Studio finds 'sweetest space'

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BRATTLEBORO — Ellen Abraham remembers feeling like a flower while doing yoga and turning her face in the sun that comes through windows of 21 Elliot St. in the winter.

"At night, it feels like you're a plant in a heated solarium," the owner of Burning Heart LLC and its new studio on Elliot Street said. "There's something about this room that is just a very special space and I feel like it's the ultimate blessing to be back in Brattleboro. ... It's just the sweetest space."

Abraham said she had practiced and taught in the room over the past 15 years. It was previously home to Bhava Yoga Center.

"So when the opportunity came up to continue the space as a yoga studio, I immediately jumped on it," Abraham said. "It just feels like the ultimate blessing to have stewardship of this space, to have clientele that I had 15 years ago. And we're completely ready and waiting for people who haven't been to this space."

Abraham lived in Putney and ran local studios, most recently Some Like It Hot, for about 10 years. Locations included Brattleboro, Putney and Walpole, N.H.

Abraham later moved to New York City to work for SoulCycle, a fitness company offering indoor cycling classes in the United States, Canada and London. She returned to the area and opened a studio in 2013 in Greenfield, Mass., where she lives now, and then in Hadley, Mass.

The grand opening of Burning Heart North on Elliot Street occurred Oct. 4 during Gallery Walk, the first Friday of the month where exhibits and events are open to the public.

"My journey with Baptiste Yoga started about 10 years ago," Abraham said, describing it as a "very powerful" mix of physical and meditative practice. "It's about creating community. In that space, you can be an advanced practitioner or you can be a beginner. It's really giving autonomy to the student or practitioner to move into their intuitive self."

She said it is an "exciting time" to be part of downtown Brattleboro. For example, she finds it easier these days to find things to eat. Having been vegan for about 25 years, she said she used to have to make her own food to bring when a group would go out after classes.

"Now, it's in the vernacular," she said. "Restaurants are savvy to the needs."

She noted the Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery serves vegan hotdogs and hamburgers.

Abraham said her studios are intended to be inclusive and supportive of the local community, including other businesses.

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"I think especially now, with the climate politically, socioeconomically, it's about connection and realizing we're all people and we all have these amazing gifts and we all have these shortcomings," she said. "And to share space and create good space among the group feels very satisfying, to be part of something, for it not to be exclusive."

Over the years, Abraham has seen the perception of yoga go from a privilege to a necessity. She said she has younger and older clients of all genders who come from all different kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds.

"My intention is to make it accessible to anybody and

everybody," she said. "So if you have a heartbeat, you can be in this room. That's my intention."

Abraham said yoga provides a feeling of "power, vitality, freedom and self-expression."

"It is feeling at home in oneself and grounded and able to do what you're supposed to do on your planet," she said.

Burning Heart's mission statement is "to serve the community, regardless of finance, gender, ability, age, or circumstance. To provide health; through yoga, spinning, and Pilates and other ... forms of movement. To empower every individual through inspired action, so that they can in turn be a source of empowered inspiration. To lead the change, be the change and share the change, infusing the community and the planet with humanity."

Abraham said, "It really is about, like, the religion of humanity versus these individual populations that exist like Trumpers and Democrats. Because we're all human. So it is about getting everybody in these rooms."

She called Elliot Street her "favorite street."

"It reminds me of city living but the ease of living in such a tight-knit community," she said.

Pricing and a schedule of the classes at all three area studios can be found at burningheartstudio.com.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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