Southtown Yoga Loft... my first yoga home (Vendor Feature)

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Can you believe we are already in February??? Seriously where does time go. If you aren't in my private VIP group you should be. There are monthly giveaways and this month's giveaway is a 5 card class pass to one of my favorite yoga studios in town, Southtown Yoga Loft.  They have two locations. One downtown and one in Helotes. Both are beautiful studios each with their own vibe. I have been going to their downtown studio for years and fell in love from the moment I first stepped foot in the door. The space is GORGEOUS and the instructors are always so welcoming and encouraging. They have a variety of classes ranging from beginners classes to strong flows... they even have kids yoga and prenatal yoga. They also do workshops which I am looking forward to taking a few myself.  This beautiful studio will forever by in my heart and it's where I did my RYT 200 hour yoga training. I still go there because I love it that much.  Whether you are a seasoned yogi or just curious to try yoga I encourage you to check out this San Antonio gem. 

 

 

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southtownyogaloft.com

Raven Red VIP Group

 

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Mel Marie Yoga and Self Care Shala - Vendor Feature

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Ok, so if you don't know already I am pretty obsessed with yoga (check out my yoga website  here). So at the beginning of 2017 I embarked on my journey to become a certified yoga instructor. After completing my RYT 200  I came across Mel Marie's RYT 300 training program. I instantly knew this was my path. It was a Adaptive and Therapeutic Yoga Training Program and if you know my story you know how yoga saved and continues to save me in my journey through chronic illness. I wanted to be a yoga teacher for others struggling with their health and I knew this program could help guide me on my course.

I called her up immediately to learn more. I was timid having just graduated from my Teacher Training and not feeling prepared for advanced training but the steady and beautiful voice on the other end calmed my nerves and I knew this was indeed my dharma. I completed my RYT 300 with her this past December and let me tell you the journey was incredible. Mel Marie and the women I met through her training touched my soul.  We laughed, we cried, we learned together and supported each other on our course. Seriously if you are considering a yoga training program I encourage  you to look into hers. You won't be disappointed.

At the end of the program she told us the wonderful news that she was opening her Self Care Shala which would be a sanctuary for all things self-care. I was thrilled for her and even more thrilled that she has asked me to teach here in 2018... more on that later. Since she literally just opened in this past week I asked her if she would like to be our featured vendor for January and she graciously accepted. I stopped in the other day to chat with her and take some photos for this blog and the place is a gem!!  I have lots of wonderful collaborations coming up with this beauty but for now I will let her share her business with you. Enjoy... and remember self-care is self-love! 

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MelMarie Yoga is committed to serving our communities by illuminating the importance of self care through the effort to make therapeutic yoga more accessible, available, and person-centered.

This effort is to offer our community an integrative approach to compliment health recovery through methods of mindfulness, meaning, and movement.  MelMarie Yoga Academy is committed to serving and nourishing San Antonio in adaptive yoga by creating teaching opportunities, classes, and workshops that enhance the way we show up, serve, and absorb quality of life. 

Founder, Melissa Aguirre facilitates 200 hour and 300 hour Adaptive Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Trainings through San Antonio to Boerne. Mention you heard about her from Raven Red and receive a 10% off discount on her training programs beginning in February. These programs can serve as a compassion retreat for your wellbeing, clarity for career paving and innovation, connection to community and a vehicle to deepen your yoga and mindfulness practices. 

It is the heart of MelMarie to celebrate our Self Care Shala opening January at 11844 Wurzbach Rd. Our services include a Self Care Menu of options to establish your wellness regimen while connecting with a community passionate about mindful integrative care. With "Give What You Can" classes, topic specific series that offer both experience and education, private health consulting and an abundance of workshops- connect with us to learn more about how we can serve you.

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Mel Marie donated this month's prize which you can win.... More details in the VIP Group

The prize includes:

MelMarie Live Your Bliss Tank

MelMarie Balance Me Stack 

1 hour Yoga Therapy Session 

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A Creative Session with a Contest Winner

Since I just hosted a contest in my VIP client group I thought I would finally share all the images from the last contest winner. This was a creative session and what I love about it is it shows that simplicity can go a long way.  This was one look yet we got a variety of images playing with lighting, motion and emotion.  My muse for the day did an incredible job and  I'm thrilled with what we created. I can't wait to see who the next contest winner is and creating some beautiful art with her.  

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She felt like a Bad ass cause.... She is a Bad ass!!

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Photographing this beauty was a bit of a dream. She is strong, sensual, gorgeous and confident. I was thrilled when she said not only could I share these images but that she would write blog post. She is  a mom, a successful entrepreneur and one of the hardest working and most passionate women you will meet. She inspires other women to nurture their body with her passion for fitness. She is the woman that proves with hard work, determination and self love you can achieve what your heart desires. I loved her story and I hope it inspires others as much as it inspired me. 

