By The Weekender
Juanita Bainbridge walked out of the yoga studio at Embody Movement Studio last Friday looking refreshed and glowing, despite spending an hour with the morning yoga class.
The class aims to energize a mixed level class of beginners and advanced beginners, helping them gain flexibility, strength and deep relaxation.
To The Weekender, Bainbridge is beyond an advanced beginner, as she has been with the studio for about a year and a half.
Before she started with Embody, located in downtown Centralia on Tower Avenue, Bainbridge described her body condition as “stiff.” She suffered from a history of major injuries. Bainbridge searched for a place to do yoga, and landed on Embody with a two-week trial.
“I realized how much there is to moving your body,” she said. “The classes here really get your body stretching. I can do things I couldn’t do for decades before.”
She said 18 months after starting at Embody, she feels better, sleeps soundly and thinks clearer.
“It truly is a place for your body, mind and spirit to strengthen and relax. I recommend it for everybody,” Bainbridge said.
Upon entering Embody, you’re greeted with a quiet hello and a warm smile. The space places a priority on quietness. The first room is the Embody Lifestyle Boutique, offering hot tea and healthy cold beverages such as flavored Kombucha and Kefir water on tap, and a variety of supplies such as yoga mats, jewelry, organic body care and essential oils, natural cosmetics, books, music, and other items which assist in overall health and wellness.
The studio, owned by Christina Wolf, officially offers classes and instruction in yoga, Nia, tribal belly dance and meditation, along with massage therapy. Each week about 40 classes are taught, mostly in yoga and Nia. In reality it offers so much more than an hour of class, as evidenced in the transformation of student Bainbridge. The Weekender sat down for an interview with Wolf last Friday. She was sipping hot hibiscus, licorice root and peppermint tea.
“It’s much more beyond than a workout place,” Wolf said.
Wolf opened the studio in 2013 after a nine-month renovation in the historic building, bringing back the original brick covered in sheeting and the floor with its glued-on carpet. Today the floor is a relaxing, shiny, smooth wood-plank jewel.
The main studio has a high ceiling and more of the wood floor and brick walls. With the lights turned down low, it gives a peaceful vibe, a soothing glow.
Wolf grew up in the Twin Cities. Her mom was the director of the Chehalis Ballet Center, now known as the Southwest Washington Dance Center. Wolf danced at the center, and started teaching classes at 14 years old.
After high school she did stints as a flight attendant where she was first exposed to yoga in Hawaii. She changed professions and earned a business degree from the University of Washington, believing she would eventually go into the family business at the Chehalis Industrial Park. She stayed in Seattle and worked for a digital advertising and marketing firm (her advertising, marketing and website for Embody are top-notch, a reflection of her time in Seattle), making good money. But money was not the end-all.
She made her way back to the Twin Cities after reconnecting with her high school sweetheart.
Over the years, from dancing as a teen to working in Seattle, she became attracted to yoga and Nia. For those unfamiliar with Nia, according to Embody’s website, “Nia is a blend of healing arts, dance arts and martial arts.”
For Wolf, yoga offered a different path toward wellness from ballet.
“It is such a different approach to the body and to working with the body. … I had grown up with performance based and perfecting to form and when I found yoga and later Nia, they are very personal and the practice was for me and not to perform for somebody else,” Wolf said.
At Embody Wolf offers Nia Barefoot Fitness, as described above, and also Nia Moving to Heal, a more gentle approach for those overcoming injury, trauma, grief and short- and long-term illness.
What stood out to Wolf when she returned to her hometown was a lack of a yoga studio, she said. She took regular classes, then training classes. Along the way she had the inner direction to open the Centralia studio.
“This came to me as the thing I was supposed to do,” she said, adding Embody brings a new approach to health, fitness and well being. “ … I just kept listening to what the next step was and I followed that. I had no idea what it would grow to and change people’s lives.”
With about 200 members today, along with those that drop in to a class or two, she said the growth of Embody the past five years — in community support, members and staff — “is beyond what I could have imagined.”
She finds much fulfillment as the director of Embody, no more so than watching the development of members.
“People come to me with tears in their eyes, sharing how the studio has changed their lives and I could not have predicted the influence this has on other people’s lives,” Wolf said. “I was just following my own path.”
V. To give a bodily form to; incarnate
V. To make part of a system or whole; incorporate: laws that embody a people’s values
Embody Holistic Health 2019 New Year’s Challenge
The Weekender’s “Get in Shape” issue is challenging all to consider getting into shape as the new year unfolds. Just in time is Embody’s Holistic New Year’s Challenge — 90 days of fitness classes, coaching, guidance, inspiration, community prizes and fun for everybody.
The Weekender is signed up for the 13-week course. We’ll report back in March. The challenge includes 13 weeks of class and lifestyle challenges to support health and fitness goals, a keepsake challenge passport to track progress, New Year’s Day intention setting workshop, private Facebook group, entry into weekly and grand prizes valued at more than $1,500 and a challenge completion celebration.
If You Want More Info:
Embody is located at 115 S. Tower Ave. in Centralia