In the spirit of the stretching of what we consider to be downtown boundaries, Downtown Yoga has opened at 1400 N. 6th Avenue, which is just about as specifically between the Parkridge and Fourth and Gill neighborhoods as is geographically possible to be. Within sight of the murals proclaiming both neighborhoods, it’s about a five minute drive or fifteen minute bike ride from the center of downtown and it’s in a pair of neighborhoods which are clearly becoming favored spots for young professionals.
I met Leslie Ann Ellingburg in the brightly painted building which is fast becoming home to a number of entrepreneurs. With its industrial exterior, the interior holds surprisingly warm charm. Leslie’s studio is an attractive space with an inviting vibe enhanced, of course, by her welcoming nature and easy smile.
Originally from Johnson City where she attended Science Hill High School and ETSU, she now lives in Morristown where her husband is currently employed. While at ETSU she attained her BS in Exercise Science. She’s been practicing yoga for about ten years after starting during a hiatus from ballet, but it was in college that she became much more serious about the practice. Her interest in fitness runs deep, as reflected by the fact that she has been a fitness instructor of one sort or another since age 18, but the healing and therapeutic qualities of yoga ultimately drew her in that direction.
She returned to Johnson City to obtain her teacher certification through the 200 hour Yoga Alliance program at Mountain Yoga, working with teacher Jennifer Chisam. I asked what one might do in yoga school beyond, well, yoga. She said they studied that, but also, “the philosophy, history, breathing and physiology involved in the practice.” She finished last February.
She knew she eventually wanted to own a studio and, since Johnson City might seem like a logical choice, given her connections to the city, I asked why she chose Knoxville. Looking for a new challenge, she noted that Knoxville seemed to have fewer yoga studios than Johnson City. A Facebook post from a friend alerted her to the option of a studio in the building. It was downtown, but in a more affordable area, which was important to her. She’s been happy to learn more about the neighborhoods around her and feels what she’s offering is a good fit.
I pointed out that I’d noticed business cards on her bulletin board of various downtown businesses, such as Union Avenue Books. She said she’d introduced herself to the owners of each of those businesses and brought their cards back to encourage others to support them. She believes in businesses working together to help each other.
The studio opened in early July and has begun attracting patrons. You can find her studio on Facebook as Downtown Yoga Knox. She has 101 “likes.” Couldn’t we double that to welcome her to the city? She’s also on Instagram, which I think you’ll find here.
The focus of her classes is therapeutic, with two restorative classes offered each week, as well as back care classes, core classes. Given her background in exercise science, she’s very attuned to people who have specific physical issues and likes to work with people who sit in offices or drive for a living and have attendant issues or with athletes who need a program shaped for their concerns.
She is drawn to the slower paced forms of yoga, feeling the need for people to have some time in their day to be still in the midst of the clamor of modern life. She said, “I allow people to use yoga in the manner they prefer.” She also points out that, “It’s never too late to start yoga. There is a yoga for everybody and for every body.”
Leslie summed up her mission and goals thusly, “My yoga philosophy is based on the Sanskrit (ancient Indian language, language of yoga) words leela(play) and shanti(peace) . . . finding inner peace through the play and practice of yoga. Then Downtown Yoga has 3 missions. 1: To bring yoga to the community for all levels, beginner to advanced. All classes are alignment, physiologically, and kinesiology based. I can tailor a posture to any body that comes to class to help them find their best yoga and best yoga posture. Everybody can do yoga! 2: Using yoga to help others through Karma and donation-based classes with the profits going to local not-for-profits (first class of this kind will be in September). 3: Supporting local businesses and the community by participating in community events and shopping/promoting at local shops.”
Most classes are $10 for an hour, but lunch classes lasting 45 minutes are offered for $6. She’s open Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as a short time on Saturday. Also offered, are private sessions and small groups by appointment. For a list of the currently scheduled classes, go here. To speak to Leslie, ask questions or to reserve a spot in a class, call 423-426-4749.
She’s having her Open House and Grand Opening event tonight during which visitors may take a $5 yoga class. Also available will be giveaways including a $25 gift certificate to Holly’s 135, a bag of coffee from Remedy and two free private sessions. The First Friday event will run from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, with the class held for the first hour. Afterward, food, drink and henna will be available to everyone who visits (the henna starts at $5).