PIECING
TOGETHER
STEPHANIE
BARD

How one woman got
her groove back

Written By Sheri Hawkins
Photography by Mackenzie Sweeney

PIECING
TOGETHER
STEPHANIE
BARD
How one woman got
her groove back

Photo By Mackenzie Sweeney | photographyByMackk.com

The Puzzle Frame

When I was a kid, I used to hate doing puzzles.  I would always get frustrated and smash the pieces into place with my chubby little fists, determined to “make them fit”.  I didn’t have the patience to look for the right pieces, so my puzzles would always turn out looking like Disney-themed Picassos.  However, as I’ve gotten older, I must admit that I’ve discovered there is a sense of satisfaction to be found in hearing two puzzle pieces “click” seamlessly together.

This analogy is the best way I can explain how I felt when I had the opportunity to interview Zen Soul Studio co-founder and Director of Operations, 200 hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher and Buti Yoga® Master Trainer, Stephanie Bard.  She is like a puzzle whose pieces have fallen effortlessly into place.
Even though she has overcome a lot to get here, there’s a sense in the quietly confident way she talks about her life, her business and her future ambitions, that she knows she’s got her dancing feet firmly grounded on a good path.
Even though she has overcome a lot to get here, there’s a sense in the quietly confident way she talks about her life, her business and her future ambitions. She knows she’s got her dancing feet firmly grounded on a good path.

Photo By Mackenzie Sweeney | photographyByMackk.com

After only a few minutes of interacting with her, Stephanie feels quickly familiar.  She is open and vulnerable, even though in doing so, she’s noticeably outside of her comfort zone.

This is a woman whose tendency is likely to be guarded, but who is deliberately choosing to “be real”.  She has faced more than her fair share of adversity, yet she has continuously risen above it.
This is a woman whose tendency is likely to be guarded, but who is deliberately choosing to “be real.”
 
She has faced more than her fair share of adversity, yet she has continuously risen above it.
What’s more is, she seems to understand the intrinsic value of each piece of her puzzle.  Even the misshapen pieces that seem like they shouldn’t fit have helped her define her bigger purpose.
Piece #1
Stephanie The Dancer

According to her mother, Stephanie has been a dancer since she was “dancing in her belly. Stephanie started dance when she was 2 and started playing traditional sports around the age of 8.  At the age of 10 her mother recognized her natural affinity for dance when she completed a pirouette in the middle of a tennis match, by then Stephanie had already been competing in regular dance competitions.

Stephanie easily picked up multiple forms of dance, such as ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop and contemporary.  She began to perform in competitive dance competitions, eventually competing at a college-level at Scottsdale Community College, a school known for having one of the best dance programs in the country, and Arizona State University.   She was also affiliated with both SCC: S.A.J.E Contemporary Jazz company and the professional modern dance company, Instinct Dance Corps.

 

It was there Stephanie began to discover her ability for self-expression through her mobility and sense of movement.  She felt drawn to the energy in movements that were kinetic and primal in nature.
It was there Stephanie began
to discover her ability
for self-expression
through her mobility and
sense of movement.
She felt drawn to the
energy in movements that
were kinetic and
primal in nature.

Photo By Mackenzie Sweeney | photographyByMackk.com

Although she had spent 20 plus years in jazz, and modern dance groups, Stephanie’s biggest love was ballroom dancing. As a Spanish girl raised in Texas by a father who was a Latin-style dancer, she chose to embrace her roots. She successfully competed in multiple ballroom dancing competitions and was a member of Devil’s Dance Sport, Arizona State University’s Latin and Ballroom dance team.

While completing her “Psychology and Dance” Bachelors degree from ASU, she continued to hone her craft and danced for Arthur Murray Dance School. Although she was just a student at the academy, she was asked to partner with her teachers in competitive dances, such as the waltz and the foxtrot. However, after she had graduated she had stopped dancing.

Piece #2
Stephanie the Career Woman & Die Hard Yogi!

Ever since the age of 15, when Stephanie moved with her family from Texas to her current home in Arizona, she loved to practice yoga. Nearly thirteen years later, despite having stopped dancing competitively to settle into a career in hotel management, Stephanie still recognized her need for movement.  She began to practice yoga daily,  which lead her to becoming a yoga instructor. She received her certification by AtOne Yoga through Life Power with renowned teachers, Anton Mackey, Jen Chiarelli and Desiree Grobstein.  She is also certified in 11.11 The Practice by Tara Jae and has achieved her 200 hour E-RYT YACEP by Yoga Alliance

 

It was Vinyasa yoga that connected her with her innate need for self-expression. Vinyasa allowed her to move her body more mindfully as it was more free-flowing and less structured than traditional yoga.
It was Vinyasa yoga that connected her with her innate need for self-expression. Vinyasa allowed her to move her body more mindfully as it was more free-flowing and less structured than traditional yoga.

In 2014, Stephanie became certified as a Yoga Instructor. She left her career in the hospitality industry to pursue a better work/life balance.  She shifted gears and began working as a barre instructor (Barre is a ballet fitness class) at Re-Barre in Scottsdale, where she taught women of all ages how to perform exercises that would challenge them to embrace both the masculine and feminine movements of their bodies.

