purchasing West End Yoga in July 2020, longtime yogini Jessica Rodriguez has expanded
programming while supporting Lancaster’s yoga community beyond the studio walls.
Through collaborations with area businesses and events such as Beer Garden Yoga
and Yoga In the Vineyards, she is making yoga approachable for all.
was first introduced to yoga a decade ago when her aunt invited her to join a
class. “Yoga changed my life so much. After experiencing the spiritual and
mental benefits, I wanted to give a little sliver of what I experienced to
anybody I could. I’m passionate about helping other people be their best
the birth of her second child, she took yoga teacher training at West End Yoga,
where she was a regular student. After completing that, she became the full-time membership and fitness director
at a large organization with programs dedicated to physical, mental and
spiritual health while also teaching at West End Yoga.
then COVID came,” Rodriguez reflects. “My organization temporarily closed, and
I was devastated. The job was a part of my identity. The reason I get up every
morning it to help people feel their best.” Soon afterward, she received an
email that West End Yoga was closing permanently. “My heart sank for all the
people in my studio. I could only imagine how many people would be affected."
just two minutes of contemplation, Rodriguez replied to the email and asked if then-owner
Jonina Turzi would sell the business. With a bachelor’s degree in business and experience
in management, Rodriguez just wanted to keep the studio open. By the end of
July 2020, she was the owner of West End Yoga.
Teachers and Growing a Community Presence
immediately made operations more efficient. She had a brand-new website created,
upgraded the software, created an onboarding program, expanded the membership
program and developed a loyalty perks program.
the biggest changes Rodriguez made since taking over is an emphasis on engaging
the community. She has partnered with many nonprofits in the area for
fundraising events and collaborated with local businesses by soliciting modest
discounts or free goods in exchange for promotion on West End Yoga’s website.
effort to reach people intimidated by yoga, Rodriguez launched a series of
off-site events such as Neida! Yoga in the Vineyards, at Nissley Vineyards, an
informal yoga class followed by a glass of wine, Sunset Yoga, an outdoor yoga
flow class with accompaniment by a live harpist, Beer Garden Yoga and Fourth
Friday Men’s Group, with a sliding scale fee.
has maintained the full class schedule with an array of styles such as vinyasa
yoga, vinyasa flow, lunar flow and yoga foundations. Yoga therapy is led by a
certified yoga therapist trained to help with physical injuries or emotional
issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The Great Yoga Wall has support
slings to help decompress the spine or be used as a prop to achieve more
difficult poses. With such a broad array of classes, Rodriguez supports her
teachers in any way she can. “Without our instructors, and them being supported,
they’re not able to open their hearts fully to the studio.”
studio membership program offers unlimited classes. Rodriguez intends to add
another membership option with a limited number of classes that is more
affordable for those with limited incomes. Another membership program includes
two virtual classes per month, along with bring-a-friend classes. Yogis can
also choose from drop-in single classes or purchase a 10-class card. There are
also pay-what-you-can classes. Classes held at or before 7 a.m., or at or after
7 p.m., are $9.
credits the diversity of the classes and the instructors for making West End
Yoga an open, safe and inclusive place. She still does not take a salary and
works a full-time job outside of the studio. Although her goal was just to keep
West End Yoga open, Rodriguez and her team have grown it into much more. “I have
been so surprised by the gratitude in this community. Some teachers have taught
for free, just to help with sustainability,” she says. “I’m an awe of the
beauty of people.”