It is a joy to be sharing up to 12 years of being on a mission, to facilitate wellness through the practice of yoga. In 2011, it became a passion to share the joy of teaching and make yoga teacher training accessible through tailor-made schedules that also complied with Yoga Alliance Standards.
We customize our training to meet the needs of the students. In so doing, we train them to meet their future practitioners where they are at. It is our mission to birth forth teachers, grounded and empowered to follow their heart and pour forth with their authentic voice, honoring the great tradition, science and art of yoga.
For some of you who are more recently joining forces with us, because, "together we are better" you may not know that during the first year in our 1026 College Ave Home (2013) we looked at what it would take to be a “donation based studio."
"The gift of yoga should be available to all." was often heard out of Jeannine's mouth. This was a natural outpouring of her heart and mind, as she was raised as a Pastor's Kid in San Salvador, and continued throughout her teen and adult years to work in non-profit work that sought to serve vulnerable populations, in times of duress.
She worked cross-culturally, within Chicago land area at the Olive Branch Mission Homeless and Drug Rehabilitation Center, then spread her wings to live in Asia, spending significant time in Seoul and Kathmandu, Nepal. Her early work as a teen and young adult in Morocco, and Spain left a strong impact on her that would mark her as a sojourner of the world, privileged to have been influenced by each and every culture she experienced.
This lead Jeannine to seek ways of connecting with the enrichment of various perspectives and backgrounds. The breath of life was the thread that linked all despite the differences of ethnicity, religion, age, etc. Universally celebrated, breath and movement would become the means through which she would undergo being a bridge that would serve to offer healing.
Yoga was shared with Jeannine, through a dear friend in the shape of a VHS tape to be practiced in her very own living room. Timid to try it, as her only exposure to yoga had been the unforgettable scene, on the sidewalk in Nepal, of an emaciated man sitting with his legs behind him and holding a serpent, while his eyes rolled back and persisted in his chanting. The VHS was a most restful, ocean side practice of meditative movements, reminiscent to what she had done behind closed doors, on her to connect with God.
It was immediately added to her daily disciplines and has been with her ever since. Through this practice, she both uncovered hidden hurts through the honest glimpse of the internal landscape and found that the flow of breath would reconnect her to abandoned places within through the free flowing life-source, moving as light through the dark.
Layers of old, torn-up patterns of thought; broken-open, exposing new realms of possibility, just in time. As life would have it, waves of challenge would quickly threaten the calm and offer trials that test the central axis of ones being.
Again, now for the present moment, yoga became scientifically proven and artistically embedded into the fabric of her being, offering spacious tranquility in the claustrophobic collapse of the bedrock she stood on.
How could this underground nourishment be taking place while everything above, seen by the mortal eye, had ceased to live? These methods, tools, available to all are not entrusted only to the ones who can stand on their hands, but to all who share in the human connection.
Literally rewarding to all. It is the mind, body, spirit connection within ourselves, as a microcosm and among one another, as a macrocosm. The diversity reflected in the systems of our body, reflected also in the members of a city, town, community within and surrounding Wheaton.
The presence of World Relief, with an influx of Refuges, bringing the farthest of nations to have local representation. All are Welcome.
This message resonated deeply enough that the implausible proposal of a full-blown mural on a prominent side-wall of the studio building, that sits on the College Ave. Metra Station, would have on it, the word "Welcome" written in 54 languages all of which, wheaton has welcomed with open arms.
Removing as many obstacles as possible, including the limiting factor of cost, we found ourselves, after trial and error as well as research and discussions with other studios who have gone before us and tried the donation based approach, concluded that we did not have the adequate space or capacity to effectively provide classes in a sustainable way.
Without wanting to turn anyone away, we chose to venture into an intentional offering in creative ways like sending teacher volunteers into places that house people who would not be able to afford in this season a yoga pass. Regular classes have been taught at Pads, Convalescent Center, Cancer Ward, Aids Ward, Correctional Facilities, Half-way houses, Veterans, etc.
Additionally the studio doors have been left open on a weekly basis for a Sunday, Free Community Class. There have been a number of Donation Based Classes where the proceeds have been donated to local homes rehabilitating women coming out of domestic violence.
