can do all kinds of animal poses and poses with beautiful Sanskrit names, and then “die” for a bit, lying in safety in corpse pose….. to then resurrect ourselves with deeper stillness and more graceful movement in our daily lives. .

Whether we want to take a spiritual approach about connecting with the divine whole for peace, or the medical perspective of how yoga can release “feel good” chemicals that flow in us, yoga balances past and future with true presence.

Yoga can leave us feeling more peace-full and whole, instead of feeling like we are full of pieces and holes.

Yoga can help us move more like animals, and move our hearts and souls well so we can be well ---- and be the highest beings we can be.

Lisa Sonne

February 15, 2018

Magic Bag Yoga

We could all use a magic bag sometimes to pull out solutions and pleasures.

yoga isn't magic

Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag? Would you like to have a Felix the Cat’s “bag of tricks”? (Read on for video links, whether you want to nostalgically re-visit two classics or you want to be introduced to and entertained by some 20th century cultural icons.)

For me, doing yoga with a group of people I like can be a bit like a magic bag I can reach into and pull out something I need! More clarity? More flexibility? More strength?

Walk past the piano and go upstairs at Suite K on 5308 Derry Avenue in Agoura Hills, and there is a small peaceful studio with a view of oak branches reaching out, a room often filled with yoga mats and smiles. 

To get a better idea of why yoga there can be a bit like a magic bag, take a couple of minutes to enjoy seeing what Mary Poppins pulls out of her bag in the classic movie. 

In this charming scene, Mary Poppins pulls out of her carpet bag a hat stand, a particular mirror, a plant, and a big lamp — all lovely metaphors for a nanny about to help some irascible children learn about themselves. She adds insights like, “Never judge things by their appearance (even carpet bags),” and “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” And “a little more light please.” Good yoga aphorisms, too!

She next pulls out a tape measure, but like yoga, it doesn’t care about measuring size or describing things in numbers. This tape is about “taking measure” of one’s character as it is at the moment, with kind intentions to improve.

Felix the Cat, with his Magic Bag of Tricks, was able to reach in and turn his bag into anything he needed – a submarine, a can-opener, or escalator – “to save the day.” In absurd escapades, he triumphed over caricature evil. Felix, with his bag, is credited with being (possibly) the first animated character to be known worldwide.

Yoga is not always quite so instantly transformative, but like Felix asking his bag to change, you can “set your intention” at the beginning of a class. Do you want to de-stress? Strengthen your muscles? Gain flexibility? Have an insight? Find beauty? Grow character? Connect to the infinite?

These things are hardly all on the same shelf at any store, but they might be available on your yoga floor.

I may not leave the studio every time feeling like I have an instant lamp or an escalator to the exact place I want to go, but like Mary Poppins or Felix the Cat reaching into their bags, after I reach inside- things are better than they were before. 

And that is worth blogging about !
-Lisa Sonne, a member of the Yoga Upstairs community

January 2, 2018

How Yoga Will Make Your Best Year

Are you looking for ways to make your everyday life better? Incorporating yoga into your routine is a great way to do so. Yoga offers many benefits to individuals of all ages and lifestyles. Today, we'll share with you five ways in which regular yoga practice can make your life better:

1. Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Having anxiety is quite common, but you can take steps to lessen the anxiety that you feel. You can even fight anxiety naturally, and yoga is one exercise that can help you do just that. Mayo Clinic suggests that yoga can reduce stress and anxiety, and even help those with chronic anxiety or depression. Taking part in yoga can allow you to live a more comfortable and happy life.

2. Increase Muscle Strength and Tone

Are you looking to make positive physical changes to your body? Yoga does a lot more than increase flexibility. With repeated practice, you can improve muscle strength and tone throughout your body. This can make you stronger, but can also make you look better, too!

3. Improve Your Sleep

If you're struggling to fall asleep or feel you don't get enough sleep, you may be looking for a natural solution. Once you get into a regular yoga routine, your sleep can improve greatly. The National Yoga Foundation notes that yoga can help you fall asleep faster, sleep for longer time periods and even fall asleep more quickly after waking up in the middle of the night.

