(Yogajournal) – While markets on the coasts are saturated with yoga studios and a variety of healing modalities, yoga teachers and wellness practitioners in Southern states are noticing an unmet need for non-traditional approaches to health.
While the trend in alternative healing and yoga grows (thanks in part to social platforms where 30-day yoga challenges and Dr. Sebi alkaline memes are popular), according to regional yoga teachers and alternative health practitioners, the South has been slower than the rest of the U.S when it comes to embracing new forms of wellness.
I spoke with three Memphis, TN-based yoga teachers separately about their experience working and finding an audience in their region. “There are so many misconceptions,” said Libby Campo of Your Inner Yogi. “I think the large majority of resistance is the fear of trying something new.”
Yoga Teacher Deanna Taylor of Finally Fit Memphis agrees. “People come to the South because it’s the comfort food capital or they come here to slow down and relax,” she said. “So there’s no expectancy to tap into the healing work of the practitioners out here.”
Olivia Lomax of Delta Groove Yoga Studio explained the challenges she faces in the current market in Memphis. “I think it’s mostly a lack of experience and availability [of yoga in the South]. It’s hard for us in the healing arts to be here and do our work, but we stay because it’s so needed here.”
A Southern Wellness Event Finds an Audience
Holistic health practitioner and event curator Jenny Emblom also realized the need for wellness in the South, which became the catalyst for Attune, Emblom’s four-day wellness retreat on the edge of Atlanta. “I was born and raised in Alabama, and I’ve felt called to serve that part of the country for years,” says Emblom. “I’ve done numerous events in Los Angeles and Aspen and got to a point where I felt like these markets were saturated. After visiting the South often, I felt like it was ready for, and hungry for, an event like Attune.”
Emblom is seeing an increasing interest from Southerners in alternative healing modalities. “I think a piece of Southerners being so ready for something like Attune is that the limiting and conservative Southern traditions are now outdated and people are seeking new ways of being,” she said. “Attune supports the paradigm shift that’s happening, and the consciousness that’s evolving.”
Emblom is excited to be a part of this shift. “This is such a prime time to be there,” she said. “And support people in being immersed in a deeper, healthier way of life.”
If you’re a wellness practitioner in the South and looking to expand your community, here are Emblom’s 3 Surefire Strategies:
“I’m a big believer in grassroots methods for bringing people together. I think a great way to do this is to get to know like-minded people in your community and cultivate relationships. Connect with the wellness spots in your city like yoga studios, juice shops, women’s spaces, and conscious restaurants. Once you have that community, you will build those friendships and experience what the wellness needs are. As you build a community, you can explore hosting an event. If you’re not quite ready for that, you can look at community boards in all of the places mentioned above and go to the ones that resonate with you. Or even find a meetup that sparks an interest within you. I think the Meetup app is such a simple and potent way to gather and connect with people who share your desire to live a healthier lifestyle and spread wellness messages. Just go on the site, look up something along the lines of wellness gathering, add in your city and pick a few to attend. And commit to actually showing up!”
Build Your Retreat
“When you’re feeling ready, you can do what I did with Living Wholly, and host your own event. You can start small by having one or two speakers (who are sharing a message you resonate with) come to an event hosted in a yoga studio, community center, or a private home. Invite the people you’ve begun meeting through classes and Meetup gatherings, create a Facebook invite, and go old school by putting up flyers around town. Even if your first event has a small showing, that’s okay. The word will spread and you’ll attract more curious people each time you host an event. It will build.”
Practice Seva in Action
“You can also volunteer at a non-profit doing work that excites. Volunteering will get you in the mindset of service, and likely inspire you to get more involved in the community. One of my favorite parts of putting ourselves out there in these ways is that it all connects you with people who are on a similar wellness journey, and able to provide support and accountability. This can really elevate our goals, hold us accountable and accelerate our growth.”