Category Archives: Inspirational

Tola Yoga thanks you back!

Over the past 11 years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching some really inspiring students from NYC to LA to Chicago to Seattle – and several places in between – who make it all worth while.

Thanks for the memories everyone, and especially these kind words. Peace – R

“When I walk into Rich’s class feeling emotionally weak, without a doubt, every week, at the end of the hour, I feel stronger and more confident.” – Adriana R.

“Thank you so much for filling our little Seattle yoga class with such wonderful joy & skills. You are AMAZING and I have learned a ton!” – Sallie B.

“Rich is a master at sequencing poses. My body always feels great for hours after class.” – Lauren A.

“It’s very well-structured, plus I get a great full-body workout every time I take Rich’s class. He’s the best!” – Vika L.

“After 10 years, I took my practice to a new level when I started taking Tola Yoga classes.” – Rhonda C.

“Tola Yoga is effective in strengthening and stretching every part of your body, plus it’ll make you sweat!” – Ron W.

“Rich’s classes are transformative.”  – Jeremy S.

“Thank you for your classes and training this past year. I spent six weeks after knee surgery without putting any weight on my left leg, and because of your super long standing sequences, my right leg was strong enough to carry me throughout. For that I am grateful.” – Ananya D.

“We’ll be very sad to see you go… I get RAVE reviews about your class.” – Manager, TRIBE Fitness in Seattle

Working out with “Belle of the Ball”

Or shall I say, Belle of the Gym. Let me explain:

The other day I saw this elderly woman working out in the gym and I thought to myself, wow, this woman really knows what she’s doing and she’s definitely a regular. It was the third time I had seen her this week.

I was definitely curious, so I introduced myself and asked Belle a few questions. Because when a fitness dude like me who’s worked-out or practiced Yoga every single day for the past 40 years (that’s no bullshit), sees a fitness dudette who’s well into her 70’s, well, I’m impressed.

Check it out. Belle has osteoporosis and says she knows the importance of lifting weights to stay strong so she works out three times a week. Yes, three times a week, every week.

And it shows.

When I asked if she ever misses a workout, she said, “Sometimes I slip and slide around a little bit with my days, but I always go three times a week. I have to.” Belle also said her body is not what it used to be so sometimes she feels it the next day. Similar to my own Mom who goes to the gym every week and has done so for the past 30 years, her body often feels it the next day too.

But no worries, because you gotta keep going. Your strength and youth depends on it.

So take if from Belle and “have fun with it!” And even though my Tola Yoga workouts may be too intense for her (I agreed), Belle says “mix it up with different exercises like the machines, treadmill or these bikes that let you ride through the parks of San Francisco (her favorite).”

Kudos to you Belle and everyone else getting your workout groove on every week!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone 🙂  Peace – R

Demystifying the Art with TOLA YOGA

What is Yoga? 

You know how many times I’ve been asked this question in the past 12 years, from men, women and children (and mostly men). Because knowing the definition of Yoga is much different than understanding this physical and mental art form, including the similarities and differences between the many styles of Yoga, e.g., Vinyasa Flow, Kundalini, Asthanga. Not to mention how each style uniquely impacts your body and your mind. Which is all good, no doubt, regardless of style. And don’t forget your spirit, although that aspect is much less tangible in all Yoga.

So what can a Yoga master with a passion for fitness spanning more than five decades, beginning with Jack LaLanne in the 1960’s, do to demystify that age-old question?

That’s simple: create another style that specifically caters to the fitness-minded individual.

One year ago I introduced Tola Yoga to the world with live classes on Periscope and YouTube: http://youtube.com/RichTolaYoga.

Although my Tola Yoga brand was born in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, it’s conception occurred 11 years earlier on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. That’s right, I taught my first “Stars of the Future” class on August 4, 2006 at New York Yoga. And what a rush it was! Kudos and thank you so much to all the amazing Yoga teachers who influenced and inspired me throughout my 200 hours of training…Jenny, Nixa, Michael, Karl, Rita, Lori, Molly, Sam, Kristen and Emily.

Because success is best served with a strong foundation. As well as passion and perseverance. And if you’re lucky, your life’s colorful journey will be long, prosperous and rather trying at times. But if you live what you love, happiness will follow you everywhere.

No doubt. And how’s this for serendipity: the other day I was in the drug store and came across this writing pad with that exact phrase, LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE. In colors just like that. So I had to buy it. And repeat it…to you today and to myself everyday, along with a few other mantras.

Keep rockin-it everyone, in whatever you do, and don’t forget your daily workout! Peace – R

100 Days of TOLA YOGA in Seattle

This past weekend I celebrated my 100th day of living in the Emerald City while teaching Tola Yoga to more than 700 students in 63 classes.

And just like Seattleites love their coffee strong and flavorful, there’s no doubt they love my fitness style of Tola Yoga – which is also strong and flavorful. And if there’s anything more plentiful than a corner Starbucks in this town, it has to be these two elements: hills and rain.

No doubt.