4. Improve Your Heart Health

Yoga can also benefit your heart, as your blood pressure and heart rate can be lowered with regular practice. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that yoga can help to prevent or manage heart disease. If you have a history of heart disease, it may be worth talking to a doctor about incorporating yoga into your routine.

5. Improve Self-Esteem

If you're particularly hard on yourself, your negative self-thinking can carry through different parts of your life. Making changes that allow you to treat yourself well can give you a better look at life and allow you to feel more at ease. Yoga Journal suggests that yoga practice can allow you to have less judgment about your body.

Ready to start a Yoga Program?  We offer an awesome special of 30 Days of Yoga for $45! Join Us Today and Make Your 2018 Amazing!

February 22, 2016

Yoga Upstairs Retreat: Moving into Spring

mountspaSpring brings longer days, light and a new energy. You’re invited to flow with nature through a weekend of seasonal transition and inspired transformation.

Please join Cara and Stephanie as we move into Spring with a 3-day retreat in the serene Desert Hot Springs, March 31st – April 3rd, 2016.

Nestled against the magnificent San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains of California, we’ll step back from our daily routines and into the Nurturing Nest— a Zen-inspired, tranquil hideaway to relax, reflect and recharge. The Nest mineral retreat is just minutes away from Palm Springs, Morongo Bird Sanctuary and Joshua Tree National Park.

Strengthen and rejuvenate body and mind with an immersion filled with mindful breathing, meditation, and asana– then steep your soul in healing mineral waters to seal in your practice each day.

The Moving into Spring yoga retreat package includes:

  • Three night accommodation at the Nurturing Nest
  • Six all-level intimate yoga classes
  • Six nourishing vegetarian meals
  • Hot springs mineral soak at your leisure


Dig deep in the garden of your soul, and grow into Spring refreshed and delighted with us at Yoga Upstairs.

For more information, pricing, and to register for this event, please click here.

With gracious love and light,

The Yoga Upstairs Family


January 5, 2016

Yoga Upstairs Open House!


Yoga Upstairs requests the pleasure of your company for our 2016 Open House to kick start your New Year!

Enjoy the FREE juicy offerings every day this week through Sunday, January 10th.

Ever talk yourself out of yoga because you’re new to the practice, or don’t have a yoga mat?

We’ve got your covered. Not only are the classes free, we provide all the yoga props you could possibly need for an enjoyable experience in our studio–blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps, mats, and even a rope wall are free to use compliments of Yoga Upstairs.

You can check our class schedule for a style your most interested in, introduce yourself to the owners and teachers, ask any questions, and let us help you find the best classes for your needs.

Revitalize your body and spirit at our dynamic, fun-filled, Open House. Tap into your intuition, release old energy, and move into creativity and awareness. Registration is required, as these free classes fill up quick in our cozy yoga space.

What’s best is, if you’re new to the studio and want to keep your yoga mojo going after our Open House is over, we offer a new student special; $45 unlimited membership for your first month!

C’mon over, and get to know Agoura Hills’ friendly little yoga studio. We promise you’ll feel a bit more healthy, a lot more happy, and breathe more easy into 2016. We hope to see your on your mat!

With great gratitude,

The Yoga Upstairs Family

December 5, 2015

Yoga Upstairs Holiday Potluck Gathering!

Please be our guest to celebrate the holidays

Saturday, December 12, 2015

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Join fellow students, teachers, and the YU family at our studio between 4-6pm for an afternoon of joy, laughter, yummy yogi food, and good cheer.

Your friends and loved ones are more than welcome!

Please bring your community spirit, and a vegetarian dish to share. Due to allergic and dietary sensitivities, please also bring a card or piece of paper listing ingredients used in your dish, it’d be much appreciated.

Also, please feel free to bring games, activities, and/or talent for everyone to enjoy.

Our very own lovely founder, Cara Sorkin will also be offering a Rope Wall Workshop before the party begins between 2-4pm.

This workshop is a free gift to YU members, and $35 for non-member guests. Come hang with us! Register here now, as wall space is limited in our cozy little yoga studio.

