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Down Dog Yoga: Rychlik combines heart, head knowledge at yoga studio

by jmaloni
Wed, May 13th 2015 05:25 pm

Left of Center with Joshua Maloni

The best way to explain what yoga is, might be explaining what it isn't.

"The misconception can be that it's just a workout," Annie Rychlik said. "Or, I always get the question, 'Well, I'm not flexible enough for yoga. Should I still come to your class?' Or 'It must be just a lot of sitting around and meditating and saying, "Om," right?' But, yes, there is way more to it."

Rychlik was trained at the Himalayan Institute of Buffalo and recently opened Down Dog Yoga in the Cayuga Street mini-plaza. She said, "The yoga tradition is set up in a way where the physical ... aesthetic part is introduced first. And the deeper, philosophical and meditation ... comes later, because it's easier to start out that way."

"Yoga isn't just about physical postures," she said. "There's a really beautiful connection with the breath and the postures and relaxation and meditation. When you practice these things over a period of time, it naturally just brings better mental function - more awareness to the things that we eat, to the people that we spend time with, the books that we read. All of these things just start to - you just start to notice them more.

"The whole point of yoga is to have a healthy life - healthy body, healthy mind, healthy spirit."

Rychlik added, "There are misconceptions, but I do try to start a class with a little bit of information pertaining to that. And I end the class during relaxation with a little quote from the yoga ethics book or a little bit of philosophy or something just to let them go home with a little something in their head to think about."

Annie Rychlik practices yoga at her Down Dog studio in Lewiston. 

Annie Rychlik practices yoga at her Down Dog studio in Lewiston.

It was yoga that changed Rychlik's thinking.

"About 10 years ago, I had a little bit of a self-esteem issue, I suppose, and that's what led me to start practicing yoga: weight-loss purposes," she said. "I was too young to have a gym membership, I guess. And I started to notice a huge difference in my body weight. I lost 50 pounds in the first couple months.

"But there wasn't a connection to it - I kind of just saw it as a workout at first. I was still young. But after a couple of years, you start to notice this awareness in the mind and the body and clarity - things like that.

"About eight years ago, I was telling a friend of mine that my plan was to open my own studio, so I could share this joy with other people."

Down Dog Yoga offers daily classes - morning and evening - as well as private lessons. Rychlik offers instruction for all-level to intermediate practitioners.

"I always wanted to open a studio in Lewiston," she said. "It's always been a dream of mine to open in Lewiston.

"There's so many studios in Buffalo. A lot of young people - local people - will bypass Grand Island and Wheatfield and Williamsville and they'll go right to Buffalo. I (felt) like it would be a nice thing to have for the younger people around here."

Less than two weeks since opening, Rychlik, a former BAC for Women instructor and certified personal trainer, is already receiving rave reviews.

"Annie is a wonderful yoga teacher!" Megan Sackman said. "She makes everyone feel very comfortable and creates a nonjudgmental atmosphere. She pays special attention to her students' individual needs. Her classes are fun, inspiring and filled with her infectious sense of humor!"

Sarah Stayner said, "I'm a beginner yoga student and have already fallen in love with the art of yoga through Annie's classes. Annie has created a serene studio that I find myself looking forward to escaping to. It's the kind of place that allows you to leave your worries at the door and to take a break from the hustle and bustle of your busy day. Annie has a very calming and soothing voice and makes the class an actual experience. As a beginner, I've felt very comfortable, because Annie takes the time to explain and go through the motions with you."

La Pelle owner Christina Zaroian said, "Annie has been talking about doing a yoga studio for a few years now. She went to the Himalayan Institute for her studies, and I think that really makes the overall experience much better than going to just any yoga studio. Her energy and character is very calming, and she is just a joy to be around.

"I love her new studio! It has a very relaxing atmosphere and it is comfortable to take a class in, as well. Annie really pays attention to everyone's needs, she is engaged in the class and, as she calls out instructions, she also shows you how to do each pose. I love her studio and am so happy she opened."

Rychlik has scriptures on her studio walls.

"The significance to that is, I feel like one thing that actually brought me closer to God was yoga," she said. "I was almost resistant at one point, and I stopped going to church.

"The reason why I picked these particular scriptures is a lot of people tend to have self-esteem issues or tend to tell themselves negative things - things that you wouldn't normally tell your friend or a loved one. I want people to come in here and feel that they are strong, and they are beautiful, and wonderfully made - and to be grateful for the day that God have given us every day. And to be thankful for everything, and to know that they're beautiful.

"That's really important to me, because that's something that I really struggled with for a few years. That's the reason why I chose those scriptures."

Jamie Smith said, "I have had the pleasure of knowing Anne Rychlik for the last two years. She is one of the most dedicated, positive and inspirational people I know. She has a huge heart and genuinely cares about people. Her studio is a reflection of who she is: welcoming and calming. From the moment you walk in, you can feel the love and happiness she gives off every day.

"While I am a beginner at best, she does not make me feel that way. She guides her class though the poses while helping you to do the best that you can. Most classes end with words of kindness, inspiration and love. It is a beautiful way to start your day."

Down Dog Yoga is located at 779 Cayuga St., Suite 3, in the Village of Lewiston. For more information, or for class times, visit www.downdogyogawny.com.

Annie Rychlik practices yoga at her Down Dog studio in Lewiston. 

Annie Rychlik practices yoga at her Down Dog studio in Lewiston.

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