By Bethany Lyons
Right now, at this very moment – each and every one of us has the opportunity to positively affect our current state of being, affairs, and the lives of the people around us. I do. You do. We all do. Right now: Look across the subway platform and smile at a perfect stranger; call that friend you’ve been meaning to for two, three…oh wait, eight months; give real, actionable feedback to an employee that will support their growth and leadership; take a step back and take a deep breath before reacting to a situation, show kindness to your partner in a moment of disagreement, bring more presence to your breath and focus into a yoga pose and let your fullest expression beam out through your physical form; and my list of examples of this is endless. My most positive moment arrived when I decided to open my own yoga community, Lyons Den Power Yoga, and pass this message on every day.
Let me digress for a moment and say: I have always been a positive person. And let me clarify what that means by saying what it does not mean and what it does. It does not mean I am happy and joyful 100% of the time. It does not mean I am an annoying positivity cheerleader who does not allow a single gloomy thought to enter my space or anyone else’s. It does not mean I pretend bad things aren’t happening and play ostrich. It also does not mean that I have my head in the clouds and I am living in a dreamland where rainbows and marshmallow puffs dwell in Positivity Land. What it does mean is that I see and seek out the good in people, places, scenarios, and situations as much as possible. It means that I dwell in possibility. It means that while I have two feet firmly planted in rational reality, I also do not see the point in sitting in and manifesting all the negative shit that goes on like it’s all there is. It means I take action and that I am okay with ruffling feathers a bit for something I believe in. It means I am okay if you don’t like me. It means I am okay if you don’t agree with or like my decisions. It means I barely register the words “No” and “You can’t do that” — words and phrases like these are water off a duck’s back in my world, because — actually —Yes. And I can. Now watch me.
I think a lot of my outlook comes from my upbringing and having two really extraordinary parents, and I also think it was a conscious choice I made, as thinking and acting for the good has always made me feel – well – good! Each and every situation and moment of our lives is actionable in one way or another – in other words, I, you, we have a choice.
For about ten years I was a classically trained dancer turned fitness professional in NYC, who worked on both the class side (leading group classes) and on the business side (running fitness clubs and hiring & mentoring new instructors). The job that I had put together piece-by-piece was fairly perfect for me, and fell in alignment with what I wanted to put out into the world. I worked mainly for two really great companies with great people — in addition to many other professional opportunities, like creating and shooting fitness DVDs and being a Master Trainer for Hard Candy Fitness (Madonna’s international gym chain). And then I outgrew my main role and needed more. I wanted to reach as many New Yorkers — as many human beings — as possible to change the culture of yoga in NYC as something that is truly for everyone and a place where students didn’t need to fit a certain mold. I teach Baptiste Yoga – which uses physicalness, possibility, and empowerment as source principles. I fully see and have experienced yoga practice as a source for empowerment on and off the mat, and I wanted and still want to share that with EVERYONE. It’s real, it’s accessible, and it works!
So, I had the option of staying where I was and staying “safe,” or leaping — because everyone knows starting a yoga studio (how many of those are already in NYC!?) in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country (TriBeCa) and thinking I could make it work, grow, and become profitable in a year (which is what needed to happen to survive) is completely ludicrous. The negative voices were high in volume. But reference the above paragraphs and you’ll see — well, I just don’t listen to those. And so began the process of manifesting Lyons Den Power Yoga, and being courageous in actions. (Not just a tagline!)
I honestly cannot imagine still doing the same thing I was just over a year ago. It was great at that time, don’t get me wrong, and I am filled with gratitude for my experiences — but it would be hoarding the gifts I have to give and share to stay in a safe realm. I would be a light source on a dimmer switch, and I don’t want or choose to live that way.
Empowerment to me is to support and to elevate. To empower myself I have to be willing to come from nothing or wherever I am, and give it up to go somewhere new. I empowered myself to get my ass in gear, and as an effect empowered thousands of people in my decision to open Lyons Den Power Yoga with my husband, John. (Read more of John’s story here.) Businesses have been born, new relationships have formed, and bold life-altering decisions have been made by many of our teachers, students, and staff members, because they stepped into The Den. Something happened that would not have otherwise happened. I find that mind-boggling. The gratitude I have for the way that people show up for each other and for the studio is immeasurable. The gratitude I have for John in supporting — in action — my dreams is also off-the-charts. I am in a constant state of awe and wonder — kind of like a kid — that this is happening, and that I get to live this life and do what I do for a living.
At Lyons Den, our community gets that we are not just interested in them having the best Crow Pose. What we are most interested in is having them move forward — take risks, be messy, be bold, try on new things, connect with other human beings in real and tangible ways — on and off the mat. What excites me the most in this growing community and movement is being able to shed light on all the good that is out there — all the good that is right here, now. The decision is up to each student, moment by moment. Are you willing to see, embrace, act, and live for the good? Are you willing to empower your own possibilities? Are you willing to be courageous? Go forth, roar.
Bethany Lyons is a powerful leader, creator, community builder, and co-founder of the only Baptiste-style yoga studio in Manhattan: Lyons Den Power Yoga. Bethany is a classically trained ballet dancer, Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher, and Master Instructor at SoulCycle. She has appeared as a yoga and fitness expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, TLC, and CNN, and has been featured in Forbes, New York Magazine, US Weekly, SELF, Shape, Fitness Magazine, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, and Well+Good, among many other publications. In co-founding Lyons Den Power Yoga, Bethany seeks to showcase the endless possibilities all around us, and to show up in a big way for her students and in her life.