The People of Eastside Yoga – Barbara Chiles


Barbara joins the 400 Club at ESY

THIS IS OUR FIRST OF MORE TO COME:  stories and thoughts from the people who make Eastside Yoga a living, breathing community, where people of all types are free to practice the tradition of yoga …

My first class at Eastside Yoga was July 4, 2012.   It was gentle yoga, and as it turned out I was the only student and Steven was the teacher.  I tried to convince Steven to cancel the class, since I was the only student, an introvert and didn’t know much about yoga.  He insisted we stay and proceeded to coach me through my only private yoga class.  It’s a good thing we stayed because much to my surprise 17 months later I had achieved 400 classes and was added to the “400 Club” board.

‘I tried to convince Steven to cancel the class, since I was the only student, an introvert and didn’t know much about yoga.’

Eastside Yoga has been like my second home at times.  As life brought stress, the teachers at Eastside helped me breathe through it.  Two years into yoga my chiropractor commented I was energetically a different person.  I attribute a lot of that difference to my work with yoga.  I love the variety of classes.  If I feel like being pushed, a vinyasa class is on the schedule.  If I need to reflect and stretch, Yin is on the schedule.  If I have an injury, Gentle Hatha is the right class.  The teachers fold experience, kindness and compassion into each class.  I love and appreciate each one of the teachers at Eastside Yoga.

I recently convinced a friend who was starting yoga to help with work stress (we are both school teachers) at the yoga studio closest to her house — to come try ESY.  She quickly experienced the community of Eastside Yoga.  She will be to 400 classes before she knows it!

I appreciate ESY’s support of yoga in local schools.  Nine years ago yoga would not have been considered in Austin schools.  Now, it’s becoming an option to consider.  That’s progress!

It has been inspiring watching Steven and Elsa create their dream, a spiritual community where people and come together for support.   Thank you Elsa and Steven.  I’m grateful to have Eastside Yoga in my life.

Barbara Chiles

ESY Member

‘Nine years ago yoga would not have been considered in Austin schools.  Now, it’s becoming an option to consider.  That’s progress!’

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Supporting Yoga and Mindfulness in Austin’s schools

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Dalai Lama

Did you know that Austin Independent School district is about to launch its first ever dedicated mindfulness and Yoga room at Rodriguez Elementary in south-east Austin?   The teachers and parents gained permission to convert a once dilapidated room and transform it into a haven of peace and calm for their students.

The vision for this space came from Samantha Mallard of AISD, her and her team reached out to Eastside Yoga for help and in doing so really touched our hearts and inspired us to create a service project to get the mindfulness room up and running. With several staff donating items and some late night sowing we delivered props and yoga supplies today. It was so uplifting to witness their vision coming to life.

Teacher Jackie Howard told us “Instead of sending children to the office for “punishment” we will have children use the Mindfulness classroom to practice calming techniques instead.  It will also be used to teach mindfulness tools and be a space for classes or children to use if they need a break.  ”

Delivering yoga supplies to Rodriguez mindfulness room

Delivering yoga supplies to Rodriguez mindfulness room

Today’s experience at Rodriguez elementary really inspired and moved us as to the potential of grassroots community involvement to share mindfulness and yoga to the next generation.  As a yoga center we can do our small part to affect positive change in the well-being, behavior and coping mechanisms of these kids while coming together as a yoga community.

Articles are now appearing on the internet of schools introducing quiet time, here is one of a school that replaced detention with meditation

The enthusiastic school teachers shared with us how AISD has progressively embraced mindfulness in schools to the point where they have a mindfulness guru on staff!  With a growing number of teachers getting trained as facilitators they hope other schools will eventually have their own dedicated mindfulness room.  We certainly hope that will happen and are reaching out to AISD to facilitate more of these service projects.

If you are involved with an Austin school that might be open to creating a mindfulness room or want to help us create more of these type of service projects please reach out to us.

Happy Holidays

Steven, Elsa and the ESY crew.

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Living in Harmony these days

With the US Presidential election upon us our society had been deeply agitated, it has divided people and caused stress and unease in many otherwise calm people.  Personally I have been deeply affected by this election, my first as a US citizen, I have been searching for a way forward both as a citizen and a yogi.

Living in Harmony may seem utopian for a modern diverse society such as the United States, however the great teachers of the East have stated over and over again that humanity’s destiny is to realize this lofty vision,  eventually.  For this to transpire we need personal commitment and courageous leadership.

What is missing in today’s society is effectively a spiritual revolution and a sense of underlying unity in our diversity.  That may sound pie in the sky to some but Yoga philosophy provides a framework for us to move in that direction.   So what on earth can we do to move things in the right direction.

Understanding Dharma – living in harmony through right action.

