Sun Prairie Yogi of the Month: Ellie Valentine

I got started at Dragonfly back in 2016 at the downtown location, took a little hiatus due to COVID, and then came back to Dragonfly at the beginning of this year. Doing yoga and HIIT workouts at home just isn’t the same as doing them at Dragonfly; in the warmth with a whole class of people working toward similar goals.

The thing I love most about attending Dfly classes is how it continues to challenge me both physically and mentally. No matter what level of yoga practice I find myself at, there will always be a more challenging option and that’s really what keeps me coming back class after class. Not to mention, every class and every teaching style is so different – I love the surprise of new poses and sequences that each instructor brings. For this reason, it’s difficult to pick one favorite class, but if I had to choose – it would be Dragonfly Fusion 75 because of the longer length, the warmer room, and the variety of balance poses included.

Dragonfly gives me a way to schedule time out of my busy, student life to prioritize myself and take away the stress for a little while. I am so, so thankful to be a part of this wonderful, Dfly family!

Middleton Yogi of the Month: Nilda Morack

How did you get started at Dfly?
I moved back to Wisconsin last September and wanted to continue my journey of mind and body balance. I searched for the yoga studio with the best reviews. Ta-Da! DFLY was the first one listed on all searches

What was your yoga/barreamped experience before Dfly?
As an adult, I have lived in different cities/countries and yoga has been my common thread. Since 2011, hot yoga and bikram have been my preferred practices.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
I enjoy the encouragement from the instructors, the friendly greetings as I arrive, the blend of mindfulness and physical strength.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
Absolutely! My days are more focused after a morning class and my nights are more settled after an evening class.

How often do you attend classes? Favorite class?
I usually attend 4 times per week. My favorite class is Anna Lindstrom’s Flow 45. I love how Anna incorporate mindfulness, breath of fire (the “Shoosh” :)), strength and her personal experiences.

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
I am 68 years young. Yoga practice is my way of honoring my body, my mind and my goals. Seeing the improvement I make from month to month is a truly rewarding experience. My mother started practicing yoga when she was in her 40’s and she lived to the young age of 104! I strive to pick up what she left on the mat and in my heart.

Instructor Anna Lindstrom: “Nilda is an inspiration and embodies everything in the Dragonfly credo. She is dedicated to her practice, brings energy and curiosity to her mat, and listens to the body she is in that day. It is such a pleasure to have her class, and I am honored to be a little tiny part of her journey. Congratulations, Nilda!”

Fitchburg Yogi of the Month: Robin Neitzel

How did you get started at Dfly?
A co-worker who had back trouble and was even more out of shape than I was suggested I try it. He said the heat and stretching helped his back and told me if he could workout in the back row, so could I.

What was your yoga/barreamped experience before Dfly?
I had no yoga experience but had taken boot-camp style classes. I was not aware yoga studios had options beyond the classic pose type classes. That’s what convinced me to try it and continue with it.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
Feeding off the energy of all the fit people in class along with the enthusiasm, motivation and smiles of the instructors. Maybe it’s my imagination but I find the more the instructors smile the harder I have to work.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
A few years ago on Easter Sunday I experienced chest pain. I had a 95 percent blockage in my “widow-maker” artery and was told I was lucky to be alive. Over the last year with the help of Dragonfly I’ve made big strides improving my fitness. I’m stronger and leaner but I still have a ways to go. The physical changes have boosted my mental spirits and I have reason to worry less about the past.

How often do you attend classes? Favorite class?
I attend 5 or 6 classes a week. Power Up and Yoga Up are my favorites. They are a great combination of strength and aerobic conditioning which I need to meet my goals. I’ve been adding in some flow and yin classes too. Partly because they are great for stretching and sore muscles but also because they just feel good.

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
Everyone on the Dfly staff is very welcoming but I was worried about fitting in with people much fitter and younger than I am. A couple weeks ago something happened that helped me with that insecurity. A member approached me and said “Robin, I’ve noticed your progress and you look great”. That was a lifetime first for me and all I could do was thank her and give her a big hug. With all the political correctness now days it’s difficult to know if it’s ok to hand out a compliment. But for me personally the acknowledgement was a wonderful gift. It’s the little things in life……

Instructor Carly Schneider: “Robin is a consistent and dedicated Dfly practitioner, especially in the Up classes. It’s a pleasure having him there, motivating those around him and willing to try new things. He comes ready to work and is always up for a chat. Congratulations, Robin!”