Coming from a fitness and yoga dude who spent 100 days living in San Francisco (in 2012) and walking up California Street once a day, you gotta believe me, it’s true. Just try walking to the top of Queen Anne Avenue starting at Denny Way, or better yet, walk up James Street from Yesler Way to Broadway and you be the judge. And good luck if you’re carrying a 20 pound gym bag full of books, water and yoga gear – like I always do. Well, at least I can say I’m in the best shape of my life. As for the never-ending rain, well, it’s one of those things you get used to. I suppose 🙂

On that note, here are the five key highlights of my first 100 days in Seattle:

  1. Explored more than two dozen neighborhoods and cultural attractions including the iconic 605-ft-tall Space Needle, the beautiful Olympic Sculpture Park and Northlake Marina overlooking downtown Seattle (see pics),
  2. Established myself at six health clubs and yoga studios around town – currently teaching six weekly classes including one corporate client near Safeco Field (Go Mariners!),
  3. Spent three days kicking-the-bricks in the very clean and cosmopolitan, Vancouver, BC,
  4. Re-read five classic books including The Power of One, The Fountainhead, The World According to Garp, Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Great Expectations, and
  5. Worked out 100 days plus took a plethora of yoga classes with some wonderful yoginis.

Hope your previous 100 days were as plentiful and exciting as mine were.

Have an amazing St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Peace – R

PS…if you haven’t read a good book lately – and I’m talking about the good ‘ole fashioned hard copy kind – then give one of mine a try.

Explore the world…including Vancouver

If there’s one piece of advice I can give – other than workout everyday and live by Yoga principles to build a strong body clear mind – it’s these three words:

Explore the world.

I just spent the past three days in Vancouver, Canada exploring a plethora of neighborhoods like Gastown, Downtown, Coal Harbor, West End, Davie Village, Yaletown, Kitsilano and Mt. Pleasant.  An amazing 25 miles worth of walking around one of the most beautiful, clean, vibrant and fashionable cities I’ve ever lived or visited. There’s been quite a few.

In Vancouver you’ll find tons of great shops and eateries and cool street fashion that had me people watching as much as checking out the sleek modern architecture that’s everywhere.

There’s also tons of little parks and beaches and public art that seem to pop-up out of nowhere. Like the A-maze-ing Laughter in Morton Park consisting of 14 enormous bronze statues – in all different poses – of a shirtless guy laughing hysterically. And what a great way to get your daily workout in. By kicking-the-bricks, as we used to say back in my NYC real estate days.

Speaking of which, Vancouver also has that international cosmopolitan feel, much like Manhattan and Chicago. Plus, the hi-rise apartment building where I stayed had one of those old-school Universal weight machines and some dumbbells, which came in handy every morning.  Add to that a yoga class, or better yet, a free 30-minute Tola Yoga class, and voila, you’re set!

So pack your bags, pick your destination, and do a little exploring on your own.

Peace – R

Go With All Your Heart

Many years ago, my sister gave me this polished piece of black stone inscribed with this:

Wherever You Go, Go With All Your Heart

I’ve keep it by my bed ever since, to remind me of what should be. For everyone on the planet.

Because it’s all about shining your light – coming from your heart, that is – out into the Universe in the most positive, truthful and heartfelt way.

Hey, what do you expect coming from a Yoga dude who’s been practicing and teaching this mind-body-spirit, self-love and self-respect, “it’s a lifestyle” practice for over twelve years.

Think about it. Wouldn’t life be grand If you shared the very best of you…all the time. You know the one: upbeat, positive, smiling, confident, respectful and considerate. To name a few.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Peace – R

No Judgment…Just More Resoluteness

Never judge yourself when it comes to fitness. Just forgettaboutit, and keep moving forward. Because what you did or didn’t do yesterday – or last week – or last year – makes no difference when it comes to exercising today. Because each dawn brings a new day, and with each day brings another opportunity to reward your body with fitness. With an emphasis on reward.

Case in point: Yesterday my friend says to me, “OK, this week I’m going to start working out every Tuesday and Friday for the rest of the year, because it’s two weeks into 2017 and my resolution to workout twice a week is, well, failing.” This coming from a woman who worked out 4 times a week for the past 20 years until last year, when an injury put her on the sidelines for nearly a year. Now she’s completely healed but just can’t seem to get started.

Is this you? Or perhaps you’re someone who’s never been into fitness and wants to start? No worries.

Really. Because each dawn brings a new day, and with each day brings another opportunity to reward your body with fitness. You get the picture.

And if you don’t already know it, then repeat after me: if I workout on a regular basis, I will look and feel younger. Just like I said to my friend lamenting over her inability to re-start her engines, look at it this way: if you workout twice a week for 30 minutes each for the rest of the year, by New Year’s 2018 that’ll be 50 hours of fitness. Better yet, if you can make it one hour and then turn that second hour into a Yoga class, that’ll be 100 hours…a helluva lot better than Zero.”

No judgment over failed resolutions people…just more resoluteness. You can do it.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone! Peace – R