A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a night of yoga and wine with some friends. Our night of vinyasa and vino was hosted on the top level of a parking garage in South End. My friends and I, with the Charlotte skyline in front of us, participated in an hour yoga session followed by a happy hour.
Lindsay Cunningham, owner of The NC Yoga Bar, was our teacher, our cheerleader and our bartender. Wine and happy hour aside, the class was hands down one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever taken. It was challenging, Lindsay was supportive and focused on our form, but most of all it was fun. We laughed, we cheered each other on as we tried inversions, we focused on our bodies and came away invigorated and centered.
Inspired by the concept of The NC Yoga Bar, I reached out to Lindsay to learn more about her, her goal for her company, and why she thought Charlotte was in need of this new yoga concept.
Tell me about the concept of NC Yoga Bar and when/why you decided to start it?
My husband and I moved to Charlotte 1 year ago from Chicago, IL. We started the NC Yoga Bar right before we moved to Charlotte. I received my 200-hr Yoga Teacher certification in 2013 and knew I wanted to share my love of yoga with the world. Originally, I wanted to open a brick and mortar studio, but after digging deeper into the Charlotte yoga community, I realized that wasn’t my true calling.
The NC Yoga Bar is “Yoga with a TWIST.” We are committed to bringing experienced-based yoga and fitness events to the Charlotte community. It challenges the traditional model of stuffy, closed-door yoga studios. Instead, we try to make practicing yoga less intimidating, broadening its appeal with the same high-quality fitness experience.
Tell me about your hopes/goals for the business.
Nowadays, yogis around the world use social media to showcase themselves in crazy, unrealistic poses that may look “cool,” but actually may intimidate and scare some people away. My job as a yoga teacher is to make people feel good about themselves. By showing only pictures of my teachers or myself in these awkward and twisted poses, we lose the true meaning of “yoga” and what the NC Yoga Bar is all about.
My hope for the NC Yoga Bar is that it opens up a door to yoga’s wonderful health benefits for people who may not otherwise have access. Whether they can’t afford the prices of a traditional studio, they’re scared they’re “not flexible enough for yoga”, or they just haven’t found the right “fit,” the NC Yoga Bar has just the right ingredient to “twist” this town up!
During our session, you mentioned, “every mat has a story.” Tell me more about this concept.
Years ago, I was watching an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and she had a guest on from the (at the time) CBS show “Everybody Has a Story.” The premise of the show was that a reporter and camera crew would throw a dart at a map of America. Wherever the dart struck, that is where they would travel next. Once there, they’d get a phone book (yep, phone book, I said it was years ago) find a name and go to that person’s house and ask him/her to tell their “story.”
I’ve never forgotten that Oprah episode, and I even used to say that I was going to bring that back someday and do my own version of “Everybody Has a Story.” Well, “Every Mat Has a Story” is my version of that.
I’ve met so many amazing people in my short time in Charlotte and they’ve all got amazing stories to share. Too often, we sit next to people waiting for yoga classes to start and have no idea who is on the mat sitting next to ours. “Every Mat Has a Story” is a platform for yogis of the NC Yoga Bar community to share their stories, their passions, their heartaches, breaks and love stories. It’s where we came from, where we’re going, and who we are. Our stories define us, set us apart, and bind us.
At NC Yoga Bar, we’re about bringing Charlotte health, fun, and more than anything community. Too often we miss the great and inspiring stories around us, so each week the NC Yoga Bar is going to bring a story of one of our yogi’s, teachers, or neighbors in an effort to strengthen our community. Real people, with real lives, are the real and true inspiration of yoga and The NC Yoga Bar.
As a yoga teacher, do you have any tips for beginners?
My biggest piece of advice (for beginner and advanced yogis!) is to LET LOOSE and HAVE FUN! Yoga is challenging, but it’s amazing when it’s challenging. That’s when you’ll see yourself improving! Don’t expect to have your ankle behind your head within a week, but (after each class) notice the little differences in your body and in your mind. I say it in all of my classes, aside from alignment and safety, my #1 rule: HAVE FUN! Don’t take yourself so seriously!
Anything else you would like to tell Charlotte?
We appreciate all of the warm welcomes from everyone in Charlotte and can’t thank y’all for all of your support! Also, we are expanding and are in need of experienced and passionate teachers who share our same philosophy.
In addition to parties, happy hours and corporate events, The NC Yoga Bar teaches weekly Saturday morning yoga classes at Lenny Boy Brewing Co. and recently began teaching classes at Sycamore Brewing on Monday nights.
Connect with The NC Yoga Bar and see what “yoga with a twist” is all about.