Downtown Yogi of the Month: Chloe Strait

I got started going to Dragonfly while I was in undergrad. College was a huge change mentally and physically and finding Dragonfly was a huge help to both!

Prior to coming to Dragonfly I had never done hot yoga or Barre! I’d done yoga classes here and there and had done dance/poms all through my high school years so I decided to give it a shot and absolutely loved it! It was the perfect fit for someone who doesn’t necessarily like going to the gym but still wants to feel good mentally and physically.

The thing I enjoy most about Dfly classes is mental space I’m able to be in while I’m in the studio. The atmosphere, the instructors, and the classes really allow me to leave everything at the door and solely focus on my practice and my intention for the day. And of course the cool cloths at the end!

Hot yoga has helped my well being on so many levels. Being able to incorporate yoga into my weeks has helped my mental health drastically. I started working night shift as a nurse this past year which can take a toll on you mentally and physically and continuing to utilize Dfly practices has helped keep some normalcy in my day-to-day life :)

I always try to go to classes at least twice a week and three times a week when my work schedule allows it. Lately I’ve been been loving the afternoon week day flow classes where we get to try new flow series and poses! Prior to and during COVID I liked attending the Barre classes and practicing them at home on Dfly on Demand.

COVID really made me grateful for our Dfly studio. Doing yoga at home just wasn’t the same and since lockdown I have been so much more invested in getting out and going to yoga every week. So grateful for everyone at the studio who kept Dfly afloat during those tough times and helped keep yoga incorporated in our lives!

Sun Prairie Yogi of the Month: Amy Hamilton-Durian

My story begins as most fairytales do… Once upon a time a middle aged woman wandered in off the mean streets of Sun Prairie on January 30, 2018 and signed up for a membership having no history or expectations of what yoga actually was or the impact it would have on my life. I had been working with a personal trainer for several years but he had decided to take a new career path which essentially forced me into trying something new. I run daily, but have always supplemented that task with something else and I figured I would give Dragonfly a whirl. As simple as it sounds I was driving on Grand Avenue and saw the sign. Yoga was totally out of my comfort zone as I always associated people who practice yoga as calm, spiritual, kind, flexible and mindful of others. None of those things describe me. I’m loud, unfocused, selfish and extremely non bendy. (My mantra is I’ve got the flexibility and mouth of a trucker.) That faithful January night Pete was at the front desk and without his kindness I may have turned around and exited the building as quickly as I had entered. What sealed the deal for me was Pete basically guaranteed that yoga would make me a better runner and help with the knee pain I had begun to experience. Sign me up! In the beginning I was very fortunate and thankful to have practiced with the likes of Bekah, Anna, Beth and Sam. (and countless others along the way.) That top tier talent helped build a foundation and gave me the tools to keep growing in my practice. For the next two years I was consistently taking Flow and Barre classes 4 to 5 days a week and things were good in my world.

And then COVID hit… everything went to sh*t in a shopping cart. It seemed all aspects of my life had to be reinvented. I’m not certain of many things but I can tell you that familiarity, continuity and accountability is what gives me comfort. My mat is in the same spot each class, my girl Eden is right next to me and Paul on the other side. (Whether he wants to be part of my posse or not. LOL) and signing up for the classes in advance keeps me in check. The simple things I look forward to is knowing that Dani (my little yoga Goddess) will talk to me in her soothing voice on Tuesday nights and it somehow calms my tortured soul or how I’m convinced my Queen Nicole is trying to break me both mentally and physically during Yoga Up simply for her own enjoyment (Oddly enough hearing her laugh melts away the pain and suffering). None of this Utopia existed during COVID and I was a bit lost to say the least with no daily routine. I know Dfly tried to adapt and adjust best they could by implementing online classes but I couldn’t do it and slowly my body began to suffer. I always felt out of alignment as though things just weren’t in the right spot. After I would complete my runs I was extremely sore. It was even getting tough just walking up the stairs. My mind wouldn’t quiet… the list could go on and on. Flash forward two years and FINALLY things started to look up at the beginning of January. It was time to re-enter society as everything was falling into place. The vaccine was coursing through my veins, the mask mandate was lifted and my membership to Dfly was back up and running. I’m just shy of my 400th class and truth be told it’s just as hard today as it was on the first day of my yoga journey back in 2018. This yoga stuff is tough and it’s work and a lot of days it’s not something I particularly enjoy if I’m being honest, but I know in order to stay balanced and to feel good I have to keep doing it. I kid you not, the best part of my day is when I hear the words “there is no more work to be done. Savasana.” Sprinkles on the cupcake is the cool scented towel for sure and makes the anguish I just experienced for the previous hour all the worthwhile. TOWELS. MANDATORY. Enough said.

