Ask the children at Great Falls Elementary if there’s a need for a dedicated yoga studio in the area, and they are likely to respond affirmatively. That’s because Ellen Carroll, who is opening The Great Falls Yoga Institute in July, has been instructing grade school children in the art of yoga for several years.
The new studio will stay true to its beginnings by offering yoga for children but also intends to have a variety of classes for each skill level aimed at adults of all abilities.
“I’m doing more of the gentle and Level 1 in the beginning because this is the first dedicated studio in the area,” said owner and instructor Ellen Carroll.
“I absolutely live and love yoga. I started teaching it because after 18 years I wasn’t finding a teacher that had more experience than I do. I’ve taken all the teachings I’ve experienced and put it into a mix,” said Carroll.
Although the studio is based on hatha yoga, there are myriad influences that are part of Carroll’s style. She’s studied with John Friend and Judith Lassiter and actress and metaphysical practitioner Shirley Maclaine.
The diversity that Carroll has experienced in her own study of yoga is being intentionally reflected in the instructors who will lead classes at The Great Falls Yoga Institute. “The instructors all come with different and fabulous backgrounds and experience. We will have instructors that go with whatever they’ve studied, so there will be different styles,” Carroll said.
AS TIME PROGRESSES, The Great Falls Yoga Institute will expand classes to reflect what the community would like to see. Included in that are mommy-and-me yoga, different levels or styles, and class times to mirror when people want to practice.
Kimberly Jack, one of the yoga instructors, said, “Different instructors allow people to find who they click with. It changes as you go through life.”
Jack is particularly excited to work with teenagers and men to teach them yoga. “If men get into yoga, it really changes them. Partner yoga would be so awesome. What it offers to men, especially as they get older, is that it really improves their golf game. I’m not kidding. It brings back some of those muscle groups. Once you get them going, they’re hooked. They realize the benefits of it,” said Jack.
According to Carroll, recent studies say there are four quadrants necessary for an effective workout: cardio-respiratory, muscular, flexibility and body composition. “Your yoga class incorporates all of these. It’s a great workout,” said Carroll.
In addition to children’s yoga, which has repeatedly been over enrolled at Great Falls Elementary School, The Great Falls Yoga Institute will offer classes aimed at the needs of teenagers. Carroll said, “I want to reach those kids, the ones who are stressed out because they feel like they have to get all As.”
Jack said, “It’s great for the overachievers. The kids that have so much stress. Yoga is important, with all the suicide we have and the self-image issues.”
PRACTICING YOGA is said to relieve stress and anxiety as well as develop flexibility and strength. A large part of yoga is the meditation and inner-reflection that accompany deep breathing techniques, all of which promote stress relief.
Laura Poindexter, the other instructor at The Great Falls Yoga Institute, is an example of the varied styles of instruction Carroll is looking to offer practitioners. Poindexter competes nationally in Tae Kwon Do championships and has a more intense personality than Carroll or Jack bring to the studio. “I have tons of people who had never done it before, and now they just keep coming back. Part of it is the meditation. People just don’t have that quiet in their lives - whatever that brings to you,” said Poindexter.
Though Poindexter has been practicing yoga for only a year, her competitive nature enabled her to quickly achieve a skill level that impressed Carroll.
Carroll came into yoga through her own quest to find health and strength. “I’m a seeker, and there is no right way and no wrong way, as long as I’m exploring. It’s a lifetime of learning and discovery. People will find that here,” said Carroll.
In addition to her expertise in yoga, she is a published poet, artist and small business owner. She intends to have The Great Falls Yoga Institute also be a place of retreat for the community. “I hope it is seen as a place to come and take care of the mind and the spirit. We’re going to have a meditation lounge, where you can come and have a cup of tea, poetry readings, and I’d like to have an art gallery wall here,” said Carroll.
“The knowledge she has is varied. It’s not that she has an opinion, it’s that she has a view, and she’s willing to share that. She’s so willing to offer what she has, which is why I think this studio will be a success,” said Jack, of Carroll’s expertise and knowledge.
Carroll purposefully chose a site for the studio that has tree views and will be as far removed from noise and bustle as possible. The studio is located in the back end of the Old Mill Shops at the intersection of Walker Road and Colvin Run Road.
The summer session begins on July 12 with a week of free sample classes that are open to everyone. Following the sample classes, students can enroll in the weekly classes that fit their interests. Additional information on the studio and timings is available on the Web at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 703-757-6670.