The Down Dog Smoothie


The summer of 2011 was a strange one. In spite of how many times I’d told myself it would be nothing, no big deal at all, to move from New York to D.C., I realized no less than a week into my life here in the District that it was going to be far more bumpy than I’d anticipated. I’ll never forget those early days of June: trying to decipher bus schedules; finding a new grocery store, a new pharmacy, a new dry cleaner’s; getting used to some of the DC vs. NYC cultural differences; and, most of all, coming to the conclusion that my post-bacc experience would be just as hard here as it had been at home.

As the weeks went by, I came to appreciate DC, and nowadays, I enjoy my life here. But those first few days of adjustment were shrouded in anxiety, melancholy, and a pinch of self-pity. And it was on one of those days that I decided randomly to walk into a studio I had passed in one of my “get acquainted” walks through Georgetown, and take a yoga class.


Welcome to Down Dog. This yoga studio, which has locations in Herndon and Bethesda, too, has become my second home here in DC. Over the course of that strange summer, I fell in love with my practice at Down Dog. I sweated. I laughed. When I came to class stressed, I cried. I became a part of the community, and learned to carry the studio’s spirit and energy around with me to class, labs, and exams.


Down Dog isn’t for everyone; for one thing, it’s heated vinyasa flow, and it’s vigorous enough that I’d call it power yoga. For another, the sequence is typically the same in most classes, unless you take a restorative class, and the mood is often serious—no music, very little chanting. I’ve heard the studio described as “militant,” which strikes me as too harsh, but it doesn’t surprise me that the practice feels overly rigid or disciplined to some people (interesting, I find it a very creative and joyous antidote to Bikram yoga, which I have tried many times and never enjoyed).

Down Dog’s motto is “yoga with attitude.” I think is the perfect summation of the studio’s ethos, which typically feels more athletic than spiritual to me (of course, all yoga practice is a mixture of the two). This is yoga for people who like to get things done. It’s yoga for people want their hour on the mat to be a serious workout. I like to think that it’s yoga for Type A people like myself. Patty Ivey, the studio’s hilarious, warm, and no-nonsense founder (a fellow New Yorker, god bless her), describes herself as type A often, and comes from a history of marathon running. Though Patty’s Sunday morning class nearly always slays me, I make a point to go at least once every few weeks. I know that I can count on her to push me to my limit, and while I don’t need to hit that limit in every class, it’s nice to face it courageously in once in a while.

Classes at Down Dog do have range—Kendall’s Saturday class typically feels like a slow flow, which means that I’m forced to hold poses for a long time (good for me). Kelly’s weekday classes always feel like a mix of athleticism and fun. I can count on Colin to mask a stunning workout beneath a calm, friendly, and whimsical attitude. What all classes at Down Dog have in common is their difficulty. I’ve taken marathoners and longtime yogis alike to the studio, where they were impressed by the difficulty; among my post-bacc friends, committed weight lifters and army veterans have left classes exclaiming what a good workout they had. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing you haven’t seen in a typical vinyasa class. But the speed and the heat make it harder, to be sure.

When I first started practicing at Down Dog, it took some time to adjust to the sweatiness of the workout. Nowadays, I know precisely how to handle it—by hydrating well before and after. Green smoothies, rich in electrolytes, are my go-to drink after an hour or 90 minutes at Down Dog. Lately, this particular concoction stands out.

The “Down Dog” Smoothie (vegan, raw, soy free, gluten free)

Serves 1

1 small banana (or 1/2 large), frozen and chopped
3/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
1 1/2 cups spinach or romaine
1 stalk celery, chopped
A few chlorella tablets (optional)
1 scoop Vega whole foods optimizer in natural flavor (or any protein powder of choice; hemp would be great in this smoothie)
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups coconut water

Blend all ingredients together on high. Serve immediately.


Heaping with spinach, chlorella, and celery, this smoothie is a true green smoothie. It’s also a perfect re-hydrator: the coconut water is rich in electrolytes, including magnesium and potassium, and it, along with the fruit, restores blood sugar. The protein helps to regulate the absorption of sugars in the smoothie, and the celery (which I promise, you’ll barely taste) has some natural sodium to help replenish any that’s been lost through sweat. The taste is, of course, delicious, and reminiscent of the tropics.

The smoothie can be served with granola, with a piece of toast or raw crackers, or with my chia chocolate crumble. Or, you can simply enjoy it on its own.

Having been a reluctant yogi for several years (if you didn’t hear the story of how I discovered yoga, here it is), I can’t say that I’ve ever truly felt that a particular studio was home. Who would have thought that my offhand decision to visit Potomac street would have yielded this renewed love affair with my mat? Life is funny sometimes.


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Categories: Uncategorized, Smoothies

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  1. This sounds like a perfect green smoothie to add to my gluten free, dairy free rotation. I’ve been looking for smoothie recipes to share with my health coaching clients and this will definitely be one of them. I’ll make sure to send people to this page, for sure. Thanks!

  2. Wow! This smoothie sounds freakin’ amazing and looks so yummy too! It looks like it has that nice thickness to it that I love about green smoothies too! Yum!

    That’s so awesome that you have been going to this great studio there and that it has helped you to adjust to D.C. Yoga has that power to it somehow! Keep enjoying those classes and green smoothies!

  3. I can only imagine how difficult your move away from home must have been, but it sounds like you’re really putting in an effort to make the best of it. The studio sounds great, I love my hot yoga!

  4. Sounds very similar to the yoga studio I workout at: Cleveland Yoga. I am still not comfortable calling it “practice yoga.” Sounds way too affected for me. I call the place “the olympics of yoga.” The instructors beat the crap out of you and you are covered with sweat from head to toe. Just the way I like it, until I get hurt. Then it’s not so fun.

