The practice of yoga has been growing in popularity across the United States for decades, particularly in places like Los Angeles and New York City.
As crazes like pilates and zumba have certainly taken the fitness world by storm in the last few years, the age-old practice of yoga has managed to stay afloat.
“There’s a lot of ebb and flow within the fitness world. Yoga, I think, will have a longer staying power because yoga is thousands of years old and it’s been practiced all over the world for over 2,000 years and there’s true concepts in it,” said Jennifer Chisam, owner of Mountain Yoga, 151A E. Mountcastle Drive.
While yoga’s worldwide popularity has been alive and well in other areas for quite some time, it’s beginning to catch on in Johnson City and the surrounding region.
“Compared to the rest of the country, we’re kind of behind the times,” Chisam said.
She pointed to just across the mountains in Asheville, N.C., as a prime example since there seems to be a yoga studio on just about every corner.
“It’s kind of become an obsession for the entire country,” Chisam said.
And Chisam believes Johnson City is right on the cusp on capitalizing on the yoga craze.
Johnson City has a number of yoga studios, including Inner Sea Yoga, New Paradigm and Shakti in the Mountains. Most of those studios are located within just a few miles of one another.
Yoga classes are even offered at East Tennessee State University.
“The yoga community here has actually been established for a long time and if you drive down Roan Street, you’ll see Yoga Tree and you’ll see Kudzu Yoga was here and Simple Abundance was here, so there have been lots of studios that have come and gone,” Chisam said.
While many of those studios are no longer open, Chisam said they paved the way for the growing yoga community that’s in Johnson City now.
With a market already in place, it was easier for Chisam to start a studio of her own.
Mountain Yoga is nearing the anniversary of its fourth year of operation in Johnson City.
Chisam’s studio has grown quite a bit since it first started at Mullins Shaolin. The business moved from there to the King’s Centre, where it ran for a little more than a year before moving to the Mountcastle Drive location near Target.
Mountain Yoga recently expanded its operation into another studio space next door, doubling its size.
The studio now offers about 30 different classes, ranging from beginner’s yoga to hot yoga in which the heat is turned up to allow better stretching.
Chisam said it’s been a slow but steady growth that allowed Mountain Yoga to expand.
“As we keep getting out there and loving people and showing the community what yoga’s about, we just keep having new people. We have new people through the door just about every day,” she said.
Chisam said the support from other yoga studios in the area is another aspect that has led to both the growth of Mountain Yoga and the growth of the Johnson City yoga community itself.
“There’s a really nice sense of community within the studios. We’re always kind of cheering each other on,” she said.
The newly opened Samadhi, 423 W. Walnut St., is one of the newest yoga studios in Johnson City.
Owners Ryan Fair and April Borisewitz said it was the sense of community between studios that led them to open Samadhi, which will offer a number of services in addition to yoga, including sound and vibrational healing and Qigong.
Fair tried to open a yoga studio about 10 years ago in Johnson City, but the market for that kind of business just wasn’t here yet.
“It was just a matter of planting seeds and giving those a chance to grow, because a few years ago most people didn’t even know what yoga was in this area,” he said.
Unlike other types of businesses, having a variety of yoga studios that offer different types of classes and services is partly why the local yoga community is so strong, Borisewitz said.
“The great thing about all of the yoga studios is that we do support each other. We’re not out to compete against one another because I think each one offers a different flavor and something unique for each person. Having the different studios provides more opportunities for everyone to experience yoga,” she said.
“In the business, whenever yoga does well, whether it’s at Samadhi or Mountain Yoga, yoga is doing well for everybody. We really want to support more of that with our other studios,” Fair added.