Building an Accessible Yoga Community at Keystone Yoga
Aug 31, 2011 10:28AM
● By Beth Davis
Joanne Gallagher and Glenn Smith, Owners of Keystone Yoga
Joanne Gallagher, owner of Keystone Yoga, began her love of body and mind health at the age of 19, when she became a fitness instructor as a means to work her way through college. She found that it benefitted her both psychologically and physically.
After earning bachelor’s degrees is criminology and law, she continued teaching classes in the evenings while working full time for more than 14 years, earning several certifications along the way. It wasn’t until much later that she discovered a different kind of fitness in yoga, which brought peace of mind along with physical benefits that would change her life.
Gallagher became a professional consultant and found that she became so busy intellectually that she began to lose herself spiritually and psychologically. “I was at a crossroads,” she explains. “I was working 60- to 65-hours a week, losing my level of fitness and found myself looking for a way to balance my physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional health.”
In 2005, while traveling on business, she went to a yoga class in Florida, thinking it would help her with flexibility, cardio and stamina, but instead found the focus, playfulness, mindfulness and compassion associated with yoga practice. “I realized that it was a very different orientation to what I thought of as fitness,” she says. “It fulfilled a goodness and clean-living intention of fitness, but I also found clarity and peace of mind.” Gallagher was intrigued, and studied to become a registered yoga therapist (RYT).
A successful businesswoman, Gallagher had always been confident in her abilities and not easily intimidated. However, when it came to her yoga practice, she found herself in an unusual position: she was a bit intimidated. “When it came to the theory and philosophy of yoga and hearing terms such as Bikram, vinyasa and Kundalini, I found it to be somewhat inaccessible. I didn’t understand what those modalities meant, and I was therefore hesitant in experimenting too much with yoga.” When she decided to apply her business skills to her own interests and open a yoga studio, accessibility was one of her top concerns.
“I wanted to create a space that had a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and promoted a non-competitive and playful attitude about yoga,” Gallagher comments. “It had to be accessible to everyone. If I could identify one purpose in opening the studio, it is to make yoga fun, unintimidating and accessible to everyone—from those just beginning a fitness program to experienced yogis looking for more intense physical and spiritual journey. We are all on a journey, after all. Let’s have fun along the way.”
In early 2011, she and Glenn Smith opened Keystone Yoga with the intention of offering yoga to the Harrisburg community as a means of transformation and growth from the inside out—showing students how to translate the gifts of yoga from the physical practice to their daily lives.
Seven days a week, the studio offers group, private and specialty yoga fusion classes. For fun, and to make the types of yoga less mystifying, the classes are named after various aspects of nature: Air, Earth, Fire, Sun, Moon, Water and Metal. An Air class, for instance, focuses on continuous core body movement, balance and flexibility, while Metal focuses on the body’s muscular strength and tone.
The physical space of the studio is beautiful clean, light and intimate. The instructors at the studio are CPR-certified, well-trained RYTs, another essential issue for Gallagher. “Our instructors are of very high quality, yet accessible,” she explains. “Our class prices are lower than average because I choose to invest my money in the instructors, not the studio space. My goal is to make excellent, talented and experienced yoga instruction available for everyone.”
Gallagher strongly believes that part of yoga is compassion and empathy, and that all living beings have the right to live in safety, happiness and without fear. Every Sunday, instructors donate their time to teach a class to the community. Anyone can join, and all are welcome. All that is requested is a donation. All proceeds benefit Castaway Critters, an organization dedicated to saving lost, sick and abandoned companion animals with rescue, rehabilitation, adoptions and spay/neuter programs.
Keystone Yoga was launched primarily to build a community, Gallagher says. “For me, being an integral part of any community is giving back. It is simply a fundamental value that I do not take lightly.”
Keystone Yoga, LLC, is located at 4400 Linglestown Rd., in Harrisburg. For more information, call 717-695-7101 or visit KeystoneYoga.com.