“Inhale, exhale...and move your head to the right side…and now to the left.”
Such began yoga instructor Tyann Hermes during her morning gentle yoga class at the Shakti Soul Yoga and Movement in Troy. A group of seven women and one man of all ages gathered at the studio early in the morning to stretch, move and find balance.
The class started before sunrise in a dimly-lit room with soft, musical notes humming through the air from a harmonium, a small instrument that creates sounds similar to a church organ. People came in one-by-one, laid their yoga mats on the heated wood floor and waited for the beginning of the class.
The class went on for an hour, during which the members did a variety of poses that stretched every part of the body while practicing breathing and meditation.
At the end of the class, the sun started shining through the window, the participants slowly made their way to the door, many of whom said they felt relaxed and ready to start the day.
The yoga and dance studio in Troy has grown since it opened on March 3, 2013, when owner and yoga teacher Tyann Hermes remodeled a former gas station in Troy.
Hermes said she received some comments from people in the beginning that hinted the business wasn’t going to succeed, but with the expansion of three teachers in the beginning to six now, and an increasing amount of people coming to classes — Hermes is happy to see how far the business has come.
After Hermes’ morning yoga class on Friday, participants took the time to reflect on what yoga means to them.
“I think yoga, it really grounds you,” Terry Herman, who attended the morning yoga class said, “For me, it’s mind and body balance.”
Most of the people in the class are over 40 years of age with some into their 60s. People who went to the class say it helps them stay physically fit as they age, like Chris Reichert. Other people, like Bette Volkmann, said the class is very therapeutic for them.
The business in Troy is comprised of many different activities that encourage physical fitness. Different yoga classes are scheduled for each day, but there have also been NIA classes and children and adult creative ballet.
Karina Hancock, who teaches ballet classes said she has a passion for dance that she’s happy to share with the community.
“Many of us have difficulty with words, so we express ourselves through dance,” Hancock said.
Hancock works with Families in Partnership and she’s a substitute teacher with Troy Head Start, and teaches at the studio on Thursdays and Fridays. As a dance instructor, Hancock said that dance can be an important form of communication, as well as a learning experience for children and adults. For children, she said, it helps them learn posture, body awareness and their muscles’ limits and abilities.
During Hancock’s kids ballet and creative dance class, her students went through different routines of dance, learning movements and poses.
In essence, Hermes describes the yoga and dance studio is a place for people to gather.
“This is something that I do out of passion, so it’s here when people find it, want it and need it,” Hermes said.
While owner Hermes doesn’t actively try to convince members of the community to come to the classes, she would like people to have an open mind about the different classes they teach.
The studio has something for everyone, Hermes said.
“If people ask, which they do, sometimes it takes a while, but they walk in the door and realize it’s not scary and it’s a safe space,” Hermes said.
If someone attends a class, and it doesn’t resonate with them, they can always try a different class. Hermes said that each of the teachers have their own personalities and styles.
Hermes opened the studio almost five years ago because it was something she needed that she wanted to share with the community. She was driving to Sandpoint, Idaho every week for yoga classes and dance classes. Hermes said that yoga means something different to each individual who practices it, for some it’s more spiritual and for others it’s more physical. For many, Hermes said, yoga helps people purge everyday stress and get their emotions out while also finding what each individual body needs.
“There’s really no one answer to what yoga is. There’s so many aspects and different types of yoga. Some of it is more of a physical intensity, some of it’s more a spiritual path, and some of it’s more about mindfulness. In essence, it’s connecting yourself to life and a connection between body and mind.”
Yoga is non-religious practice, but it can be spiritual for attendees. Hermes does chant in her classes in Om, a common prayer chant that is an affirmation of a divine presence, but she said the spirituality branch of yoga is optional.
“It’s up to the person. Whether the spiritual is the divine, nature, society or community,” Hermes said. “In a sense it’s a connection to something outside yourself, but it’s whatever that is to the person.”
Hermes is also a black belt NIA teacher. NIA, or Neuromuscular Integrative Action, blends martial arts, healing arts, dance and spiritual self-healing.
Occasionally, Hermes volunteers and does afterschool yoga classes in Troy and hosts the Troy High School physical education classes for a few weeks.
After opening the studio in Troy, Hermes said that the growth of attendees to the classes surprised her the most.
“There’s been such a strong community of people from the beginning,” Hermes said. “It’s amazing who walks through the door.”
The studio will host Ecstatic Dance this Friday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:10 for warmup. Opening circle at 6:30 p.m.