Grow In Body, Mind and Spirit
Walking through the doors of a yoga studio as a newbie can be intimidating, but The Yoga Garden founder Loren Collarile aims to make the idea of beginning a yoga practice as welcoming as possible. When she opened The Yoga Garden in August 2016, her ultimate goal was to make high quality yoga available to all.
After teaching at several studios in New York and Florida, Collarile said she “developed a strong sense that a yoga studio has the potential to be more than just a place to roll out your mat . . . I opened a studio because I was seeking a space that felt like a community and was accessible to everyone.”
Her vision of the business and community at The Yoga Garden developed organically. The communal feel comes from the top down, starting with Collarile herself. Student Didi Weinreb agrees that Collarile is a big part of what sets the studio apart.
“Her love and compassion for what she does is intoxicating,” Weinreb said. “I have learned so much from her very thorough, very structured and educational classes that I keep going back for more. She makes even the least flexible yogi confident moving into postures and trying new poses.”
As she added new instructors and additional classes, Collarile specifically looked for teachers who would uplift her students and make each one feel supported, whether they were experienced or just beginning. Collarile proudly recounts how many of her regulars are quick to welcome nervous new students and show them the ropes in the studio. Her careful choices and her positive outlook have created a unique and peaceful environment where people from all different walks of life come together to grow in their yoga practice.
The studio is a proud member of the Eau Gallie Arts District community, supporting the artists and small businesses that call the area home. Rocking chairs on the front porch invite students to stay and talk after class. A community garden flourishes on their property. Students from the nearby Verdi Eco School tend to native plants, herbs, and vegetables. Other residents help out in the garden in exchange for yoga classes.
Walking through the garden, Collarile tells how she was looking for a way to merge the idea of a garden and a yoga studio when she found the property, which had once been a nursery, and knew it would be perfect. “I wanted to blend the two practices of yoga and gardening,” Collarile said. “I find such a strong link between the two. The idea of growth is key.”
The Yoga Garden offers a variety of classes for students of all levels and abilities. The schedule features different types of yoga, from gentle and restorative classes to more active power yoga and Vinyasa. Loren recommends true beginners start with a gentle yoga class or try one of the studio’s beginner series. Any class will help build flexibility and strength, while simultaneously working the mind/body connection. New students who are already in good physical shape may enjoy an all-levels Vinyasa class, which is a more dynamic, fluid practice that requires physical stamina.
Prospective new students are able to drop in to try a single class or purchase a block of classes to find the sessions that are the best fit. Collarile encourages those new to yoga to come with an open mind and remember their intentions, whether it may be to strengthen the body, find a mental release, or both. When trying a class for the first time, she suggests introducing yourself to the instructor and explaining why you came. Each teacher truly wants you to feel welcome and help you on your journey.
Tom Long has been practicing yoga at The Yoga Garden for 10 months, and he credits Collarile and her team with helping him manage the pain brought on by piriformis syndrome. He believes yoga has helped him avoid surgery and improved his quality of life. But the benefits went far beyond pain relief.
“I came because of the pain, and stayed because of the gain,” Long said. “It’s true that a physical condition brought me to yoga and I have found almost total relief, but I found something that I never expected to find at all...peacefulness and calmness through my practice.”
Yoga is undoubtedly a powerful tool toward overall health and fitness goals. It can help develop flexibility, strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health. But newcomers don’t need to be worried that they aren’t flexible enough, fit enough, or calm enough.
“Yoga isn’t a performance, it is a practice,” Collarile said. “Yoga offers us the freedom to be whatever we are, any given day or moment on our mats.”
The studio is mirror-free by design, so each student can focus on how his or her body is feeling on the inside without worrying about how he or she looks on the outside.
When asked how a newbie can best prepare to begin a new yoga practice, Collarile responded: “An open mind and a willingness to explore is the best tool you can bring to the mat.” Though stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, “yoga is actually quite freeing... We really try to create an environment where people feel supported and never, ever judged.”