YOGA LAGNIAPPE goes directly to the source, studio owners, just for you. We help you get a feel for studios in your area by interviewing their owners. YOGA LAGNIAPPE is not a listing service. We value our credibility and strive to maintain a strong relationship with the local yoga communities we serve. Yoga studios and […]
YOGA LAGNIAPPE goes directly to the source, studio owners, just for you. We help you get a feel for studios in your area by interviewing their owners. YOGA LAGNIAPPE is not a listing service. We value our credibility and strive to maintain a strong relationship with the local yoga communities we serve. Yoga studios and teachers do not pay to be listed or interviewed. We do this to provide our community with the most impartial and useful information possible.
514 City Park Ave.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
Owners: Brian Baum and Mark Berger
Interviewer: S. Brooke Bailey
Interviewee: Mark Berger
There is a buzz in Mid-City as yogis and cyclists anticipate the opening of a new fitness concept just around the corner from City Park. It’s called higherpower and it’s a combination indoor cycling and yoga studio.
Co-owners Mark Berger and Brian Baum brought their expertise in fitness, yoga,and cycling together to offer New Orleanians the perfect pairing of intense cardio sessions on indoor bikes with the mental and physical benefits of yoga postures. Their studio will allow students to merge Eastern and Western approaches to physical health.
I met with Mark Berger to discuss this new concept and find out what we can expect from higherpower.
BB: Many Yoga Lagniappe readers may know you from the Yoga Speakeasy events that you co-lead with Janae Holmes. You’ve been getting more and more involved in the local yoga community over the past couple of years. What sparked the idea to fuse yoga with cycling in a studio setting?
MB: In the past 5 years indoor cycling studios, like Soul Cycle and Flywheel Sports, have been popping up around the country. They’ve had great success getting clients, from the general fitness enthusiast to competitive athletes, involved with challenging routines that combine fun music with light shows. There was nothing like this in New Orleans. And so having been in both the cycling and the triathlon world, it is a unique concept that we’re familiar with and can bring to NOLA.
I’ve been doing yoga for about 6 years. Over the past 2 years my practice has really evolved and I have made yoga one of my main priorities. Yoga keeps me strong, fit, and healthy for endurance running and helps me develop a practice to deal with the stresses of a busy life. I saw how much yoga benefited me and really wanted to bring it to other yogis, athletes, and the rest of NOLA to show how beneficial yoga is for everyone.
My love for cardio endurance and yoga made it easy to disciplines represented separately, as well as fused together in studio classes.
BB: How do you feel cycling and yoga complement each other – both physically and mentally?
MB: Cycling and yoga have similarities and definitely some differences. They both can be mentally and physically challenging, and help you in many ways in terms of healthy living and athletic performance. In our studio breathing is so important. On the bikes we can build from slow to very fast breathing. The same is true for our yoga classes. On the bikes, we can increase our cardiovascular performance and improve our lower body fitness. However, the bike can do very little with our core and upper body. When we fuse our cycling and yoga classes, we have multiple styles of breathing, cardio performance, core and full body exercises, stretching, meditation and relaxation. We will also have fusion classes that involve running, strength, and core interval training. The fusion at higherpower is a total body workout in its healthiest form.
BB: The name higherpower can reference so many things when it comes to yoga and cycling. Give our readers a few of the intentions behind your name and brand.
MB: In yoga, higherpower is the belief that one’s practice can help to attain physical, mental, and spiritual benefits through breath, movement, and meditation.
In cycling, higherpower is the amount of force that drives the pedals and the bike to go faster.
In community, higherpower is a welcoming place where you not only go for yoga or cycling, but also to congregate, work, and learn. It’s a venue where you don’t just come and go for classes. It is a sanctuary to be a part of…something that is inclusive to everyone.
BB: I know you are a big supporter of conscious business and philanthropy. Tell us how you plan to incorporate giving back into higherpower.
MB: With selflessness and healthy living higherpower can help change the New Orleans community. We have pledged to help non-profits raise money through our indoor cycling and yoga classes. Every week different charities will be able to take the proceeds from certain classes. Giving back is a big part of our culture at higherpower.
BB: When do you expect to open the studio? Will there be a grand opening event for us to look forward to?
MB: I have found out that building a studio takes more time than expected. We are hoping to have a soft opening in mid-November and the Grand Opening shortly after. We will keep everyone updated through emails and social media.
BB: Will there be cycling and yoga classes for beginners?
