Leave your Lululemon at home: This Fulton yoga studio shifts focus from exercise to self-care
By Valerie Bonk
Oct 29, 2019 | 7:00 AM
“Come as you are.” These are the words greeting customers at the door to Fulton’s Shift Yoga.
Owner Jessie Kates, 38, says that’s the motto she tries to convey to those who come to her classes.
“It is a complete open door,” says Kates, whose studio, billed as a “self-care sanctuary,” opened in summer 2018. “We’re all about caring for the whole body instead of just building strong muscles. Our perspective is that we’re not just nourishing through physical exercise, it’s all about the experience of slowing down and taking some time to yourself.”
Kates took over the former yoga studio in the same location and decided to bring a self-care focus to the space with classes that combine flexibility with relaxation and meditation. Tea, essential oils and incense also greet those who come into the studio.
Bob Liles, 66, of Silver Spring has been at Shift Yoga since it opened. He started going to classes after feeling “tight” and wanted to improve his flexibility but says that he was surprised by how much he enjoyed the meditation and self-care aspects.
“My life is calmer when I’m able to get to the classes at Shift on a regular basis,” Liles says. “I feel an overall improvement in my health. Before I started going to yoga, if there was something on the floor I used to have to bend down on one knee to pick it up. I don’t have to do that anymore. I can now just reach down.”
One of the signatures of Shift Yoga is the extended “savasana” or “corpse pose” period at the end of class — lengthened from the typical five minutes to 10 minutes.
“We lay under weighted blankets and have heated eye pillows that give you a much deeper state of rest than you can get on your own,” Kates says of the posture, which traditionally calls for the practitioner to lie on their back with limbs extended. “We call it our ‘savasanAhhh.”
In addition to conventional yoga classes, Shift offers sessions such as “Mindful Movement” with a focus on balancing strength and stillness; “Yin and Meditation,” which targets the deep layers of connective tissues in the body through passive stretching; and “Flow and Chill,” which uses restorative postures to help find balance and a deep state of peace.
“We’re focusing on the spiritual workout,” Kates says. “Let’s be there for one another in real meaningful authentic ways and elevate the landscape of yoga in the community.”
Tracey Roussin-Lally, 51, of Laurel, says Kates’ studio reminds her that it’s important to take time out of a busy schedule for self-care.
“She has created this space where there’s no judgment,” Roussin-Lally says. “It doesn’t matter if you showed up looking like you rolled out of bed. They’re there to help you become a healthier and more balanced person.”