Photo: Stephanie Mills, owner of Simply Yoga in Cushing Square.
The circular logo on the window of Simply Yoga, which opens this weekend in the heart of Cushing Square, is not associated with traditional yoga illustrations.
In fact, owner Stephanie Mills brought the symbol over from her native Ireland.
“It’s an image carved in stone at Newgrange,” said the Dublin native. Four days a year at the winter solstice, the sun enters a tiny roof box which allows the morning sun to illuminate the vast interior of the 5,000-year-old structure.
And Mills wants to enlighten resident to the benefits of her brand of yoga.
In many ways, the name of Mills’ studio– who practices and teaches Vinyasa/Flow Yoga, where movement and breathing are synchronized – is her business philosophy.
“That’s what I’m offering here, simply yoga. I’m not offering all the other exercise. It’s just yoga because I believe in it. It’s about the exercise; it’s about the mind, and it’s about creating a community. I want people to come here and to leave their stress at the door, where you can bring your kids, that you know this studio has a good vibe.”
“I’m not looking to build an empire. This is it,” she said.
Belmont residents got the opportunity to experience Mills’ approach with a free weekend – April 23 and 24 – of classes at her studio at 95 Trapelo Rd. which was once the location of a Chinese restaurant and a convenience store. The completely renovated interior has a large room (named Adam) and a more intimate space (dubbed Saoirse – not after the actress, Saoirse Ronan, but is Irish for “freedom) where she and staff can conduct classes and workshop.
“Yoga is for everyone, no matter what your experience. Simply Yoga is about building a community and introducing people to the simplicity that yoga can bring to our chaotic lives,” she said. “I think it’s very important in today’s society. We are constantly chasing our tails. Yoga is a reminder to take time for oneself.”
The Watertown resident has left a long career behind the camera – working at WGBH in production for NOVA and The American Experience and as a freelancer for National Geographic and The History Channel – after “returning to the yoga mat 17 years ago like most folks do; to get a workout,” she said,
After suffering a back injury that required surgery, going to the studio as well as finding a committed chiropractor “renewed my enthusiasm for yoga as I found it to be very restorative,” she said. The next step was her belief that she could provide people of all ages and abilities the same experience.
Mills said she hopes the studio “is everything to every person” whether the customer is the middle-aged dad, the empty nester or the young professional who will be living in Cushing Village.
“I believe strongly that yoga is for everyone,” said Mills. The range of classes are from yoga’s foundations, for the very beginner and the more experienced to go back to basics and learn the cues and get proper alignment for poses, Yin yoga where poses are held for minutes with the idea that your mind relaxes into that pose, more traditional flow classes, and a heated class.
“People go to various yoga studios for lots of different reasons. When I envisioned taking this leap, starting a yoga studio, Belmont was the town I [saw], specifically Cushing Square,” she said.
“I envisioned a community, a ‘yoga strong’ community built by the instructors – who she spent the past six months recruiting for her studio – and the students, a place to learn and where knowledge is shared freely. The team at Simply Yoga are deeply committed to the practice of yoga and the community,” said Mills.
“I think I have a stellar team, and they are really invested in yoga and invested in Belmont,” she said.
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