Milestone Yoga turns 30

Milestone Yoga in Wilton celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.
Brooke Stewart’s one-woman business was born out of a simple interest she had in a form of exercise that was, at that time, rarely practiced in the West.
“I had taken a year off between high school and college,” said Stewart, “to travel around Europe. When the trip was nearing its end, and I was making my way back, I spent one night in a boarding house in London. That same night, a Kundalini master by the name of Yogi Bhajan happened to be staying across the hall from my travel partner and me. We exchanged a few words, and I thought he was very
The seed of interest that was planted when Stewart met Yogi Bhajan and grew into a flower of passion when a friend of Stewart’s at the University of New Mexico, where she went to college, alerted her to a yoga class on campus.
“Someone suggested to me that I take this yoga class, and I remembered talking about yoga with Yogi Bhajan, so I decided to enroll. I really loved it. It was a one-credit gym class. For the exam, you had to stand on your head for five minutes without falling.”
That class had Stewart hooked. When she returned home for the summer, she sought out a studio to continue her practice, though not without difficulty.
“There were very few yoga studios in 1978. They were popping up here and there in California, but on the East Coast they were scarcely found,” Stewart said.
With effort, she was able to locate one in Weston, run by a Melissa Schnirring.
Schnirring’s group class would change Stewart’s life
“I studied with Melissa for seven years,” she said. “It was a very tight-knit group. We all took classes together, went on field trips; we were friends.”
But after seven years of taking classes, Stewart felt it was time to start teaching.
She spent two months studying at the Kripalu Center, a nonprofit yoga retreat now in Stockbridge, Mass., that was then located in Sumneytown, Pa., and became a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor.
Freshly certified and ready to branch out into an emerging market, Stewart began volunteering at the Ogden House to get her feet wet and her
name recognized.
“When I decided to brand myself,” Stewart said, “I was filling out paperwork for an advertisement. It required that I write down the name of my business. My husband’s family owned Milestone Garage for generations, so I called it Milestone Yoga.”
Milestone Yoga offers one-on-one as well as group classes. Stewart travels to the homes and offices of her clients, enabling her to serve all of Fairfield County. The classes are tailored to the students who take them.
“Each class is different, depending mostly on who is taking the class,” Stewart said. “If I have a group class comprised of older students, it’ll be gentler. Or if someone has a shoulder problem, I’ll accommodate him or her.”
Stewart attributes the flexibility of her classes to her business model, which she said she envisioned from
the outset.
“I had the option to start a studio, but I wanted to concentrate on teaching, not on running a studio,” Stewart said. “With Milestone Yoga being the way it is, I’m able to teach one-on-one much more often. My groups are smaller and I think that makes them more intimate. I’m able to give special attention to each person in the group, which is sometimes not possible in a large group session at a studio.”

30 years later

After three decades owning and operating Milestone Yoga, Stewart feels that her organizational and interpersonal skills have been honed just as sharply, or more so, than her yoga technique.
“I’m definitely more organized now,” she said with a smile, “and even though Milestone Yoga isn’t a big studio, it surely makes me better at dealing with people. That part I really do enjoy. I love to hear about their lives, what they’re doing; I keep in touch with them after they move on or away.”
Though Stewart is willing to mark small improvements in herself, it would seem that no amount of lapsed time could cause her to assume the title of “yoga master” and
quit studying.
“I’m always learning new things; I love to be a student. People are still finding new ways to do postures that are thousands of years old,”
she said.
Stewart has lived in Wilton since she was 4. She moved from Detroit, Mich., when her father in advertising was transferred to New York City.
“My husband and I both grew up here,” Stewart said. “His parents and grandparents lived in town, too.”
Stewart has studied Kripalu, Iyengar, Kundalini and Integral yoga. She currently teaches a Kripalu yoga morning class at Wilton Library.