How refreshing to discover that a unique business is opening on Purchase Street. It’s a new concept in town, yet it’s been around for thousands of years.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
How refreshing to discover that a unique business is opening on Purchase Street. It’s a new concept in town, yet it’s been around for thousands of years. There’s no other place like it here, yet there are many followers in our midst. It didn’t take much meditation before it dawned on health and wellness specialist Jennifer O’Connor to open a place dedicated solely to yoga.
“I wanted to provide a unique studio space in Rye for people to practice yoga,” said O’Connor, who is offering a complimentary first class at her new business at 15 Purchase Street, Suite 6. “Life is so chaotic with people always iPhoning, working, picking up or dropping off the kids that I wanted to create a tranquil place, where one can implement yoga and learn the art of meditation.”
A certified athletic trainer well versed in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology, O’Connor is also a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Having completed an intensive 600-hour teacher-training program with world-renowned yoga masters Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee, she is currently a Yoga Shanti teacher/assistant mentor at Yoga Shanti, the New York City studio’s first teacher training program.
“My own deep training program was so rewarding. Colleen and Rodney studied with Iyengar and have handed us the baton to carry on the tradition. I love bringing yoga to other people,” said O’Connor, referring to the yoga world’s illustrious luminary B.K.S. Iyengar.
Élan Yoga is an Iyengar-inspired, Hatha Yoga studio, which uses postures (asana), mental focus, and introduces conscious breathing (pranayama) to develop awareness, strength, flexibility, balance, and relaxation. In addition, the practice calms the nervous system, invigorates the digestive system, and increases one’s ability to cope with stress.
“Yoga is good for people of all ages, for both men and women. It’s about observing your body from within and noticing the subtleties,” explained O’Connor. “It’s not about getting to the end game, but more about the journey along the way.”
The new yoga studio is an extension of O’Connor’s Élan Elite, her private training business, which offers an integrative approach to health and wellness with fitness coaching, nutritional guidance, and sports conditioning as well as yoga.
When she and her husband Matthew Faucher first laid eyes on the sunny corner space in the historic building, they were enthralled with the possibilities. “I loved being near the brook, surrounded by trees, and still being within walking distance of downtown,” said O’Connor, who marked the beginning of the new year with a whirlwind of renovations. “I couldn’t have done it without Matt’s support.”
The end product is a warm, inviting studio with a clean, distinct look. While a focal picture window overlooks the Village Green, high ceilings, sleek wood floors, and additional windows on all sides create a spacious, bright environment. O’Connor has incorporated traditional Indian décor with a statue of Shiva at the door paving the way for positive change, a framed Swarovski bejeweled elephant-faced Ganesha, and jewel-toned magenta and gold walls, shelves, and drapes.
She carried those hues throughout her yoga props, from bolsters, blankets, and blocks to eye bags, sandbags, and straps. Reference books, which can be purchased a few storefronts down at Arcade Books, are also available.
Every facet of Élan Yoga has been gingerly tended to, down to a room just off the studio called the Zama Room. In Sanskrit, “zama” means calmness, rest, equanimity, or quietude. The sitting area offers seasonal fruit-flavored water and an extra special “sur le nil” green tea, a blend that promises to transport one “to the ends of the world, where the thoughts of enchanted voyages dwell.”
This attention to detail, as well as her expertise, ability to connect, and love of yoga, makes O’Connor an inspiring, hands-on yoga instructor.
“As a teacher, I make sure the spine is neutralized in between extreme back bending or forward bending, the knees are aligned, and the hips are balanced. I look to prevent injury as I walk around correcting poses,” said O’Connor, who calls out the name of the poses in Sanskrit to remain true to their Indian origin. “It’s not about stretching; it’s about finding length in the pose and space in the joints for a healthy synchronization.”
Moreover, breath awareness and tuning in play a major role in the meditation aspect of the practice. “You want the breath to be free and moving in every pose,” she added. “Classes are designed to uplift the spirit and create a foundation for a daily yoga practice.”
Élan Yoga is offering a myriad of classes, including Vinyasa, restorative, and open level ones for experienced practitioners. On Saturday mornings, beginner classes are available for those who want to learn the fundamentals without being overwhelmed. O’Connor sequences the poses thoughtfully and tailors classes according to client needs.
She looks forward to welcoming the community at Élan Yoga’s grand opening January 29 from 6-9. Local mixed media artist Jeannette Doné-Lagemann and singer/songwriter Raina Mullen will be on hand to perform and celebrate. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Feel free to drop by for a cup of tea any weekend morning. To register for classes, visit www.elanelite.com/yoga or call 494-0957.