Last Friday marked the five-year anniversary for the quaint and enchanting Victor Yoga Studio, and the condensation dripping off the studio front windows displayed that it was, indeed, an invigorating celebration.
Located in the heart of the village of Victor, New York, Victor Yoga Studio provides a respite for busy locals by offering weekly yoga classes, mediation workshops, reiki, and special events focused on health and wellness.
“I was inspired to start the studio to create a sanctuary where people could come and be comfortable without an intimidating atmosphere,” shared studio owner Mandy Ziegelmann. Mandy began the studio with fellow yoga teacher Debbie Smith five years ago, and together they aspired to build a community where people of any fitness level could walk through the door feeling secure in their own skin.
“The studio has grown over the years not just in population, but also in honing in more with what the community’s interests are,” Mandy shared. “The people who come to Victor Yoga Studio love what I call ‘raw yoga.’ There are no bells, whistles, or frills….just great classes with amazingly talented and authentic instructors who love what they do.”
To accommodate the studio’s growing population over the past five years, it has expanded from two instructors that offered about eight classes a week, to ten instructors and more than twenty-four classes to choose from weekly.
Well, where the studio may lack in frills, it compensates in its tranquil ambience. Upon walking in the door, one is presented with warm golden and earthy hues, peace tree murals, chakra prayer flags, and quotes from Patanjali, the Buddha, and other renown Eastern philosophers and yogis. Exotically stitched pillows and wicker chairs encircle a small, but homey waiting area for yogis and visitors to convene between classes.
Friday’s anniversary celebration, titled Taste of the Victor Yoga Studio, included a 90-minute yoga class co-taught by four of the studio’s instructors, followed by delectable hors d’evours, wine, Mandy’s fruity sangria, and compelling (and sometimes amusing) conversations. As I had just concluded my fourth year teaching at the studio, I was delighted to have the opportunity to co-teach this celebration class with three other skilled and vibrant yoga teachers at the studio.
Over 27 people attended the event. Each inch of the humble space was occupied by mats, water bottles, and smiling yogis who were ready to stretch, flow, sweat, and celebrate.
Mandy began class in her soothing, gentle voice with a moment to center in balasana (child’s pose) before leading us through her unique variation of sun salutations.
After several graceful flows, the temperature in the room began to rise, the gentle yoga music picked up to a more upbeat rhythm, and the participants were getting energized.
That is when Beth stepped in and asked the class, “Are you guys ready to party?” Beth followed Mandy’s Surya Namaskar with a more vigorous flow of warrior series poses and strengthening balancing poses to the funky rhythm and blues of musicians such as Blackstreet.
Beth’s classes are known for being fun, upbeat, and rigorously challenging, and her section of the class offered her best sampling of her specialty. We were definitely sweating after twenty minutes of vinyasa yoga with Beth!
Well, the sweat didn’t stop gushing from our temples yet, because Jill stepped in with some more energetic vinyasa series, followed by her famed abdominal series repetitions.
If a strong core is what you are seeking, then Jill is your woman! In addition to being a yoga teacher, Jill has over fifteen years of experience as a practitioner of Pilates, and she has been teaching for over eleven years. Her expertise in core strengthening definitely shined through during her section of the class. Just as we thought we were on our last navasana (boat pose) crunch, we had another series. – But, the physical payoffs motivated the class to persevere until she was finished.
When I stepped up to conclude the class after Jill’s abs series, one student in the front asked, “Oh, what are you going to make us do now?” “I’m going to slow it down,” I replied, “after fifty more boat crunches.”
Well…I was kidding, of course.
This is the part of class I always look forward to. Although my breathing slows down at this point and it seems the practice has moved to a place of more idleness, nothing reaches the muscle layers and connective tissue in the body more deeply than hip-openers do. It is here that I often connect emotionally to myself in the practice, too. This when I mentally notice and feel the transformation that has just occurred in my body from an hour of practicing yoga. I felt honored to be a part of teaching this class, and especially to have the privilege to bring the practice to a close.
We ended in a peaceful savanasa (corpse pose – final relaxation). A yoga practice is never complete, after all, without savasana. The four of us traveled around the room to each yogi applying essential oils and gentle massages.
Mandy shared with me that just as yoga is often translated as meaning to unite, that her greatest wish is to offer the Victor Yoga Studio a sense of unity and connection amongst those who visit and become part of the studio. If Friday night is a reflection of what the studio has become during the past five years, I think her wish has been granted, and so much of it is because of the love and energy she has dedicated to this lovely space.
Thank you, Mandy, for giving Victor this peaceful haven.
For more information about the Victor Yoga Studio, visit: www.victoryogastudio.com