Teaching Yoga for People with Disabilities – Guided by Humanity with Mary Sims

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Teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be an extremely rewarding yoga career. Today, we are chatting with Mary Sims, the Executive Director and Founder of the non-profit, Guided By Humanity. 

👉 How and why Guided by Humanity was started

👉 The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

👉 The challenges, struggles and serious rewards of teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

👉 How you can get involved with Guided by Humanity

About Mary

Guided By Humanity is a non-profit organization that offers accessible, inclusive, and compassionate mindfulness programming to Colorado residents that traditionally lack access to health and wellness resources. We are dedicated to providing health and wellness opportunities to all underserved communities that are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or background.

How To Get Involved

Stay up-to-date on all of their events here!

September 13 – Yoga for All – GBH Fundraiser!

Key Takeaways

[00:06] Who is Mary Simms and Guided by Humanity

[03:08] The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

[05:14] The biggest challenges and struggles of teaching people with intellectual disabilities

[07:52] Challenges and struggles of teaching people with physical disabilities

[10:41] The Mindfulness Bus Program

[12:08] Mary’s biggest rewards from teaching people with disabilities

[15:31] How to get involved with Guided by Humanity

Quotes from this episode

I know the therapeutic benefits of yoga just for myself personally. And I did not see anyone with a physical disability in our classes or, anyone with an intellectual disability.  So I wanted to create a space and classes where people feel safe, they feel like they belong and also they feel that they are included in the practice. And that’s why Guided By Humanity started.

Our mission is to provide inclusive, accessible, compassionate yoga and mindfulness to underserved communities. And our vision is to create those safe spaces where people feel like they belong.

If you want to teach people with disabilities, you want to understand and to recognize that there might be some things unexpected in your classroom. And as a teacher you must be really grounded. We have a specific method that is very repetitious for our new students and anyone that comes into the classroom. It’s very safe and grounded.

I don’t teach a pose if I do not know three variations of that pose. That way, I feel assured that people are included.

And I think with our Accessible Yoga Training, it’s been very helpful to empower teachers to feel like they can give a quality classroom experience. 

I would say first of all, a huge reward is the joy in the classroom. It’s always light and easy. 

There’s always laughing and there’s no competition, no judging. It’s just a really open and joyful space to be in.

Our data shows an increase in leadership skills and the voices in the room become louder and more confident.

They’re using their yoga breathing, different poses and relaxation techniques outside of the classroom. 

Studio vs Gym – Which is Better? with RaeAnne Roseman

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Where do you teach? At a studio or a gym? Which one do you think is better and why?

Today, we are talking about the pro’s and con’s of teaching at a studio vs. a gym and things to be mindful of in each setting.

👉 Does yoga belong in the gym? Is teaching yoga in a gym bad???

👉 Pro’s and con’s of teaching in a gym vs a studio.

👉 Who should teach in a gym?

👉 Who should teach in a studio?

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About RaeAnne:

RaeAnne’s teaching journey began at Samadhi Center for Yoga & Meditation where she completed a 250 hour Hatha Yoga training that focused on many different styles of yoga practice, including restorative and therapeutics. Over the years, she has deepened her own practice and teaching and is now a 750 hour certified Baptiste teacher.

When she is teaching in the room, she is completely present and aware of what is going on with each and every one of my students. She empowers each student to become the best that their bodies and minds will allow in that moment. When you practice with her, you will feel loved for who you are, as you are, and you will walk away from each class feeling strong and inspired.

RaeAnne has taught in yoga studios and gyms for several years and is now offering a 200-hour yoga teacher training program through the Longmont Rec Center this September!

Key Takeaways

[00:33] Introducing RaeAnne

[02:05] Pro’s & con’s of teaching in a studio vs a gym

[03:46] Can teachers create a studio ambiance in a gym?

[10:07] Different tools to bring in for a studio vs. gym setting

[10:34] Different pay structures at a gym vs studio

[15:21] Music differences

[19:49] Who should work at a gym or a studio?

