New yoga studio opens in Port Orchard

A 6-year-old Silverdale based yoga studio is expanding into Port Orchard, providing the only place South Kitsap residents can learn the art of becoming centered, according to its owners.

“Yoga is a lifestyle choice that enhances everything you do,” said Expansions Yoga Center co-owner Cynthia Land. “We teach all components of yoga, which enhances both the physical and philosophical areas of your life.”

Land, who runs the business with Lisa Ballou, is putting the finishing touches on a 1,200-square-foot facility, which is located in the Bayside Plaza, Port Orchard.

While they expect to install a stereo/TV for instructions and some other small furnishings, the startup decorating costs for a yoga studio are minimal. The only requirement is a bright room with hard floors and a comfortable temperature.

The business is built solely on the knowledge and the ability of the instructors.

Between the two of them, Land and Ballou have the experience and skill to teach the mental/physical juxtaposition that is yoga.

On its most basic level, the physical aspect centers around poses and stretches that are designed to exert stress on certain parts of the body. And while everyone has different reactions and abilities, certain yoga positions can stimulate the adrenal glands and have the same renewing effect as a double latte.

“As people age, their bodies become less flexible,” Land said. “By stretching, they can stay flexible and maintain their sense of balance. They know the limits of their bodies, and how they fit into the rest of the world.”

In other words, practicing yoga tunes depth perception, and keeps you from running into things and hurting yourself.

The mental aspect follows the same path — how an individual fits into the big picture.

“Yoga is best known for the positions,” Ballou said. “But it is actually an ‘eight-limbed’ practice. It teaches you to be aware of yourself and integrate all the aspects of your mind, body and spirituality.”

Expansions will start by offering classes in mid-morning and late afternoon, for the respective convenience of parents who have dropped off their children and government employees who have just gotten off work — the studio’s proximity to Port Orchard City Hall and the Kitsap County Administration Building is no accident.

The studio offers several pricing options. An eight-week introductory class costs $72, while anyone can "drop in" on a class for $10. Under this structure, students can attend as many or as few as they desire or can afford.

Success depends upon daily practice, which can be done at home. Land said it takes about a month before yoga changes lifestyle or outlook, but most students feel better after their initial one-hour session.

The first yoga technique taught is proper breathing, which becomes the basis of the entire journey.

Learning to inhale and exhale leads to a sense of relaxation that runs counter to modern life.

“We want our students to back off in their lives,” Ballou said. “People today try to do too much. We encourage them to work within their own comfort zone and get more knowledge about themselves. They should push themselves, but only to their own limits.”

Yoga isn’t for everyone. Teachers need compassion, and must have the ability to understand and accommodate their students.

And anyone who wants to learn yoga needs to have a certain amount of open-mindedness about new techniques and philosophies.

Land and Ballou are cautiously optimistic about their success, saying that economic conditions have not taken a toll on their business.

People who need to cut back on expenses will not cut back on yoga, since it provides an integral part of their lives.

And they have structured their rent and expenses so even if the new venture fails, it will not cripple their lives.

Success is assured, they feel, because they have expanded into Port Orchard by popular request.

Land said about 50 customers traveled from Port Orchard to the Silverdale studio and exerted pressure for a closer location. So the business already has a built-in customer base.

Expansions Yoga will hold its grand opening celebration on May 2, during which it will offer a full day of free classes in order to get acquainted with the community.

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