Winchester’s Space for CommUNITY: A Thank You

Winchester Jala

About a year before I opened Jala in Winchester, VA, I walked the streets of the Historic Downtown, dreaming up the studio I’d bring to this area. Two months later, walking this same street, I discovered a lovely, new to the walking mall studio, in the center of downtown. Not to be, I thought. A few months later, driving down Valley Ave from Middletown, I spotted the lovely Creekside Station and began dreaming again. Probably not possible, but what a beautiful location, I thought. Just 6 months later I stood, slightly shocked and more than a little nervous, in a newly alive Jala Yoga in Winchester. And this is how the possibilities began to unfold.

The story of Jala in Winchester is, like Shepherdstown, one in which the character grows organically and surprisingly into exactly what it’s meant to be. I think this must be one of the laws of parenthood that I’m only just starting to wrap my head around as I navigate new teenage-hood in my own home with my daughter. The baby I thought I birthed in Winchester has grown into a living being of sorts that I only partly envisioned and certainly couldn’t control.

Opening Jala Winchester, my intention was to be exactly what we were in Shepherdstown–a hot vinyasa yoga studio. Yet, by the time we opened, this need had been filled, and so I could either not open or figure out the need we could fill. I’d like to say I did some calculated research and marketed to folks I knew we could serve, but that isn’t the truth. The truth is I opened and dug in to what my vision was, marketing us just as I’d done in Shepherdstown, totally committed to my own story unfolding. We nearly closed in the first 6 months.

I had made a mistake, one that I thought meant we weren’t supposed to be in Winchester. Yet, when I paused, took off the blinders of my own vision and looked around at what was unfolding inside those walls, I discovered a warm, gracious, curious community of folks growing into what is now Jala Winchester. Our community grew up from many students brand new to yoga or returning after many years away, often unsure of their body, folks who were injured or aging into new bodies–people who were looking to come home to themselves. This was a huge time for me–I had to put aside my own ego and remember that anything good and true will always arise on its own.

And arise it did. The understanding of how a studio and this practice could give someone the space needed to come home to their body began to first come forth for me in Jala Winchester. Our space there is filled with some of the most dedicated, curious, kind, generous humans I’ve been blessed to know. I am referring to the students, but also the incredible management, teaching, and work study crew. The people greeting students when they arrive, keeping the space clean and warm, making sure there’s tea and candles, offering and creating love and transformation on the mat–doing the work that I couldn’t possibly unless I triple cloned myself. Jala Winchester has grown into itself naturally and from the force of love and energy of the people who have graced it.

It’s been a story I didn’t predict and have had to let go of controlling more times than one. And it’s a story I’m excited to continue turning the pages of. Thank you Winchester for 5 full years of writing this story together.