Introduction to Basic Inversions

Learning to invert can be a fun experience. There are many little steps that we can work toward getting to the full expression of these postures. Join Melissa for 1.5 hours of fun exploring how to invert effortlessly into and out of inversions. Mastering inversions is the antidote to fear, anxiety, weakness, inversions help regulate the nervous and endocrine system. You will learn the correct way to get into some basic inversions and arm balances. All levels welcome, we will be partnering so you will be supported while we explore the fundamentals of an inversion practice.

Saturday May 11 | 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
$20 Pre-registration | $30 Day of (free to members)

link to register:

Meditation and Pranayama Workshop

Meditation and Pranayama Workshop 

Meditation is a practice to both focus and quiet the mind.  In this workshop, we will explore techniques to help quiet our minds, so we can feel spacious and clear, so we learn to exist and find acceptance in the present moment, and, most importantly, so we connect to what is true and our innate wisdom.  Workshop will include some flow yoga and moving meditation to prepare the body for sitting, breathing techniques to both focus and calm the mind, guided meditations, and a list of sources to continue your meditation practice on your own.  *A blanket or meditation cushion is recommended for sitting, however you can also lie down for meditation as well.  

Pre-registration $20, $30 day of, FREE for members.

Here is the link for registration:

Asana Fundamentals

Asana Fundamentals

Join evolation co-founder and studio owner Zefea Samson for an introduction in posture mechanics. In this interactive workshop Zefea will familiarize you with some general concepts about the body and about yoga poses. This will bring a new sense of body awareness to your postures. Zefea draws from her understanding of Iyengar, Bikram and other teachers that have inspired her on her path. She integrates these with her own profound understanding from her life long practice and 15 years of teaching. Regardless of what type of yoga you love, this workshop will give you a new perspective on your practice.

All ages and experience levels welcome.

Saturday March 30th
11:00 am – 1:30 pm
$30* (free to members)


You’ve felt it. Those moments you get from your yoga practice that fill you with peace. Those moments where you feel spacious and lighter and you catch glimpses of your true spirit. Those moments where you feel glimmers of light guiding your way and internal answers to your questions.

Maybe you felt it in Savasana, the ending rest after a long, sweaty physical yoga class. Maybe you felt it later in the day when you were strolling on the beach gazing out over the horizon. Maybe you felt it though an interaction with another person, where your souls actually saw each other and the connection felt effortless. Maybe you even felt it driving in your car, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, as you witnessed the peaceful acceptance of something beyond your control.

No matter where or when you felt it, something inside you keeps bringing you back to the yoga practice to feel it again and to feel it more deeply.


So where do we go from here? HOW do we feel it more deeply? How do we peel away more layers of the habitual and negative and blocking patterns we hold onto and bring in more of the peace, spaciousness, light and truth?

The answer is simple. You just keep going. The answer is there is no answer. There is no end. There is no final practice where you instantly feel: I’ve made it! I’m perfectly blissful and content and enlightened forever and ever… The end! You just keep going. And there is no right way. There is no direct path. There is no finale. There is no award. You just keep breathing and moving and sweating and being still and listening and growing, and you just keep going.

Personally, I have chosen many times in my life to GO, and by going, I go deeper in my practice. First, it started by going to yoga class three times a week at the same time with one specific teacher. Then, I started going to different teachers, different class times, different types of yoga practices, and LOTS of workshops. Then, I decided to go do a yoga teacher training in Hawaii, then I decided to go on a yoga retreat to Joshua Tree, and from there, it simply continued… I just kept going! I would go on these experiences to deepen my yoga practice. And each time I went, I felt more and more of the moments I mentioned: peace, space, truth, light, and internal answers. I just kept going and, as a result, I kept feeling deeper and deeper connections.

Have you been asking yourself- where do I go from here? Has your soul been wanting more? Next time you find yourself in savanna or gazing at the horizon or having a conversation or sitting in traffic, let yourself feel your internal answers and listen to what they are saying to you. You’ll know where to go. There are retreats and trainings all over the world. There are countless guides and different practices and specific workshops out there ready assist you in going deeper. You just need to go.

