by Ashley Witzenberger
Montpelier is home to several yoga studios, all with diverse offerings. New business owner and local resident Chrissy Lafavour opened Grateful Yoga on Oct. 1, 2014, and it has quickly grown into a favorite space in downtown Montpelier. Lafavour graduated from the University of Vermont in 2011, finished her yoga teacher training in 2012 and has been teaching yoga ever since. Lafavour was solo when she opened, and in April, she will employ five additional instructors, allowing her to continue to expand her class schedule.
What sets Grateful Yoga apart? It is the only Ashtanga studio in Montpelier. Ashtanga Yoga is a method that involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures, and thereby detoxifies muscles and organs. The results are improved circulation, a light and strong body and a calm mind. Lafavour opened the studio to create a welcoming, safe space for daily practice. She encourages students to work hard while having fun; “We laugh a lot,” says Lafavour. The classes welcome students of all levels of skill and experience. The studio mantra is “Be great. Live full.”
Beginning in April, Grateful Yoga will offer a 200-hour teacher training program for those who would like to become certified yoga teachers. The training will bring people to her downtown studio two weekends a month. Admission is rolling (until full), and participants can complete the training at their own pace. Lafavour says she decided to facilitate the training because of the number of requests she received for local training, and there is no other such opportunity in central Vermont. People of all ages jumped to sign up, and includes those who are already yogis and health care professionals. These students are interested in bringing yoga to their workplace, school system, or their own businesses. The training is registered with Yoga Alliance, a group working to promote and support the integrity and diversity of the teaching of yoga.
For the rest of us who take yoga as a form of exercise and a way to de-stress, Grateful Yoga offers a diverse class schedule as well as interesting special events and monthly workshops, such as tea tastings, a shamanic journey and a very popular restorative workshop. People of all ages are encouraged to try yoga; Grateful Yoga offers kids yoga classes on Sundays and Mondays for ages 3-12. Each Sunday, students enjoy a community class, Community Ashtanga, from 5:40 to 7 p.m. The class is by donation and all are welcome. Starting next month, Grateful Yoga will offer Mysore yoga; Mysore is the place in India where Ashtanga yoga emerged. It is a two-hour class in which each student creates his or her own experience by attending for the amount of time desired and by participating in diverse ways. It is a departure from the practice to which most of us are accustomed, where all students arrive at the same time and do the same poses until the end of the class. Mysore yoga is, however, a traditional practice in India.
Lafavour’s students speak with enthusiasm about why they love coming to her studio. “Chrissy makes yoga a sacred practice, an everyday practice and very doable. You look forward to the joy, exercise, and focus that Chrissy brings,” says Barbara Korecki. There is a core group that attends daily classes, and some who come as often as five times a week. They say they really miss coming to the studio on their off days.
The respect is mutual. Lafavour is always thinking of different way to serve her students and says she is “all about the students” and it shows.
Lafavour is already an active member of the business community, attending monthly Montpelier Business Association meetings, and, as a new member of Montpelier Alive, she offers great ideas and brings new friends with her.
For more details about the training program, workshops, events, and class schedule, visit http://www.gratefulyogavt.com/ or stop by the charming studio in downtown Montpelier at 15 State St. on the third floor. We also suggest checking out the Grateful Yoga Facebook page for inspiring and beautiful videos and photos.
The writer is the executive director of Montpelier Alive.