Not only is this special event to honor you, our precious community, but also Mr. B.K.S Iyengar’s birthday!


image courtesy of

Move with reverence while you use your whole being to celebrate his unique tradition of yoga. For more details, and to register your spot in the workshop, please click here.

Namasté dear one. Looking forward to seeing you and your loved ones for festive fun!

With joyous love,

The Yoga Upstairs Family

November 16, 2015

Thanks for Giving: Feed Those in Need with Yoga


The holiday season is here! Next week, you’ll be busy preparing for one of our nation’s favorite celebrations: Thanksgiving.

We’ll soon come together to share cherished time and a more than plentiful meal with our loved ones– all in the spirit of giving, abundance, and connection.

But what about those who don’t have this kind of holiday luxury? Those who can’t see their families, much less share a special meal with them?

At Yoga Upstairs, we’re blessed to be able to share the over abundance of this holiday with those in need in a super simple way– and you can help. With every Facebook check-in at Yoga Upstairs during this month, you’ll provide a meal for a child refugee through our studio partnership with Sweat Angels.

Just by coming to your yoga classes, and checking in at Yoga Upstairs, you become a Sweat Angel– it’s that easy for you to make an instant positive difference in the world. Through November, Sweat Angels is giving to the The Hunger Site.

sweat angels nov

*Note: If you haven’t noticed it in our studio, there’s a small video kiosk letting you know which cause YU + Sweat Angels are contributing towards through your check-ins.

All month, your check-ins help bring food to the tables of displaced Burmese refugee children. These children live in boarding houses due to an ongoing civil war in the region. Parents send their kids to distant boarding schools in rural provinces of Thailand “in [an] effort to further their education and avoid the risks of unsafe child labor.”

Read more about how The Hunger Site helps to Protect & Feed Burma’s Schoolchildren, and their partnership with Sweat Angels.

Thank you for everything you do, for giving, for the difference you make to your loved ones, and the people around the world who need your help.

With supreme gratitude and love,

The Yoga Upstairs Family

October 26, 2015

Reflect, Uproot, and Reap the Harvest of Your Yoga

Fall is upon us, and with it comes a natural period to embark on your own inward journey through the season. Autumn also gifts us primed time to reflect and fully express gratitude for the all blessings brought through the year. Read more about our upcoming Ojai Gratitude Retreat; a three day immersion on how to truly receive with grace.


Through uprooting and processing energy that has come to full fruition during the warmer months, we are not only nourished by what we harvest, but cleared of that which we no longer need.

Increasing nightfall brings an opportunity for us to embrace and observe the deeper, darker elements within ourselves. By taking internal stock of mind, body, and soul, we line ourselves up with the Earth’s natural contracting cycle.

Here are a few tips on how to align with the Autumn season through your yoga practice:

  • Balance and cleanse with pranayama (breathing exercises) that clear the lungs of stored emotions such as stress, sadness, or grief. As we shift into a slower season, use breath meditation to consciously slow down and center yourself.
  • Autumn is governed by the element of metal, which dominates our digestive and respiratory systems. Twisting yoga postures will aid in regulating the digestive organs, and help eliminate built-up waste from the body.
  • Stronger blowing winds can cause increased restlessness, or feelings of being ungrounded. Notice the growing air within your own system. As it activates, it can cause dryness of skin and stiffness in joints. Nourish yourself by staying hydrated, and using moisturizing oils to keep your body and skin feeling supple. A stabilizing practice, such as restorative yoga with longer time in savasana can also help to counter these energies.

All our efforts we put forth through the vibrant sunny seasons can be savored before the dissipating daylight shifts us into darkness. Autumn is a time of transformation. Use your practice to feel grounded, abundant, clear, and balanced.

With so much love,

The Yoga Upstairs Family

October 7, 2015

Receiving with Grace: Yoga Upstairs Gratitude Retreat


“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” -Meister Eckharte

Autumn marks the time to be thankful for the blessings and bounty brought by each passing year. And it’s with great pleasure we offer you an opportunity to fully express just that during our Gratitude Retreat on October 30th – November 1st.

