2012-01-12 / Front Page

New yoga studio is open for business on Narragansett Avenue

Island Heron will offer classes that range from beginner to experienced

Karla Jean Bartley and Heidi Steele are the owners of the newly opened Island Heron yoga studio, which is located in the old Jamestown Press building. Karla Jean Bartley and Heidi Steele are the owners of the newly opened Island Heron yoga studio, which is located in the old Jamestown Press building. One of Jamestown’s newest businesses opened recently in the former Jamestown Press building on Narragansett Avenue. The Island Heron is primarily a yoga studio, but also offers other holistic services. The business is jointly owned by Heidi Steele and Karla Jean Bartley.

Steele was raised in Connecticut. She attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina where she attained a bachelor’s degree in business and tourism. After graduating,

Steele spent about a year traveling around the world before finally landing in Providence about six years ago.

The new Jamestown resident’s interest in yoga began while she was in college. She did some training in India, and then trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in western Massachusetts. There she was instructed by Shiva Rea in the prana flow style of yoga, which Steele teaches today.

Although Island Heron is Steele’s first yoga studio, she has a long-time passion for the discipline. “It’s always been in my blood since I took my first yoga class,” she said. “I knew that it was what I was meant to do. It’s the only thing I’ve never questioned in my life.”

Steele said that yoga is what she loves, and what she cares about. “It’s brought me to several places. I’m always a student. I’ll be a lifelong student.”

Bartley grew up in Green, R.I., in the northwest part of the state. She attended the University of Rhode Island where she majored in English with an art history minor.

The Rhode Island native’s experience with yoga began at a business called All That Matters in Wakefield, where she currently lives. In 2005 she began by working on the retail side of the business, buying products for the store and helping customers who were there for yoga lessons.

Soon Bartley decided to become a yoga teacher. She went to Asheville, N.C., to take her training. There she got her 230-hour certifi cation to be a yoga instructor from the Asheville Yoga Center. She then returned to Rhode Island and began teaching at All That Matters. It was there that she met Steele.

“We decided that at this time in our lives, at our age, that if the opportunity came, we should try to take all the skills that we learned at All That Matters and apply them,” Bartley said. “We decided to take the leap and start something of our own.”

The idea for a Jamestown studio began one day when Bartley and Steele took a casual swim at a local beach last summer. The pair agreed that locating their new business in Jamestown would be a great decision. “There was a cute little brick building on Narragansett Avenue that was open,” Steele said. “We thought it would be wonderful to teach some yoga classes there.”

At first it was just a passing idea, but as time went on, Steele and Bartley began to take that idea more seriously. Since that time, everything has gone smoothly. “It’s really been amazing with all of the people who have come around to help us, all of our friends and family,” Steele said. “It’s been great. It’s all fallen into place so easily.”

The new business partners were required to go through the town’s zoning process to get a parking variance in order to open their business. The four hearings that were held were not something that the partners anticipated, but they regard the experience as a good lesson.

“It was a good way to introduce ourselves to the town, through the Zoning Board,” Steele said.

The business was also required to add a handicap ramp to the facility. Inside the building they also laid down bamboo hardwood floors, took down a wall inside to make the yoga room larger, tiled the bathroom floor, and did some painting.

“We gave it quite a facelift,” Steele said. “It looks great. The response has been really positive. It’s a sunny space with big windows. There’s just a good feeling in here.”

The Island Heron holds three to four yoga classes per day during the week, and then one class on Saturday and one on Sunday.

There are five other yoga teachers at the Island Heron, and classes are available for all levels of student, from beginner to experienced. Classes are offered as early as 6:30 a.m. during the week, and the last class of the day begins at 7:30 p.m.

The fee for classes is $15 and $12 for students. Ten-class packages are available for $130. There is also a monthly unlimited pass for $108, or $600 for six months unlimited.

Massage therapy is also available at the Island Heron. The technique that is employed is called Thai bodywork. “It’s more of an interactive massage,” Steele said. “It’s great for rehabilitating for anyone who has any injuries, or just needs to de-stress.”

Ayurvedic consultations are also offered. Ayurvedic translates as the “science of life” in Sanskrit. The practice is 3,000 years old and focuses on the person as a whole, taking into account things like what one eats, body type, lifestyle, mental state and emotional state. The goal is to bring body, mind and soul into balance.

The Island Heron also has a retail space, which features yoga products, jewelry, books and clothing. “We’re trying to fill it with local artists and products made in Rhode Island,” Steele said.

“We’re here for the community,” Steele said. “We’re going to keep it fluid. We have a suggestion box. If there are classes that people want that we don’t offer we’ll try accommodate them.”

“Our ultimate goal is people’s health and well-being,” Bartley added. “I love the beautiful surroundings in Jamestown. There’s a natural beauty everywhere. We try to channel that energy and bring it here into the studio.”

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