MB: higherpower will have classes for all levels. We believe that living a healthy lifestyle is the key to making quality of life better for the New Orleans community. We want all skill levels to come and try both yoga and indoor cycling.
higherpower will be a first of its kind studio in the New Orleans fitness industry. We will merge general fitness with very skilled yoga and cycling programs to bring you lots to choose from. Our studio will form a community that is fun and exciting, and our instructors and health professionals will be on hand to help in multiple ways.
When in Doubt, Paddle Out: h2ohm SUP Yoga
Interviewee: Nikki Carter
Studio Owner: Cheryl Golich
I am happy to report that I finally went to a stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga class! It’s been on my goal list for two years now and I ventured out a couple of weeks ago to one of Cheryl Golich’s classes on Bayou St. John. I would love to someday develop a regular water practice; it’s challenging in a completely unique way and brings a completely different level of awareness to your practice. Cheryl recently started a regular class schedule with her new company, h2ohm, and I followed up with her to get more information. Also, be sure to check out my interview with Cheryl from last December.
NC: How did h2ohm evolve? The last time I interviewed you in December 2013, you were teaching classes sporadically with Jeff of NOLA Paddleboards.
CG: This summer, I took advantage of a SUP Yoga teacher training with Floating Yogis in Southern California, where I grew up. The first time I tried paddleboarding, I felt a strong desire to combine SUP and yoga, and this training gave me the tools to take my classes to a new level in a safe and fun way; it also sparked a deeper desire to bring this practice to New Orleans. We have copious amounts of water in this area and the warm weather makes for a great combination.
I love what Jeff Lakey at NOLA Paddleboards has done to promote paddling in Louisiana. He has been very busy with preparation and planning for his Lakefront store, which will be opening soon, and my desire to teach classes on a very regular basis led me to start my own business, which is how h2ohm emerged! We are starting off small. Classes are limited to 6 people, which allows for a super safe environment and lots of individual instruction. I have two outstanding teachers working with me, Lauren Darnell and Shannon Hill, who both share my passion for SUP yoga.
I was able to try lots of different styles of boards in California. They actually make boards specifically designed for a yoga practice! And you can get boards with LED lights to paddle or practice yoga at night. What will they think of next?! It was very important to me to find a quality board that was made in the United States. Most boards are made in China, Thailand, or Peru. I found a great board that was functional, super stable, and made in Hawaii. I got to meet the husband and wife team who started the company over 10 years ago – the husband, who grew up in my hometown, designs and shapes the board. He is an avid surfer and designed an amazing board that is very versatile. Although I am focused on combining yoga and paddleboarding, I really want people to have fun out on the water and develop a love for this rapidly growing sport. Stand up paddleboarding is a blast, it’s easier than most people think, and it’s a great way to explore the water around us and workout.
NC: What are your regular class days and times?
CG: Wednesdays: 7:00-8:30 AM
Saturdays: 8:00-9:30 AM and 10:00-11:30 AM
Grouper Therapy: organize your own group and schedule your own time and place for a class.
We are planning a Grouper Therapy class for parents and kids right now!
NC: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from taking your practice on the water? I know it was incredibly challenging to concentrate so intensely on building my poses from the feet up.
CG: Doing yoga on the water is very challenging. The poses that seem easy on your mat can be much harder on the water. But that’s part of the connection for me – the practice keeps you very grounded and focused, and you are outside enjoying nature. It’s easy to get distracted on your yoga mat, but balancing on the board keeps you in the moment. Playing with different alignment on the water and building the poses from the board up become very important. I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than lifting into a backbend and seeing the beauty of nature all around you – while you are upside down!
SUP yoga does get easier each time you do it. Getting more comfortable on the board usually leads to the desire to try more challenging poses. Because of this learning curve, we encourage people to come out on the water more often and offer discounts on multiple class cards – “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish!” (Yes, I grew up with Dr. Seuss.)
NC: What are the most common concerns you hear from students…reasons they are scared to try SUP yoga? What should they know to help dispel those fears? I had some friends say they were scared of falling in the water and getting bitten by mosquitoes.
CG: Some people have a fear of falling, but it’s truly empowering to overcome this fear or to realize that it really isn’t that bad to fall in the water. Our class sequences are designed to build confidence on the boards. Staying as relaxed as possible and moving slowly and mindfully definitely helps keep you on the board. I also always have extra sunscreen and bug repellent!
Thank you for reading! As a special thank you, Cheryl will offer 33% off drop-in classes or multiple-class cards to YL readers. You can register on the h2ohm website by using the promotional code “YogaLagniappe.” Be sure to follow Yoga Lagniappe on Facebook and Twitter. To get lagniappe delivered directly to your inbox click here and enter your information in the box at the top right corner to subscribe.