From the Teacher

"Best Self" Nutrition Challenge!

As a certified Yoga instructor and Nutritionist, I know how important (and sometimes challenging!) it is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.  Since the emergence of social media, there is an overabundance of information on what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, the best diet for you, etc.  Should you put butter in your coffee? How many calories should you be eating daily?  Should you use coconut oil or olive oil? What are the best foods to eat right after a workout?  It can be overwhelming and confusing!

This is where I come in.  I received my Bachelor’s in Science Degree from Arizona State University in Human Nutrition in 2010.  It’s not just my degree, it is my passion.  I love learning about different foods, how they affect our bodies, and the science behind it all.  I also have a huge passion for cooking and trying new foods and recipes. You can find me every Sunday morning on my couch with a hot cup of coffee watching The Food Network Channel picking up tips and ideas on different recipes. It’s my Sunday happy place.

I'm excited to invite you to join me in The Foundry Best Self Nutrition Challenge!  My main goal for this 8-week challenge is to provide you with all of the tools you will need in order to succeed in reaching your nutrition goals.  Your challenge is to follow the guidelines and 8 weeks of meals laid out for you.  Each week we will go over different topics to answer your questions from smart grocery shopping to meal prepping to staying properly hydrated to calorie intake.  We will cover it all.

I am a big believer in practicing what I preach. The way I approach this challenge is the way I live my life.  If you were to tell me that I had to forever give up my mom’s green chile burritos because it wasn’t “clean," I would say, "You’re crazy.  I’m out."  There is a way to enjoy the foods you love while still reaching your goals.  It’s called balance.  And it is exactly how I live my life. Life and food are meant to be enjoyed! Having the knowledge to maintain that balance is the key.  That is what I will provide with this challenge.  Along with recipes, a weekly meal plan for all 8 weeks, grocery lists, batch cooking techniques, check-ins, healthy tips, and more.

Whether you are looking to lose weight, pack on some lean muscle, learn how to cook healthy meals, or just want to learn more about fueling your body with the right foods - this challenge is for YOU. Do this Nutrition Challenge along with your 50 in 60 studio challenge for even better results! And guess what? I will be joining you - signing up for the 50 in 60 challenge and participating in the Nutrition challenge myself! I’ll be with you every step of the way.

Sign up here before 12/25 to get Early Bird Pricing:

Don’t wait - spots are filling up and our Early Bird Discount ends December 25th!  Our first meeting is Saturday, December 30th, 8:30am - 10:00am at The Paradise Valley Studio or 11:00am - 12:30pm at the Tempe Rio Salado Studio, whichever is more convenient for you! I will provide your first week’s meal plan, grocery list, and cover all of the details of the next 8 weeks so you are ready to start on January 1st!

Happy Holidays and I will see you in the New Year on your journey to creating your Best Self! You DESERVE it! 


4 Ways to Maximize Your Yoga Practice

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By: Nicole Deacon

Yoga helps us gain strength and flexibility, but more than that it helps us to improve our health, connect to our bodies, to breathe more, to stay calm in stressful situations, to be more patient, to be more kind. Mostly we do yoga for who we get to BE after class. There are many ways that we can improve our yoga practice to get the most out of it. Here are four simple things that you can do:

  • Breathe – The postures in Sanskrit are called Asana. My teachers have defined the word asana as “posture holding still, breathing always normal”. The moment we hold the breath we are no longer practicing yoga. The breath connects us to our body, allows the body to relax, and to safely go deeper in the postures. Conscious breathing connects us to our parasympathetic nervous system so instead of going into fight or flight response we can stay calm and relaxed even in a stressful situation. If we do nothing but learn to breathe it would be time well spent.
  • Take a Private Lesson. Group lessons are extremely beneficial. We are able to meditate more deeply and be supported by the amazing group energy. However, private lessons allow you to fine-tune your alignment maximizing benefit and preventing injury of each of the postures. How often do you want to do yoga? “Everyday. Just like brushing your teeth.” How often do you want to take a private lesson? At least twice a year, just like going to the dentist.
  • Strengthen Your Core. The core is a collection of muscles that stabilize and move the spine.   Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities including yoga poses. You can absolutely strengthen your core during yoga class, but a pilates or a strength class can target these muscles increasing your mind-body connection to the area making it easier to engage these muscles during yoga poses. To quote Niki Fillmore, “every time I do a pilates class, I feel stronger in my yoga class the next day.”
  • Stay 5 Extra Minutes in Savasana. We live in a fast-paced world and if you can consciously create space to slow down and be still you will maximize the healing benefits of your yoga practice. When the body is stressed out, in fight or flight response, it is pumping the body full of adrenaline and cortisol to survive whatever threat it is dealing with. When the body is in a resting state the body’s natural healing abilities take place. We spend class calming the body and getting into a state of rest and relaxation. If you give your body just a few extra minutes in this state you will leave feeling more peaceful, calm, and focused for your day.

