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Yoga Wellness Connection

A place to connect and heal

Published in the September 2022 Issue Published online: Sep 02, 2022 East Idaho Health, Health & Wellness
Viewed 835 time(s)



STORY BY ANNIE CARBUTT
PHOTOS BY ANNIE CARBUTT AND
KATIE REDHOUSE PHOTOS

WHEN THE IDEA to open a new yoga and wellness studio and event center in Idaho Falls first came to Nicole Packer, she wasn’t sure if she should listen to it. She was uncertain if it was the best time to start a new business and unsure of how the local community would receive it. But the vision of creating an uplifting and uniting space where community members could gather, improve their health, and enjoy each other’s company resonated deeply with her. “Although there are challenges unique to these times,” Nicole said, “the idea kept coming to me. I felt compelled to make it happen even though there were obstacles in getting the building ready and the business organized.” Nicole’s description of the process sounds much like a calling. Thoughts about what the two studios should look like and how to structure the environment came to her in powerful waves of ideas and emotions along with unifying guidelines for class instructors. She knew she wanted to have a wide variety of classes that would be diverse and flexible enough so as to offer something for everyone. She also wanted people of all backgrounds, body types, fitness levels and beliefs to feel safe and comfortable exploring yoga and other wellness classes in the center.

Whenever doubts about the overhead costs or securing the funds to remodel the building and run the business surfaced, Nicole would return to her core motivation for opening the studio and event center in the first place: community connection.

“Connection is central to our healing, both individually and collectively,” Nicole said. “It’s very important to me that this center be a neutral ground where people can come and connect with others without worrying about different views about politics, religion or personal backgrounds. My hope is people will develop friendships and build bridges of connection they might not otherwise.”

Before opening the center, Nicole spent 20 plus years working as a behavioral specialist. She continues to assist others as a wellness professional and is skilled at looking to the emotional needs of others. She’s put a lot of thought into how she can facilitate connections with a pressure-free environment. “We have done our best to create a beautiful and welcoming space that is also neutral. Inclusivity is our goal,” she said. “I am providing a place where people can improve their mental and physical wellbeing while allowing individuals to have their own unique experiences where they are safe to explore their personal beliefs and feelings.”

Nicole has set a beautiful stage for natural connections to occur. She opened the new center to the public on June 20 after months of planning and adjusting until everything was just right. Yoga Wellness Connection is located in the perfect spot on River Parkway, right by the falls. The center is filled with the softest natural light and shades of a gentle, airy blue and fresh green hanging plants everywhere you turn. Both of the two yoga studios are strung with white hanging lights and lanterns that bring an ethereal feel to the already soothing space.

“I feel like I just walked into a spa,” I told Nicole when I first met her at the center. I could tell my immediate reaction to the space pleased her. “That’s exactly what we’re going for,” she said.

Nicole has worked to make the center a place of healing and retreat. The two distinct rooms are designed to facilitate wellness in different ways. The sky room has a high, vaulted ceiling with skylights and powder blue walls. The openness of the room feels like a breath of fresh air. High on the wall, a metal cutout sign studded with white lights reads, “Cielo”—the Spanish word for sky. While any class could effectively be held in this space, it offers a unique feeling that is suited to fluid movement and releasing unnecessary burdens. It is a weightless space.

The second room is smaller than the sky room with slightly lower ceilings and no windows. It displays a similar lighted sign that reads “Tierra,” or earth. In many ways, it is its opposite.

“I wanted this space to be cozy and comfortable where people can really feel a sense of grounding and support,” Nicole said.

The floors in the earth room are unique and eye-catching. At first glance, they appear to be simply large sheets of unfinished plywood, but they aren’t unfinished—they’re polished with a smooth varnish. The raw textured appearance of the floor brings a feeling of authenticity that invites you to be exactly as you are. The lack of windows brings a certain intimacy and warmth to the room. Japanese lanterns strung from the ceiling brighten and lift the space just enough to elevate it without taking away from the rooted feeling.

“This is a space where we hold heated classes, restorative classes, sound baths and meditation, as well as other classes. It’s a place for people to draw inward and connect with themselves,” Nicole said.

The unique offerings of the two separate spaces create a kind of dance between connection with others and connection with the self. The outer hallway in the building wraps around the two studios and brings everything together in a unified whole.

As peaceful as the setting is, the center is designed for more than just the stillness of yoga and meditation. A look at the class schedule is enough to release endorphins: Upbeat Barre, Buti Yoga, Intro to Drumming, High Fitness, Family Yoga… the list goes on. Even beyond classes, participants can break a sweat and get their heart pumping to an upbeat rhythm through Friday night Latin dancing, or they can laugh and chat over a good meal at one of the locally catered mindful eating dinners held at the center. The center also hosts a wide variety of wellness workshops and retreats.

As I observed Nicole instructing a yoga class in the sky room, I caught the vision she followed when she set out on her journey to open the center. Yoga Wellness Connection is a place for everyone. Regardless of your gender, body type, race or background, there is space for anyone who wants to come. I made several new friends in the short time I was there, and now I have a new resolve to learn yoga.

Check out Yoga Wellness Connection in the Eagle Rock Station at 451 River Parkway or call 208-403-7221 or email theyogawellnessconnection@gmail.com for more information.

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