Health & Wellness

From Mat to Mind

Southeastern Wisconsin is known for being
one of the leading destinations for getaways in the Midwest.

Between the picturesque landscape, adventurous outdoor activities, and weekend spa destinations, it’s a place for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. And now, with an expanding yoga culture and over twenty studios in Southeastern Wisconsin alone, a new wave of community has been brought to life. Whether you are a resident in the area looking for a new activity or planning your next vacation, a relaxing yoga weekend could be just the remedy you’re looking for.

After speaking with a few local instructors from Yoga Lake Geneva, Yoga Hohm and Bear Foot Yoga we were able to get the details on the inspiring opportunities they offer, and what both locals and visitors can expect.
Local yoga instructor Cindy Conlon explained why Lake Geneva’s rich history makes it the perfect setting for such an activity. “[It’s known as] a healing and restorative area. It’s such a beautiful and unique destination and everyone is really committed to preserving the lake.” She says one of the goals of Yoga Lake Geneva is to “bring awareness to our surroundings while practicing yoga. I think a lot of people enter into yoga to be more flexible, but it is much more than that.” She encourages local residents and visitors of all ages to get involved in the practice and hopes to grow the yoga community.

Megan McCarthy, owner of Bear Foot Yoga in Burlington, aims to make yoga welcoming and accessible to all, through a focus on yoga therapy. At her studio you can find a delicate balance and assortment of classes from yoga as a physical exercise, to restorative classes. Bear Foot Yoga offers one vinyasa flow per week, as well as cancer and cardio rehab classes where mindfulness is the core of the practice. Megan cherishes the community and relationships she’s built. “Twenty years ago, health clubs and yoga studios in this area were few and far between. Now, they are becoming more prevalent and for me, it’s really great to be able to know all my students by name and see familiar faces in my classes,” she told us.

Yoga Lake Geneva instructor Frank Whiting shares the same passion for a growing yoga community in the lakes area. He enjoys teaching out of Boxed and Burlap because he feels it fits with the coffee shop and gardening atmosphere. “The yoga community is very powerful. There’s nothing like a coffee shop to create community as well, it’s a natural gathering place; making it a natural relationship,” Frank said. He explains that they host events which are fun for locals to get involved in as well as for visitors to add to their itinerary. “Some of these events include: Mat to Table where we do yoga and then go and have a meal after. This usually takes place at Pier 290, a local lakefront restaurant in Williams Bay. Mat to Vine is another class we have done where we do yoga and then drink a glass of wine. We also try to have a free community class every once in a while, for those who may be new to yoga and want to see what it’s like!”

Due to the growing popularity of yoga as a tourist attraction, Yoga Lake Geneva has more classes to offer in the summer. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, they teach at various outdoor locations, such as at the Williams Bay beach and the Lake Geneva Farmer’s Market. “We teach at the Farmer’s Market downtown in the Horticultural Hall, which has a beautiful garden and courtyard. In conjunction with the farmer’s market, the whole idea is focused around eating healthy. Yoga is not just about being fit, it’s a whole way of life. Getting more intentional on how you eat, how you speak, how you relate to others,” Cindy explained. And she would know; Cindy has played a major role in shaping this mentality, which is centered around a holistic view on health. Her goal is to breakdown stereotypes around yoga, “You don’t have to stand on your head and do a bunch of chaturangas, I’d just like people to come try a yoga class and learn something new.”

Frank believes practicing yoga in Lake Geneva stands out among other yoga destinations because of the beauty that surrounds you during your practice. “I just love yoga in general, but yoga in Lake Geneva is special because of our beautiful surrounding nature and atmosphere. In the summer, we practice on the beach at 7:00 in the morning. With the rising sun glistening on the water and the birds singing in the background, it truly is something special.”

Yoga instructors within our community are excited about the opportunity to introduce more people to the practice of yoga. Renee Downing, owner and lead instructor at Yoga Hohm in Delavan, also expressed her excitement around the growing yoga community. She explained how the high demand to add new classes pushed her to train more teachers in order to support the growth of the studio. “I developed my 200-hour yoga teacher training program earlier than I had planned,” she said. Due to her background in anatomy and injury recovery and prevention, Renee insists that Yoga Hohm value well trained instructors with the knowledge of injury prevention and recovery. “Teachers at Yoga Hohm have completed the Yoga Hohm 200-hour Teacher Training and Advanced Yoga Studies in which I emphasize proper alignment and injury prevention”. Growing up in Delavan, Renee loves being able to bring the open-mindedness and acceptance of yoga into this small-town community.

With so many passionate individuals involved, it’s no surprise that Southeastern Wisconsin is becoming such a conscious, health driven community. The initiative is open: come try something new, rest your mind, strengthen your body, and surround yourself in this beautiful, safe and welcoming environment.

By: Jen Yih
Photography by: Matt Haas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *