MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Two young moms created a yoga studio and a sense of community all in one
The Yoga Dive
OPEN HOUSE IN NEW LOCATION: Jan. 26 — includes a free 10 a.m. yoga class taught by Emily Burton with live music and an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. with vegetarian appetizers, drinks and give-aways.
The new location as of Jan. 26: 448 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley
Class schedule available online
Emily Burton hadn’t been living in Manhattan long when the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought the city to its knees. Like most around her, anxiety began to grip her daily life in the aftermath of the horrific event.
In search of healing and calm, she found herself in her very first yoga class. It would eventually change the course of her life.
“I had a strong emotional reaction in that first class,” she said. “I realized there was something really deep in the experience that I wanted to continue to explore.”
Burton later moved to Los Angeles, where she obtained her instructor’s certification and began teaching yoga classes. In 2011, she moved to Northern California with her husband, Sean Manchester, who got a job as the director of special education for the Nevada Joint Union High School District.
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A PERFECT MATCH
While teaching yoga in Auburn, Burton met student Laura Brownell and the two — who were both pregnant at the time — formed an instant bond. Later, feeling the isolation that can often come with being new mothers in a new town, the two started tossing around ideas.
“We both wanted to do something creative that we loved,” said Burton. “We wanted to find community and kindred spirits.”
TAKING THE PLUNGE
In December of 2016, the duo opened The Yoga Dive in a small studio inside the Miners Village in Nevada City. By that time, Burton had been a 10-year veteran yoga instructor, so it made sense that she oversee the instructional side. Brownell, a longtime yoga student, was a whiz at administrative duties.
“At first we didn’t know if anyone would show up,” said Burton. “But they did — and we were squealing with joy. Then, through word of mouth, publicizing classes and collaborating with other businesses, our classes eventually grew to capacity. We were so grateful.”
“I think our approach — or vibe — appealed to a lot of people,” continued Burton. “We’re very welcoming, nonjudgmental and non-competitive. Our students are a broad spectrum of ages and we know them well — we’re familiar with their injuries and know the names of their kids.”
The feeling of strong community was never more apparent than in March of 2019, when Burton’s husband suddenly died in a kayaking incident on the South Yuba River.
Brownell, the teaching staff and yoga students all immediately swept in, embracing Burton and her two young children fully, she said. For the next six months the five other yoga teachers covered every class and even taught for free in order to donate money to Burton and her children. Brownell made sure the business itself ran smoothly without troubling Burton.
“Without this amazing yoga community in my life, this traumatic experience would have been completely different, people showed up in every way,” said Burton. “To see it manifested in actions of support and kindness was very moving. I’m so grateful — my students have become friends. Nine months later, I still have meals showing up for me.”
NEW STUDIO, OPEN HOUSE
Today, with the successful business now more than three years old, the small studio has clearly outgrown its current space. As a result, The Yoga Dive is now moving to Grass Valley, where the studio is nearly double the size. A grand opening is scheduled for Jan. 26 at the new location at 448 Colfax Avenue, with a day that includes free morning yoga classes and an afternoon/evening of vegetarian appetizers, drinks and giveaways. The new room, bright with natural light, is accented by a stunning new floor and colorful mural painted by local artist Miles Toland.
The newly renovated building is designed to stay cool in the summer and warm in winter. State-of-the-art radiant heaters have been installed for students who are seeking a warmer temperature during class. Those who don’t like heat can enjoy cooler temperatures across the room, said Burton.
In addition to daily classes — and a weekly kids yoga class — The Yoga Dive offers weekend workshops for those interested in deepening their practice. Classes are 70 minutes long and designed to “challenge and nurture your body, open your heart, and quiet your mind.”
“These past three years of owning The Yoga Dive have been deeply moving for me,” said Brownell. “I’ve met so many amazing people and felt really loved and supported. I knew when we opened that it was special for Emily and I, but to see such beautiful connection form around the space for other people has felt like a deep honor. As we grow and embrace a bigger community I know we’ll continue to hold true to the love, friendship and openness that has guided us this far.”
While many warn friends not to go into business together, Burton said their experience has been nothing but positive. In fact, it’s brought them closer, she said, and students feel it.
“The Yoga Dive teachers beautifully balance nurturing my own personal practice while fostering a loving sense of community,” said student Kim Culbertson. “Mostly, though, this studio is authentic — never shying away from exploring life’s challenges and why our practice helps navigate them.”
Going forward, Burton says she knows she is exactly where she is meant to be.
“I love teaching yoga — I feel purposeful and present,” she said. “I offer my truth and my heart to people. The biggest gift for me is that I get to teach.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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