New owner of yoga studio stays centered

Posted on January 13, 2011 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Yoga teacher Lisa Murray has assumed a new position – she bought the business. Murray is the new owner of Yoga Community, the studio space and boutique in the West Plaza Shopping Center.

The Tennessee native has been teaching at the studio for four years. She added management duties two years ago, and took ownership on Jan. 1 from Carol Tomlinson.

Murray called the space “a rare jewel,” and credited Tomlinson with realizing a wonderful vision. “I’m very grateful to Carol for dreaming up such a beautiful and functional space, and glad that we can all participate in keeping that dream alive.”

Tomlinson said Murray had done a great job bringing in new teachers and students and revitalizing the retail space.  “I am sure that through her dedication, enthusiasm and experience Yoga Community will continue to grow,” she said.

Murray got hooked on yoga when she began taking classes to relieve the stress of a big-time marketing job in Nashville.

“I loved it from the first time I did it,” she said. “It’s the way I dealt with the stress of the job. It’s very effective.”
It – the bliss of being in the moment – is also a bit hard to describe. “It’s experiential. You can talk about it, but until you experience it…”

Murray likens yoga to disconnecting the mind from the body. Unplugging the computer. Deleting the mental email.

“It’s a way to turn off the critic,” she said.

Murray first visited Sonoma 12 years ago, on a business trip. Her husband was a Nor Cal guy, but it was her first visit. The connection was instantaneous. “I called him and said, ‘why do we live in Tennessee?”

The two relocated, collecting a house full of dogs, cats and chickens. She worked at the Sonoma Community Center for five years, and volunteered for just about everything as she got to know just about everybody.

All the while, and into freelancing as a graphic artist, she kept up with yoga. Soon she was ready to teach, and took gigs at senior centers, a rehab facility and more. Then came the faculty spot at Yoga Community.

The business, with two large studios, a spacious boutique and lobby, and offices, comprises three storefronts of the center. In all, “not common attributes of most yoga centers.”

It offers 30 classes a week and has a roster of 16 teachers.

Murray teaches mostly beginner classes, and said she sees the effects right away. “You can see it in their eyes. It can be a profound experience, even from the start.”

One piece of advice: when the task is to free your mind, don’t get hung up on your body. “Get over the self-consciousness,” Murray said. “That’s the biggest barrier.”

Another practicality: “Find a teacher whose voice doesn’t annoy you.” The guiding voice and mannerisms must help you calm down, not put you on edge.

As the new owner, Murray has no major changes planned. She did lower the prices, and perhaps will add special events, and more classes for seniors. Meanwhile, she said, “This is our place to gather, share and grow.”

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