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The Birth of Solstice Yoga

I have two babies. My 17 month old daughter, Penelope. And Solstice Yoga.

I knew I'd be a mother since I was a little girl. I didn't always know I'd be a full time yoga teacher or a business owner or a "creative" but looking back I can see how these wheels were set in motion a long time ago. I suppose the birth of Solstice Yoga is a personal one - this baby was born from my heart.

I've always loved to create and to work. As a little girl I remember making little flower drawings in my garage and then knocking on my neighbors' doors to see if they'd buy them. Lemonade stands were my lifeblood. I guess you could say side gigs were my favorite adolescent pastime.

Fast forward to high school. I loved making a paycheck and worked a variety of odd jobs thru the end of college: hair salon receptionist, sushi bar waitress, flower delivery lady, and lots of others. In retrospect, I see that the majority of my jobs were for small local businesses, many of them women-owned and operated and of a creative nature.

I found yoga in 2010. My family was destroyed earlier that year when we lost my mother to a quick battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was the center of our universe and her loss has left a permanent void in all of our lives. I'm pretty sure yoga was one of many gifts she's given me from the other side. At 19, I had minimal coping mechanisms and no experience with loss or grief, I felt helpless in so many ways. Yoga allowed me to release emotions and gave me some space between me and my grief. It gave me somewhere warm and cozy to get me out of my head even if just for a few seconds at a time, it was a refuge.

I started in heated yoga of any kind - Bikram, Vinyasa, Yin. Anything hot. I'm a Leo, I'm born in the depth of summer, I love sunbathing, the heat just felt right. But also, you can't run from the heat. You MUST be in your body or else you'll be in your head thinking about how hot you are. I loved that. Being in my body and connecting to something deeper felt SO good and the discipline of the heat kept me there. I loved it and craved it.

When I graduated college and moved back home to California, I started practicing more consistently and trying out other styles of classes to keep challenging myself. I liked working toward a pose that felt really big, like Forearm Stand, and getting better and better at it but I really wanted to know more the poses. I wanted to learn how to do them correctly so I found a yoga teacher training in the next city over that would begin within just a few weeks. Spoiler alert: I LOVED it. At the end I was sure I'd teach yoga and started doing so right away. Teaching a few weekly classes in the evenings while starting a new "real job' as a NeuroRecovery Specialist at a company called Project Walk. A job I'd pursued after graduating with a degree in Integrative Physiology, working hands on with individuals with paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury or stroke. Something I also, LOVED.

In 2014, I was working both jobs but was inspired to combine the two. Many of the clients I was working with were just trying to feel good in their bodies' and reconnect. I knew yoga could benefit them. I started working with these clients one on one doing some simple stretching, breath work and meditation. I love/d merging anatomy, biomechanics and yoga. It's an intuitive combination and I truly believe it's a practice that is sustainable throughout your entire life, in sickness and in health. Regardless of ability or disability, there is something the yoga practice can offer and I was watching it happen in real time with my clients.

In the summer of the following year, I got an offer to work at a Project Walk location in Las Vegas for three months or so. I was supposed to fill in the gaps for them until they could hire more local staff. (Someone we hired actually ended up becoming a good friend and would introduce me to my future husband a few years later) I ended up staying in Las Vegas for 7 more years before returning back to the Bay Area but we're getting ahead of ourselves...

Within a year of moving to Las Vegas, the Project Walk branch ended up shutting down leaving the clients with very limited options to continue their recovery. I began working with these clients in their home while searching for a small studio space of my own to keep working with clients who were into yoga.

Fast forward to two years later, I was ready to exit my little studio space and was looking for alternative options when I walked into a coffee shop one morning on the way to work. There I ran into a friend I'd met thru Project Walk, Brandi. She was surprised to see me because I was "on her list" to call regarding a new venture she was working on. She was looking for the future location of DRIVEN NeuroRecovery Center where she'd build an amazing, multidisciplinary, adaptive facility. After seeing the studio space within the facility I knew I had to do something. It had always been a dream to have a space where any ability level could come practice. That regardless of socioeconomic status, physical ability, race, gender or whatever else, there would be a safe space, offering holistic wellness that you could access. This felt like the perfect place and the Downtown Yoga & Wellness Co-op was created.

We opened in the beginning of 2019 and we were bringing in teachers who wanted to utilize the space for their own endeavors within the field of holistic wellness. Enter Clair Thomas. She taught yoga for us and I kept hearing through the grapevine from students and other teachers: "she's the real deal." Turns out, she was not only a masterful yoga teacher but an amazing human and we joined forces and became fast friends. With the shared dream of creating a yoga teacher training, we began our journey together. She brought in her teacher-friend Adriana Lee and we were off to the races. We poured our hearts into creating the teacher training of our dreams but when the pandemic hit things changed. In-person yoga wasn't what it used to be and we transitioned into a virtual world. With that, we knew our brand needed to shift. We could no longer sustain a typical "yoga studio" and had to get creative with our offerings.

As a team, Clair, Adriana and I brainstormed for weeks on a new name for our new brand/company of which we were all in together. Hundreds of potential names were suggested between the three of us. We painfully picked over the details of each possible new name and nothing FELT right. I'm pretty sure I lost sleep over this rebrand. Turns out, the name we'd suggested in the very beginning of our process stood the test of time and examination: Solstice. Solstice Yoga.

It's a celebration, a representation of growth and inevitable change, honoring both light and dark. All things that we feel yoga and life should be.

So here she stands. Decades in the making, the most beautiful and most authentic creation I can imagine. Living and breathing out in the world through the three of us and every and student we touch. I'm a proud mama.

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