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Second woman turns yoga into a business

Chris Dorst
Emily Jones sit in a yoga position in the studio at Lifespring Yoga on Quarrier Street.
Chris Dorst
Emily Jones holds a yoga mat in front of her yoga studio on Quarrier Street.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Soon after Emily Jones discovered yoga 12 years ago, she knew one day she'd teach it."I was drawn to the fact that it was not just a physical practice, although it was a physical practice. It involved much more than just my physical body ... it made me feel good. It helped me gain control in different areas of my life."Jones, 37, joined her love of yoga with a lifelong goal of owning a small business in January, when she opened Lifespring Yoga and Nutrition on Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston.She had been teaching yoga in various venues and said opening the business was a way to focus her energy."I found myself running everywhere," she said. "I didn't feel like I was able to fully commit my energy into the development of one spot. I felt like my offering of this of this practice could be much more powerful if I could just focus my attention to one area, one location instead of having three or four going at one time."While yoga classes are offered at local agencies in the area, Lifespring may be one of only two stand-alone yoga studios in Charleston.April Woody opened the Folded Leaf on Bridge Road in January 2008."I had absolutely no idea if it would work or not," Woody said.Yoga studios' fortunes in the Kanawha Valley have been a mixed bag.Woody had a Teays Valley branch of the Folded Leaf for a year and a half, but she ultimately closed it because she didn't have enough customers. "I didn't lose sleep," she said. "I tried. It was not working so I folded up the tent and went home."Namaste Yoga opened on Quarrier Street in 2004 and closed about a year later. Jones said she isn't sure if the business has turned a profit yet, but she's optimistic."I pay the bills every month," she said. "I didn't have a whole lot invested in this business.... What makes it low investment is that I don't have inventory. It wasn't like opening a store or restaurant where I had to buy all this equipment and spend 20 to 30 thousand dollars before I could make any money. I have very little involved."She rents space in the building where she is. Yoga instructors who teach there are contractors, not employees. She has invested in flooring and some yoga mats for the studio, she said.
Running the Folded Leaf over the past few years has not always been easy, Woody said. Some months, she had barely any money left over for her when the bills we're paid. She said she's lucky to have a husband with a steady income the couple can rely on."Someone else might have tucked tail had they needed a specific amount of income from it," she said.For the most part, though, business is strong and growing, she said."My attendance for May 2012 beat the attendance for January 2011 by a lot," she said. "That's our busiest months -- January and February. [Summer] is typically the time of year when attendance wanes."As a business owner, the prospect of having another yoga studio close by is a concern for her, Woody said."I absolutely want as much yoga to be available to as many people as possible.... As a business owner, there's a little bit of concern. I wish Emily well and I want to see her do well. So far I've not seen any negative consequences."
Woody, who seeks out a place to practice yoga any time she travels, said finding multiple yoga studios in one city typically isn't a problem. Yoga has become more mainstream in recent years, but Woody said the Charleston area and much of the South has been slow to embrace it."There seems to be a very southern thing -- the lack of progressive thought," she said. "At the same time other places I can find lots of places for yoga. Places like Louisville are a hot spot for yoga."Jones said she doesn't think having two yoga studios in Charleston will be a problem."There's such a need," she said. "Everybody wants to feel good. Everyone wants to improve their health ... I feel like there is enough demand for everyone."Reach Lori Kersey at or 304-348-1240.    
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