For every soul that evolves dharmically is akin to a vote placed for a more evolved society, one bound by principles of harmony and sustainability.

As developing yogis and spiritual seekers each one of us has a personal duty to fulfill our dharma, that is to live harmoniously with others, with nature and with the Divine.  Our personal duty is to uplift our consciousness and purify our selves and in doing so this uplifts the collective consciousness, locally, nationally and globally.  It is said there is a tipping point where enough individuals affect the collective to transform itself.

Support each other and find sanctuary in your local community, this can be healthy friendships that transcend politics and form small meditation groups with people you connect with.  In the yoga tradition we call this satsang, a gathering of those committed to truth.   In this way your collective energy acts like a shield to negativity and enhances your inner experiences.

For us at Eastside Yoga it is our hope that our space becomes a sanctuary as well as a practice studio.  There is more to yoga than personal practice, there is fellowship love and support each step of the way.

Being a yogi and a seeker does not mean you turn your back on the world, quite the opposite many Yoga Masters have been outspoken about social change, we can stand up passionately for what we believe in yet have dispassion not to be so attached to our opinions and projection of those opinions onto others.  There are five guiding principles for Yogis that fit well into election season.

The Yamas, restrain negative behavior.

  1. Non-Harming – in thought, word and action. State your opinion without insult
  2. Truthfulness – Search for the truth underlying political differences, we must re-cognize our actions and remove bias.
  3. Non-coveting – avoid trying to coerce others, the more you force, the more they resist.
  4. Non-attachment – see others point of view, they have their reasons.
  5. Resist selfish tendencies – consider things impersonally

Lastly, meditate on unity and celebrate diversity. 🙂

Many wise teachers have stated we go round and round in circles trying to force things intellectually and politically but that will not transform society.  A spiritual revolution is needed, yoga gives us the tools for that to transpire one person at a time.

Thanks for reading, know I have my work to do on all of this , we have an uphill battle but one we have to undertake.

This Friday evening ESY holds its first Community practice and Potluck, a chance to have healthy food and healthy conversation with others.






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Embarking on the Spiritual Path

What does it mean to be spiritual? What is the spiritual path and where does it lead? What is the end goal of all spiritual striving?

These profound questions have fundamental importance for all human beings yet only a few committed souls dedicate their lives  and take the spiritual path to its final conclusion. The spiritual quest is an arduous one and the chances of success astronomical. According to the Yogic tradition we all must walk the spiritual path at some point, for this is our soul’s sole purpose to finally know who we are and why we exist in the first place. In essence the spiritual path is our soul’s long journey home and Yoga is the vehicle that we can take to hasten the journey.

According to the Yoga tradition, the destination of the spiritual path culminates in high states of consciousness where we realize our true Self. This is not an intellectual quest or merely poetic literature, its literal and achievable for all of us.  In this state of consciousness we know who we, are where we came from and the totality of our existence. It is a supremely  blissful state where we are no longer confined to our little body and conditioned personality, we realize our infinite Being as one with the Cosmos.  The ancient Sages state that our essence is part of the Divine and true realization is liberating beyond belief.  From realizing our own Self identity then we realize the end goal of all spiritual striving which is complete oneness with God as infinite consciousness.

With these lofty goals in mind a daunting and monumental task lies ahead of us, thankfully the saving grace according to Yoga is that within our physical body lies a spiritual subtle body that has an anatomy of its very own. An anatomy that once accessed leads us systematically to our spiritual freedom and limitless bliss acquired through the art and science of Yoga (to unite or absorb in that consciousness).  Take a moment to ponder this breathtaking news……… you have a subtle anatomy that is hardwired for your enlightenment and it lies inside your body. You have within you a literal spiritual pathway that can be accessed through Yoga techniques and it resides in your spine! This pathway leads you from separateness and suffering towards infinite awareness  of peace, love, wisdom and joy. If you choose to take the spiritual path and do the incredibly important work then Yoga gives us a road-map that is universal and non-dogmatic.

The spiritual pathway lies within the physical body in the spinal area, its a subtle energetic channel akin to a hollow tube that runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head called the sushumna in Sanksrit. This channel exists in all human beings however lies completely dormant unless spiritually activated through Yogic and devotional means. Suffice to say that within this dormant channel there are a number of subtle blockages preventing soul evolution such as sensory outgoings, past habits and karmas from prior incarnations.  These blockages are referred to as energetic knots, bundles of karmic energy that literally block our progress.

Cosmic energy (prana) enters our being at the back of the head at the point of the medulla oblongata that travels downwards to the base of the spine, out through the nervous system and is expended through the five senses, this natural process goes on continuously until we have to recharge either through sleep, food, breath or exercise.