It was at this time when Stephanie also began to work at a rehab center owned by her uncle and managed by her mother, becoming heavily involved in the Addiction Recovery world where she trained under Nikki Meyers in her Yoga for Recovering Addicts program which is a yoga and mediation 12-step recovery program designed to help aid people through their personal journey with addiction, relapse and recovery.
Piece #3
Stephanie at the root
When I asked her why she chose to make such a dramatic shift from Hotel Management to working in an Addictions Recovery facility, Stephanie shared with me that it was because of a personal connection. She had watched a loved one struggle with addiction and recovery.
And it was in this moment that I learned that the journey people live through when struggling with trying to stay clean isn’t always a straight path.
And it was in this moment that I learned that the journey people live through when struggling with trying to stay clean isn’t always a straight path.
Sometimes in life, things don’t always end up the way we planned, and witnessing someone you love live through a constant battle with addiction, can change you. This journey had given Stephanie a deeper understanding and connection to what it meant to live in recovery, but more importantly it is what compelled her to help others. And that is exactly what she did.
In her ambitions to help others who suffered with addiction issues, developing and working in recovery programs had become an integral part of her life.
In her ambitions to help others who suffered with addiction issues, developing and working in recovery programs had become an integral part of her life.

In 2015, she partnered with her mother to open Valor Behavioral Healthcare, becoming the center’s Director of Wellness and Aftercare.  She taught meditation and yoga, focusing on breath work and mindfulness, and put into practice her learnings from Nikki Meyers. However, in the wake of losing a loved one to their battle with addiction, Stephanie felt like she needed to step back from where she was and re-focus her energy back into what brought her the most joy which was of course her first love: movement.

I didn’t find Yoga,
Yoga found me.

Photo by Something Erika Photography

I didn’t
find Yoga,
Yoga found
me.

Photo by Something Erika Photography

Piece #4
Stephanie the Buti Yoga Master Trainer
With Stephanie’s life once again in transition, she attended a Buti Yoga® class. Despondent after so many years out of the dance world, her friends encouraged her to go to a class, saying it would “reconnect her with her love of dancing”. In response to how she felt after her first class, Stephanie responded with,
It was like I was hit with a brick of magic.
It was like I was hit with a brick of magic.

After the class, she went home and cried to her husband, unable to hold back her emotions. The combination of the anatomic freedom and fluidity she had discovered in Vinyasa Yoga, along with the animalistic, primal style of movement combined with her many years of dance experience – the biggest pieces to her puzzle – were finally all clicking into place perfectly.  She had finally found a way to effectively connect yoga and dance. Stephanie went on to train under Buti Yoga® founder Bizzie Gold, Crystal Palermo, co-founder of Merge The Practice, and instructor Tara Winterhalter, founder of Ritual Sweat Society.

In 2018, she took it a step further by completing the Master Training Program to become a certified trainer for Buti Yoga® instructors and was given the title Buti Yoga® Master Trainer. She is also certified in all 5 Buti Yoga® formats and will be teaching/leading some of their 200hr Yoga Teacher trainings.

 

Piece #5
Stephanie the Entrepreneur
In February 2017, Stephanie, along with her partner Lindsay Hope, opened their current studio, Zen Soul Studio in Scottsdale, AZ.  She decided to leave Re-Barre to focus her attention full-time on managing the studio, in addition to being one of their main instructors. She continues to teach Life Power classes there three times a week, as well as 1-1 client sessions.
As a user and believer of the energetic properties held within the crystal gemstones of the mala beads, Stephanie shares that they have helped to calm her down, keep her grounded and allow her to connect with her students on a deeper level.
As a user and believer of the energetic properties held within the crystal gemstones of the mala beads, Stephanie shares that they have helped to calm her down, keep her grounded and allow her to connect with her students on a deeper level.

Stephanie and Lindsay plan to open a new studio very soon which will offer more than just yoga classes. They will also be focusing on deeper wellness and holistic healing services. And in true entrepreneur form Stephanie ALSO runs her own business IGNITE wellness collective, which holds continued education courses for fitness, movement, yoga and wellness holistic services.

Ignite is the wellness aspect of Zen

It is through IGNITE that she sells her mala/sacred vibrational creations, but even more excitingly will be offering 200 hour yoga teacher trainings. The 200 hour YTT will be launching in THIS SPRING and she will hold 2-3 a year at Zen Soul Studio!

Piece #6
Stephanie, Cruise Instructor!

After having already achieved so many personal and professional goals, I asked Stephanie what she would be doing next! On January 18th, 2019, Stephanie went to the high seas for eight days on the 6th Annual Karma Vacations Dance Fitness Cruise. She is the FIRST Buti Instructor to teach and promote Buti Yoga® on a cruise line! And has let us know that she will be doing this again next year, January 19 -26 2020. It will be a 7 Night cruise to Eastern Caribbean with Karma Vacations | @karmavacations! So be sure to keep an eye out for that!

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your inspirational #RebelStory with us!
The Yogi Yoga Wear team is proud to welcome you
to our Tribe of Affiliates!
Follow Stephanie on her journey on Facebook | Stephanie Bard and on Instagram | @mmmSteph & @ignitewellnesscollective 
Piece #6
Stephanie, Cruise Instructor!
After having already achieved so many personal and professional goals, I asked Stephanie what she would be doing next! On January 18th, 2019, Stephanie went to the high seas for eight days on the 6th Annual Karma Vacations Dance Fitness Cruise. She is the FIRST Buti Instructor to teach and promote Buti Yoga® on a cruise line! And has let us know that she will be doing this again next year, January 19 -26 2020. It will be a 7 Night cruise to Eastern Caribbean with Karma Vacations | @karmavacations! So be sure to keep an eye out for that!
With all these pieces of Stephanie’s life gradually falling into place, she has created one beautiful cosmic puzzle!
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your inspirational #RebelStory with us! The Yogi Yoga Wear team is proud to welcome you to our Tribe of Affiliates!
Follow Stephanie on her journey on Facebook | Stephanie Bard and on Instagram | @mmmSteph & @ignitewellnesscollective
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