[21:30] Benefits of teaching at a gym

Quotes from this episode

It’s up to the teacher to set the ambiance and they can create the same ambiance at a studio and a gym.

It’s not so much about the location as it is about the energy that the teacher brings in. The teacher provides the energy for the space.

When you walk into a room, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about the bodies and the students that walk into your room and take your class.

But a lot of times the opportunities and financial rewards can be more abundant if you expand your view of what’s possible and where you can offer yoga.

And I also feel that it’s important not to disempower any teacher because they’re not in a studio. We need to uplift and empower all of our teachers.

There’s so much growth that can happen if you learn to teach parks, gyms and other environments outside of the studio.

Another great benefit of teaching at a gym is you have access to a much wider population like seniors.

It’s an exciting, exciting time to be a yoga teacher because the opportunities have expanded so much.

Get More Butts on Mats with Amanda McKinney

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“How do I get more students in my classes?” This is the most common question among yoga teachers and in this FB live we will address this. Amanda McKinney is a Marketing Coach for Yoga Teachers who’s passion is to help yoga teachers earn more money and this often is getting more butts on mats. She will be sharing the 3 questions you have to answer to fill your classes with your dreams students on a consistent basis.

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP to receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Amanda:

Amanda McKinney is a marketing coach who is fueled by coffee, sunrises, smiles and of course, YOGA. Her mission is to help you earn a living sharing yoga with others…without the burn out of driving to 5+ studios a day.  She loves to share with her students that creating a brand is simply taking the unique, authentic self that is already within you and sharing it with the world in a consistent way that resonates with your audience. The missing link is only a little time to get clear on the messaging and then sharing it with others.

Follow Amanda on IG: @amandamckinneyyoga

Check out Amanda online: https://www.ammarketing.co/guide

Key Takeaways

[00:01] About Amanda McKinney

Amanda is answering 3 questions for us about How to Get More Butts in Your Yoga Class

[01:58] Question 1 and How to Answer It

[04:54] Question 2 and How to Answer It

[06:49] Words you should NOT use to market

[13:19] Question 3 and How to Answer It

[14:04] Places to Market

[17:57] Are you doing your students a disservice???

[20:34] Why Amanda thinks yoga teachers should make ALL the money

[23:56] Budgeting to take a vacation

[26:44] How to get the word out about your yoga classes and events

Grab Amanda’s FREE guide to getting more butts in your yoga classes! https://www.ammarketing.co/guide

Quotes from this episode

“So my thing is why not earn money doing something that you love and it helps other people, which is teaching yoga. If you don’t earn money doing that, you have to earn it another way, which takes from teaching yoga. And the super awesome thing is the more money you make teaching yoga, the more you can give for free or give to foundations. All of that. I want yoga teachers to make all the money in the world because they just want to help people. So they want to give to foundations, they want to have free yoga classes, all of this. So I want yoga teachers to make all the money.”

“I actually think it’s a disservice if you, the yoga teacher, does not share your passion and your gift with your students, especially your dream student who could transform their life with your yoga class.”

“{Marketing} is just inviting people to the party. You can be the best yoga teacher in the world. You can have the best sequence planned for your class and you just know it is going to change lives. But if you don’t invite anyone, no one is showing up and you are all alone in the studio or in the room. You have to invite people to the party.”

Raising the Bar of Yoga Teacher Professionalism

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Let’s become the change in the industry we want to see!

Kristen recognizes that yoga teachers have a significant impact on others’ lives, and because of that, we have a responsibility to raise the bar of professionalism.

Join us as we talk about her journey and what she believes makes a professional yoga teacher in Colorado.

And make sure to check out Kristen’s FB Group- The Business of Yoga – a place where teachers connect, share and inspire each other without feeling they are competing against each other. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1367265346656157/

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado. RSVP to receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Kristen:

Kristen is a Denver-based Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, Embodiment Coach, Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer and Mentor.

She supports her students in their own transformation so they can Live. Life. Better. Whether this means creating space around old wounds, healing from a relationship, discovering what it is that is blocking your movement forward, dealing with a life transition, or the essential emotions of anxiety, fear, sadness, or pain.

