Imagine Yoga offers intimate studio space
There’s no limitation to imagination.
It’s a mantra Nancy Volante believes in and wants to share with others. That’s why she placed the word front and center when naming her new yoga studio earlier this year.
“Your imagination must be kept alive,” Volante said. “It’s very important to creating new possibilities — not just as an artist, but in life.”
Volante, who taught theater and dance to children in New York City for 20 years, opened Imagine Yoga on Roberts Lane in February.
She sees the parallels between her work as a creative teacher and a yoga instructor.
“There’s never an end point in yoga — it’s always to be continued,” she said.
Volante grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and was a professional dancer working in Boston and New York City before she had kids.
She’s lived in Ridgefield for 19 years and has been practicing yoga for the better part of her adult life.
“I’ve always meditated, I’ve been doing it ever since I was 16,” Volante said. “Yoga has come in and out of my life for about the last 15 years.”
Despite a love for the imagination, she never thought she’d be teaching restorative and vinyasa practices inside of a business she could call her own.
“I’ve been a freelancer teaching artist but never a business owner ... never in a million years did I think I’d be a business owner in Ridgefield,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful. It’s a great town to have a business in.”
‘Fell into my lap’
Imagine Yoga came together quickly.
Volante said that when the space at 10 Roberts Lane became opened at the end of 2018, she was in the middle of a career pivot.
“It fell into my lap, literally over a weekend” she said. “I was working in New York City as a teaching artist and I knew I wanted a transition but I never thought it would happen this fast ... I went from not knowing to knowing very quickly, 48 hours.”
The storefront formerly belonged to Pink Soda Salon, and Volante said she didn’t have to do much to fix it up.
“It was in really good shape,” she said. “We were able to open Feb. 4.”
Fast forward six months, and Imagine Yoga has 16 classes and five teachers from the Ridgefield-Bethel area — Liz Wendel, Beth Hornbeck, Beth Perlman, Charalette Pecquex and Jasmine McComas.
“It’s a very intimate space,” Volante said. “We can fit about 12 to 15 people.”
Volante has been certified in both vinyasa and restorative practices for several years.
The name, Imagine Yoga, came to her three years ago when teaching a vinyasa class.
“The idea definitely came first, I had to wait for the space,” Volante said. “I had to put it in the incubator for a little while. It did eventually all come together, and I like when that happens.”
She said that vinyasa is a yoga style that is cultivated by the breath.
“It’s all about connecting the breath to movements and forming a continuity,” she explained. “The sequence changes based on the poses, so there’s some flexibility. It’s not the same group of stretches; it changes every time. ... There’s a freedom of movement when you start understanding the different alignments.”
Restorative is all about relaxation.
“It releases all the stress, which actually enhances your immune system,” Volante said. “There’s a focus on balance, understanding and the nervous system. It’s great for injuries, too. It induces heeling.”
While some practices are physical and based around movement, restorative sends yogis onto their backs.
“You do all the poses lying down,” Volante explained. “You’re supported by blocks and blankets. They’re there to help enhance the benefits of the poses .... The practice gives you flexibility through the release of tension.”
Release the ego
Volante said anybody who’s starting to practice yoga should listen to their bodies.
“Don’t be afraid to check in,” she said. “I try to emphasize that when I teach. ... You want to do every pose but sometimes you just have to release you’re not competing with anybody. And that’s why I always say as a yogi you’re continuously releasing the ego.”
She helps students with modifications throughout the different practices.
“Restorative is really about listening to messages coming from your body,” she said. “You can’t come into a state of relaxation without listening to your body. You don’t step into a restorative class and relax instantly. It’s doesn’t flip on like a light switch. It’s not presto and you’re there.”
What makes Imagine Yoga different than other studios in town?
Well, for starters, there’s a tea bar.
“We serve small cups of Oolong tea after our practice,” Volante said. “It’s cultivated by monks in Taiwan and people really seem to like it.”
Nothing makes Volante happier than seeing people hanging out in the studio and conversing with each other after class.
“I’ve always wanted it to be more than just a yoga studio,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming of building a community here.”
And all that takes is a little imagination.