There are lots of reasons working at the Long Center is ✨the best✨ but one of our favorite things has to be staff yoga. Once a month, local yoga instructor Tori Johnson (who also happens to be on the LC Marketing team) offers an all-levels yoga class just for staff. This Mental Health Awareness Month, pull up a mat and get the scoop on how Tori’s practice began and what she loves about teaching, plus a note from our friends at Baylor, Scott & White Health about how yoga supports mental health. 

Tori in Les Syphides at the University of Utah
Howdy, y’all!

Like lots of yoga teachers, I got my start through dance. Before moving to Austin, I trained in ballet, starting in Houston while also bopping around Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Boston, before landing in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah School of Dance. It was at the U that I got serious about cross-training, and my practice of choice was yoga. 

Although I was taking weekly yoga classes at a studio near my apartment, I felt like I was only scratching the surface of what I could learn. Yoga in the West is very focused on asana, or physical postures, and I felt myself craving something deeper. I’m a big nerd in case you can’t tell 🤓

I did some snooping through the U’s course catalog and found that the College of Health offered a 200-hour yoga teacher training… and it was covered by my scholarship! I finished my 200-hour around the same time I graduated in 2019. Fast forward a few years and I completed my 500-hour certification through My Vinyasa Practice here in ATX. Besides the occasional continuing education course, I’m taking a little break from teacher trainings… 500 hours is a lot, y’all! Now I teach monthly staff yoga here at the LC as well as some special events for The Phoenix and Communities for Recovery.

Teaching yoga to my colleagues is one of my favorite parts of my job because it gives us a chance to interact in a way that’s very different from our day-to-day. The Long Center employs so many different types of people in so many different types of jobs, but when we practice yoga together, our titles and departments don’t matter at all. We’re all just people seeking peace through movement.

If you’ve taken a look at our calendar, you know that at the LC, we work hard and we work fast to make sure all our events go off without a hitch. Don’t get me wrong—we love it!—but that’s all the more reason it’s so special that our work encourages us to take an hour to decompress. 

Here’s what Kelsey from our HR team has to say 👇

Yoga allows our staff an opportunity to step away and refresh during busy days at the Long Center. Moving our bodies and calming our minds supports both physical and mental well-being and is something our staff looks forward to each month.

Tori assisting Kelsey from HR during a staff yoga class

Wellness practices like staff yoga have a direct impact on productivity, too. After a yoga session, my colleagues and I go back to our jobs feeling lighter and sharper. We’re ready to hit the ground running so we can make events like The Drop-In exciting for guests (that’s you!).

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve probably felt the same thing, but to put the stamp of science on it, we asked Joanne Sotelo, MC, a psychiatrist on the medical staff at Baylor, Scott & White Clinic – Round Rock 425 University for her thoughts. Here’s what she had to say 👇

Yoga can help reduce stress by helping control your breathing and mindfulness, which can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and lowering stress hormones like cortisol. It can help you improve depression and reduce anxiety by regulating neurotransmitters associated with positive mood and well-being.  

Additionally, yoga encourages mindfulness and present-moment awareness, which can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This increased self-awareness can aid in better emotional regulation and coping strategies.

Photo by Emily Bolt

🗣 All that being said, don’t forget that yoga is a valuable and complementary practice, not a substitute for treatment. If you experience a severe mental health condition, definitely talk to your doctor. They can help you find appropriate care.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Tori, how do I get my work to have a company-led activity like this?!” I’m so glad you asked 😉 First of all, ask them for it! Staff yoga at the LC started with me just talking to HR about it. It also helps if you offer up your own skills. If you’re a certified fitness instructor of any kind, it’s a lot easier for your employer to say yes to you, rather than them having to go find someone to teach the class.

Second, don’t limit yourself to “traditional” types of exercise. Yoga is great (obvi), but don’t forget about accessible activities like walking. Maybe you and some colleagues put together a walking group and you make a lap around the block after lunch! 

In the nonprofit world—and honestly, just in these days and times—having external and internal support for activities like this means a lotYou work hard at your job, and sometimes that means it gets harder to take time to unwind.

Tori teaching yoga to Long Center staff members

Well, y’all, thanks for nerding out with me about why I love teaching yoga! When you swing by The Drop-In this summer, look for me. I’ll be the girl taking pictures of everything on her phone, probably balanced on one leg 🤳


At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

The Drop-In 2024 lineup is out and it’s no surprise that we have some opinions in the house! At the LC, we’re a collection of superfans, ride-or-dies, and intense consumers of Austin’s creative arts scene, so when we asked for Drop-In ‘hot picks,’ the team certainly delivered. Check out what they had to say about this stellar lineup (spoiler: we like them all) and start putting together your own can’t-miss, won’t-miss list.