Take a moment to imagine a flowing river then visualize an eddie or whirlpool within that river, see how it takes the water flow and holds all of that water in place preventing the flow going down stream.  Each of these vortices represents one karma blocking the flow of spiritual energy within you.  There may be thousands and thousands of karmas held by the average person maybe millions by some troubled souls!

Don’t despair just yet, the esoteric purpose of Yogic teachings is the re-channel blocked energy with technique and awareness wash away the vortices (vrittis) of past habits and karmas freeing a river of Divine grace to flow freely in the subtle spine and uplifting us to new heights.  Yes, you read correctly, this all happens inside of your body, we are purposely built as living temples to realize our higher Self and Divine consciousness. How amazing and exciting is that?!

The entire process of Yoga is redirecting the downward flow of energy and withdrawing it inwards then back up the spinal channel to the brain where it unites with pure consciousness.  Every upward flow of energy leads us to greater and greater upliftment of consciousness until we feel these ecstatic states.

To achieve these ideals we must combine Yoga techniques and purification of the heart’s feeling through devotion or unconditional love. This is the magic formula for Yogic success the question is will you make the supreme effort in this life to walk the spiritual path?






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Interview with Steven for Texas homes for sale

Quiet the Stress and Find Your Center at Austin’s Eastside Yoga

By Elisha Neubauer

Finding time to unwind is vital to one’s health- both mentally and physically. Studies upon studies show that taking time out of one’s day to meditate, exercise, or practice one of the many forms of yoga can help alleviate tensions and prevent illness. So how does one relax in the bustling cultural center that is Austin, Texas?

Enter Eastside Yoga.

Started in 2009 by husband and wife team Steven and Elsa Ross, Eastside Yoga came to life over a simple conversation outside of the Central Market. Before long, Ross had scribble out a logo and vision statement and allowed the practice to take flight. Before long, Ross had left his corporate job to teach yoga full time, putting all of his time and faith into the business. The couple even sold their house, uprooting and moving into an apartment closer to the neighborhood that Eastside called home.

“Yoga is an integral practice aimed at finding health and harmony in all aspects of life ultimately leading us to our inner self, a greater unity with life, with nature, other people and to the Divine,” explains Steven Ross, co-founder of Eastside Yoga. Ross refers to the art of yoga as a work-in, not a work-out. “The movements release tension/stress, make the body fit without creating more strain,” he details. “More importantly, our self-awareness turns inwards.”He goes on, telling us how physical health impacts the mind and the emotions, leaving you feeling energized and calm after a session.

According to Steven, meditation is the most important part of practicing yoga. “These days, science is studying meditation and the neurological results are literally electrifying for the brain,” he exclaims. “We now know that 20 minutes of meditation daily will rewire the neural pathways of our brain, awaking centers of peace, happiness and feeling connected to others in just a month.” One of the greatest side effects of practicing yoga, he tells us, is that it helps the participant to cope with stress in a new and enlightening way.

“We estimate 75% of people coming to Eastside are here primarily to cope with stress,” Ross states. Considering how stressful our modern society has become, I don’t feel surprised by this statistic at all. “Our reactive behaviors such as anger, frustration, fear, et cetera literally quiet and the brain changes structurally.” He chuckles, adding, “It’s truly amazing and so easy to learn! You just have to make the effort.”

Eastside offers many classes that cover a variety of yoga forms, including Hatha, Gayatri Chanting, Gentle Hatha, Gentle Yin, Mantra Chanting, and more. There is literally something for everyone. The center even caters to mothers- offering everything from Prenatal and Postnatal (Mom & Baby) yoga and Crawlers and Toddlers. Sunrise classes are available and cover both Flow and Raja forms.

“Yoga is all about awareness and the healthy feeling cultivated in class,” says Ross. “Eastside is one of the few yoga centers that offers classes that can support students in all aspects for their lives. Our center is truly a sanctuary for our community.”

– See more at:

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Teacher Interview with Jenn Coats

0de1dc8Jenn is a certified E-RYT yoga instructor with over 3000 hours of teaching experience.
Jenn began her yoga practice in 2002 as a way to physically heal her body from multiple injuries. It was during this time she noticed the positive effects yoga had on her mind and emotional wellbeing. Her experience with the profound healing quality of yoga inspired her to become a teacher and share yoga with others.

While Jenn has studied various forms of yoga, her heart and passion lies with the vinyasa tradition in which the breath, body and mind can meld in moving meditation. Jenn’s classes are mindful, slow flow, alignment based, uniquely sequenced, playfully challenging, and specifically tailored to the needs of her students. She encourages her students to explore their possibilities while offering a welcoming environment.

Jenn teaches Sunrise Flow every Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 – 7:45 am. Be sure to drop in one of her classes!

1) Where did you complete your training?

I completed my 200-hour training through YogaWorks’ residential intensive in Bali where I was the teaching assistance.