In Summary…..

I’m flawed and have an abundance of imperfections.

Honesty is my super power.

I try really hard to be kind, but sometimes it just doesn’t land.

The Dragonfly family has been so gracious and accepting of me and for that I am very appreciative.

I’m blessed.

Middleton Yogi of the Month: McKayla Trotter

How did you get started at Dfly? What was your yoga/barreamped experience before Dfly?
I started Dfly in 2018 when a co-worker of mine introduced me, and as they say… the rest is history! I had absolutely no experience with yoga before that first class in 2018.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
There are so many amazing things about Dfly! What I enjoy most is the supportive, kind, and passionate community. Right when I walk in the door, I immediately feel the loving and passionate energy of the people and the space. I love the many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits I’ve felt since that first day. The teachers are knowledgeable, kind, dedicated, and genuine. They’ve taught me a very important life lesson, which I’m still learning to this day – Yoga is about more than moving your body in this shape versus that shape – it’s about becoming fully embodied & taking that knowledge with you out into the world so we can be our absolute best selves.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
Yoga has completely changed my life. Because of Dragonfly, I am now a certified yoga teacher! Being a yoga teacher means a lot to me, and I wouldn’t have ever thought about it if it wasn’t for my experiences at Dragonfly. I utilize yoga every single day of my life both mentally and physically. Yoga brought me to my dream job. Yoga has taught me to be calm amidst chaos. Yoga helps me create mental clarity daily. Yoga has taught me much about my body. Yoga has taught me many life lessons that I utilize every day. Yoga has improved my flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and so much more. Yoga has taught me mindfulness, how to breathe through hard things/times, how to stay present, how to let go, how to handle stress, frustration, self-doubt, and many emotions we all experience daily. Yoga has reduced physical symptoms bringing me anger and frustration, such as inflammation. Yoga has improved my sleep. Yoga has improved my self-esteem, self-compassion, and self-love. Yoga has improved my posture.

There are so many amazing benefits – I have changed for the better because of yoga! I take class 4-5 times a week, at least! I love Suki’s 7:00 AM flow and Anna’s 9:00 AM flow. However, I find amazing things within every class I take at Dragonfly.

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
A little about me: I live in Verona with my boyfriend and our cat & dog. I am the youngest of 3 – I have a twin brother. I am musically talented. I love going for walks. I really enjoy Broadway & country music. I love food. I love drinking water. I am a certified recreational therapist at Creative Forces Therapy in Madison working with kids and teens. It’s absolutely my dream job. Being a recreational therapist with a yoga teacher certification has shown me how important body-based modalities are to people healing & growing. Yoga has given me the knowledge and experience to be the best therapist I can be for my clients and families. My journey to embodiment and healing is one that wouldn’t have happened without Dragonfly. If you want to learn about life, your health, your body, and you’re willing to be/try to be vulnerable then I highly recommend that you give this amazing place a chance. Last but not least, you will sweat A LOT! Sweating out the toxins while engaging in such a powerful practice is so transformative. It’s something everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime. You will not regret your decision!

And always remember, Yoga is for everybody. If you’re too frightened to try, let me be your motivation. You can do this!

Instructor Suki Warda: “It is an honor to have McKayla’s presence in class. Her practice exudes steadiness and ease. Her steadiness shows up as dedication, deep listening, and a courageous spirit. Her ease is expressed in kindness, grace, & a deep understanding beyond the poses we do. Thank you McKayla for being a beautiful peaceful warrior!”

Fitchburg Yogi of the Month: Sophie Brandsetter

How did you get started at Dfly?
I actually came to Dragonfly with my aunt a few times around 2010 and it always stuck with me. When I was looking to change up my fitness routine last year, I joined again and I’ve been a yogi ever since.

What was your yoga/barreamped experience before Dfly?
See above: I also took a few trial classes at other yoga studios, but I didn’t see the same impact as hot yoga.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
I enjoy carving time out for myself and to wind down from my busy corporate days. I always know I’m coming to a warm (literally and emotionally) and accepting environment where I can challenge myself appropriately.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
My flexibility is back at my teenage ballet dancer level- especially my hips and back! Emotionally, it really helps release any physical or mental tension and can make my day/mood almost instantly lighter.

