We are so grateful to Essential Zen Yoga Studio, for planning and hosting Restore & Reboot, a donation-based restorative workshop, sound healing and acupressure experience that raised nearly $500 for ZENworks Yoga! We talked to studio owner Kris Radzanowski about what makes Essential Zen unique, and what is the best mindfulness activity that you can do at home.
ZWY: Essential Zen seems to be much more than a yoga studio – you have equestrian yoga! Tell us about what makes Essential Zen different.
KR: EssentialZen IS more than just a yoga studio. We are told that walking through our door is like getting a hug. We strive to be a warm, open, and inclusive community where everyone feels welcome and can practice according to their own body and beliefs. Yes, we teach classes, but it’s more about a feeling that we hope our students gain from their time with us. The goal is a feeling of acceptance, confidence, and contentment with themselves and the world around them. We hope they leave their ‘class’ with a feeling of peaceful strength and they can share that peace with those who they interact with outside of our studio. We have a wide range of classes from restorative to mediation to strong vinyasa and many in between, but with the caliber of our experienced teachers there is always a therapeutic nature to listen to our own bodies and protect ourselves. Our teachers are some of the most experienced and educated in the area. We believe that we are here to offer and guide but not push or expect. It creates a feeling of trust and confidence that our students appreciate.
ZWY: What are some of your favorite workshops that you have done with Essential Zen?
KR: EssentialZen occasionally offers typical workshops, such as introduction to yoga, but our uniqueness lies in our guest teacher events and workshops outside the traditional yoga box. We are so grateful to have relationships with traveling teachers such as Dana Chaisson who offers seasonal eclipse events, as well as guided meditations that bring returning students in from near and far! Other gifted students share their passions by offering free community events such as book clubs and wellness talks based on their expertise. Personally, I have a passion for yoga and horses. Our family owns two horses who are boarded in a neighboring town. I offer ‘Yoga for the Horse and Rider’ events at Sand Hill Stables using their lesson horses and one of my own. We don’t do crazy poses on the horses. The workshop is more about using breathwork, bonding with the horses, and utilizing their large presence and strong energy to expand how we think. We work on balance and how this is challenged as we sit on a horse while they move under us. For the advanced equestrians in these workshops, we delve into transitions using breathwork, center of gravity, and mindset. I’ve offered these at other local venues as well and each event with the horses is slightly different depending on the audience.
ZWY: How did you come up with the idea for the ZENworks Yoga donation workshop?
KR: The idea for our ZENworks fundraiser started because of two amazing ladies who I wanted to collaborate with for some time now. They are experts in what they do and we thought we’d kick off our first joint event as something special and for a great cause. Carol Marchione, owner of Floating Lotus, is a certified sound therapist and Debbie Radvar, owner of Healthy Integration, has so many letters after her name I can’t keep track. Her work with matrix energetics and the like just blows me away. I knew it would be an amazing event that could be used to bring more awareness to the good that ZENworks is providing in Northeast Ohio.
ZWY: In your opinion, what is a mindfulness activity, or activity to promote zen that someone can/should do at home or in their everyday life?
KR: A mindfulness activity to promote a feeling of Zen that can simply be done at home every day is just finding a few moments to be still, to feel present, and savor the moment. Meditation can be scary to some and others think it means to try not to think. But that’s not true at all. Our brains think, that’s what God designed them to do! We can help our brains work better by reducing the distractions and overload. Instead of ‘not thinking’, a meditation is finding a single point of focus. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting, lying down, or even walking. Just pause, be still (in your mind), be present, savor that moment, and whatever is around you. Allow the single point of focus to be a feeling of gratitude, or the weight of your hands in your lap, or coolness of the air entering your nose with each breath. You get the idea, it’s simply letting go of the distractions. Easier said than done, I know. That’s why we call all of it ‘a practice.
Thank you so much, Kris and Essential Zen!
Is your studio interested in hosting a yoga fundraiser for us or becoming a studio partner? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.