When Katherine Austin founded Karma Yoga
11 years ago in Bloomfield Hills, yoga hadn't taken off in metro Detroit.
In the intervening years, as other studios opened and national chains came to town, she built hers into a spiritual-based and customized practice that now has 3,200 clients coming through each month. About 25 teachers lead a variety of yoga, meditation and other classes that start at 4 a.m. A staff of 11 help run the desk and administrative parts of the business.
Austin has done it all from the fairly tight confines of a 1,500-square-foot space on Maple Road and Lahser. The size of the studio was something some clients never let her forget.
"People kept saying, 'You need a bigger space. You need a bigger space,'" she says, laughing.
Those who implored her to go bigger can now say namaste.
Austin is expanding into a second studio on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. At 3,600 square feet, it's more than twice the size of the original studio and will allow Karma to grow its more specialized client base such as veterans and breast cancer survivors. It is expected to open in January at 6710 Orchard Lake Road, if all goes well, she says. There will be a formal grand opening in April.
The space will also have room for its regular yoga, which includes bodywork, Ayurvedic and meditation, and will host community events such as concerts, workshops and retreats.
"We will finally have room to do everything we want to do at the same time," says Austin, who's taught yoga for more than 20 years and weaves her knowledge into client field trips to India.
She says the new location, which she had been searching for for two to three years, really is karmic. Finding a place wasn't easy, mainly because her business is "parking intensive" and building managers and owners weren't fond of that. Or places she was offered didn't have the "light and energy" she needed for a yoga studio.
"It all fell into place very auspiciously," she says. "Where we ended up was really where we were meant to be."
For one, the studio is the same one where she and some of her teachers attended and taught. The experience was "like going home," she says.
And when she began visiting and getting to know neighboring business owners, she says, "They were amazing."
One, the owner of Be Free, a yoga and activewear boutique, will open her store, starting in September, to Karma Yoga's pop-up classes until the permanent studio is ready for business. Another, a new Indian grocer and carryout, is "just the kind of place we all want to go."
Most importantly, she says, she is touched by the chance to counsel more people in leading healthy and positive lives.
"This looks like a yoga class. What I'm really doing is training light leaders. What we want to teach people is when you go home to your family, to your job, we want you to elevate the people you're around, to be the light," she says. "This is not stretch class. We're doing a lot more there than you think."
Austin blogged about "Why Yoga Is Flourishing in Metro Detroit" a few years back. Read it here
Source: Katherine Austin, owner, Karma Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine