CHARLES TOWN – Liz Ward, the owner and one of the teachers at Renew: Yoga for Every Body, the new yoga studio that opened this week on Charles Street downtown, is determined to get the word out that yoga is good for all of us.
“People are nervous and intimated by yoga,” Ward said. “They’re afraid they aren’t flexible enough. They think if they can’t get a foot behind their head, they can’t do yoga. You get out of it what you put into it. You’ll feel better emotionally, physically, mentally.
“Yoga is not scary.”
Ward has long been in the education field. The 44-year-old native of Virginia Beach, Va., earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in education from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.
She worked as principal of North Middle School in Martinsburg for four years and since 2011 has served as administrative coordinator for federal school programs in Jefferson County.
She’s lived in Shepherdstown for 11 years. “My husband and I fell in love with Shepherdstown,” she said. “We felt it was a great place to raise our daughter Ally.”
But despite her satisfaction with her life and work, Ward found herself suffering from stress and back pain. That led her to start practicing yoga five years ago and she became involved in a 200-hour teaching program offered by Jala Yoga.
“Once I finished the yoga classes, I wanted to find a serene place to teach yoga to others,” Ward said. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart. Everything just fell into place.”
To encourage people to try yoga at her new space at 111 N. Charles St. had been a dance studio, Ward said., Ward is offering free classes through Saturday as well as a $99 pass for an unlimited number of classes through Sept. 1.
The classes cater to students of all skill levels from novices to advanced yogis.
Some of Renew’s offerings include Bliss, which focuses on relieving tension and stress from tight muscles; Core Yoga, a vigorous incorporation of back and core work; and Ashtanga, a traditional style of yoga with a specific sequence of dynamic poses designed to burn away impurities in the body, mind and spirit.
A “Mom and Me” class begins June 12. Children ages 4 to 12 take the class for free.
Four other certified yoga instructors are working with Ward – Gena Rockwell, a licensed massage therapist who has been practicing in the Shepherdstown area for more than six years; Danielle LaRock, who is also training to become a licensed massage therapist; Lisa Ciarleglio; and Jocelynne Lowans.
Ward says the biggest challenge of yoga isn’t a physical one at all. “Quieting your mind,” she said. “Being in the present – that can be difficult for people in these stressful times.”
But there’s a big payoff to time spent on the yoga mat, Ward said. “It’s a whole philosophy,” she said. “It can soften some edges you might have, help you deal with people differently. I think yoga can change your approach to life.”