She works with clients in-person or online. You can schedule a yoga therapy session, couples session, life mentoring, or check out the upcoming Course in Transformation, as well as other group events by clicking this link: https://square.site/appointments/book/0S13J02SMQD0M/kristen-boyle-yoga-therapy

Check out Kristen online: http://www.kristenboyleyoga.com

Key Takeaways

[00:00] We are chatting and finishing up a conversation. 😉

[02:01] Live interview starts

[03:39] Kristen’s Yoga Journey

[06:25] How can we express our professionalism to our students?

[09:56] Does the competitiveness between teachers and studios need to be there? Why? And if not, what can we do?

[16:14] Yoga is just a practice.

[17:38] There’s continued room for growth and we are all uplifted and inspired by the increasing professionalism in the yoga industry. 

[21:23] Qualities to help us raise the bar of professionalism. 

[22:31] Holding the values of yoga as a yoga teacher.

[27:48] To raise the bar of professionalism……. 

[28:36] Thoughts on the yoga journey (this is a good one!!!)

Quotes from this episode

“I feel like yoga teachers are incredibly wise and insightful people……they really have a lot to offer.” – Kristen Boyle

“Let’s work together as teachers and professionals. Let’s support each other instead of this raging competition of “these are my students and this is my studio.” Rather it needs to be a little bit more fluid and open.”  – Kristen Boyle

“To strive towards a more non-competitive attitude…..I think a deeper understanding and studying of Yoga means a paradigm shift in your thinking. Rather than a contractive way of thinking we need an expansive way of thinking.  When I make a choice, I’m not only making a choice for myself, but I’m also holding that in perspective of the greater whole.”  – Kristen Boyle

“If I were to define yoga into one word that word is awareness, just awareness.”  – Kristen Boyle

“We can talk about the rival yoga studios and all the friction and the negativity that’s out there. We also need to acknowledge the hope and where it’s going and all the good things that we see happening. There are teachers that are stepping up to that level of professionalism and I really want to appreciate, value, and acknowledge them in this conversation as well.”  – Kristen Boyle

“We need to hold ourselves accountable to the ethics of yoga as much as we hold others accountable.”  -Allison Rissel

“The yoga journey – the bad news. It never ends. The good news is I think you learn to journey better.”  – Kristen Boyle

“I think through the practice we become process oriented rather than goal oriented or aim oriented. And we learn to be in that process which is mindfulness. Being in the moment means I’m not at the end, it means I’m in the moment in my process moving towards that.”   – Kristen Boyle

YTOC Workshop – Singing Bowls with Chuna Rai Nelson

Sound Energy Meditation with Singing Bowls: Vibrational Energy is one form of energy that feeds our body. Unlike food and oxygen, vibrational energy helps the nerve connections and balances out hormones. This is why music feels good and is both relaxing yet stimulating. Since it works on the nervous system, it also calms the body and mind. Vibrational energy has healed our bodies for over thousands of years. This is the reason that large singing bowls are called healing bowls. Changing or singing sends vibrations through the body. Atoms, which make up everything, vibrate, but sometimes atoms, due to electron orbit placement into abnormal orbits, vibrate at the incorrect frequency. To reset these vibrations, we “bathe” the human body with vibrational energy (music). Relaxing the mind, through meditation calms the entire body. This reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves overall health. The combination of meditation and singing bowls creates a very positive environment to allow the body be in the best position to heal itself.
Singing Bowl Workshop
with Chuna Rai Nelson
Saturday, June 8th 4-6pm
Palangi Fit
6350 Wadsworth Blvd unit A
Arvada, CO 80003
RSVP in advance: click here

Preventing Injuries in Yoga – Active vs. Passive Stretching

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How we transition between poses and hold ourselves in certain poses is very important. Many students fail to engage certain muscles, compensating and overusing muscles where they’re already strong and flexible leading to injuries.

To increase body awareness, strength and control, we need to actively engage muscles, especially those we don’t use on a regular basis. This helps strengthen our muscles so they can better protect our joints and decrease injury.

