Making Yoga Accessible to Everyone
Aug 29, 2014 07:55AM
● By Lauressa Nelson
Monica Kirchner, owner of Bridge Yoga Studio, has ventured across the globe, from California to Germany to the Carolinas, and even to New Zealand and Hawaii, but family ties brought her back to Lancaster, where she had spent her high school years. While visiting family, Kirchner met her husband, and the couple decided to settle in Lancaster, where they are raising their three daughters. “I feel really fortunate that living in Lancaster has given me the opportunity to open a yoga studio,” she comments. “I love teaching and being around the community.”
Kirchner opened the Lancaster studio in 2009 as a non-intimidating, non-competitive and laid back place where yoga is truly for everyone. Small class sizes allow instructors to provide individualized attention and to break down poses to ensure safe and proper execution by all students. “We emphasize that anyone can do yoga because there is a way to modify every pose,” she explains. “It is really about listening to your body and just doing what you can do today. When I teach, I start with very basic poses and introduce them as building blocks to more challenging postures. We maintain a comfortable temperature in the room and keep the class length to one hour. Our goal is for people to enjoy themselves and leave feeling good.”
Bridge Yoga Studio offers vinyasa, hatha, slow flow and gentle yoga classes, as well as restorative yoga, where props are used to support effortless poses for 10 to 15 minutes. Yin yoga will be added this fall, where students move slowly between poses that are held three to five minutes. Expectant mothers are able to bond and share experiences during prenatal yoga sessions led by doula and registered yoga teacher Jaclyn Downs.
The studio also offers chair yoga, which is especially helpful for those challenged by getting up and down from the floor or as a supplement to physical therapy or recovery from an illness. “It is really great for anyone who is intimidated by yoga,” Kirchner advises. “It’s a nice way to keep active not just physically, but also to stay calm mentally. Sitting down, stopping the mind from racing, getting into the moment and focusing on breathing helps people de-stress, especially in our society, where we’re always running.”
Kirchner is proud of the diversity of certification backgrounds held by her team of instructors; each brings something unique the studio. She also coordinates classes at off-site locations, such as business offices, schools and assisted living facilities. With the studio’s intimate class size, private groups, such as bridal parties, can be accommodated.
“I love helping people feel better and have a better quality of life,” says Kirchner. “People often walk in the door stressed from their lives, but leave feeling so much better.”
Lauressa Nelson is a contributing editor for Natural Awakenings magazine and a freelance writer who lives in Orlando, Florida.