ROOTS-YOGA-Ink-PublicationsIellon the ’70s it was the trend, especially among young people, to “find yourself.” Sometimes that was good because it fostered exploration, introspection, and growth through self-awareness. Other times it found the seeker in trouble, feeling they could only achieve their goal pharmaceutically or by taking unnatural risks. While it appeared to be the fad of a generation, people have always looked inward seeking peace and contentment. And what people have found for thousands of years is that finding yourself is a very unique and personal experience, which is why the popularity of practicing yoga has continued to grow exponentially.

Yoga is neither trend nor fad, yoga is personal, very personal. While its roots do indeed harken back thousands of years ago; and there are common principles that define it, yoga is really crafted by the person who practices it, embraces it, and incorporates it into their own lives.

Begin with the term “Practice.” One does not “Do” yoga; one “Practices” it. While practicing yoga you slowly gain more flexibility in addition to realizing many other benefits. If you practice with any degree of frequency, you see improvement, gain strength. The more you practice, the more you incorporate the benefits of yoga into your own personal life. There is no end result nor goal in the practice of yoga…no black belt, no top tier, no Eagle Scout badge; rather it is an ongoing process that gently coaxes the practitioner to evolve, each in his own way on a continuum.

Everyone comes to yoga from a different place, for a different reason. Some seeking nothing more than increased flexibility and challenging exercise; still others seeking something deeper, akin to finding themselves within their practice. Mimi Brainard came to yoga because she was looking for a new direction in her life.

Having summered in Old Lyme since early childhood, Brainard felt a great affinity for the area. After employment as an art rep in New York City, she returned to her beloved Lyme where she worked for a jewelry designer for a number of years. Then suddenly her life changed again, she was unemployed, and Mimi wondered where she might turn for something new and fulfilling. She needed to find not only herself, but where life was taking her. A friend, Schuyler Grant, director of the Kula Yoga Project in New York, was offering yoga teacher training classes, and Mimi inquired if she might join and see what teaching yoga was all about.
It didn’t take long under Schuyler’s tutelage until Brainard was completely and totally hooked and decided to open her own studio. From the onset,there never seemed to be any question of where that studio would be…it had to be in the Lyme area because that’s where her heart and soul resided. Through friends who owned The Cooley Gallery on Lyme Street, Mimi found the perfect spot for her studio, a place that bespeaks yoga. A place that’s easy to get to, yet just a little hard to find, tucked away just enough to provide the peaceful setting that makes yoga so very, very personal. Once Mimi found the little barn red house, it just felt right; and Root Yoga Studio was born a year ago just behind The Cooley Gallery and up a flight of stairs.

DSC00721Leave your shoes at the bottom of those stairs, for once you ascend you’ll instantly feel any stress or tension melt away. By the time you’ve reached the top, you inhale the sweet smell of incense – just a hint- not intrusive. There’s soft music in the background,  unidentifiable as it should be when it serves as a complement to yoga. There is an immediate sense of peace, of calm, of having left the world outside where it belongs. And you know you have found a very special place.

There are those yoga studios who try too hard, overpowering clients with heavy incense, too much Sanskrit, too much of what their teachers want from a yoga practice, rather than what their clients are seeking individually. Root Yoga is the polar opposite. “It’s all about intimacy, small classes, and personal challenges,” says Mimi Brainard. “Our  clients are surrounded by teachers who are highly skilled and experienced in anatomy, in modifications, in the science of body alignment; yet they continue to deepen their teaching through their practice.” And yoga is, after all, a continuing practice.

Make no mistake. One does not have to be experienced to enjoy what Root Yoga Studio offers. Mimi and her staff have crafted a schedule with classes that appeal to the novice (“there’s a lunch time community class every Wednesday”), classes with yoga basics, classes for athletes, classes in meditation, foundation, and more advanced areas of yogaDSC00734. But there is most definitely something for everyone with prices starting at just $8. per  class. Brainard’s staff brings years of experience to what they do.”It’s like going to Yoga University,” laughs Mimi as she points with pride to teachers Laurence Lavagne, Grace Osora, Kim Abraham, Liza Dousson, Cristina Reardon, and Laura Williams who “try to soften people despite everything that’s going on in the world. It’s all about balance, because everyone who comes here has an individual agenda, and we support that. I’m so proud of what we teach.”

Leave your troubles, your fears, your stress, your inhibitions outside .Remove your shoes at the bottom of the stairs and take that slow, delicious climb, one step at a time. Up to where no one is judged. Where stress slips away easily. Where you feel more flexible, peaceful, empowered.  And where the people who are there to guide you are also non-judgmental, highly trained, and ready to help you do whatever you want to do. It’s YOUR practice.

Take a deep breath. Stretch. Let the world slip away for a little while. You’ve taken the time to take that first step on your own personal journey, and now you’ve arrived at Root Yoga. Maybe you will “find yourself.” Maybe not. But you will find serenity, gain flexibility, and feel absolutely wonderful.

Enjoy the journey.

Root Yoga Studio is located at 23 Lyme Street in Old  [email protected]