How Be Yoga Came to Be
And my story, or at least some of it
Around 1999 or so I knew in the deepest parts of my soul that I was a healer and that someday I wanted to have a wellness center and yoga studio. I was 29 years old, single, living in Northampton, MA and working for a small manufacturing company as a regional sales manager. I had just finished my MBA but could not have been any farther from my dreams of healer, wellness center & yoga studio owner/ manager, wife and mother. The only thing that even slightly resembled any of these things was that I did practice yoga and I was involved in quite a bit of self healing (for my own inner turmoil and confusion). As part of my self healing journey, I spent 10 days with Brooke Medicine Eagle, a truly extraordinary Native American healer, visionary and teacher. We spent one of the ten days fasting, visioning and praying deep in the woods of northwest Massachusetts. I prayed like I had never prayed before and dedicated myself like never before to realizing my own healing rather than simply being on the journey and never actually embracing connection and love.
Since this is a story more about Be Yoga I will fast forward to 2010. At this point I’m 40 years old, live in Charlotte, NC, am a licensed acupuncturist, married with a 2 year old daughter and while still very much on a healing path I feel more centered and full of love than I ever had. My dreams had come true and the part about owning a yoga studio & wellness center I pretty much let go of….until Kaitlin Lacey and my husband, Andrew Diamond.
Kaitlin Lacey, Be Yoga’s now Director of Operations, in a previous life had been in financial services at E-Trade. When she was laid off in the recession of 2008, she took that as a sign from the universe to follow her dreams of being a yoga teacher and healer. Since it often takes some time to actually make any money at those things, Kaitlin, who was a close friend of mine and Andrew’s, also become the nanny to our newly born daughter, Nora, in August 2008.
In 2010 Kaitlin and Christine Riverstone dreamed together of running a yoga studio and they thought their dreams had become reality when a financial backer offered to fund the studio that she named Yoga Palace (now the location of Be Yoga on East Blvd). Unfortunately, this person was looking to “get rich quick” and really didn’t have her heart in creating a yoga studio and community. Andrew and I often chuckled, in the first couple of years of owning Be Yoga, that the only way to make a small fortune with a yoga studio is to start with a large fortune. Onward with the story, the owner of Yoga Palace was not aligned with any principle of yoga that I’m aware of. In one month or so of opening, she stopped paying teachers and broke promise after promise. Kaitlin, who had handed in her nannying notice to me, asked to keep her job as caregiver to Nora since she was not receiving a paycheck from Yoga Palace. Amazingly, some of the staff, believing in their dream, stayed to serve the students that had bought packages from Yoga Palace while Kaitlin sought new investors to keep the dream “alive”.
Kaitlin shared the details with me and Andrew. While Andrew remembers a slightly different version, Kaitlin and I share the knowing that it was actually Andrew who said, “we could do this…we could turn Yoga Palace around and offer true, exceptional yoga – plus this is Wendy’s dream!” Just a few months later we took over the lease at 1247 East Blvd. Andrew’s brother, Geoff, and my brother, Eric, moved in with us. For the next 2 months we all quite literally rebuilt the Yoga Palace studio putting a big blue tarp to hide the equipment needed to repaint, add dressing rooms, put in stereo equipment and lay the beautiful cork floor. Half the studio was a construction zone and half the studio housed amazing yoga taught mostly by the dedicated Christine Riverstone and a few other brave yogis. A few students and teachers stuck around and some are now in prominent roles at Be: Amy Barrett, Emily Elder, Laura Hannon, Chrys Kub, Deanne Lambillotte, Allison O’Connor, Michelle Seymour, Carol Shirkey and Carrie Wren (apologies if I have forgotten anyone, literally those first few months are quite a blur to me now).
December 4, 2010 we officially “opened” as Be Yoga & Wellness. Just 6 months later, on May 31, 2011 we merged with Sangati. This quite significant joining of Be Yoga and Sangati deserves its own story since I could not possibly do it justice in just a few sentences. Know that Sangati was a heart centered, wonderful Anusara (Align & Flow) studio on the corner of Park Road and Ideal Way. Many of our current Align & Flow teachers were an integral part of the Sangati community. Also know that I am forever grateful to every student and teacher from Sangati that took a chance, said yes and leaped into the arms of Be Yoga. My last thought on this joining of studios is as I write “just 6 months later” I’m blown away at how quickly things moved once we opened the Be doors. I also have new tenderness and amazement at how I personally navigated it all: with a huge open heart, authenticity, honesty AND in many ways without a clue and making plenty of mistakes.
Be Yoga, having a mind and soul of its own, encouraged yet another expansion, and on July 2012 we our opened our Carmel Road location. This go around the brothers did not come to help build as we hired a real life general contractor. Andrew, though, did do most of the design work, before having the final architectural approval and spent many, many, many days on the jobsite overseeing the building of our second studio. It was another labor of love as we added wellness rooms (now being able to house part of my acupuncture practice), added in aerial yoga, making space for broader offerings with Universal Yoga, Yin Restorative, teacher trainings, yoga one-on-one lessons and more.
Be Yoga has seen its share of ups and downs from Christine Riverstone moving away, John Friend falling from grace, and various other highs and lows. Be Yoga has probably been one of the biggest sources of growth and transformation for me personally. I can honestly say that I am not the same person as I was in December of 2010. Being a small business owner and leader is truly the hardest thing I have ever done and at the same time has offered me the biggest leap forward in my own healing and growth. I’ve had to let go of my people pleasing, perfectionist ways and allow grace, love and the divine to guide.
I’m often asked what does the future hold for me and Be Yoga? Meaning what specifically do you have planned? I don’t know the specifics. I can say that the path forward will continue to be one of growth, authentic expression, connection, and love. How that will “look” I’m leaving to divine grace.
With immense gratitude for the entity of Be Yoga.