Guided by our beloved founding teachers Cara and Sri Hari, you’ll spend three days and  two nights immersed in full appreciation for life’s infinite gifts. Set upon the breathtaking grounds of Private Ojai Estate, you’ll explore your own genuine sense of thankfulness through deep gratitude meditation every morning, and renewing yoga asana practice twice a day.


In the sweet silence of guided meditation, you’ll have time to truly pause, reflect, and dive deep into your inner pool of peace. Through a series of yoga sessions, you’ll feel revived and blessed for your ability to simply breathe and move mindfully. Cara and Sri Hari will offer attentive individual instruction, while also creating a close-knit community with those on retreat.

Are you a yogi-friendly foodie? We definitely are, and are excited to savor six fresh, sustainably-sourced meals that will be provided over the weekend, lovingly prepared by local food maestro Chef Caspar Poyck (aka The Inquisitive Chef).


Chef Caspar will not only present delectable, healthy offerings influenced by his vast world travels, he brings a unique approach to food as a certified Digestive Therapist, and CHt who focuses on psycho-somatic healing. His culinary work is dedicated to furthering research on “correlations between emotional dispositions, diet choices, digestive issues, [and] auto-immune problems.”  (

Private Ojai Estate features a spectacular salt water hot soak spa, replete with cold plunge pool, wading areas, and cool deck. With plenty of personal time, feel freely connected to nature throughout the indoor-outdoor living spaces on-site, or hiking on a nearby hillside trail. The lovely town center of Ojai is also easily accessible for your enjoyment.



This is your chance to reap the harvest of receiving with grace. Please join us, and experience the lifelong gift of an attitude of gratitude. Namasté.

For more information, pricing, and to register for this event, please click here.

With gracious love and light,

The Yoga Upstairs Family


September 8, 2015

Restore & Relax with Yoga Nidra at Yoga Upstairs


Imagine experiencing a journey to the most profound level of relaxation possible.

On September 20th we’re thrilled to welcome guest teacher Maggie Mellor to guide you through the experience of Yoga nidra, an extraordinary path to deepest parts of the true self.

You might wonder…

What is Yoga Nidra?

It’s a lesser known practice referred to as “Yogic sleep”. It’s an ancient method used by swamis and yogis for centuries as way to explore the deepest state of sleep, but consciously.

A yoga nidra practice typically entails a series of “subtle exercises”, or exercises without movement that will prepare you for a journey through the upper chakras and body system.

the-chakras LG

Through this technique you’ll systematically navigate your own whole being. On a physical level you’ll discover the condition of your musculature, joint system, and nervous system–all while lying down very comfortably. On a subtle level, you’re given an opportunity to dive deeply into your true emotional and mental state without reaction or judgement.

“Yoga Nidra is the wisdom that rests within the shadow of all other forms of yoga” -Imran

Practitioners often report feelings of interconnectedness with the Universe while in this lucid state between waking and unconscious sleep.

Through a yoga nidra practice it’s possible to heal from:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Bodily tension and chronic aches
  • Recurring pain from injury
  • Psychological wounds or trauma

Benefits of yoga nidra can include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Improved regular sleep
  • Overall increased sense of joy, peace, and well-being

The beauty of this profound practice is that it’s available to anyone. No prior experience with yoga or meditation are required to enjoy yoga nidra. All props are provided at Yoga Upstairs during this workshop. Comfortable, loose-fitting, breathable clothing is recommended.

Teacher Maggie Mellor is “recognized as an E-RYT500 yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She has been practicing yoga for 45 years and teaching yoga since 1992… She has studied extensively with Eric Shiffman, Shiva Rae, Gary Kraftsow, and Rod Stryker. She also holds degrees in Psychology and Education and has spent 30 years gathering information on healthy conscious living.” (

We hope you’ll join us on this magical journey to awakening your authentic, peaceful, infinite soul. Namasté.

Energetic exchange for this event is $35.

To register for this event, please click here.

With loving gratitude,

The Yoga Upstairs Family