We have recently increased our offerings at BYAZ to support students get the most out of their yoga practice. In addition to yoga our members now enjoy strength, pilates, and high-intensity interval training classes. We also offer add-ons for kids under 17 for all classes and kids club, four private coaching sessions for nutrition, yoga, or goal coaching, and mat and towel service. Start maximizing your practice. Click Here to sign up today.

"Gratitude" - A Letter from our Teacher Steve, On His Departure


Sometimes there arrives a powerful call for change which nothing can alter or deny. Try as we might. Nothing is impossible. How many good things can someone leave when it comes time to say this kind of goodbye? How many ways can someone say thank you for them? Change is a natural part of life. So are goodbyes. Amidst this moment of change, I am left in deep gratitude and sometimes cannot speak for the emotions that prevail. Change is a process I am reminded. As my wife LJ and I prepare for our return to our Idaho home, to our grown children, to the life from which we came to Arizona more than three years ago, I reflect upon all of you. Our students, peers, mentors and friends. Like grafted sapling trees, you are part ‘us’ now. We are part of one another. Your journey is interwoven with ours. We are made stronger for our time together. From our willingness to be vulnerable and purposefully seek change we have emerged anew.

If someone was even close to being right when they said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, then our most challenging task ahead will be to find the equal of the “five” people that you all have been for us. I hope this will happen.

Our Bikram Yoga offers us the opportunity for equanimity (mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation). Where each of us a student the only one on our mat, in our own process, and without judgement. This yoga is an equalizer making all human beings at least temporarily the same. Humble. A mindful recognition of this rare and precious time within to heal and evolve as human beings, makes any temporary discomfort of this practice all the more bountiful.

Learning to become a Bikram Yoga teacher is kind of like learning to become a Bikram Yoga student, only under a magnifying glass with hundreds of eyes and minds watching at every turn, as things unfold, or unravel as the case may be. There is one thing that everyone going through this process certainly feels, uncomfortable. Yet, it is you our students, through your loving energy and generous patience, who allow us to continue on no matter how hard it might be for us to start again and just keep going. Thank you for allowing us to stumble, wobble and but never completely fall down. It takes a village to raise a teacher as it turns out!

To the mentors in our lives, your calling is a most noble one. To dare enough to care. To dare to care enough. To insist on ‘can’ when ‘can’t’ is all we can see. To believe when we ourselves cannot possibly believe. To instill in us faith that where you ask us to go is within our reach. You help us expand our means toward goals that to us are clearly impossible, that with time and effort, instead become accomplishments. Our previous doubts melting away in our rear view mirrors with scarcely a notice. You make the world a better place by helping us become stronger leaders. Thank you. Forever.

Should we be tempted to feel we have lost something in our departing, let us make a pledge now that this is not so. Rather let us celebrate the discovery of a new found inner strength that without one another we may never have known. Never give up!

Trust in your Self and in one another that you are in a conversation worth having. A conversation by the way where ‘impossible’ just isn’t heard.

With love and until next time,


Top 5 Herbs to Support Bikram Yoga Practice

By Nikki Starr, aka "Starr"

These are my top 5 herbs to support my Bikram Yoga practice. When I use them, I use them consistently for a period of time in order to supplement my practice; however, I do not use them on a constant, month-to-month basis (except for Coconut Oil, which I do use everyday, often a few times a day for skincare, haircare, and also for cooking). I cycle them in and out of my routine depending on where my body is at and what it needs.

Before Class:


  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), or “Indian Ginseng” is one of the world’s most potent adaptogens
  • Helps the body adapt to and increase resistance to physiological and psychological stress
  • Powerful rejuvenative, promoting strength and vitality
  • Ashwagandha can be both calming and energizing, depending on your body's needs
  • Normalizes Energy & Mood, relaxing the mind and rejuvenating the body
  • Helps repair depleted adrenal glands (damaged by coffee, alcohol, nicotine, stress, etc.)
  • Promotes healthy Immune system & Stress Response
  • The literal translation of Ashwagandha in Sanskrit means "One who possesses the strength of a horse"

Rhodiola Rosea Extract

  •  Helps people deal with physical stresses.
  • Rhodiola appears to augment physical and mental work aptitude and productivity.
  • It strengthens the nervous system, immunity, exercise capacity, energy levels, memorization, mood, and may even lengthen lifespan.


