It is widely known that yoga is exceptional for both physical and mental health, but what is it that makes the experience whole?
For Allie Chisholm-Smith, owner of The Yoga Collective, it is as the studio’s name suggests: when people come together when they have a common space to collect.
The yoga studio, located at 395 Centre St. N. in Huntsville, officially opened its doors to the public in January 2022 after a long battle with lockdowns, location changes, and other hardships that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. The studio’s official grand opening celebration and open house will take place on June 17 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Chisholm-Smith and four other instructors—Wendy Martin, Tim Lucier, Alli Monnet, and Lorraine van Luit—teach a variety of different yoga classes and workshops, from gentle and restorative yoga to deep and dynamic, both at the studio and online.
Chisholm-Smith says that the pandemic took a significant toll on the operation of her classes and the advancement of her studio, but she remains hopeful for the future.
“The pandemic was like a bowling ball through the yoga industry, there are a lot of people that aren’t teaching now because of it, she says. “So it’ll be a slower growth than I was expecting, but I want to do it well, not fast.”
Chisholm-Smith opened her original yoga studio, Ahimsa Yoga, in 2001, which became a popular staple among the Huntsville community. The studio closed its doors in March 2020 due to the initial COVID-19 lockdown and Chisholm-Smith then made the difficult decision to close it officially in May 2020.
Chisholm-Smith transitioned to teaching all classes online through Zoom, and despite some of her client base having difficulty with this shift, it was received surprisingly well by many of the students.
“The really fun part [about online classes]was that the people who could normally only see me when they were here at their cottages could see me all year long,” Chisholm-Smith says. “I have a woman who lives in Ecuador who comes to my classes three days a week. And then Colorado, Florida, Rochester, and also Ottawa and Toronto, et cetera. So that was really cool, and that’s still happening, I don’t want to give up Zoom because of that. So that’s one way it’s changed in a really positive sense.”
As the first wave of the pandemic began to slow down, Chisholm-Smith decided to open the new studio in September 2020, but the opening was delayed until January 2021 due to renovation issues. And then the studio was ready to open its doors when the next lockdown hit and was forced to close once again. A distressing burden for some, Chisholm-Smith tried to see the positives in the delay of her studio opening and used it as an opportunity to adjust to her new space. She continued online classes throughout the succeeding lockdowns until The Yoga Collective officially opened its doors in January 2022.
After this long uphill journey, Chisholm-Smith is thrilled to finally have her new studio up and running, not just for herself, but for the entire community.
“People have been really tired, and there’s still a little bit of hopelessness going on. I just don’t think we’re having any time to get through stress right now,” Chisholm-Smith says. “So I’m so glad that I’m able to have the space again for people to gather, because it’s such a great sense of community, and you just feel like you can get through.”
Chisholm-Smith emphasizes how healing and cathartic practicing yoga can be, especially in the midst of these trying and unpredictable times of modern-day.
“You can’t take care of your mind without taking care of your body and vice versa,” she states. “It’s important that you’re doing yoga to be kind to yourself and to strike up a more loving relationship with yourself. And if you can find that way to be kind to yourself, chances are you can be a lot kinder to other people and to the planet.”
The Yoga Collective staff are planning to host various events this summer season, including workshops, festivals, and retreats.
For more information, visit The Yoga Collective here.
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