In today’s chat with Kylie Rayne, we’re talking about:
👉 the difference between active vs. passive stretching
👉 mobility vs. flexibility
👉 the science behind outdated cues
👉 the importance of being mindful and educated in our teaching language

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado. RSVP receive a reminder FB message.

About Kylie:

Kylie’s teachings has it’s basis in the traditional Vinyasa style but has evolved as it became increasingly disheartening to teach class after class in which her students could achieve a crow pose or stand on their heads but struggled immensely with simple mobility work.
She makes it her goal to maintain a breath-to-movement style while also implementing innovative movements that help to target places in the body that can be neglected by traditional poses alone. She aims to teach body awareness from an educated and intuitive perspective.

Follow Kylie on IG: @Kylie.rayne.yogi
Check out Kylie online: https://www.kylierayneyoga.com

Key Takeaways

[00:18] About @Kylie.Rayne.Yogi
[2:28] Active vs passive stretching and the injury potential
[4:14] Flexibility vs. Mobility and the injury potential
[6:10] Common yoga injuries and ways to prevent them
[7:55] Difference between connective tissues and how to strengthen the connective tissue
[12:49] What is muscle tightness?
[13:57] Cuing to prevent yoga injuries
[15:06] Keeping the knee behind the toes – WHY?
[17:23] The importance of advancing your yoga teacher education
[18:53] Are your cues based around fear?
[23:35] Sequencing for a peak pose – the Foreshadowing….. 😉
[25:35] Mobility exercises to bring into your yoga classes
[33:32] Let’s get Kylie to do a workshop for YTOC!!!!
Watch Kylie’s amazing mobility videos on IG @Kylie.rayne.yogi

Quotes from this episode

“How should we cue to prevent injuries? Before cuing, ask yourself the question “Why?.” Anytime you cue a pose, know why you’re cuing that pose or why you’re cuing a certain way.”

“When it comes to cuing, think of the bio mechanics behind what is happening in your body.”

“Passive stretching is the majority of what we do in our traditional poses. It’s whenever you use an external force to achieve a certain range of motion, like using your hands to lift your leg.
Active range of motion is using your muscles to do the work. It’s the ability to lift your leg without pulling it with an external force.
And it’s good to have both.”

“It Is What Is” – Maintaining Your Body-Mind Connection in the Present Moment

About Elaine:

Elaine has been interested in yoga since she was a teenager, practicing since 1981 and teaching yoga since 1999. Elaine Schuhrke holds an MAT from Colorado College and is certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She is also a certified Life Coach. She revels in introducing the practical, healing applications of yoga to people in every walk of life. Most of her yoga training has been in the Kripalu Lineage.

When you attend one of Elaine’s classes, schedule a private session or contract her for services with your business, you are sure to receive a personal and professionally competent experience that best fits the areas of your needs and concerns and aspects of your life where you feel you need the most assistance.

You can learn more about Elaine at ColoradoYogaDipika.com.

Let’s start the interview!

Allison: Let’s get started! One of the things that I know you’re really passionate about is helping people with the, um, with your upcoming program, which is going to be focused on reestablishing that brain body emotion connection. Is that correct?

Elaine: Oftentimes in our regular, everyday ordinary life, something happens that’s an upset, whatever it might be. It might be something that really makes you angry or irritates you and you find yourself completely distracted. And you find yourself four blocks away from your house and you get to the second stop sign and you think, “How’d I get here?”

Your mind is taking your attention and running off with it. This happens in bigger ways where months go by and you’re like, “how did I get here?”

What I love about yoga is that it teaches us to stay present and focused with what’s going on in front of you without resistance and without attraction. And we can do this with a tool we have every single day – your body.

Allison: There’s a stigma around yoga teachers. Our students, friends and family may look at us and think we have our lives together. We “figured it all out” and we don’t have any problems. But that’s really not true. We get just as distracted as everyone else, we sometimes end up at a stop sign 4 blocks away too. But the difference is we have the tools of yoga to bring us back on track. Yoga helps brings us into this awareness that we are 4 blocks away. Some people may “drive” for miles without noticing but yoga brings us back quicker.

