A Leep of Faith: Lehigh Valley Yoga
Dec 11, 2012 01:57PM
● By Beth Davis
Jacque Porterfield took her first yoga class at a gym and disliked it immediately. However, as a runner, she felt as if she needed more balance in her athletic endeavors, so she had signed up for a six-week session and she wasn’t about to quit. By the end of the session, Porterfield could tell she was stronger, and she was hooked.
After practicing Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga for a few years, she began basic teacher training. “My original intention was actually not to teach, but just to gain a more in-depth understanding of the practice,” says Porterfield. “However, yoga had transformed my body and my life on so many levels that I felt like I needed to share that with everybody. Teaching seemed like the next step.” Eventually, after many hours of home practice, workshops and trainings, she went on to become an Experience Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT), with 200 hours of training under Yoga Alliance.
In 2006, Porterfield was faced with an opportunity: the owner of the studio at which she had been practicing wanted to sell the business. A stay-at-home mother at the time, Porterfield had already been thinking making a career move because her kids were older. “I loved yoga, so I believed that owning a studio sounded like the best job ever,” she explains. In April of that year, she took the leap and bought Lehigh Valley Yoga, in Allentown. Though the business portion of owning a studio is a challenge, plus an education, she remains enthusiastic about her choice.
“Yoga is a nice way to get to know yourself—you can explore being alive,” she says. “That is what makes me so passionate. So often we only see what is right in front of us, not around us. With yoga, we can learn that mindfulness and it can bring peace.”
When she took over nearly seven years ago, Lehigh Valley Yoga had a small student base of about 25. Today, the studio boasts about 200 active students. She credits the growth to the unique combination of hot and Ashtanga yoga classes offered at the studio.
According to Porterfield, Ashtanga is an athletic, powerful practice that incorporates breath with movement. Those who practice, she says, can become very fit—physically and mentally. “Many of our students are interested in fitness, but may not like the gym,” she explains. “They come here and feel challenged physically, but they also feel welcome—we’re like one big community.”
With the incorporation of hot yoga in 2010, yogis are challenged to push themselves while opening tight muscles and stiff joints, creating space in the spine and sweating hard, thereby flushing out toxins. “Our most popular class is Hot Yoga 40, which is a fast paced flow that builds strength and endurance as well as flexibility,” notes Porterfield. “This is our original class with a sequence of 40 challenging postures developed by Randi Perrett.”
Porterfield does note that the studio is not only for hardcore yogis. Classes are available for all ages and all fitness levels—from beginners to advanced athletes. In addition to the scheduled classes, they also offer private, semi-private and on-site workplace classes.
“It is important that we have something for everyone,” she states. “We offer classes for athletes, expectant moms, kids and even special classes for weight loss.” The goal, she says, is to create a friendly, warm environment that allows participants to have the best possible yogic experience. Much of that begins with the instructors—all of whom are friendly, warm and experienced in teaching their yoga style. All are 200 hour + registered instructors, or have completed teacher training at LV Yoga, a program launched by Porterfied to ensure she was getting proficient practitioners. The Yoga Alliance certified Teacher Training School covers in-depth study of Primary Series Ashtanga, hot yoga, sequencing a class, anatomy and more.
“Yoga is an amazing experience if practiced regularly,” she says. “It gives you the opportunity to watch yourself move and react to things—to observe yourself on a whole new level even off the mat. I want to do what I can to ensure our students have that experience.”
Lehigh Valley Yoga is located at 1701 Union Blvd., Allentown. For more information, call 610-776-2676 or visit LVYogaStudio.com.