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"I've never been the skinniest girl, but I've often been the strongest. As a former nationally ranked athlete who morphed into an adult that became a gym rat, I've always pushed myself physically to achieve. However, a difficult pregnancy with my first child, a directive from the doctor not to work out and a rather generous understanding of what it meant to 'eat for two' meant that I gained a lot of weight. In addition, my husband is active duty military, and at 32 weeks pregnant, we moved to a state where I had neither family nor friends, and the below freezing temperatures nine months out of the year meant that I couldn't even go for walks with my newborn son. I was heavier than I had ever been in my life and miserable. 

During my pregnancy, I had taken prenatal yoga classes and on a whim, I decided to enroll in yoga teacher training. That decision brought me back both physically and emotionally. I started to lose weight, but then became pregnant with our second child. Two children in two years is tough on a body, but I continued with my yoga teacher training, completed it, and then moved on to other fitness pursuits. I became Barre certified, prenatal yoga certified and group fitness certified. Throughout my second pregnancy, I remained healthy and strong. After my daughter was born, I fully invested in a hardcore exercise regime and made changes in my eating habits.

When my daughter was seven months old, my husband deployed, and I decided to take that time to get back to the weight that I was when we had first started dating. I decided to do the boudoir photo shoot with Angela as a 'welcome home' gift to my husband and a 'well done' gift to myself. I am the fittest, healthiest and happiest that I have ever been. I'm still not the skinniest chick out there, but dammit, I think I'm a bit of a bad ass and for the first time in my life, I'm owning that I'm perfect in all my lovely imperfections. It was an incredible, validating experience to work with Angela. If you had asked me two years ago if I would feel comfortable publicly sharing photos of myself in lingerie, I would have empathetically told you no, but today, I'm proud of this strong body that gave birth to two beautiful children. And my husband liked them too. :-) Thank you, Angela."

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Getting Back in The Groove.

As most of you know I am chronically ill thanks to an autoimmune disease that was discovered last year after my Stroke. Well, this year complications from that disease landed me back in the hospital for a total of three weeks. Then after getting out I had to be on bed rest as I recovered from surgery.

Not shooting for that long is always hard on my spirit cause this is seriously what I live for. The long hiatus had also taken a toll on my body and even though my heart and mind wanted to get back in the game my body was weak an on top of that now needed oxygen. Photography is not only my passion but it's how I make a living so it was imperative I get get back to work asap.

But before I took on a client I wanted on test shoot to test my body, learn my limits, see what it was like to shoot with an extra ten pounds from the oxygen machine on my back. So I reached out to this beauty. She was a client I had last year and we had a great shoot then so I contacted her to see if she could come and help me out. She agreed and with very little planning we came together to create these images. It was a short shoot and even so I was worn out after.

I discovered that extra ten pounds on my back was tough and the following day I was sore all over. I always worry when I go weeks without shooting... "Will I lose it? Will I lose my ability to see and create compelling images?"  Thankfully after seeing what we created this day I don't think I lost anything. And this shoot helped me to prepare for future shoots. I learned that rather than carrying the O2 machine the whole time I can prop it up against the wall and use a long hose to move around the studio.

I also learned that having a assistant is invaluable for me especially when my body is still compromised and weak, I can have my assistant move lights, reflectors  and demonstrate poses which allows me to conserve energy and focus on staying behind the camera and creating beautiful images.

So from now on it is my goal to have my assistant at every shoot I possibly can. Some of you have already met my assistant. Her name is Elisha and she has been truly incredible these last few weeks. She is finishing out her internship with me for September then she is coming on board as a regular Raven Red associate as a assistant and photographer. She is one of a few associate photographers I have coming on board. Each brings their own talents and personalities and were hand picked by me for those reasons.... more on them to come.  In the meantime just enjoy this beauty, Lexi. 

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Embracing your Body through Portraiture

Maternity has always been one of my favorite types of sessions to photograph. So when I was able to combine my love of boudoir with maternity I knew I had found something that I really really loved to photograph. Bringing the ideas of boudoir and helping women to see themselves as the gorgeous goddesses that they are when they are carrying life was right up my alley. During pregnancy a woman's body is changing a lot and quickly and for some this can be a difficult time to accept themselves and embrace those changes with love and compassion. This is where I come in. I know that having a photoshoot can really shape how you perceive yourself and the power that has over your mental and emotional state. I think every woman should have a boudoir session at least once in her life and every woman should also have a maternity session to celebrate the beauty that she exudes when she is carrying life so why not combine those two. Miss T did just that. After our initial consultation we decided that we would do both a boudoir look in the studio and then go on location for some beautiful non-boudoir photos. We chose the Botanical Gardens herein San Antonio and I couldn't be more in love with the scenery which complimented her gorgeous gown.  I thank Miss T so much for trusting me as her photographer and allowing me to share her photos. Below you will find her own  words on the experience. 

