Yogapata: Extending body and soul
A 1795 tobacco barn originally built in North Carolina is home to Yogapata, Wilton’s newest yoga studio near Cannondale Village at 444 Danbury Road. Its owners, Mitchel and Tracy Bleirer, say that the building has a special effect on their students that few studios can offer.
“It’s magical. From the moment we walked into it, it has that familiar feeling as if you just stepped into your home,” Mr. Bleier said during an interview at Yogapata. “To have an intimate business like a yoga studio, and to have a space that feels like home, versus a commercial space in a strip mall, is really so unique.”
Their students appreciate the open, green yard space around the studio so much, Ms. Bleier said, they tend to “linger. They really don’t want to leave.”
Overall, Yogapata’s outlook on yoga is both “modern and adaptive,” Ms. Bleier said. “We like to say we are physically spiritual, and seriously playful. While we really love the physical aspects that yoga offers, we really have a spiritual and philosophical conversation that goes along with it in our classes.”
While the studio does offer “drop-in” classes, the Bleiers have a greater desire to create lasting relationships with their students — watching them progress as yoga practitioners, and as people.
“Our greatest goal is that people take the practice seriously, and commit to doing it, while at the same time having fun. We like to see students coming in three, four, or five times a week, so we can have a natural progression and relationship with them. Not just in the physical changes, but within their lives.”
There is a feeling within the studio that you are entering a very spiritual place, the Bleiers said. Though assigning one word to the philosophical basis that guides their instruction is difficult, Mr. Bleier says they believe in a “radical affirmation of life,” which is understood through both the similarities between people and the differences.
Husband and wife both say that yoga as exercise has the unique ability to bring people to their fullest potential.
“Yoga has the amazing gift of bringing people to their optimum,” Ms. Bleier said. “You can be an amazing athlete, golfer, runner, and maintain those activities. If you incorporate yoga with those things, it increases your ability to grow at capacity. Yoga really increases your ability to push forward.”
Not only does the practice increase a person’s physical fitness, it makes them more aware of their health and well-being as a whole.
“You get fit, your body changes. You get strong, you get lean, you get flexible. You completely heal injuries that are common to aging. But, not only does the physical, muscular aspect improve, you begin to become more aware of what you’re eating, drinking, and saying.”
The level of instruction at Yogapata is what the Bleiers hope will keep students coming back time and time again. Mr. Bleier is a renowned instructor who has led workshops and private sessions for thousands of yoga instructors across the world.
He began yoga as an 18-year-old, and it “just made sense,” to him. “It left me feeling so exposed, complete, exhausted, exhilarated,” he said. “Within seven months I was teaching, and it was the only job I’ve had as an adult. I realized that this thing is infinite, and I just wanted to learn more. My training and education is immense, and it is what I love to give.”
Ms. Bleier is a well-known local instructor who previously operated successful studios in New Canaan and Norwalk. Her experience as a former high school English teacher, she said, has made her cognizant of the need to nurture a student’s whole person.
“The pride of Yogapata is the level of instruction,” she said. “Just like with food, where it’s important to be discerning when deciding what to put in your body, it’s important for students to really consider the instruction that they’re getting” as yoga studios become more widespread.
Continued momentum is also an important aspect of the Bleiers’ instruction.
“We are really concerned with people’s bodies, and don’t want them to give up if they are injured,” Ms. Bleier said. “We have a way to help them move forward. It’s constantly evolving.”
With 29 classes per week, the studio offers experiences for students with every level of yoga experience — from beginner to longtime practitioners.
“Here, we are all very dedicated practitioners of yoga, and we are very skilled at helping practitioners of all ages to progress, grow, and heal. We hold them accountable. This takes a very skilled teacher who’s not just in it for a workout.”
Once-weekly Dakshina classes are donation-based Yogapata. Every Sunday, at 8:30 a.m., participants are asked to make a donation to a charity that supports educational organizations in South Africa, rather than paying for instruction.
The studio is currently offering a summertime class rate of $199 for unlimited classes through Aug. 31.
Find more information at Yogapata.com, or visit the studio at 444 Danbury Road.