~ by Linda Baffa

Linda Baffa is our lead Flow teacher at Evolation Yoga Santa Barbara, leads retreats all over the world and, through Evolation Yoga, helps lead yoga teacher trainings. Evolation Yoga in Santa Barbara is now offering monthly workshops to go deeper in your practice, which are free to members! If you are looking to deepen your yoga practice start with a workshop at the studio and to take it even further, consider retreats or teacher trainings for yourself. Visit or to see the possibilities on where to go from here!



If you’ve been in a yoga studio for any real amount of time, you have likely heard this phrase; “switch up your grip”. In my experience, some teachers have made a bigger point of it while others casually throw it in as they’re guiding you through your practice. Perhaps you caught this little phrase (or one like it) and reacted. Or maybe you just blew it off and continued to focus on whatever goal you had for that day. Today, I invite you to explore why this phrase is not only worth noting in your class, but that it may well change your very existence. I know. . .it’s a bit dramatic but stick with me and see if you agree!


If you already know what it means, go ahead and skip to the next section. We’ll catch up with you in a sec.

Okay everyone else. Let’s spend a moment on what the phrase “switch up your grip means’. Without thinking about it, clasp your hands together, fingers intertwined, like so:

Note which thumb is on top. Now take your hands apart. Clasp them again. Same thumb on top? Yup. If you’re like most of us, you have a dominant approach to not only how you clasp your hands but you have a dominant leg, arm, eye (email me if you want to instructions on how to find out which one is dominant) and so on.

Okay so now force yourself to intertwine your fingers so that your other thumb ends up on top. For most of us, this is extremely awkward!! Who knew? Right there in your body is a rut! When I first discovered this about myself, I was outraged! WHAT ELSE DO I DO IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY EVERY TIME? I started noticing and was amazed to discover the many, many ways I did things the same way every time and how much worse I was if I tried to switch up my dominant approach.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? You know those times you are carrying in groceries and have to have one free hand for keys to open the front door? For me, groceries go in the right, left covers the keys. When I try to switch that up, disaster ensues. It’s like I’ve invaded a foreign body and have to re-learn how to do stuff. Okay maybe the muscles in my right are stronger than my left, but why can’t my right hand get that key in the lock?



Let’s clarify something right now. I’m not just talking about switching up your grip. “Switch up your grip” is my trigger to engage my whole body in the exercise. In simplest terms, it’s best for our body to be balanced. If one side is stronger than the other, the muscles will pull more on our bones, which will pull our whole body from the beautiful, balanced thing that it’s supposed to be into a zig zag. Our yoga practice is about balancing all the systems in our body, that’s why we often repeat routines and poses on both sides. However, even in that round, balanced practice, we create some unconscious imbalances. How we grip is one.

Your mission is to create an awareness of these imbalances and work on eliminating them, one at a time.

There’s also the meditation aspect of that discipline. You should be focusing on your breath and now you’re “sitting with” the discomfort of switching up your grip. If you’re focused on those two things along with the pose you’re doing and the challenge of balancing or taxing your muscles, you can’t help but be present in the moment. When you’re focused on breath, uncomfortable grip and staying balanced, who has time to regret the past or worry about the future? You will be truly, and fully in the NOW!

Good for you.

Yoga has been called “moving meditation”. The more meditation you do during your practice, the more refreshed and rejuvenated you feel in body AND mind at the end.

So yes, switch up your grip but also look at yourself in the rest of your practice. Are you in a rut? Do you do a beautiful “dancer pose”. . .um except that you kick your knee out to the side to get your leg up there? Do you kick out your hip, find you have a micro-bend in your knee or turn your toe out so you can get into that pose? Maybe it’s time to hear your teacher’s words as if they’re new. Maybe you have to engage in the humbling process of backing off, eliminating the “cheat” and learning the pose all over again. Or maybe it’s time to take a pose to the next level because you haven’t noticed how much you advanced and it’s possible to do that now. (However, please LISTEN to your body. Do not force anything or you may hurt yourself). Not sure how you can do any of the above? Let your teacher know your goal and I’m sure he or she will have some specific advice.

