The morning sun was slanting through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the Well's yoga studio as instructor Jennifer Stukey swept the wood floor, preparing for the first class of the day.
"I think it's such a great space to be in," said Stukey, who has been a yoga instructor for the center since it opened in November. "It's something that old Ellicott City has been wanting and needing for some time."
The Well, described as a "community space for yoga and the healing arts," is run by Leslie Lewart, formerly the owner of Rugs to Riches, her daughter, Amy Meilman, and friend Lance Isakov.
The store and studio provide services and products related to living healthfully, including yoga and Pilates classes, massage and acupuncture sessions and workshops. A retail store sells books, candles and bath products, and might begin selling organic food soon, Lewart said.
The tie that binds these disparate offerings together is what Lewart calls "conscious living," which she described as doing things that benefit the individual, the community and the planet. "I think we make decisions being aware of the decisions we make," she said.
Lewart closed Rugs to Riches in 2005, after running the Main Street home-furnishings store for 15 years. "I just felt there was something else I wanted to do," said Lewart, who continues to provide interior design services.
She loves yoga, she said, and wanted to find a business that would allow her to do what she loves and make a living, as well. Her daughter is a massage therapist. Isakov is an acupuncturist and yoga instructor. And Lewart wanted a bookstore. Combining those ideas into one space made sense, Lewart said.
The Well also holds workshops and movie nights, she said. The first movie, not surprisingly, was Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Also shown was The Secret, a movie about fulfilling one's goals in life.
Two to four workshops are offered each weekend on a range of subjects. This month's schedule includes "Art is a River to the Soul," in which artist Valerie Dearing will help participants lift their spirits through artwork; and "A New Body the Holistic Way." Lewart said workshop presenters have come to her; she has not had to seek them out.
Also taught in the yoga studio are classes in Pilates and African dance. Classes are offered for children ages 4 to 7, as well as for adults who want to become more limber. Customers purchase a "pass book" for a certain number of sessions, and then take classes whenever they are scheduled.
Other offerings at the Well include color therapy, which uses beams of colored light to "revitalize the body and help eliminate physical and emotional pain," according to a brochure; and chakra balancing, which "promotes health by maximizing the flow of energy in the body."
The Well is at the end of a long driveway and can be hard to find, but the out-of-the-way spot gives the impression that the space is deep in the woods. Before it opened for business, Lewart focused on decorating and designing the space, which had been little more than a garage-like warehouse, she said. Now, the floors are a rich robin's egg blue, and the walls are a spring-grass-after-it-rains green. Soft purples and bright yellows provide accents.
Three "treatment rooms" for services such as relaxation massages and facial-rejuvenation acupuncture have beds as well as overstuffed chairs. The yoga studio has hardwood floors and enormous windows that provide views of the Tiber River. On one wall of the studio, a Beatles quote has been painted: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."
As Stukey finished sweeping out the studio, the first customer arrived for a Monday morning Yoga 101 session.
Kelly Raynaud of Ellicott City had received a book of 10 sessions from her husband for Christmas, she said, and was eager to begin learning about yoga. "I always wanted to try it," she said.
The Well is at 3711 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City. 410-418-8944, or www.ellicottcitywellness.com