The Drop-In 2024 Lineup
The whole lineup is solid, but who are you most excited to Drop-In this summer?
Matt from Programming
// Pedal Steel Noah

After watching his viral videos & learning his story, it’s exciting for us to bring the joy of his playing to our Drop-In series. Noah has turned the traditional approach to pedal steel use & made it his own!

Sonora from Development
// Bidi Bidi Banda

I’m pretty sure I became a huge fan of Selena at birth, thanks to my parents and their equal love of her and Tejano music, which they passed on to me. My dad likes to claim that he took me to a Selena concert before she was taken from us — the truth of that claim is up in the air, but that doesn’t change how much I love her! It’s great to see a woman-led Tejano band that continues to share her legacy and spread the joy of Tejano music, and I am excited to witness their show this summer with a crowd!

Oh, and Selena continues to be my #1 on my Spotify Wrapped every year!

Riley from Production
// Little Mazarn

I’ve seen them grow over the years and they are killing it! I really enjoy the ambient textures in their music. They make beautiful music videos.

// Half Dream

Half Dream is another one I’m excited about. I’ve mixed a couple of their shows years ago and they have a really great vibe and sound!

// Grupo Fantasma

Grupo is an absolutely incredible band to see live. If you haven’t seen them yet, you gotta check them out at The Drop-In!

Gabby from Programming
// Daniel Fears

I had the pleasure of doing lighting for a show he was recording and it was amazing. I haven’t been able to go to any of his recent shows so I’m glad I can catch this one!

// Motenko

Been a fan of his for a long time! He used to accompany and perform at the Natalie George Productions Cabarets and I stopped in to Stay Gold a couple of times to watch him perform back in 2019. Happy to see him doing shows around the country and super excited to see what he plays for us!

Dana from Programming
// Riders Against the Storm

They played our inaugural Drop-In series and it turned into a dance party on-stage… Excited for those good dance vibes again this year!

Samuel from Marketing
// Primo the Alien

Primo the Alien! Excited to see some electropop on the 3D-printed stage!

Jen from Operations
// Zach Person

It’s inexcusable that he hasn’t played a Drop-In yet. I am a huge fan, and I may have told him that at a gig he did at the Bullock last summer…

Cory (our CEO)
// Riders Against the Storm

I’m always excited to see Riders Against the Storm. Besides loving their music and the vibe that they bring, I so appreciate all of the work that they do for our community through DAWA.

Orlando from Event Services
// Bidi Bidi Banda

Bidi Bidi Banda! As someone from Corpus Christi, I can’t get enough Selena and some good Tejano music.

Hannah from Marketing
// SL Houser
// Barb

One of the things I look forward to every year is the Drop-In playlist — I’m terrible at finding new music and this is the perfect way for me to feel cool. Our openers especially feel like hidden gems in a town with SO MUCH music to take in. Most excited for SL Houser and Barb — two of our kickass, women-fronted openers. Can’t wait!

Annie from Box Office
// Thor & Friends

Thor’s ethereal sounds are ghostly and meditative. The music feels lawless at times, but always comes together in beautiful and striking ways.

// Little Mazarn

Lindsey’s lyrics are like a meandering river, gentle yet strong. I love the peaceful and atmospheric sounds that feel like a distant memory.

// Cactus Lee

I love their old-school country sound to get your toes tapping, plus a slide guitar always makes me swoon.

// Half Dream

Paige’s raw lyrics and dreamy melodies make me want to rock out and smile at the same time.

And there’s so much more where this came from! You can’t go wrong with any Drop-In, and that’s our favorite thing about it. Make sure you’re signed up to get RSVP alerts on Mondays (remember, it’s free) and we’ll see you there! Oh, also keep an eye out on our socials for Friday artist reveals.


At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

Year-End Gift 2023 | Long Center
Your Support Today, Transforms Tomorrow

We’ve made it our mission to support creativity in all its forms, and we hope this season you’ll join us and do the same. Your donation doesn’t just support our work, it’s a declaration that creativity belongs to everyone


Become a LC member today and and get first dibs on RSVP before the public, early entrance into the venue for you and your guests, members-only bars, and other surprises!

Amplify Austin is here – and we need your help to provide free arts experiences for K-12 students through our Long Reach for the Arts program.  Because the kids need art!