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Life & Work with Jamie Runion

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Runion.

Hi Jamie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I discovered Yoga in 2016 soon after having my daughter. I was looking for help with my post-partum depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD, plus I had a lot of weight I wanted to lose to feel better about myself.

I quickly fell in love with the practice and the way it made me feel mentally and physically, and I noticed a very big difference in my mental and physical health. In 2018, I applied to and was accepted into the YogaBuzz 200-hour training program, which was a 501-3C non-profit organization that helped individuals seeking certification to teach yoga in an accessible, inexpensive, and trauma-informed way.

Immediately after graduating in December 2018, I began teaching at various locations in the Metro area such as gyms, church basements, daycare gyms- anywhere I was able to guide classes! I was very nomadic for a long period of time.

Lotus Yoga was born on the concept that YOGA is for everybody and every ability. It can be accessible, it can be altered/modified, and it’s fun! I wanted to take the stigma out of the picture that you must be flexible, fit, thin, able-bodied, and young to practice Yoga.

Throughout adulthood, I had various roles in leadership as a career, but I always had the desire to own and run my own business. In December 2019, I quit my career in leadership at a local DME company to open the doors to Lotus Yoga. Unfortunately, the pandemic had different plans, so I quickly switched directions and taught most of the classes online while being a stay-at-home mom while my children were e-learning.

In 2021, I happened to stumble upon an ad for a space in Maryville that was in the perfect location, so I took a leap of faith, signed a lease, and here we are one year later!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
We have met many obstacles since opening the doors in June of 2021. We, of course, are still in the midst of a pandemic, and attendance across the board is low not just at Lotus Yoga, but at studios across the country.

A lot of people continued their practice from their homes since we all had to shut down for a length of time, and people are still apprehensive about coming into studios and being around groups of people. We also understand that the cost of living has skyrocketed, and Yoga has become low on the priority list as a necessary expense.

This is why we do our best to keep our prices as low as possible, making little to no profit, just so we can keep the doors open and be available to those that are visiting the studio.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I spent 7+ years in a role at a DME company where I was able to learn and study anatomy, and how the human body works and reviewed documents and evaluations from Physicians and Therapists regarding patients who required assistance from canes, walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs.

I learned so much about immobility, the spine, balance, muscle groups, and so much more through researching these documents, that I became passionate about helping people gain a better quality of life. I wanted to do that by teaching them Yoga and how it could benefit their overall mental and physical health- even if they required assistance from a mobility device.

I recently completed a course in accessibility from the Accessible Yoga School, and continue to research and gain knowledge on how to accommodate those with disabilities or who require more assistance with their mobility. We offer chair Yoga at Lotus Yoga, and we are working on adding a series for bigger bodies, and chair-bound individuals, and we also do off-site classes at local retirement communities.

Lotus Yoga is also an Accessible Yoga Ambassador. Stepping into an atmosphere where Yoga is being taught is very intimidating for a lot of people, and some people have been made to feel very uncomfortable in these spaces- including me. I knew that I did not want Lotus Yoga to be “that place” where we triggered a student or made them feel uncomfortable in that space.

Lotus Yoga is a trauma-informed studio. This means we are very cognizant about the language we use when we cue poses, what music we play during class, and what we talk about in class, and we never place our hands-on students without consent first. We are very mindful of being sensitive to what others are experiencing in their lives mentally and physically, and we welcome everybody with open arms in the studio.

We hold our reputation for being a safe place for people and strive to never make anyone feel uncomfortable in very high regard. We never single out students in a class for any reason, and we are a very casual studio with few “rules”. Come as you are! We also love hosting events and workshops so that we can get back to the in-person community, and offer a community for those who may be uncomfortable in certain settings.

We have been a foundation for a lot of new relationships! We host events such as making a macramé plant hanger while learning meditation techniques, painting pottery, and learning about the Chakras, Galentine’s Day brunches, and Bro-ga, and we even rent the studio for private birthday parties, showers, and bachelorette parties.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was an athletic kid, playing softball and a little bit of basketball during my elementary and Jr. high years.

I liked being social more than sports as I got older! I was not great with academics, but my sense of humor carried me through! I had a dream of being a gymnast for a while, but I was always told I was “too big”, or “maybe we should try something else”.

I have always been fairly flexible for a bigger-bodied person, so I knew that one day I was going to make use of it! My parents tell me that I was (and still am) a handful. Fearless, mouthy, full of life. I have a big personality, I’m loud, and I definitely made my parents laugh and cry a lot. They revel in the fact that I have created an exact copy of myself in my daughter.

My childhood was not perfect, and I did experience a bit of trauma throughout my pre-teen to later teenage years, experiencing some emotional abuse from a then family member, and I did not take my parent’s divorce very well. There’s a lot there.

However, I take those experiences as a chance to help others that may be going through or have gone through the same situations. Whereas I’m not a counselor or therapist, I can hold space for them in my studio and offer them ways to cope and heal.

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