When Heather Principe opened up her yoga studio in Malverne in 1995, she wasn’t concerned with profits.
“When I was 45 I decided I wanted to make a difference,” says Principe, who had been practicing yoga since she was nine.
She dedicated her life to the Hermetic Principles (Mentalism, Correspondence, Virbration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect and Gender) and began teaching 10 classes a week at her one-room studio on Church Street.
Pretty soon she acquired some help, when Kim Zawacki, a vinya instructor, came on board, adding seven more classes to the weekly schedule, but this was only the beginning.
Flash forward to 2011, and the in Malverne is now twice its original size and offers 63 classes each week taught by 27 instructors. They have everything from restorative yoga and yoga therapy to more challenging vinyasa classes. Recently, they added Laughter Yoga by donation-only, which as its name suggests, uses a series of exercises to induce laughter. How can you not feel good after an hour of belly laughs?
The Center is also responsible for cultivating new instructors.
“We have the second oldest teacher training program on Long Island,” Principe says. “We’ve trained hundreds of yoga teachers who can be found at nearly every location in Nassau, Suffolk and the city.”
She also hosts many workshops throughout the year, some featuring the celebs of yoga world.
Still, although Principe’s studio has grown it remains true to its roots. Classes cost no more than $20 and some are donation-only, with the money going to local charities and community projects.
The center also has a book club run by Fran White, where members read about yoga, and donate the proceeds, along with funds collected at the first class on Saturday mornings, to Crossroads Farm in Malverne.
“What is also unique about us is that we are a cooperative,” Principe says, with each person putting in 30 percent. “I’m just a care taker.”
And if there is extra money at the end of the monthly, she says the instructors use it to better the studio. For instance, in August, they doubled the space.
Although yoga has become a money maker for some as it has become more mainstream and Westernized, Principe says for her, it’s not a fad or a business venture, but a way of life.
“It has changed by interaction with everyone and everything in my life and made things much easier,” she says. “ Every space for me is a space to do yoga.”
Incorporating yoga into your life can be as easy as breathing, she tells those who are new to the practice.
“There’s lots of different ways to begin your practie of yoga,” she says. “It’s not about twisting yourself into a pretzel. It’s about opening up something new that hasn’t been opened before through your breathe.
“That’s the beginning to enlightenment and a healthy body,” she adds.
So why not try a therapeutic class to ease your aches and pains, challenge your body with a mixed level vinyasa or chuckle your way to better mental health at a Laughter Yoga session?
In these hectic times, we think finding some inner balance at this local studio definitely earns a spot on our list of the , as well as your own to-do list!