  5. I 100% hear you about finding a home in a studio. Over the course of the past year I have laughed, cried, grown strong, felt weak, pushed myself, and modified. Its amazing what yoga can do!

  6. This looks sooo amazing. I don’t know how you do it lady. Classes and pumping out amazing blog posts. And ps, I miss you!!! Wish we could yoga together in DC. Down Dog is awesome!

  7. Hi Gena,
    This sounds delish! I have almost everything for it.. I want to make it now but I have to wait until I get out of my telecon meeting!

    Anyway, I wanted to ask, what kind of coconut water are you using? Are you opening up your own young coconut? I’ve gotten away from doing that because I prefer organic and they are really hard to find. I understand most of the conventional ones are dipped in formaldehyde for shipping.

    Do you have a packaged coconut water you recommend?

    Thanks so much!

      • I actually don’t mind the formaldehyde thing too much, so I do purchase the Nirvana and Blue Monkey coconut waters. I’ll purchase VitaCoco if it’s all that’s available. And I do try to open mine whenever I can!!!

  8. That’s great about finding Down Dog and adjusting to DC, this post reminds me that I’d really like to get more into yoga. One of my irrational fears about it is the quality of the workout and I just haven’t had time to add classes with my work schedule. But I’ve been meaning to for awhile.

    Anyway, this smoothie sounds great with pineapple, I need to try it.

  9. Life is funny, and YOGA is funny. I think it has a way of pulling almost anyone in, because there is a style and studio and a teacher that is right for everyone. You just have to find it. I started with Iyengar yoga, which had like 5 poses per hour class because we held them so long. Now I do vinyasa power flow, which I HATED at first, but now I love. I think as soon as you decide to roll out a mat, yoga inevitably will take you on a journey. <3

  10. I think I need to join an all- shavasana yoga class. 🙂 Glad to know it helped you, and that there are different styles of yoga to fit all our personalities.

    A “true green smoothie”, yes indeed. Never thought I’d be seeing on on your blog, good for you! I have yet to try celery in there, but I hear a lot of people like it.

  11. Can I ask how you feel about using frozen spinach in smoothies? Sometimes good looking, affordable fresh spinach is hard to find so I use kale or collards, but they add a bit of texture to green smoothies. I know the frozen will lack some of the nutrients, but the glass half full (sorry pun) side is it would make the smoothie cold. Is there a better alternative I’m forgetting?

  12. mmmm, you’ve inspired me to grab some juice from the juice press on the way to work (now in the UES!).

    Also, I really love the hot, slow flow vinyasa classes. I don’t like the fast moving flows because I don’t really go to yoga for cardio, but for the deep stretching and yes, even a bit of spirituality. I wish I could check out Downward Dog to see what their classes are about.

  13. This looks like a great smoothie Gena! I’ve been looking for an awesome post-yoga smoothie. I definately agree with you that whatever negativity you have going into a class is almost gone when you leave. But then again, it’s all in the mindsent. it you want it to be gone, it will be, if not, it won’t. For me, heated power vinyasa is the only way to go with yoga. I love that so many people understand how amazing it is. More power to you!

  14. Love that you’re getting more into green smoothies! This one sounds unbelievably refreshing and rehydrating. Down dog sounds amazing – I’ve yet to find a yoga class that really stimulates and challenges me so I’m slightly jealous in that respect. I’d love to try a heated class like vinyasa or bikram even.

  15. Yum! I’m happy to hear more about Down Dog and what a salvation it has been for you. Happy to think of you there.

  16. love Love LOVE the photos…is that one of hot yoga…YIKES it looks like a jam-packed-class! I need to make a smoothie soon! for some reason I stopped…the Very Green Powder I use from Trader Joes makes me so full of air (TMI? 🙂 ) – thank you for the recipe! chia chocolate crumble looks luscious! – jasper

  17. I definitely have had my fair share of experiences crying in yoga studios. And actually, those have been some of the best yoga classes I have ever taken! I’m glad you found a studio that helps you feel more connected to D.C. 😀

  18. I am so happy for you that you’ve hit your stride in DC and that you have this fabulous studio to call your own space, your safe haven, and the workouts and yoga sounds pretty awesome, too. But having that sense of community, of feeling like you belong, of having a place..any place at all…where you know people and feel at ease is worth it’s weight in gold. Especially!! when you first move to a new city/state and don’t know anyone.

    It’s a very parallel experience to me moving to CA in 2004 and not knowing a soul but my yoga studio was my safe haven and I’ll never forget those early years changing and so necessary to have those folks in my life!

  19. that yoga studio sounds amazing, we have been doing more yoga lately but doing it at home. we can not really afford a yoga at a studio, though we wish we could. maybe one day we can get back into it. and love drinking green smoothies after a hard workout! always feel so alive and refreshed after drinking one 🙂 the best part.

  20. I would also be interested to hear your take on Chlorella! I thought about ordering some awhile back and decided it wasn’t worth the money if I was eating healthy in general….

    And omg I miss hot yoga!! I belonged to a beautiful place called CorePower in my pre-mama days, but now I’m stuck with the regular old inexpensive gym that offers childcare….

  21. The smoothie is what drew me in, but I loved reading your story! The yoga studio I frequented in Boston last summer had what I call “involuntary heated vinyasa flow” because it was in a tiny loft with no air conditioning. Very difficult but fulfilling, we all left dripping in sweat!

  22. I just moved back to Philadelphia to finish school and found a yoga studio within walking distance of my apartment. I’ve decided to try their “new to yoga” series for the month of February so hopefully I can stick to it! Also, where can I get chlorella tablets? Do you have a post on the benefits of chlorella? I have a basic knowledge but I’d like to know more.

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