Santosha Yoga Studio: Sharing the Joy of Yoga
Aug 30, 2013 11:27AM
● By Sheila Julson
Jill Follett, owner of Santosha Yoga Studio, in Delafield, became enthralled with yoga in 2004 at a women’s retreat in Oregon. She realized after just a few classes how the ancient Indian practice positively transforms one’s physical state and creates peace of mind. “It really affected me,” she recounts. “I was blown away by how profound it felt afterward. I fell in love with it.”
When she moved to Wisconsin that same year, Follet became a step aerobics instructor at the Waukesha YMCA. She also led spin classes, a form of group exercise on stationary bikes, set to music. Yet she never lost sight of the unique physical benefits and mental tranquility that yoga brought, so she began taking yoga classes at the Waukesha YMCA.
While Follett had no plans to open her own yoga studio, she happened to come across an empty space in Delafield’s RidgePoint Centre. “The space seemed perfect, and it happened to work out financially at the time,” she says, noting that there were not any other yoga studios in the area. “I wanted to live the dream. I didn’t want to go on in life and regret not doing it,” recalls Follet. So she took the leap, and in September 2011, opened Santosha Yoga Studio, also known as Santosha Fitness.
Follett strives to clear up the common misconceptions about yoga, such as the notion that people need to be flexible in order to do it. “It seems intimidating because they see people in what appear to be crazy poses,” she points out, “but it’s just a way to quiet the mind, relax and become aware of your body alignment and your breath, and then to move within thatspace.” She explains that rather than merely passing through a series of poses mindlessly, “yoga is about becoming aware of your alignment—how you sit, the tilt of the pelvis, where your shoulder blades are, where your skull is in relation to your spine—creating that body awareness. It allows people to get in touch with the self.”
While yoga is an affordable mind and body workout, because no expensive equipment is needed, according to Follett, beginners should work with a trained teacher to be sure they are doing the poses safely. Even those with physical limitations can enjoy the benefits, she says: “If you have limitations of any kind, you can also do yoga in a chair.”
Santosha offers yin yoga, a style in which the practitioner stays in each pose for three to five minutes while concentrating on breathing, as well as Vinyasa yoga, one of the more physically intense varieties. Follett also teaches her personal favorite, hatha yoga, into which she merges her own style. In her signature Hatha Slow Flow class, practitioners transition gracefully from one pose to the next, almost like a slow dance.
In addition to yoga, Santosha offers fitness classes, such as T’ai chi, an ancient Chinese discipline of continuous meditative movements that incorporates breathing, and a Cardio, Core and Calm class, a three-part, complete workout that starts with high-energy Zumba aerobics, follows with core strengthening exercises and ends with yoga for calming.
Including Follett, Santosha has 10 instructors. They add creative themes to their classes to keep them fresh, a practice that has contributed to the studio’s steady growth and success. Upcoming events include Yoga for Healing, in October, which will help clients dealing with physical illness, cancer treatment or mental anguish to get moving, stay positive and get healthy. Free to clients, this program comprises both a healing yoga practice and guest speakers that will discuss topics including digestion, anxiety, essential oils and self-healing.
Santosha offers a flexible pass system by which one can purchase a pass for five or 10 classes. This enables students to try out different forms of yoga and instructors and to attend class when their schedule allows.
General stress and chaos in today’s world can take a toll on one’s physical and mental health, according to Follett, which is why she wants to make it as easy as possible for everyone to benefit from the joy of yoga. “I see how much my clients love yoga. They tell me how it has positively affected them and how happy they are after taking a class. That keeps me going, seeing that we’re making a difference in people’s lives.”