Arts & Features Staff Writer
The sun filters down through the trees as Lindsay Coward pulls into pigeon pose, practicing yoga in her front yard. This spot on the lawn presents a perfect patch for front-yard yoga, one of the services offered through Coward’s business Yoga Nut.
“We’re a traveling yoga business,” Coward said of her Asheville-based organization Yoga Nut. “Even though there’s so much yoga in Asheville, I still feel the need to meet people where they are. I want to meet you where you go, go there, and bring my stuff and just be ready to meet the community. That’s my goal.”
Yoga Nut differs from a traditional yoga studio in it’s nomadic element, tailoring classes to meet the time-related needs of all participants. With Yoga Nut, Coward hopes to make yoga available to the Asheville community regardless of busy schedules.
“Yoga Nut travels in the sense that I offer community classes and pop-up classes at local businesses as well as work-site wellness, going to different businesses and having yoga classes or meditation classes,” Coward said. “I also do special events like bachelorette parties, as well as private yoga or couples yoga.”
Aeroflow Healthcare, an Asheville-based medical equipment supplier, brings Coward in for work-site wellness yoga regularly.
“We invite Lindsay in three to four times a year and I look forward to each session,” said Katie Combs, a business operations analyst for Aeroflow. “She’s constantly learning herself, so she always has something new to offer.”
Alex Headrick, the shipping coordinator for Aeroflow Healthcare, also spoke highly of Lindsay’s classes.
“I have not taken many yoga classes in the past but I found her class to be very relaxing as well as physically and mentally strengthening,” Headrick said. “Lindsay does a great job at encouraging you to listen to your body.”
Beyond solely time-related restraints, Yoga Nut also works to accommodate all levels of physical ability through smaller, hands on classes.
“I like giving options during class for beginners up to advanced, so whoever comes to a class can make it what they need and what they want that day. No fuss, I’m not going to be offended if you skip a pose or are just laying on the mat in savasana before we get there. That’s me seeing you honoring your body and I appreciate that,” Coward said. “There’s a way to accommodate anyone really—I once taught yoga to someone that had a cast on his leg! Yoga can be for really anything so that’s what I like about it, it can be tailored to any body type, any ability.”
For Headrick, Coward’s class proved especially beneficial under her circumstances.
“Lindsay offers a standard yoga class that incorporates many styles. She has done a great job at tailoring the classes to fit my needs because I am now 29 weeks pregnant,” Headrick said. “I can’t wait to have more classes with Lindsay in the future.”
For Coward, yoga acts as a source of release from the stresses of everyday life, as well as a way to keep her body active and healthy. It wasn’t until her years at UNC Asheville that she had the opportunity to try yoga.
“My first experience in yoga was actually at UNC Asheville as an undergrad, they had a free nighttime class” Coward said. “For me, yoga was something I’d heard of but never had the opportunity to try, so I started going to the class just as I could and kind of fell in love with the movements. It just kind of helped me relax my body and mentally as well to be more focused and it gave me something to look forward to at the end of the day.”
Coward’s experience with the liberal arts at UNCA was one of the kickstarters for pursuing yoga as a career. As a psychology major, Coward found a passion combining physical and mental health through yoga.
“It was great that I was able to connect that lifestyle and wellness side through psychology because there is definitely a connection there,” Coward said of her time at UNCA, where she also participated in many health and wellness classes. “Depression and anxiety, those things are definitely linked to your lifestyle and health is such a big part of that. Yoga is a good way to get involved with that, because yoga brings you into that new lifestyle of thinking about how you can relax your body and how you can stretch it. You get a lot of benefits from yoga, from cardiovascular to helping you sleep at night! It’s just a passion for me to help people be more healthy.”
Following her graduation from UNCA, Coward took on an office job working more than 40 hours a week. Yoga soon became her release from the stressful environment.
“I took a job that was sedentary in an office, 40 or more hours a week in front of a computer. My body felt very stiff and uncomfortable and I just hated the environment,” Coward said. “I found a person that taught small group classes in the community that I lived in so I started taking yoga from her and I just loved her small group approach.”
Before long, Coward describes feeling called toward teaching yoga herself.
“I kept hearing almost a whisper in a sense that was like ‘you should teach yoga’ because it just helped me so much,” Coward said. “I always felt a passion to share it with others, so I ended up going to Savannah, Georgia for yoga school. After I graduated I started teaching in the community; I taught a class at a community college so anybody could take the class, then I taught at a wellness government office doing weekly yoga and I taught at churches in the area. My whole goal was always to bring yoga to the community.”
With her goal now in action, Coward single-handedly runs Yoga Nut out out of her home in Asheville. She describes her father as an inspiration behind following her passions and being an entrepreneur.
“My dad worked full time but on the side he opened his own business when I was a kid,” Coward said. “I remember him taking a big leap from a full time job to his own thing and I think that helps seeing someone else do that and be an entrepreneur. Even though it’s scary knowing someone who has done that and really listened to their passion is helpful, it’s inspiration.”
Through Yoga Nut, Coward hopes to take a truly healing and relaxing approach to yoga. With her specialization in Hatha yoga, Coward hopes her yoga classes will help participants find a similar release in yoga.
“The main focus of yoga is really being aware of your body, honoring your body and honoring where you are each day,” Coward said. “Yoga is all about noticing where you are each day and honoring that and just really being ok with it. Some days we’re rockstars and some days we’re tired, life just got to us! I guess I just come to yoga in that perspective of noticing your body.”
Ultimately, Coward hopes that Yoga Nut will provide a service that will not only benefit customers while they work in class, but provide them with skills they can take into their daily lives.
“We hold muscle memories in our bodies so it’s kind of like when you learn to play the piano or ride a bike, you practice it over and over again until one day you sit down and play the keys or just ride your bike all over town,” Coward said. “Yoga is the same way, the more you practice the poses the more your body knows where it’s going. It’s like being able to come home to yourself and to your mat.”