This Veteran's Day, Essencia Celebrated over 200 hours of classes donated to the continued healing for the men and women who have served the country in the military. Thanks to the generous teacher with a big heart, Kate Fleming and a group of Members and Teachers that released that time frame for the greater good.
Many others, including some of you, who prefer to be unnamed. have given of yourselves and found the deep reward, un-quantifiable by nature, but one that feeds the soul and enriches the inner being.
Some would say that this is 10 doses of a big heart, and 1 dose of business acumen. The real bills show the need for the real deliverable s. Jeannine gives credit where credit is due and has had to practice humble warrior, as she submits not to her current inclination but to a greater plan that stands firmly addressing the current state of the Wellness Center and putting it through a substantial process to continue to build in a sustainable way.
WHO WE ARE TODAY
Maintaining the flexibility allowable, in order to secure the necessary provisions was a motto that kept us coming back to the tough questions of balancing cost with pay. The uncomfortable phases of reducing and then expanding has taken great adjusting power on all ends of the spectrum.
Your commitment and joy of teaching have made this possible. Behind the scenes there has been a lot in the works. An up close review of profit and loss, attendance, classes, services, etc has been taking place to increase quality of growth. As a result, we are exactly where we are right now.
We have grown to 12 doses of a big heart. However, we have shifted to 7 doses of business acumen - and growing quickly to 9 doses by year end.
We love yoga, teaching, being taught, making friends and uplifting our community. We also find ourselves in a very competitive landscape, and have embraced this phase openly, without hesitation, to live in this reality.
We continue to be Essencia, and are not busy replicating other studios, by design. We have a unique position, though imperfect, with visible flaws, but also with compelling virtues:
Unique Yoga Teacher Training Options (flexible schedule, affordable)
Teacher Freedom with their classes (not programmed or controlled like many larger shops)
A place that people don’t rush out the door after class – we stay, linger, listen and invest in each other and seek that community.
-It could be arguably said that we have our best group of teachers on our schedule since the studio launched over 5 years (Rachel, Amy, Jill, Maggie, Danette, Justin and most recently joined by another Maggie (Cresto). Lastly our own Ingrid is launching her Wednesday 5:15 Hour of Power. Keep a look out as more of our new teachers will be adding their voice along the way.
Each one, unique one from the other, all, however wanting the best for their students and offering their best, unique perspective. We are grateful for each of you and are full of gratitude as we near 2019.
-Lastly, we are a place to be heard and be loved.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
A special word of thanks to our interns: Savanna, Kendall, and David, each in a different capacity, are part of the team, bringing different skills and passions. Savanna, our front line contact (inbound emails and phone calls from our community) and jack of all trades; Kendall, social media and website; David (Interim CFO) - all things financial and business oversight. Some of our actions include:
-Weekly Friday am meetings
-Daily internal dialoging and advancing our internal weekly agenda
-Intentional Social Media
-This Week at Essencia (TWAE) – our weekly email!
-An enhanced Teacher Training campaign (5 new students added to the program just this last month)
-Website redesign and upgrade
-Technology cost reduction and simplification
-Pricing improvements for our classes, but still the best value out there
-Third Saturday Social Community Events (You are all invited and highly encouraged to come)
-Hosting a high level of workshops and learning events this fall at the studio (see our website)
We continue to offer our Essencia loving environment, while still reminding ourselves to honor one another, speak highly of each other, attend and promote the studio classes with a healthy expectation of a mutually beneficial exchange- we give our best and in turn we will become recipients of what we love.
It takes a community to have the studio that we have, and you are a big part of that community. You each are welcome to join our Friday morning meeting to see what’s happening, provide your input, voice any concerns, or help out as you see fit. Give us a heads up by texting David so we know you are wanting to attend. Also, see attached teacher FAQ's for other details and contact info!
We have a teacher holiday party coming up on December 8th at Amy’s! Join us in spending time together as the Essencia staff community! Please RSVP to Amy (847) 533-5146. Hope to see you there!
Big hugs and love to each of you,