Staff Spotlight: Studio Manager, Emily Balcke

Throughout the course of my life I have been unbelievably lucky to surround myself with a family who supports me and friends who believe in me. I have worked hard to achieve that which I’ve accomplished, but I recognize the fact that this support and belief is part of what has allowed me to succeed. With a team behind me, I have been able to go out, explore the world, and enter new, different, yet equally beautiful communities. While I have nothing but great things to say about the family I was born into, I am just as proud of the family I have made for myself. I want every person to feel that they are part of a loving, supportive community, and I think that The Yellow Door is striving toward being that community.

            Upon entering, the space immediately feels warm. While it is clean and the center of the studio is necessarily empty, the light coloring on the walls and the corner filled with books and tea help give the space a homey feel. The people I have encountered in the space are just as welcoming. Everyone is there because they want to be there. No one I’ve seen come into the studio does so out of obligation or for the sole purpose of making money. Each person is a building block in the community that the space has created.

            I’ve always been a bit intimidated by yoga because I am not a very flexible person. While traveling, I started participating in group yoga sessions with friends and companions in non-judgmental environments, and found that the benefits of combined mind and body exercise could be felt by even the most inflexible among us. Upon returning to Charlottesville, I wanted to find a way to both replicate the open environments I found traveling and build upon my yoga practice. I have now taken both Healing Yoga and Beginner Yoga at The Yellow Door, and feel that I have met both of my objectives. The teachers at The Yellow Door and the clients that attend the classes have always made me feel comfortable moving in a way that works for me and making mistakes as I learn new movements. Each class I have felt challenged, but not uncomfortable. I have learned new poses and techniques, but never felt that I was going against my body. I have exited all classes feeling stronger and more relaxed than when I entered them.

            Most recently, I attended part 1 of a 3 part Introduction to Meditation series. My meditation background is in the Vipassana meditation technique Anapanasati, so I was excited to learn alternate forms that could expand upon my own practice. I found the class incredibly interesting and calming. Each technique I tried, the instructor explained the science behind what we were doing and explained that if it didn’t work for us that was ok. Participants in the class felt comfortable sharing their personal experiences with the group, making the class into a safe space to test my individual limits and speak about my experiences. I learned techniques that I have since been able to apply to my daily life, helping my focus and my sleep.

            The Yellow Door has a great variety of classes and each class I’ve taken has had a positive effect of my day, but what truly sets The Yellow Door apart from other healing studios I’ve been to is the familiar feeling of community it has given me. I came back to Charlottesville after 6.5 years away, not sure exactly what I wanted to do or what was here for me anymore, and The Yellow Door has provided a space for me to meet new people who have similar interests and views of the world. I have a chance to be part of a new family and help support others in their journeys to better understand themselves.