Make a retreat to new yoga house
- Published: June 11, 2015
To Melissa Herzog, Yellow Springs is the perfect retreat town.
For two years, the town’s hiking trails, unique shops and restaurants and walkability have helped her attract yoga practitioners from the region for the bimonthly yoga retreats she ran out of local bed and breakfasts.
“I think it’s the energy of the town,” Herzog said this week. “You may have only driven an hour to get here, but you feel like you’re further away than you are.”
The former resident living in Columbus is now anchoring her retreat business in a yoga studio and retail space at 125 S. Walnut St. in the rear of Kings Yard, the former site of Atomic Fox, Springs Survival and the Tye Dyed Gift Shop.
The House of AUM will offer yoga classes seven days per week, vintage and upcycled home goods, jewelry and clothing for sale Tuesday through Saturday and regular weekend retreats and workshops. It opens for business Thursday, June 4, with yoga classes starting Monday, June 8. An open house and Street Fair after-party with drinks and snacks takes place 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 13.
Herzog is opening the business with Dayton fine artist and designer Stephanie Gooch, who will focus on creating and finding retail products that fit with the theme of yoga and “energy,” including those featuring sacred geometry and chakras.
“I have an eclectic aesthetic,” Gooch said. A mixed media and digital media artist, Gooch plans to sell her own line of clothing and handmade jewelry along with vintage accessories and home goods and plants. Together they will offer a mind-body “lifestyle concept,” Gooch said.
House of AUM will put on some specialty yoga classes not currently offered by other studios in town, including heated yoga, yoga for men, trail run and deep stretch, biking and deep stretch and parent/child nature walk and stretch class. Other classes planned include slow flow and yoga for kids.
Herzog said she believes there is room for another yoga studio in town and is currently hiring local teachers. She said that bringing in outside yogis is another niche she hopes to fill here.
“I think there is a piece of the pie for everyone,” she said. “I want to work with everybody, I don’t like exclusivity.”
With demand for her “Yoga in the Springs” retreats increasing, Herzog began to explore purchasing a house in town for retreats this spring when she stumbled across the Kings Yard space in April. Over the last month, Herzog and Gooch have transformed the space, while at the same time Herzog and her husband, Paul, sold the bar they owned for eight years in the Columbus area to focus on the new yoga business. The Herzogs hope to soon move to town with their two children, Lili, 7, and Logan, 5.
“Yellow Springs is where my heart’s at — I always wanted to move back here,” said Herzog, who lived with Gooch in a house on South High Street from 2000 to 2003. Gooch also hopes to move to town soon with her partner, Amy, and 7-year-old son, Phoenix. The Dayton resident is also an interior decorator, a bathroom and kitchen designer and fine artist who frequently shows her work in the area, most recently at the Meadowlark Restaurant in Dayton.
A few years ago, Herzog found yoga as a way to balance her life as a business owner and mother. Yoga is a relaxing physical practice, but also a time to let everything go and sit and listen to “what motivates me and inspires me,” Herzog said.
“I came to yoga for the physical practice but ended up staying for the mental practice,” she said. “Yoga is a state of mind.”
Retreats are vital too as a way to “unplug and allow all outside distractions of everyday life to go away,” Herzog said.
“I’ve come to find that it’s so needed for people to take those few days to dive and self-explore,” she said. “A lot of women come to heal.”
In addition to continuing her retreats led by Columbus yoga teacher Anne Harding, Herzog hopes to bring other teachers to town with plans to highlight a different Ohio studio each month. Harding is an inspiring teacher who “speaks to feminine divine in all of us,” Herzog said.
But Herzog especially wants the House of AUM to welcome men to the practice of yoga, who may have misconceptions that they have to be flexible to come to a class.
“You don’t find a lot of yoga geared toward men, but we will be open to men, women and children,” Herzog said.
The House of AUM takes it name from an old traditional spelling of om, a mystic Hindu mantra. As yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar writes in “Light on Yoga,” aum stands for the “realization of man’s divinity within himself.” The three-syllable word can also signify past, present and future, Herzog said.
Above all, Herzog hopes to contribute to the local economy by utilizing the local lodging options and sourcing retreat food from local restaurants.
“We will be using all local businesses,” Herzog said. “I want to make it a total Yellow Springs experience.”