Lori Unwrapped

This is an excerpt from a conversation between Lori and Balanced's studio manager Barbara. 

 

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Your baby is turning 10 this year - a milestone for sure. What has been the biggest rose?

Lori: Oh boy… so many roses to be quite honest.. fields and fields of beautiful blooming students.. the best is to watch them come back, shed layers, change habits, drop in and step out of their comfort zones, watching them turn yoga into life.

 

Now for the tough question. What was the biggest thorn?

Lori: The biggest thorn for me is the actual business running aspect. i feel as though “Lori unwrapped” leaves just enough room for me to be witty, kind and really raw, really, real… I didn’t take business classes or go to business school, I’ve always preferred drama class over algebra and singing in chorus over heading to science.  When i stepped into the wild world of “Yoga Studio Land” I witnessed a lot of potential to be the dreamer, to be the artist, to create. And as I was training to become a teacher I tapped into qualities of the performer… So, I’m an artist, that opened a business. When the business was a baby I was kind of getting away with it. But people started to gather, classes began to pop off and I had no clue how to keep it organized or what to even do!! HA! That’s when my mighty mighty manager stepped in. At the time she was a new student. Barb approached me like, you’ve got something here, let me help you. Interpretation in my mind was: “Sweet, Barb will do it!!” hahahaha… WRONG.. Barb will teach me how to do it along side me. Barb will let me moan and complain with “This is NOT why i opened a studio.. Wah Wah Wah...” … She has been so patient, waiting for me to finish my tantrums. To this day, Barb runs the insides, she makes the organs pump and blood of Balanced flow. I’m better at it, more willing then ever also. There is something very very empowering about being the boss, and it’s not an “Ego Boss” its the boss, who built something for people to come and to heal. And to that I will raise my glass and continue to be pricked by this thorn only to learn more, grow bigger and share my dream with whomever would like to take a sip...

You have been practicing since you were 17 and practicing for 20+ years. At what point did you say I have to create this space called Balanced?

Lori: I’ve actually been practicing for 19 years and teaching for 12. Somewhere around my 7th straight year of only knowing Bikram Yoga, i was watching my body move beyond what, at that time I was “allowed” to do in a Bikram Yoga class.. So, i listened. And I watched, and I followed the lead of my body and my heart and studied under other teachers and began to develop my own interpretation of how the body moves and how focused breath work and seated meditation assist this movement. Balanced is the beginning of all of my teachings coming together under one roof.

Originally you wanted to call your studio “New Haven’s Hottest” – and it is. What made you change direction?

Lori: "New Haven’s Hottest" sounds like a strip club!!!! Haha! Lets be real here… I, personally LOVE that name, however, as the creator of such a kick ass sacred space I saw the hype the name was getting, and, its not my kinda hype.. Its not sacred hype. So i was going to take it way to the other end of the spectrum and name it a Sanskrit word.. One of my greatest teachers, to this day, encouraged me to choose something everyone would understand… And I, at this time in my life was in a very deep understanding that I was becoming more "balanced” in body, mind and specifically emotionally. He asked me to think of words that described my experience as a practitioner and teacher.. Thus the simple birth of our name “Balanced Yoga Studio”.

Balanced has an impressive group of core teachers. Which teacher has been with Balanced the longest?

Lori: My teachers are my family.. Tobie Schuerfeld has been teaching along side me at Balanced for nearly 10 years.. I actually saw her passion, potential and practice from the moment we started practicing together. I invited her to begin teaching before she even completed her teacher training program. That way she could couple her TT work with actual classes to teach, which is a big part of what’s missing from most TT programs. (this will be a big part of the Balanced TT – coming soon!) 

You have a teaching style that speaks to each student. Your words touch students in a deeply profound way. Can you share one of those moments when a student had that aha moment as a direct result of your teaching?

Lori: Emma… Emma Spear, came back to my class one day after a huge hiatus… through my classes she remembered the practice is sensual.. an intimacy, an exotic dance between body and breath. i reminded her how to feel and that its ok to feel real deeply. The practice creates a freedom, and Emma was feeling more free.. 

Speaking of Lori’s teaching, I think the best way to describe it is to compare it to a play. It’s a story filled with passion, romance, mystery, music and yes, human sound effects. Would that be an accurate description?

Lori: My usage of words and sounds makes the practice come alive. The practice basically speaks to me.. it sings to me.. serenades me into a sweet healing and i have developed a way to portray this, through poetry. I feel that the yoga asana is a poem in motion and its a very natural process for me to flow with the words. There’s something so intimate that goes on during deep sweaty hours of practice, its like making love…its like an opening and a pouring into myself. It’s freedom.  

Let’s talk tattoos. When did you start getting ink and why? 

Lori: My first tattoos were around 21/22 when I was living in Brooklyn. A friend of mine that i worked with at Angelicas Kitchen  was practicing tattooing as a side gig. He asked me if he could borrow my jeep to move in exchange for these two little bad boys on my wrists. They are tiny Egyptian sacred symbols. These symbols appear the same but when depicted together one is the eye of Horus and one the eye of Rah.. promoting Balance. Yin/Yang. Male/female and protection. i had always been attracted to tattoos and had this deep inner feeling about wanting to really connect with my artist so around age 26 I started the real tattoo journey. I was really exposed to the tattoo culture and met my hero (jk, but… not really) Mike Rubendall and he’s done most of the big work on my body, my arm and leg sleeve. The story is about beauty, love, nature, passion, pain, surrender, choices, communication, experience, the truth and letting go…

Is there one person who has made the most profound impact on your life? Good or bad...

Lori: Javier.. I’m not going to go into it but, love is vast, deep and profound and he has taken the time to ride this wild love ride with me. We’ve daringly dove into some profound life experiences together and also are able to release one another into this beautiful life individually.. it’s so profound there are no words… this is a tricky tricked out question ;)

If you weren’t teaching yoga what would you be doing?

Lori: I can’t even imagine that. I’m pretty snuggled up with the truth of my being and feel quite clear where my life leads. I feel more as if I should comment on, if I didn’t have a studio where would I be…?? Probably some remote jungle where the ocean meets the beach and the mountains.. and from there I would go find the next jungle, chasing waves and truly learning how to surf.

Favorite Pose? Least favorite pose?

Lori: I’m a back bender by nature, most of the time bending over backwards is very accessible for me, its beyond words and its even beyond following “back bending directions” I feel like my spine really swims in my body and tells me where to go.. It’s like the boss! So with that I adore deep lunges, splits, full binds and deep, closed twists. This recipe is NOT for everybody, it’s taken many years of practicing, listening, doing and not doing to understand what works for me and what does not.

Least Favorite: Warrior One. Point blank...ha!

Now let’s get personal. You have been exposed to some of the finest Argentinian wines available. Can you share with us your absolute favorite red from Argentina?

Lori: Catena Malbec for red and Juve Cava for bubbly

What would your perfect day be?

Lori: On a beach, where there is a section of sand packed down that I could practice for hours on, getting all sandy and sweaty, then an ocean cleanse and a surf... Then I would proceed to my open air, outdoor studio where once daily I would hold a massive yoga class where everyone that lives in this warm beach/sleepy surf town comes to. Puppies. plant medicine. bonfire. fresh food. family. sunrises and sunsets and no rules. 

What’s next for Balanced?

Lori: More retreats. Teacher Training. I have a dream of either a second location or revamping the first one into a state of the art Yoga Studio equipped with lounge, sauna, juice bar, pools to soak in, treatment rooms and a few more on board staff members that are interested in running the place while I scout other locations on Earth to bring people to their highest self…