by Lauren Johnson
Kathleen Tooley, owner of Anahata Yoga and Wellness Center, in Lederach, has a simple mission: to show that yoga is accessible to anyone.
Tooley, a teacher of Kripalu-style yoga for seven years, became a yoga teacher to do just that. “People who felt like they couldn’t do yoga inspired me to become a teacher so I could show them that they actually can,” she says. “When folks come into the studio apologizing for being inflexible, I say, ‘I know, that’s why you’re here!’”
Kripalu yoga, which originated at the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania in 1965 and was named after kundalini yoga master Swami Kripalvanandji, uses standard yoga poses and breathwork to encourage inner focus, meditation and relaxation. At Anahata Yoga and Wellness Center (“Anahata” is the Sanskrit word for the heart chakra), yoga is taught from a more therapeutic perspective rather than a fitness perspective.
“You’ll get fit from your practice, but we don’t teach power or hot yoga,” says Tooley, noting that while the center does offer vinyasa classes, it specializes in modalities that are accessible to all. In addition to its weekly gentle and intermediate yoga classes, it offers yin yoga, restorative yoga and yoga nidra (guided relaxation). Class sizes are small so that individualized attention and support can be given.
This accessibility has led the studio to its recent expansion. After operating from a 750-square-foot space with just two rooms shared for both practice and treatment, Anahata Yoga and Wellness Center now operates out of a new building, just across the street, in an 1,800-square-foot space with six rooms. “Now we can offer multiple functions at the same time, including yoga, workshops, massage and reiki, going on all at once,” Tooley says. “The new space will also lend itself well to our yoga teacher training programs.”
The next yoga teacher training begins in September and is a 200-hour training with Kripalu-style influence. Training is done in a small group of eight to 12, so early registration is suggested. The training is taught by five certified yoga professionals of varying backgrounds and styles to help provide all the tools needed to prepare students for teaching.
“It’s a very methodical process, and the teachers are there to support trainees and guide them so they graduate with the confidence they need to begin their teaching,” says Tooley. She notes that in addition to giving students the basic foundations for anatomy, philosophy and teaching techniques, the training also touches on trauma sensitive yoga, ayurveda, hypermobility in yoga, chakra yoga, chair yoga and prenatal yoga, as well as the business of becoming a yoga teacher.
“By allowing students to experience different perspectives, languages and approaches, they’re able to find their own unique expression of yoga to offer to their community,” says Tooley.
Anahata Yoga and Wellness Center is located at 690 Harleysville Pike, Lederach. For more information on their on class offerings, including yoga teacher training, call 215-740-1354 or visit AnahataYogaWellness.com.