Allison: So I know that you have a retreat coming up where you’re going to help people reestablish this balance and learn to stay in the present moment. What are you going to be doing at the retreat and is it open for everyone?

Elaine: This retreat is open to all levels but we aren’t going to do Hatha Yoga 24/7. It’s a Friday evening, all day Saturday and a half day on Sunday. I adjust the yoga class to the people who come. I have taught yoga to a wide variety of people over the space of 20 years. I’ve come out of public education. And before that I was the lift operator and a construction labor. I’ve gotten really good at making yoga accessible to just about anyone.

Allison: Can you attend if you can’t touch your toes?

Elaine: Of course!!!! The only way people will benefit from yoga is if they do it. You can sit in a chair or in the front seat of your car (with it in park) and, and practice yoga.

Yoga is more than just asana and the postures. I’ve been doing a lot of mudras with my class recently because I work with students who are not very ambulatory. I can’t put them in a dangerous situation because of their balance issues.

But I can teach them mudras that energetically help them align and energetically balance their physical, mental, and emotional states. It is such a rich understanding of how human bodies work in relation to the universe. It is continually fascinating to me.

So many people who come to me for yoga do it for free stress reduction of some sort. They, they realize they have disconnected from something and they want that connection back. They, they know that it’s there and they want that.

We can help them find that through the power of yoga.

Allison: This retreat sounds like it can help people re-balance their body, mind and soul and learn to come back into connection. Tell me more about the retreat- What’s included in the retreat?

Elaine: On Saturday morning, we will start with a Hatha class and a wonderful vegetarian breakfast which is included in the price. The Abbey staff makes wonderful vegetarian fare!

Then, we’re going to use a technique out of yoga therapy that integrative Amrit method calls energy diffusion technique. We use the felt sense of your body to become more present and put your attention on some outstanding sensation and work at that edge consciously and deliberately using your breath and practicing what I like to call nonresistance, just being present with it as it is and allowing it to be in your presence and you to be in its presence.

Our body typically avoids these sensations that we feel in our body and judges them as bad. But when we bring awareness to this area, your mind becomes familiar with that quality of sensation and your conscious attention activates the intelligence of Prana.

Prana is energetic intelligence. It’s not just fuel, it’s intelligence.

It’s running your body all the time. So we want to use Prana to our advantage, to dissolve and resolve mental and emotional blocks that you may carry in your body. We use Prana to dissolve and resolve the blocks that your mind keeps on saying, no, I don’t want to deal with that.

That will be the majority of the work on Saturday. We’ll do some yoga nidra on Saturday night to wrap up, then go out for dinner on your own.

On Sunday morning, we will have morning yoga, breakfast and another session to tie things together and expand upon some of the things that people have experienced.

One of the things about yoga is that if you haven’t experienced it then you’re only talking about it.

That’s intellectual understanding. That’s nice. But it’s not application and it’s the application of yoga that has effect . When you can feel that you can know through experience – that stays with you. It’s not that you memorized all the Sanskrit terms for 108 Sun Salutations. Yoga happens when you have it in your body.

To really experience it in your body, find a pose that you really need and hold it for at least three breaths. Come out of the pose. Feel the release of that Prana that was dammed up in the pose and relax with it and use your breath to keep your mind’s attention on experiencing that expansion of energy because the energy of your body follows the attention of your mind. And by putting your mind’s attention where your body is, not only do you conserve your energy more and more, but the level of energy in your body goes up and washes out some of these mental, emotional, habitual holdings in our body.

And that’s the other reason you’ll usually feel better after a yoga session.

Allison: You’re so amazing! Where is the retreat held?

Elaine: It’s at the Abbey in Canon City off of Highway 50. It’s a former Benedictine monastery. Monks aren’t there anymore. It’s now privately held. My yoga studio is onsite at that campus. This retreat will be held in the Abbey’s room in the community events center You go around the church part of the monastery and in the back there’s a rather modern looking building that’s the event center and there’ll be signs on the stop signs and stuff directing people where to go.

