Frisco’s Community Yoga brings a breath of fresh air to a familiar place

The Current Community Yoga Studio in Frisco

The spacious room below Frisco’s Red Drum Pottery has undergone several makeovers over the past few years.

After owners Wes Lassiter and Rhonda Bates bought the property in 2014 and renovated the downstairs garage, it became a theater and a stage where people could come in and listen to exceptional music, thanks to the famous band couple’s bluegrass band, Banjo Island, as well as other artists from the island’s art scene.

Several years ago, a pickup truck veered off NC Highway 12 and slammed into the center of the theater. Photo by Wes Lassiter.

Then the play’s story took a turn for the worse. It became the site of a traffic accident when a van exited the NC 12 freeway and slammed into the center of the theater (miraculously with no injuries), and it also became an unintended lake when it didn’t. was inundated by not one, but two hurricanes: Matthew in 2016 and Dorian in 2019.

Today, however, the space has a new aesthetic and a new functionality.

New visitors to the long-suffering former garage will notice dim, multicolored lighting, candles, and a collection of sturdy blankets and yoga mats neatly laid out on the floor.

It’s an inviting space, sure, but it’s designed that way so visitors can take full advantage of Hatteras Island’s newest yoga studio and upcoming comprehensive health center, Community Yoga.

Rhonda and Wes originally opened their community yoga business in a downtown Manteo in 2021 because Rhonda was a longtime accredited yoga teacher and the couple had been practicing yoga for over eight years. But with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing (coupled with a long commute from their Frisco residence to Manteo for classes), it made sense to start a business closer to home.

But, arguably, the driving force behind Manteo’s move to Frisco was the local Hatteras Island community of Wes and Rhonda. Their neighbors and friends had helped clean up and renovate after extensive flooding, and this local camaraderie played a big part in their decision to create a Frisco base for their yoga activities.

“Yoga came into my life, and it made such a big positive [change], that I wanted to be able to share it with others,” says Wes. “I wanted to be able to give my little gift to the world, and especially to our home community.”

Wes points out the high waters from the 2016 Matthew and 2019 Dorian floods.

These days, Wes is a gifted yoga instructor with an inherent desire to bring some joy to the island he calls home, whether that’s guiding new yogis through the essentials of basic poses. , or through long conversations with people who stop at the couple’s upstairs gallery. and pottery workshop.

But as their garage transformed, Wes had to recover from some unexpected damage over the past few years.

He had a stent implanted in 2014 (a small tube that can help treat heart disease) and he suffered a heart attack five years later in May 2019. “After that I made the decision to this time to do whatever I can to improve myself,” says Wes. “I lost 90 pounds, tried to live a healthy life and since then my life has been really good.”

While continuing to operate the Red Drum Pottery gallery, Wes also used this turning point to pursue his own yoga-inspired goals.

In the fall of 2021, around the time of his 65and birthday, Wes signed up for a grueling 200-hour course to become a certified yoga instructor. For 8-9 hours a day, October through November, Wes was challenged as an informal “class old,” but he was also invigorated by everything he learned, including the fundamentals. physical and mental aspects of yoga practice. “Rhonda and I trained with Anne Howard, a local OBX yogi with OBX Yoga in Kitty Hawk. She now lives in France and comes back every year to train new yogis,” says Wes. “We are both very grateful to have been trained by her.”

“I’m actually planning to do my 300 hour course starting in November [2022],” he says. “That’s on top of the 200 hours I’ve put in, but it gets you to a status where you can teach other people to become instructors.”

With Wes becoming a certified yoga instructor alongside his wife, Rhonda, and with a generous Frisco space that had been renovated since Dorian’s last major flood in 2019, all the pieces naturally fell into place to create a yoga studio. comfortable where islanders could have an outlet to literally catch their breath.

Currently, Community Yoga has a lot to offer experienced yogis on the island, but it’s also a fantastic destination for newcomers.

Familiar Vinyasa Flow classes are offered on Wednesday mornings, with plenty of movement to get the blood flowing, but the yoga center also offers gentle Yin Flow and deep stretching classes on Wednesday evenings – ideal for anyone who has need a mental vacation – as well as beginners’ lessons on Monday evenings.

Neighbors and friends attend a yoga class on Wednesday evenings. Photo by Wes Lassiter.

For newcomers, Monday’s beginner classes are a great place to start, as they lay the foundation for people who have never tried yoga before, but may have heard rumors about the potential benefits for health that can range from better flexibility to a happier day. -Today’s mood.

“If someone has never taken a yoga class before, but has always been a little curious, our beginner yoga classes are perfect,” says Wes. “We study one pose each week, but we also talk about the brain-body connection, and we’ll do a little vinyasa flow, using those poses.”

Wes has a particular talent for working with beginners. Since the new Frisco Community Yoga opened in February 2022, it has attracted many local students who had never tried yoga before. This can be attributed to the availability of beginner classes, of course, but it’s also due to Wes’ familiarity with how challenging yoga can be for newcomers or anyone who doesn’t practice.

“I have already held this position where I am supposed to [be relaxed] but I wondered ‘how long is this Downward Dog [pose] will last?’ or “Please don’t make me squat for five minutes!”

“But no one told me that yoga is about facing your fears,” adds Wes. “I still have trouble with [some poses], but I keep practicing, so I’m not afraid of it. I’m not as afraid of falling on my face or embarrassing myself, so you can gain courage and confidence through yoga, and that’s what I want to share with the community.

The past two months have been a bit of a trial run for Frisco’s new Community Yoga, with students and friends attending classes purely on a donation basis. Wes admits that when it comes to making big bucks, offering yoga classes to Hatteras Island residents and visitors isn’t necessarily the best way to go. “It’s not something we expect to make a living out of,” he says.

But there are big plans for the studio in the months and years to come, and for the company in general. The class schedule will be expanded, special yoga and java sessions will be planned so participants can meet and connect with neighbors after a class, and even health classes and cooking classes are underway – which potentially includes classes on how to recreate locally acclaimed Rhonda’s sourdough bread.

Essentially, community yoga is in the early stages of becoming a comprehensive health center, where islanders can access classes and sessions that coincide with a myriad of health issues. These future offerings will focus on a variety of health-enhancing topics, from nutrition and weight loss, to dancing for fun, to exploring unique and hard-to-pronounce practices like pranayama or reiki.

But with waves of options looming on the horizon for Hatteras Island’s new yoga and health center, for now prospective students can dip their toes into Community Yoga’s weekly classes, where Frisco’s old garage is now a haven for anyone who needs to reset, rejuvenate and take a much-needed break from hectic island life.

“I like to get in touch with yourself and focus on your breathing. Those are the two most important [aspects of yoga]Wes explains. “If you just focus on the movement, that’s just a small part of it – that’s just the base of it.”

“It is through communication – learning to train your brain to become aware of your body and to connect with your breath – that you will achieve the [most benefits.] And those are things that so many of us, myself included, have lost… And for me to be able to help someone regain that ability and that confidence is so rewarding.

For more information:

People can view current class offerings and register for online yoga classes at https://obxcommunityyoga.com/, or can visit Community Yoga’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ obxcommunityyoga.

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