  • Antioxidant activity in Curcumin defends against free radicals
  • Natural inflammation response, promoting healthy joint movement
  • Curcuminoids and Turmerones assist in defending against free radicals
  • Maintains healthy, younger looking skin
  • Supports cardiovascular and liver health
  • Cleanses the blood, strengthens digestion, and eliminates toxins


  • Supports healthy weight loss
  • Nature's best detox and purifier
  • Triphala helps maintain a healthy digestive tract
  • Powerful herbal antioxidant - Rich in natural Vitamin C
  • Improves digestion, elimination and assimilation of nutrients
  • Cleanses, nourishes, and strengthens the entire body
  • Balance and tone all systems
  • Tri-Doshic - good for all bodily constitutions
  • Considered one of the most important of all herbal formulations in the Ayurvedic system of health

After Class:

 Non-GMO Cold-pressed Coconut Oil

  • 100% Certified Organic, Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Natural Source of Energy
  • Excellent skin moisturizer
  • Stable & Healthy Saturated Fat
  • A Deliciously Healthy Cooking Oil
  • Nature's Ideal High Temperature Cooking Oil
  • Rich in Lauric Acid
  • Cruelty Free, Dairy, Gluten, Wheat & Soy Free

These may work for you or they may not. I do not take them all at the same time. I do not have any official herbal training (please consult your specialist to see if these are right for you). It is up to you to take from this list of supportive herbs what you will and try them as you wish. Enjoy!

3 Reasons to Stay for Savasana

From the Urban Yoga Blog, written by "Kim"

Savasana translates to corpse pose.  It is the final pose of a yoga practice. In savasana the body is still, the breath flows naturally, and if you’re lucky the mind becomes quiet and there is this essence of dropping into one’s self.

Savasana can be the most challenging part of a class. We are invited to just be, cultivating effortlessness and non-doing.  This can be tough for many of us, living in this multi-tasked, fast-paced lifestyle that has become the standard of normalcy in our country. Our minds and our bodies are not used to being quiet.

The good news is that we are already making an effort to create some sort of connection, just by walking through the doors of the studio and showing up to class. On the other hand, many of us feel like we don’t have time to do nothing for ten minutes, we just have too much to do. Coming from a self-titled savasana addict, here are some reasons to stay for savasana.

#1 Savasana is a crucial part of the practice. 

It allows for the assimilation and integration of the “work” done throughout the practice.

Imagine your body is a garden.  Your asana coupled with mindful breathing is the planting of the seeds in your garden.  These seeds are powerful and potent.  They are the seeds of transformation.  They allow us to shift and transform our own energy, freeing ourselves from illusion, learned tendencies, and obstacles that may be hindering our personal growth.

Savasana is comparable to watering the seeds and giving them sunlight.  Savasana nourishes these precious seeds of transformation so that they take root and begin to grow and transform in your body on a cellular level.

Not a gardener?  Try this, your practice is equal to sitting at the computer and doing work, writing, emailing, designing, and/or researching, whatever your work is.  Savasana is comparable to saving your data.  You would never spend an hour doing work on the computer, then not save it, am I right?

#2 Savasana triggers the para-sympathetic nervous system, our rest and restore responses.

Our heart rate slows and the breath becomes smooth and steady.  We are creating space for healing and deep relaxation from within.  The result of this is that we are better equipped to navigate through life off of the mat.  By allowing space for healing and rest with in ourselves, we are able to take care of our responsibilities off the mat from our overflow, not depleting ourselves energetically.  It takes about seven minutes to really settle in.  If you can, I suggest a good ten minutes at least, for an hour and fifteen minute practice.

#3 [As it says in the Yoga Sutras], Yogas chitta vritti nirodha, yoga is the stilling of the mind. 

The physical practice of asana is meant to be a pre-cursor, a “warm-up” if you will, to prepare yourself for seated meditation.

We may get glimpses of this stilling through out our asana practice, small spaces between action, where the mind is calm, the body supported, and the breath steady.  However, we are consciously focused on breath and body.  There is still a sense of “doing”.

Savasana is an invitation to let go of all trying and doing; to be completely open to doing nothing.  We are invited to unplug from the busy monkey mind, and in turn, plug into the deep well of peace, support, and knowing that is essentially our true nature.

When this connection occurs, there is a sense of clarity and contentment.

For many of us, savasana may be the first time in our lives where we feel at peace, like we are welcoming ourselves back home.  This feeling, this connection, is often what sparks an interest in developing a deeper spiritual practice.  This starts with meditation, which leads to the stilling of the mind.  The more you meditate the easier it is to connect to that stillness when life gets crazy.  It’s kind of like muscle memory, but for the soul, you tap in and connect to source, to stillness, again and again, and over time that current of support and ease is more readily available.  This allows us to act from a place that resonates with our deepest longings and is in tune with our essential nature.  Life becomes enjoyable, not just manageable.

Savasana is truly a gift to give your self.  Every one deserves ten minutes a day to be still and connect to peace.  Every person I know could use a bit more not doing and just being in their life, (myself included).  The next time savasana rolls around, […] get comfy.  Your nervous system needs it, and you deserve it.  You may find that your perspective of savasana moves from “I don’t wannasana” to “so-awe-some-nah”.