If you take my advice and switch up your (proverbial) grip you will discover a WHOLE NEW PRACTICE, have a bunch of fun and be amazed at what you learn.


Alright master yogi. Now let’s take it out of the studio and into life. I have had the misfortune of being by the side of some dearly beloved as they passed to the other side and the gift they gave me is a sharp awareness that life is a beautiful, precious and fleeting thing. It is a gift. One that could be snatched away at any moment. I endeavor to remember this and live my life in a way that if it should end right now, this very moment I will have few regrets about what I could have or should have done. And no, I don’t have it down. Like yoga it is a practice, not a perfect.

Switching up your grip means that you constantly re-examine your habits – dare I call them ruts? Is that rut serving you? What would happen if you changed it up? Is there something you have put off out of duty, expectation or fear? Perhaps you told yourself that thing you wanted was not for you. Maybe that was true then, but is it still true now?? Nobody but you has the right to stop you from changing things up. Happiness is a choice.

Fall is about change. Even Halloween invites you to try on a different persona, albeit in a silly and whimsical way. Perhaps it’s time to re-examine your life and see if you can take it up a notch. Maybe it’s the tiniest of changes or it’s time to try the epic shift you’ve been afraid of.

Whatever it is – even if you chose NOT to change – it’s at least worth exploring. It’s your life. Make sure it’s the one you CHOOSE to live!

Astrid McNellis

About Astrid: Astrid discovered evolation yoga of Santa Barbara before she even knew where she would live in Santa Barbara. The clean space, wonderful teachers and view of the ocean had her scheduling her trips to Santa Barbara around yoga classes! She has been a regular student of Bikram yoga since 2001 and of evolation yoga since 2016. In early 2017, she and her husband joined Mark and Zefea as partner-owners of the studio. She feels blessed to be part of this wonderful community of students and teachers.

Mat Magic – 10 simple cleaning tips

As a regular (well, more or less) yoga practitioner, we can all appreciate a serene yoga space and a clean mat. Your yoga mat is like your bed. Its maybe not the end of the world if its not super sparkly all the time, but it just serves its purpose so much better if it’s hygienic and fresh.

With all that sweating, a mat is not as easy to keep fresh as your bed linen. If you have a good quality mat, you have probably spent some good bucks on it, so it’s extra important to treat it the right way. Plus, big probability that you will make more yoga friends at the studio without that sweaty odor! You might have tried a few things, but if you need some help to keeping your mat clean, here are 10 ways to maintain your mat.

1) Let’s start with the obvious – and hardest to follow – rule: don’t keep your mat rolled up after class! As soon as you come home unroll and hang it. Keeping it rolled up, maybe even with your yoga towel rolled with it, in the back of your trunk til your next class, is just not a good idea. It gives all sorts of smells the opportunity to.. .well. ..ripen.

2) Resist spraying your mat right before class. Have you ever discovered that what smelled pleasant outside the yoga room became overpowering once heat or sweat was added? For this reason (and for reason #1 above) it’s better to disinfect your mat as soon as you can after class. Also, it gives the scent of whatever you used to clean your mat a chance to dissipate so it doesn’t overpower you during your next class.

3) Once in awhile throw your mat in the washer (but not dryer as dryers usually get too hot and will potentially ruin your mat). Most mats can handle that. Wash on a delicate or gentle cycle. You can also just soak your mat if you are worried about wear and tear with the wash cycle.

4) Hang the mat in the sun regularly. The sun is another natural disinfectant, believe it or not. Have you ever seen ultraviolet disinfecting devices? That’s the sun’s power at work! Lucky for us it’s outside our front (and back) doors most days!