"When I first found out I was pregnant, I was apprehensive at how my body would change and grow. I have always tried to maintain a certain physique and being a Soldier in the US Army ensures that I have to maintain certain standards. I knew things would change as my son grew but I didn't always feel healthy or beautiful. After expressing my thoughts to a friend, she suggested a maternity session and highly recommended boudoir in order to view myself in a different way. This is when I sought out a photographer who could help. Once I found Angela and spoke to her on the phone, I knew working with her was exactly what I needed. The way she expressed her thoughts on maternity photography and implementing a boudoir element made the decision feel even better. Our session together made me feel empowered, beautiful and allowed me to view myself in a whole new way. She documenting a softer side and at the same time a side that showed a different type of strength and beauty I had not seen before. I am so thankful for finding Angela. I encourage anyone who wants to view themselves in a whole new way to try a professional photo shoot."

Just Leap into the Unknown...

So one day at the studio I had planned to be there all day for meetings and then upon getting there I had two  clients that needed to reschedule so I realized I would have a gap in my day.  Not really enough time to go home. So rather than sit there mindlessly scrolling FB I decided I would post a very last minute offer for someone to come by my studio for a quick session. I knew it was a long shot... asking someone to be at my studio in just a couple of hours with no prep and then strip down to lingerie without any kind of pre-shoot guidance. I had pretty much decided it wouldn't happen when Miss B commented on my post that she would take me up on my offer. She asked what to bring and I told her to bring whatever she was comfortable posing in. Miss B wasn't a complete stranger to me. She works as a local boutique I partner up with and we had chatted before on my regular visits to the boutique. But in no way had I ever prepped her for a Photoshoot. So she arrives with some lovely lingerie from Forever 21 (seriously if you haven't checked out their lingerie options, you should). With little time to spare we got straight  to shooting and I couldn't be more thrilled with what we captured. Sometimes we overthink things... what do I wear, how will I pose, what will my expressions look like?  I don't think Miss B had time for any of that. She literally showed up at my studio within a couple of hours of knowing she was going to be in front of the camera. She didn't have time to overthink or worry. She just showed up with an open heart and  an open mind and together we created something beautiful. My point is that while it certainly is nice to have all that prepping time to prepare for a shoot sometimes all we have to do is show up and trust. My yoga mentor always says "Simple is Sacred" and there is beauty in that statement.  Don't over think things in life... sometimes all you have to do is show up and let the universe handle the rest. I am so grateful to Miss B for her courage and willingness to leap into that unknown with such trust. Read Miss B's experience in her own words....

"I have been working at the Sexology Institute (SXI) for 10 months now, where I quickly became familiar with Angela Michelle AKA Raven Red’s work, and there was no doubt in my mind that she was anything less than a very talented photographer. When the opportunity came that she needed models, I was eager to take her up on that offer because so many of my co-workers have raved about the amazing experience they have had with her and I wanted to experience it for myself. (I have been saving for a shoot of my own, but figured a little practice, fun shoot wouldn’t hurt). Going into the shoot was a bit nerve racking because I had no idea what to expect or if I would even fit the image and/or part of what Angela was wanting…that and this was my first photoshoot, EVER! Within 10 minutes I was completely comfortable, and almost forgot I was half naked in a studio! Angela helped position me in ways that accentuated my body and although some of the positions were a little uncomfortable, it was fun and easy, almost as if I was in my own room posing in front of the mirror. She had a way of keeping the conversation light and happy, all while making me feel confident and sexy. I left the shoot that day almost in awe because I was shocked that I actually went through the whole shoot with such ease. It gave me a boost of confidence that I haven’t had in a while, and that was not the end of it. Throughout the next couple of days, I knew it was possible that I would see an image of myself on Raven Red’s Facebook/ Instagram page, and sure enough, 3 days later, there I am. I couldn’t wait to see the other images, and almost as if she read my mind, she sent me a collage of some of the photos from the shoot, which left me completely speechless. I have always had some amount of confidence in myself, but seeing myself through Raven Red’s lens was what I needed to truly, and always feel confident and to embrace every aspect of myself. My sexuality, my beauty, and even my flaws, because without them I wouldn’t be imperfectly beautiful. Although this was my first time behind her camera, it will definitely not be the last. Whether it’s to continue to “model” for her, or a scheduled booking of my own, I will find a way to experience it all over again."