How often do you attend classes? Favorite class?
My goal is to come to class 3-4 times a week but during a busy week, I attend about two classes. My favorite class is 5:30 on Thursdays with Kristen because it is challenging. I also like Saturday mornings with Jonathan because he’s intense and it sparks my entire weekend. I also can’t go wrong with a Cassie or Rachel class because they are rays of bright, positive sunshine. :)

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
I’m just about to hit my 100 class mark at my one-year Dfly anniversary!

Instructor Cassie Everhart: “Sophie is such a pleasure to have in class! I don’t think I have ever seen her walk into the studio without a huge smile on her face. She always makes sure to ask how the front desk person is doing as well as the instructor. As for in class Sophie is always willing to try new things yet has no ego about the practice if she falls she laughs at herself and tries again, long story short Sophie is a delight and very deserving of title of YOM!”

Downtown Yogi of the Month: Beth Piliouras

How did you get started at Dfly?
In the summer of 2020, my partner’s daughter recommended Dfly On Demand because she knew I had started practicing yoga at home while everything shut down due to COVID. In the summer of 2021 she invited me to go with her to an in-person Yoga Up class and I’ve been hooked on the in-person classes since then. I still use Dfly On Demand to supplement my workouts if I miss classes or I’m on vacation.

What was your yoga/BarreAmped experience before Dfly?
Not much. I had been going to the gym regularly when COVID hit. Even when the gyms started opening back up in a limited basis, my family wasn’t that comfortable and so I decided to try yoga. I found a series on YouTube that I liked that taught Vinyasa, but the number of videos was limited. I tried the Dfly On Demand free 14-day intro and just kept going with it.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
The challenge and the people. The instructors and yogis are always friendly and I feel better after every class I take because of that comradery.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
Absolutely. Dragonfly classes are my “me time.” I have two kids and work full-time. When I’m in the classes I don’t think about what needs to get done when I leave, I just think about how I can challenge myself in the 45-60 minutes that I’m there and, perhaps more importantly, what I can do better because of classes I’ve attended. Dragonfly is a great place to connect and to sweat out issues of the day. I can truly say that Dragonfly got me through COVID. I not only lost weight and gained strength, but kept my sanity and met a lot of great people in the process!

How often do you attend classes? Favorite class?
I usually go to five classes a week at all of the locations depending on what works out for my schedule. I don’t have a favorite class. Every teacher has a different format and it’s always to my benefit. I’ve done the Up classes, core classes, flow and barre classes.

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
At 46, this is the most fit I’ve ever been and I don’t plan to stop exploring new physical challenges. I never thought of myself as a fitness “class” person, but Dfly has made me see otherwise. And I’ve fallen for the same obsession that so many have in “hot” fitness. There’s just nothing else like it.

I’ve lived in the Madison area for almost 30 years (gasp!), and currently live in Monona with my partner, two kids, two dogs and a cat (although we did have 28 rats at one point). I like to mountain bike, kayak and garden in the summer. I swear that I’m moving to an island one of these days, but midwest springs and summers always keep me.

Sun Prairie Yogi of the Month: Judy Bryant Vilwock

How did you get started at Dfly?
It’s been so long but my guess is that like many people, I saw the 10 passes for $99 and figured why not? And over the years I would attend classes on and off, usually utilizing the $99 offer. But last year I decided to prioritize myself and my overall wellness and became a member. It’s been the best thing for me too because instead of just going to classes sporadically, I attend much more frequently which makes my cost per class cheaper than a Starbucks coffee:-)

What is/was your yoga/BarreAmped experience before Dfly?
I’ve probably done yoga on/off for almost 20 years. I was lucky for a time that my employer offered lunchtime yoga and pilates classes. Back then I did yoga mainly as a way to stay flexible for tennis and found that yoga really helped with recovery and injury prevention.

What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
I love how each instructor brings their unique style and I’m able to learn something from each of them. The classes aren’t just about the physical, they can have a spiritual element, a motivational side, a way to reframe a thought. I’m naturally a competitive person and my own harshest critic so the classes at Dragonfly have been good for me to find that balance of challenging myself at the same time accepting myself. Dragonfly also has a nice variety of classes so there is definitely something for everyone.

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
At the risk of sounding like I’ve drank the Kool-Aid, yes! I have had some health issues the last several years and found myself in this vicious circle where I didn’t have energy for physical activity, then when I would exercise it hurt during and after, so then I didn’t want to do it. Plus, I was always taking ibuprofen to less and less effect. And did I mention I have a job where I sit at a desk all day? But now that I’ve made my health a priority and attend classes regularly, I have more energy, I don’t have any of the aches and pains I had before, I feel stronger physically and mentally, and can’t remember the last time I took ibuprofen.