5) Cleanse your mat with essential oils. Essential oils are very strong, so diluting with water in a spray bottle works fine and is most cost effective. About 10 drops of most essential oils will do the trick for a quart spray bottle (one drop of essential oil for every 4 ounces of water). More than that and you might find yourself overwhelming both your own and your fellow students’ noses with the smell of the oil.

6) Sometimes blending a disinfectant kind of oil (lemon, tea tree etc) with a milder scent (lavender, rose) still does the cleaning trick, but makes the scent more fun.

7) If a mat seems extra stinky, add a little baking soda to the water and essential oil solution. This will also absorb some of the essential oil’s intensity.

8) After spraying, wipe your mat off with damp towel to evenly spread the water solution and get the rid of the last sweat drops.

9) Alternatives to essential oil: 2 cups of warm water mixed with a few drops of mild soap — such as castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s), organic soap or detergent, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. If you use soap, thoroughly rinse the mat with clean water afterwards, as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use.

10) Let your mat dry fully – and we mean FULLY – before you consider rolling it up.


What do you do when you see a fin coming at you when you are far, far out in the waters trying to catch a big wave? You SWIM!

The other day I was body boarding in Carpinteria. I was quite far out trying to catch the bigger incoming waves. Suddenly two other body boarders (closer to the beach) started shouting. I look to my left and see a FIN coming straight at me in great speed.


There was no wave to catch to get out of there. Do you know what happens then? You get scared and start swimming like mad.

Then you realize that – especially compared to that fin – you’re not swimming very fast at all. Madly paddling? YES!! Fast? NOPE! Legs and arms where all moving and splashing in the water. I really thought it was a shark. And I really could not outswim this thing.

It was coming closer, and closer and I thought “oh no! this is the end of me”. And just like that, it veered around me and kept going. As it passed me by I saw it was a crazy dolphin that was in a hurry. It was like it was chasing something, never seen them acting this mad.

When I came to the beach I just laughed, legs shaking and laughed a little bit more. It was a crazy experience and even if I got very scared it also made me feel very alive.

Being a yoga teacher you would think that I would be able to stay all calm and serene. The truth is that I did not have time for deep breaths, I was in fight or flight mode.


The sympathetic nervous system activates the physiological changes occurring during the fight or flight response. This is the way our body reacts to stress and danger. Heart rate goes up, breathing becomes more shallow, blood vessels constrict and muscles tighten.

This is a very good response in situations where you need to react immediately and instinctively. Like, for example, if you have the misfortune to meet a shark.

After your body has gone into “fight or flight” you need to go back to relaxation to keep the body balanced. Normally that is a natural process.

But in today’s society, many of us tend to stay in “fight or flight” mode all the time. And that is not good. In the long run staying in “fight or flight” response depletes your internal organs of the raw materials they need to produce key hormones and transmitters.


Yoga helps us to activate parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest response. This system activates the more tranquil functions of the body. Those that help us maintain a healthy, long term balance. Heart rate drops, muscles relax, digestive enzymes are released.

When we hear the word yoga we might think of the postures (yoga asanas) and, yes, they do activate the parasympathetic nervous system. But yoga is more than asanas. Breath work (pranayama) and meditation are important parts of yoga as well. If you live an active life you might want to consider skipping a high energy class in favor for a slower yin class to keep balanced.

The rest and digest response is slower than fight or flight and not always automatic. This means that if you live a stressed life you might actively need to work on rest and digest.


Try to come to yoga as often as you can, find a suitable home practice as well. Just 15 minutes a day of breath work and some asanas can be enough.
Try different styles like hot, flow, yin and breath work. This will keep your body balanced and happy and your mind interested with the variety.

And outside your yoga studio, try to find time to do something you really enjoy. It might be paining, making music, a slow walk in the mountain or just lying in the grass looking at the clouds.

Or go surfing. Connect to the ocean and the power of the water element. Breathe with the waves.

That is when you don’t meet sharks.

Then I would suggest you let your fight and flight response kick in.

Juliette Snijders

About Juliette: Juliette has been with evolation for since her graduation in 2015, she has been practicing for 10 years and teaching for 2. She splits her time between Sweden, Holland and Santa Barbara and loves to do photography, body surfing, cooking and yoga when she is not trying to out-swim sharks!

