Why Flex Yoga?
Why? It couldn’t have not happened.
The idea behind opening Flex Yoga had been festering long before I ever said the words out loud. My husband drug them out of me. He doesn’t settle for half-truths. It isn’t because yoga isn’t available, or that I thought I could bring something new to the table. It was because I envisioned (and desperately needed) a space to clean my head, challenge by body and find a family. It’s true that I have a family- a bad-ass-all-encompassing-wonderful-challenging-beautiful family. But I know I’m not the only mother/wife/daughter/husband/partner/son/lost soul/ happily-alone human who now and then can’t wait to walk out the door and leave those they love the most behind to re-energize themselves in a quiet room with fresh blood. I needed a place where I was free to work at my own pace, a place where I would be challenged and inspired by others, a place where absolutely anyone could enter and change and grow. I wanted to create a space for healing. Healing for the body, the mind and sometimes even the soul.
Why? Yoga works.
I know this to be true because it worked for me. I came to yoga as an athlete looking for a challenge. Many people do. We have all heard instructors go on and on about yoga being non-competitive, about “keeping your eyes on your own mat” and “comparison is the thief of joy” (my favorite, it’s true). That wasn’t me though. I was there to kick ass. I wanted to do it all now. Crow. Headstand. The splits. Bound side angle. Forearm stand. I had a list (Written. Lame, I know) and I was checking shit off. I wasn’t the only one ruining the class, I promise. There were others. I don’t remember the breath being mentioned hardly at all back then, but that could have been because I wasn’t listening. This went on for a long time. Long enough that I should be embarrassed. I knew there was more to yoga but I wasn’t sure where to find it; by then I was obsessed with the lovely, almost sultry videos of Patricia Walden yoga-ing in all-white, doing bad-ass “moves” with a look of pure bliss on her face. I bought all the coffee table books I could get my hands on, propped up my computer and tried to follow Doug Swenson and Rodney Yee videos in my kitchen with one kid beneath my feet and other in my belly. I didn’t know what they were talking about half the time, and my neck hurt as much as my body as I rubbernecked my way through “class” with my eyes glued to a computer screen. The first consistent yoga studio classes I took utilized handheld weights and we sweat it out in front of floor to ceiling mirrors. Still, I knew I felt amazing after a practice. I loved the feeling of being physically spent. I loved the quiet of a yoga class. I enjoyed the fact that I had to stay the entire hour and that walking out the moment the hard part stopped would have been unthinkable (because I considered it, I had shit to do!). This little yoga game I played lasted for years: it took me through an international adoption, an unexpected 3rd pregnancy (I’m over it, she is amazing), and my husband’s insatiable need to open restaurants and restore buildings.
Then I decided I wanted to be a yoga teacher. Little did I know that this would change my life forever. I signed up for Teacher Training with Karen and Sean Conley from Amazing Yoga in Pittsburgh so that I could do more of what I loved, make money doing it, and watch my own practice skyrocket. That isn’t what happened. At least, that isn’t the only thing that happened. About 20 of us gathered in Nosara, Costa Rica and immersed ourselves in yoga, meditation, in organic-vegetarian-local food, in the beautiful country that Costa Rica is, and more importantly, in each other. We practiced hot yoga twice a day and I literally felt my body getting rid of everything extra. (I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome.) In order to keep Teacher Training the elusive secret it should be, I won’t say too much. For me, there was a drastic change in my practice. Fully and completely exhausted, I finally felt that delicious link between breath and movement that lasted for an entire hour at a time. I felt the headspace that was created when this happened. I stopped looking around the room and “kept my eyes on my own mat”, I didn’t need to see others to know how I was feeling. Emotions and fears and an intense emotional pain that had been stored inside my soul and my body for 30 years came to the surface. Through this experience (more on that later, let’s keep it light) I learned the true meaning of empathy. I learned a sequence and the philosophy behind it. I learned how to give appropriate assists to move others deeper in their practice. I had never taken a class where precise physical assists were given, and I found them powerful and comforting. I had instruction so clear and succinct that I wasn’t thinking at all- just movement: beautiful controlled powerful quiet exhausting exhilarating re-energizing delicious movement. I actually felt like I could clean my body with my own breath. Powerful shit, right?
When I returned home with my certificate in hand, nothing went as planned. (Hello again real life. I wondered where you were, things were going so well without you…) I stumbled about for a year or two loving the teaching but knowing it wasn’t enough. Renting space (from an absolutely amazing trainer- he was doing fantastic work of his own) in a gym, my yoga classes just barely limped along. No one came to the first class. My sister and my brother-in-laws now ex-girlfriend came to the second class. And the third. Finally finally thank the heavens above finally one day, a yogi I knew from previous classes walked in the door. I didn’t know her well, and I didn’t even know how she found me, but it was a trigger. I suddenly realized that a very large part of what I was looking for was a yoga community. A community of people searching; folks who wanted to answer questions and push boundaries physically and emotionally, to dig deeper into their own lives, to come fully alive. She’s lucky I didn’t plant a big fat kiss on her cheek right then and there. I knew that yoga wasn’t about cute yoga pants and the “with it” people in the world- I knew it was for those of us who most definitely DON’T have our shit together, those who were worried about making it through the day; moms holding on by a very thin, fraying thread as their kids and families sucked the life out of them, women and men working jobs in research centers, hospitals, offices, childcare, schools. Artists, musicians, coaches, skateboarders, kids, grandparents, lost souls, alcoholics, professors, waitresses and late night bartenders. I didn’t want the perfect people. I wasn’t one and I knew I needed yoga. This yogi ( Rachel- she is actually a real human) told me she was signing up for Teacher Training (I may have actually kissed her) and this was realization number 2: a group of teachers. It couldn’t be just me. To this day, I don’t know how things would have turned out had Rachel not walked in the door, had she not gone on to do her own training, had she not been willing to teach yoga in a strength gym outside of town in a space not really conducive to yoga. And this was realization number 3: the space. I needed a space that could actually heal. A big fat open room full of natural light. A simple room with a wood floor and big windows. A space that was always safe and warm. A space where people felt inclined to leave their baggage at the door- to enter into a bit of a sanctuary where no one would judge them, glance sideways, think about where they came from or might be going. I wanted the door to be open to everyone.
I had the space. It just needed some work. Remember my husband? No half-truths? An insatiable need to restore old buildings? That guy. “If you are going to do it, we are going to do it right.” (I fucking love how he said “we”.) Mike actually writes business plans with mission statements and training manuals and financial statements. His architectural drawings leave nothing out- he knows when and where the sunshine will hit the floor… He pushed pretty hard for the “why”. Why are you doing this? What is going to be different about your yoga studio? What are you offering? He insisted we didn’t move forward without a mission statement. I talked a lot with my husband and my sisters and Rachel about this: what was it? When we stripped away everything but the very essence of what we were trying to do, it came down to this: Yoga for Everyone. That is us. This is who we are and what we offer. Thankfully, Rachel was followed by the powerful musician/yogi Annie Yoder who agreed to be studio manager so I could still be a mom and a wife and a teacher, Andy and Sarah whose passion for yoga and teaching are unsurpassed by anyone in these parts, Brooke who brought Barre and an effervescent energy to the studio, my friend from Amazing Yoga days, Jennifer Hunt who introduced Aerial Yoga to me and helped bring it to the studio, and the 15 other teachers who were willing to join our team and share the same spirit: Yoga for Everyone.
We hope you feel welcome here.