Breathe Yoga opens new studio in downtown Chelsea
Downtown Chelsea has added a new yoga studio its mix of boutique stores, offices and restaurants. Breathe Yoga, co-founded and owned by Sue Whitmarsh and Marie Brooks, both residents of Chelsea, opened in July during the Sounds & Sights Festival weekend July 24, 2015. Located on East Middle, adjacent to Moran’s Consignment in the building that was formerly the Chelsea Police Station; the studio offers a full schedule of yoga classes for both children, teens and adults of all levels of experience.
“Marie and I both want the studio to be accessible to everyone, from beginners up, and founded it on the belief embodied in Krishnamacharya’s words, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” We’ve created a safe, comfortable and nurturing space where our students can come and practice, learn and grow, and be at ease to feel what they need to feel in their bodies, hearts and minds.”
“If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Sue trained at the Center for Yoga in Ann Arbor, graduating in December 2013, and has since then taught at many studios and gyms, including Chelsea and Dexter Wellness Centers, Move Wellness, Ballet Chelsea, Country Spirit Crossfit, and through Chelsea’s Community Education, where she teaches Young Yogis for children K-8 with Ni Ki Le. She has also collaborated with other organizations, such as Chelsea District Library, to offer yoga programming, including Living Yoga: On and Off the Mat, and Parent and Child Yoga. Another successful and perhaps more unusual collaboration is with the Chelsea Alehouse, where she teaches Yogi Beers on the third Saturday of every month. Here, students have a one hour yoga class followed by a pint of their choice – a ‘Detox/Retox’, says Sue – and get to enjoy each other’s company after class, instead of dashing off to do other things. “Yogi Beers was the first of an idea that Breathe Yoga is expanding upon to bring yoga into more unusual settings, and perhaps to groups of people who might otherwise feel unsure about entering a yoga studio,” says Whitmarsh.
In the same vein, Yoga Out Yonder blends yoga with hiking out at the Waterloo trails in a program that is part of the Michigan Big Green Gym initiative. Similarly, Farm Fresh Yoga sees Breathe partnering with Robin Hills Farm (situated just north of Chelsea on M52), for yoga ‘al fresco’, initially for a Summer Solstice class on June 21st, and thereafter for weekly classes at their beautiful new facility. “Sue and I are both big believers in community involvement,” says Marie, “and we’re thrilled to be partnering with local business and organizations to bring yoga to a wider audience as well as introduce yogis to new locations and experiences they may not know of otherwise.”
If we learn to connect with our breath, or re-learn, really, we give ourselves a great gift.
Marie Brooks, a long-time Chelsea resident, has been practicing yoga for fifteen years and is currently enrolled in yoga teacher training at Yoga Integrated Science in Louisville, KY. An avid runner and former running coach for Running Fit 501 in Ann Arbor, Marie is hoping to bring athletes of all types into the yoga studio for body-friendly cross-training and strengthening. She says, “I learned the hard way that all running and no cross training is a recipe for disaster in distance training. Yoga is an effective way to strengthen all those neglected support muscles that keep you going through the long miles on the road or trail.” Though she won’t be teaching until fall, Marie plans lots of studio time, working the reception desk and putting to use her previous experience as an office manager and events coordinator for an Ann Arbor race management company. “I’m eager to bring the skills I’ve accumulated in other jobs to our own business, offering the best possible experience and a variety of opportunities for our students.”
In addition to a variety of yoga classes, including Vinyasa, Slowflow, Ashtanga, and Yin, Breathe offers group meditation classes, Pranayama (breathing), Yoga Nidra (Yoga Sleep), and with plans to add specialized classes for athletes – runners and cyclists for example – chair yoga, and workshops that explore Ayurvedic principles. Reflecting on the name they chose for their studio, Sue remarks, “The breath is so very important in yoga, and in life, and I often feel it gets relegated to a back seat next to asana (or postures) in much of the yoga that is practiced today in our western society, where being busy and active is glorified, and rest and stillness is almost stigmatized. Yet it is what we as humans all crave, don’t we? We are, after all Human BEings, not Human DOings.” Marie agrees, adding, “It all begins with the breath, doesn’t it? From the first breath we take, we claim our place here in the world and whether we’re mindful of it or not, our breath remains our constant companion. If we learn to connect with our breath, or re-learn, really, we give ourselves a great gift.”