2) Describe your first experience with yoga.

I remember my first yoga experience vividly. It was one day long ago when my ballet instructor looked at me after class, and with a certain wisdom in her eyes said, “You should come to my yoga class.” I had great respect for this woman, so I did. Looking back, my first yoga class was nothing like the vigorous vinyasa classes we see so abundantly today. It was meditative and calm, but also challenging. I could not get remotely close to full Gomukhasana (I was astounded this was humanly possible) and balancing in Tree Pose was a real struggle. I can’t say I was sold with the whole yoga experience right away, but I could not get over how I felt after class walking back to my car. I was taller, lighter, centered, and at ease. At a time in my life when I was chronically stressed and angry, the calming affects of that first class brought me back, and back again.

3) How would you describe vinyasa yoga to someone who has never taken a class before?

Breath with movement. Meaning the breath comes first, movement secondary. When this happens, breath and body meld in a moving meditation.

4) What is your favorite pose and why?

My favorite pose has shifted over the years. First it was pigeon, then for a long time it I couldn’t get enough of wild thing. At the moment I’m really digging Fish Pose. It’s a great heart opener and a perfect posture this time of year to help keep ailments at bay!

5) What do you like to do when you are not teaching yoga?

I believe in balance. For me, that means learning and growing in multiple ways and enjoying the fullness that life has to offer (as cliche as that may sound). In addition to practicing yoga, I take cello lessons, practice archery, and recently started dancing again. I’m also a foodie and lover of wine (last year I received my level one Sommelier certification), so you can probably catch me around Austin checking out the latest culinary hot spots.

6) What do you like the most about Eastside Yoga?

I love the vibe of Eastside Yoga. It is unlike any other in Austin. ESY is real, authentic, and offers pure yoga without the unnecessary bells and whistles. Because of this, I often leave ESY inspired – by both students and staff – to be a better person.

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Teacher Interview with Karlie Lemos

Please welcome Karlie Lemos to the EastSide Yoga Community! Karlie first discovered her yoga practice in 1998 and completed her 200 hour Hatha teacher training in 2005. Karlie went on to complete her 500 hour certification at the San Marcos School of Yoga, under the guidance of Christina Sell. Karlie focuses heavily on alignment and form and her classes are strong and challenging as well as balanced and well rounded. She is inspired by the deep well of yoga philosophy teachings and threads these perspectives into her asana classes. Expect to have fun, work hard and learn something new about yourself or the practice!

Karlie teaches Hatha Flow every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 – 5:45 pm. Be sure to check out her class!

1) Describe your first experience with yoga. 

My first experience with yoga was in 1998 at a YMCA. There was only 1 yoga class on the schedule and I wasn’t certain what yoga was but I was curious. I had a lot of anxiety and some un-diagnosed emotional trauma at that time of my life so sitting still was not my thing! I took the class and enjoyed the movement but the end of class was what really hooked me. There I was sitting in stillness and not eager to jump out of my skin  but on the contrary calm, composed and relaxed. This experience was entirely new to me and I left the class intrigued to know more about this yoga stuff!

2) What is your favorite pose and why? 

Though my favorite pose can sometimes be fluid depending on where I’m at in my practice and what my body needs I usually refer to malasana (the yogi squat) as my favorite asana. I’m an earthy girl so I love being that close to the ground while simultaneously feeling rooted into it through my feet and grounded and stable.

3) Your biography states that you are deeply inspired by yogic philosophy and often incorporate these teachings into your classes. What book do you find yourself returning to frequently? 

Patanjali’s yoga sutras are so deep and so rich I’m always circling back around to them and integrating new insights and memorizing tidbits to share in my classes. I feel one could easily spend a lifetime with that 1 book alone.

One question I’m always asking myself is “How can I live alongside my soul in my daily life?” I’m consistently  working with ways to integrate and not compartmentalize my spiritual practices. Two books I recommend for these kinds of reflections which are more practical (the latter of which offers mediation inquiries) are “Bringing Yoga to Life” by Donna Farhi and “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield.

4) What do you like to do when you are not teaching yoga?

When I’m not teaching or practicing yoga I like to read and journal. I like being outdoors: walking, cycling, or swimming. I like movies and am passionate about music; I don’t play much but I love live music. I like to cook when I have the energy for it and I play and perform in improvised theater (a.k.a. “improv comedy”). I also love to travel when I”m able.

5) What do you like the most about Eastside Yoga?

I’m still relatively new to ESY but what strikes me is the warm feeling of the energy and community. It feels small in a large sized city. I love that Steven is so involved and present. I look forward to getting to know students better but my first impression of students at ESY is that they’re receptive and not interested in practicing from a place of ego. This is lovely!
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