Allison: When and how can people register?

Elaine: The deadline for registering is this Sunday, April 21. If you’re interested, make sure that you visit my website and either call me or email me.
The amount is $195. There is lodging at the Abbey that’s very inexpensive and you can reserve with the lodging and events coordinator, Leslie Durham. That information is on the event flyer on my website.

Hope you enjoyed Elaine, I sure did! Until next time,

Yoga Teachers of Colorado – President

Mandala Flow Yoga Sequence

As yoga teachers, we can get pretty burned out teaching the same flow over and over again. I mean, seriously, how many sun salutations can we teach in a day???? 

Our students can feel pretty burned out as well. Often, I see my students “going through the motions” rather than actually taking the time to mindfully move.

This Mandala Flow is super fun and breaks the rut for teachers and students!


This is a powerful sequence that you can teach as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.

I typically work through the full mandala (both sides) slowly the first round. This allows the students to learn what we’re doing, deepen into the poses and I can cue the kośa allowing them to experience more mental and emotional benefits (see below).

On the second round, we move faster, with our breath (see cues below). We may go through it 1-3 times depending on how everyone is feeling.

This sequence is challenging and powerful, not only for your students but for you as a teacher.

I usually demo while I teach this sequence to keep my Right and Left sides straight. On the first round, as you demo, move around the room so the class can see you. For example, if you ask your students to face the side wall, then you move to the side wall so they can see the next few moves. When they face the back wall, move to the back wall so they can see the form for a Warrior III.

On the faster rounds, you won’t have time to move around the room so keep it easy and demo and cue from the front of your mat. Make sure to keep your Right and Left sides straight!


Change up this mandala flow to make it your own. Sometimes, I add a Goddess pose instead of Wide Leg Forward Fold. Sometimes, I add a Balancing Half Moon or Warrior III squats to increase the intensity. The options are endless! Just make sure your sequence creates a circle around the mat.
When you teach this sequence in your next class, tell me how much your students love it by tagging me on Instagram! Have fun ya’ll!

As yoga teachers, we can get burned out teaching the same flow over and over again. This super fun Mandala Flow breaks the rut for teachers and students!


*note: This is just an example. Feel free to move and cue with your own breath.

Mountain Pose

Inhale arms above head

Exhale Forward Fold

Inhale Half Lift

Exhale Forward Fold

Inhale step left leg back, pause for an exhale

Inhale rise up to High Lunge, pause for an exhale

Inhale straighten front leg

Exhale turn to the side into 5-pointed star

Inhale deeply and exhale into Wide Leg Forward Fold

Inhale twist to the right, exhale fold

Inhale twist to the left, exhale fold

Inhale rise up

Exhale twist to the back of your mat

Inhale arms up

Exhale Left High Lunge

Inhale fully

Exhale hands to heart

Inhale lift the back leg off the ground

Exhale Warrior III

Inhale fully

Exhale Forward Fold

Inhale step left leg straight back, pause for an exhale

Inhale rise up to High Lunge, pause for an exhale

Inhale straighten front leg

Exhale turn to the side into 5-pointed star

Inhale deeply and exhale into Wide Leg Forward Fold

Inhale rise up

Exhale twist to the front of your mat

Inhale Left Warrior II, exhale pause

Inhale Reverse Warrior II

Exhale flow through a vinyasa

Repeat on the other side


Allow your students to move beyond the poses and into the mental and emotional aspects of the practice by cuing through the kośa’s. Click here to learn about the kośa’s.

  • I love teaching this sequence because it allows the students to experience a change in perception. Have they ever noticed the back wall? What else are they missing in life that is “right behind them?”
  • People in the back row suddenly get to experience life in the front row (and your front row people learn about life in the back). Encourage your students to think about other areas of their life where they may need a change in perspective.
  • When your students turn to face the back wall, challenge them to listen to your cues rather than watch your demo. Ask them questions about how well they listen in life. Can they hear the cues or are they easily distracted?

YTOC Holiday Party

WHERE: 13501 W. 25th AVE., GOLDEN, CO 80401