How often do you attend? Favorite class.
Although I am trying to make myself a priority, I have a son who’s active in hockey and tennis, so my schedule revolves around his. Yoga will always be there for me but he will only be in school for a few years, so I want to be there and support his endeavors. I usually attend at least 3 times a week but 4-5 is the norm. Some of my favorites are Monday nights with Ashley. Just love her personality and the energy she brings to each class, plus she mixes things up to keep it fresh. Megan’s 75 minute flow class on Sunday is another one, and she introduces challenging binds and poses. Nicole’s yoga up is a fun workout because she pushes you but has a great sense of humor about it so you leave the class sweaty but smiling.

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
I started out just doing yin classes, which I still enjoy, because that’s all I thought I could do. Eventually I decided to try slow flow and worked up to regular flow. This year I decided I am going to try every class they offer (except maybe the prenatal ;-) because I don’t want to tell myself that I can’t do a class without having tried it for myself. I think I was too worried about things like what if it’s too much, what if I look stupid, are people going to judge me for having to stop and get water or a myriad other things. But finally I started listening to what the instructors have been saying in class rather than the doubt in my head: this is your practice, do what works for you today, take what you need and leave what you don’t, and if you’re uncomfortable it means you’re growing. So yeah, I decided to try yoga up and it’s one of my favorite classes! I struggle with some of the cardio at times because I have some breathing issues related to Covid. But instead of never trying the class because I think I can’t do it, I’m glad I tried the class and I just modify the cardio part when I have to. Now I need to try some of the other classes I thought I couldn’t do, such as cardio barre! Maybe I’ll like it, maybe I won’t but I’m going to find out for myself instead of just assuming that I can’t do it.

I also brought my son to yin classes a few years ago when he had a hip injury and the classes helped get him back on the ice. I gave him a 10 pack pass for Christmas, and it’s been an eye opener for him to see that although he’s a strong, athletic young man, he can also work on his flexibility. It’s also good for him (and me!) to see men, women, young, old, every body type in one place engaged in a healthy activity that you can do your entire life.

Middleton Yogi of the Month: Liz Mussehl

How did you get started at Dfly?
Flashback to about 9 years ago, after experiencing bereavement, a friend invited me to a flow class at Dragonfly. I was feeling lost after losing my daughter and my friend thought yoga would be a great way to help me cope. She was right! I was totally hooked after one class. Following that I did drop in classes as much as possible. While I have enjoyed other fitness platforms over the years yoga is my true love. Flash forward to present day, returning to Dragonfly a few months ago has been a full circle moment for me. I moved to Middleton after a massive life shift during the height of the pandemic. Living in the area has allowed me to practice as much I want. It has been so awesome coming back to where my journey inward all started!

What is/was your yoga/barreamped experience before Dfly? What do you enjoy most from attending Dfly classes?
I love all forms of fitness. I have tried just about everything but felt yoga was most beneficial coming into post pandemic life. The HEAT! The hotter, the better!

Have you experienced any changes in your total well-being since taking classes?
Aside from weight loss and toning that naturally come with hot yoga, I treat myself and others around me with kindness and patients. As Samantha Brenner always says, “have grace.” I’m learning that!

How often do you attend classes? Favorite class?
Every day if possible. Sometimes twice a day! Samantha Brenner’s classes push me way outside of my comfort zone in the BEST way. She’s caring but challenging at the same moment. I appreciate that mix of zen but crazy hard. You can’t grow if you don’t push yourself. She expects the very best version of her students and I love it!

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have about Dfly, hot yoga, or your life as we would love to know more about you.
Yoga has been my calm in the storm through many challenging chapters in life. Knowing yoga basics like breathing and focus has morphed hardships into some of my greatest accomplishments. I can do hard things simply by believing I can. Because yoga has taught me that by feeling good in your own skin and trusting yourself you can accomplish the impossible.

I’m in such a great chapter right now. I have always done the “healing, restorative” kind of yoga. I’m really looking forward to the “fun, carefree” yoga days that are ahead!

Instructor Sam Brenner: “Liz is SO deserving of Yogi of the Month! She is consistent in her practice, willing to try new things as well as find grace and playfulness in practice. I am so impressed with Liz’s dedication to her practice–keep up the amazing work!”