Yoga can be life changing. Many people say it. Heather Smith and Ryan Burns live it. They are the new owners of Viva Hot Yoga in Castlegar, and it took only three days from the time they saw the business for sale to close the deal. Many things came together at the right time. Perhaps it was meant to be.
Their journey to owning and operating a yoga studio in the Kootenays began several years ago in Ontario when they discovered the positive, life-changing effects of yoga.
“I woke up one day knowing I needed a change. I was out of shape. I was overweight. I was stressed. So I researched–as I do with everything–what I could do to improve, and I discovered yoga. It changed my life,” Ryan explains.
“Honestly, the first yoga class I took almost killed me,” he says, and Heather adds that the first hot yoga class she took was also a shock. “Then people realize it is great, and they don’t want to stop,” she says.
A couple of years later, they were looking for the right place to open a yoga studio. That business didn’t come to fruition, but the idea of owning a yoga studio was planted in their minds.
In the meantime, other influences were at work. Heather saw the mountains for the first time a couple of years ago and knew immediately she wanted to live in them. Leaving family and friends behind in Ontario, where she had spent her whole life, was difficult, yet something was pointing them to the Kootenays.
Three days after seeing the business for sale on Imagine Kootenay, Heather and Ryan had completed the deal. They took possession at the beginning of April, and now they are busy growing their idea of what the yoga studio can be.
Heather is training to be an instructor, and their goal is to open up the studio to allow other people to use the space. They have already expanded to have seven or eight instructors use the studio to put on the classes they want. They offer non-heated classes as well as the hot yoga classes.
“There’s a really dedicated group of clients here who are very supportive of the change and want to grow with us,” Heather says.
They’ll be closing for a couple of weeks in August to make some renovations and prepare their rebranding. They’ll be starting to offer more retail items, such as glass straws, yoga mats and other equipment, and possibly expand to more nutrition and healthy living products.
“It’s all about overall wellness, nutrition, fitness, community and a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “Keep it simple. Put good food in your body. Move your body.”
Her holistic philosophy reflects the circumstances that brought them to Castlegar and Viva Hot Yoga–everything just seemed right and came together perfectly.