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Tough Love Yoga Makes the Practice of Yoga Accessible, Affordable for All

By Pamela Sosnowski

It may have the word "tough" in its name, but there's nothing intimidating about Atlanta's Tough Love Yoga; its mission is to make yoga accessible and affordable to customers of all ages and abilities.

Founded by Neda Draupadi Honarvar, a yogi with over 16 years of experience who has trained over 80 yoga instructors, Tough Love Yoga is an alignment-based studio, meaning that an emphasis is placed on good form and how the human body moves so that participants can strengthen their muscles while remaining safe during each move. But equally as important to Honarvar is that each student feels welcome and completely comfortable at TLY.

"We want anyone coming to class for the first time to feel comfortable not only with the language used in classes but also generally in our space," she says. "The vibe at our studio is chill and welcoming. We have people of all ages, genders, sizes, religions, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds in our classes. We have a very friendly and open-minded staff and community and people often tell me that they feel at home when they walk through our doors."

That also means that instructors teach classes using a minimal amount of yoga lingo or jargon. But don't let the casual teaching approach fool you; the studio offers a variety of yoga classes that do everything from minimize stress to making its students serious sweat. One of the most popular classes at TLY is Metal Yoga, where head banging tunes accompany an hour and a half of working and playing hard.

"It all started because I was trying to get my guy friends to come to class and they told me they would come if I played metal music," explains Honarvar. "From day one, it was a hit. It's a gateway into the practice for many people. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people have said that they wouldn't have ever tried yoga if it weren't for Metal Yoga. And it's not just metal heads in those classes."

Other classes include Wine'd Down, where students enjoy a glass of wine post-workout, Buddha-Licious, where '80s and '90s hip-hop hits accompany the yoga, and Fire Flow, an advanced yoga class for more experienced yogis.

The prices are affordable, too: just $10 per drop-in class and the studio offers special packages for students that wish to come regularly. Regardless of the rates, all TLY instructors have received vigorous training and are passionate about what they do and helping others achieve the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Some of these include improved posture, strong muscles, improved flexibility, and also greater peace of mind and connection to one's self.

As for Honarvar herself, discovering yoga changed her life and she believes it can change the lives of her students as well. "It's helped me cultivate a deeper with my breath, with my awareness, and with my self," she explains. "It's a path of self-knowledge and through it I learned who I really am and how to love myself. It's the best gift I've ever been given and I feel honored and blessed every day to be able to share this practice with so many people."

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