I had taken my first few yoga classes at a local gym and was immediately hooked. I didn't know why, but I felt happy and energized now after "working out", instead of depleted. At the grocery store after yoga, people looked at me quizzically and asked what I was smiling about. The gym stopped offering the classes, but I needed them so I asked one of the teachers to lead yoga in my basement for a few friends and me.
For several months she came every Tuesday and Thursday and our little group grew from 2 to 10. I started driving up to Cleveland Yoga on Mondays and Wednesdays...I wanted yoga every day! Then our teacher moved. I apologized to the group and told them that we must disband, but they responded, "Why can't you lead our class? Just do what you are doing in class at Cleveland Yoga."
By now, I knew that there was much more to it than that, but I agreed and started offering free yoga in my basement every Tuesday and Thursday. Along the way, my kids' playroom turned into a lovely yoga studio, complete with tape marks for mats and a painted "om" on the wall and I got certified as a "real" teacher at CY and immersed myself in retreats and yoga books.
We grew to a rotating group of about 25 yogis at a time, including my kids' bus driver, who would arrive just in time after delivering her precious cargo. Strangers were invited to just walk in and come down to the basement. I wanted to share this amazing practice that was changing me and making me feel so happy, powerful, and competent.
Yoga was no longer about the "workout" but all about peeling back layers and rediscovering myself. I had also discovered that an important part of yoga is Seva, or "service to others". I saw famous yoga teachers who I admired raising awareness and funds for causes they championed. I realized that through donation-based special events I could raise money for local organizations that I cared about.
After three years, one of my best friends started talking to me about opening a yoga studio. I didn't want to turn my passion into a job, but I wanted to reach more people, and I knew that I couldn't do that from my basement. I also knew that a studio would allow me to raise more substantial funds for my Seva projects.
So, I stepped out of my comfort zone, signed a lease, managed a build-out, and we opened for business in February 2011. There have been many ups and downs, an expansion in Fairlawn, a new studio in Green, but the thing I am most proud of is that through mid-2018 Yoga Bliss has donated more than $90,500 to organizations that support women and children.
And what about those friends from the early days in the basement?
Most of the "Original Basement Yogis" are still at Yoga Bliss!