Discovering the joys of an open minded practice

I love hanging with my sister-in-law. She’s a yogi too.. .and impressive. She can do postures like crow. But our practices didn’t overlap; I was devoted to hot yoga and she to flow and never our paths would cross. When visiting one Christmas, I convinced her to come to a hot class with me. She wrinkled her nose and said, “but they sweat so much and I don’t want anyone sweating on my mat”. I laughed and told her, sincerely, that in nearly twenty years of steady practice, NOBODY had ever sweated within a yard of my mat. I ultimately prevailed and we went to class. “YESSSS,” I thought, “now she will see the error of her flow-yoga ways”. We had an amazing teacher and I eagerly awaited her verdict, which was: “Someone sweated on my mat”.

It was then that I understood that there is no ONE yoga. Okay, that’s not true because there are guiding principles that are a constant in all variations of yoga. I mean that the practice of “yoga” is as vast and rich and deep as, say medicine. There’s no ONE medicine; there are surgeons and internists and so on. What I’m saying is that it is my observation that people practicing different styles are quite committed to THEIR style of yoga and not so open minded to the others. Or maybe that’s just those of us at the beginning of our yogic journey? Either way, for me it was hot yoga or bust.

As a new co-owner of a yoga studio with a diverse practice, it was pretty important to me that I understand all the different practices in our studio. So I grabbed my mat and nervously walked in to a flow class. Would I look a fool? Would it kick my butt? What if I HATED it? How could I possibly serve all the students at evolation if I felt that way?

I had done flow classes before but never with teachers I trusted. At Evolation, I know I can trust every one of my teachers to know their stuff. So despite my worries, I walked in with an open, inquisitive mind. More importantly, I walked into class with a real hunger to understand what these “other” yogis found so intriguing.

I am certain I looked ridiculous at times. But the teacher kindly helped me find my way. And the other students encouraged me with smiles and words or just by demonstrating their practice. And it wasn’t all foreign – I saw echoes of my hot practice and was a total rockstar as my body’s muscle memory kicked in. Oh, and it totally kicked my butt. But in a wonderful, glorious way. You know the delicious burn after your body has moved in ways that are new and different?

So here is what I learned, why I have been back, and why YOU should do this too:

Hot and Flow Yoga have many similarities: both are moving meditations – if you start thinking about your to do list, you can expect to fall over. Both are full body workouts – you can count on stretching and strengthening many muscles, ligaments and fascia. Both are guided by an experienced teacher, completely dedicated to your well-being. In both, you move in unison with others in a shared purpose, possibly creating something greater than any one of you could have created alone. And in our studio, both are practiced in a beautiful environment with a view of the ocean!

I have learned that focusing on just one type of yoga robs me of the complementary benefits of the other types of yoga. I found that after a hot class, my back muscles talk loudly. After flow class my core was shouting for..ahem. . . joy? I don’t know about you, but I need BOTH of those areas to be strong. In flow, I had a meticulous focus on breath and moving in concert with that rhythm. In hot class, I focus meticulously on stillness, despite exertion. Hot yoga provides the comfort of repetition and space to focus on perfecting my pose. Flow provides the whimsy and interest associated with movement and the excitement of not knowing what will come next.

There were many more similarities and differences that I could share, but I would rather hear your discoveries. The point is that my body and my mind benefit from doing all of the above because in LIFE I am doing all of the above. And the epiphany is that if I focus just on one or the other, I am depriving myself. I realize there is no winner between Hot & Flow. The winner is ME as I challenge my body and mind in different ways and make wonderful discoveries in the process.

Are you like I was? Convinced that *your* yoga is the superior style? Join me in the classes that are new and different to you. Evolation’s class schedule makes it easy to try different styles. Life is too short for either of us to get stuck in a rut and there’s nothing quite like the rush of trying something new and maybe a little scary. Let me know how it goes!

Be well, Astrid