Yoga in unexpected locations | SierraSun.com

Yoga in unexpected locations

Allison Reitz is an audio engineer and yoga instructor who saw a need to make yoga both more accessible and more affordable to the people in her community.

"I'm an audio engineer, which has nothing to do with yoga, but I've always loved yoga and so last year I did my teacher certification in India," Reitz said.

Upon her return, Reitz began teaching classes and says she noticed some things in the industry that she wasn't happy with and wanted to change.

"Statistics show that the biggest barriers keeping people from coming to yoga are the cost of the classes and the feeling of exclusivity when going to a studio. So, I decided to start a class at a local coffee shop and we had people who were brand new to yoga, who told me they wouldn't have ventured to a studio," she said.

Reitz created a community calendar where people could find free or donation-based, local, fun classes and pretty soon Community Yogi was born.

"It's yoga for everyone," she said.

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"The idea is that every class we offer is welcoming for beginners, like anyone could come to our classes and feel comfortable and like they're part of it," Reitz added.

Community Yogi connects certified instructors with creative local spaces to provide weekly classes and gatherings in Reno and Carson City.

Their mission is to share the transformational power of mindfulness with the community.

Another issue Reitz saw was difficulty for yoga instructors to find spaces to hold their classes.

"Basically, Community Yogi is a tool for teachers to start their own classes in the community without having to do it alone. We provide instructors list of places who've donated their space. The teachers and the spaces get connected, the class gets planned and goes onto the schedule. Students find the classes online that they want to go to and can pay beforehand or pay there," Reitz explained.

In order to make this initiative accessible to everyone, Community Yogi students can choose their price for every class offered, and can even try yoga and meditation for free.

Reitz presented her business during the recent Women as Change Makers business summit during a pitch showcase.

Founder Jen Gurecki said she shows promise as a young business owner and applauded her character.

"You see plenty of good business ideas in pitch competitions, but not all entrepreneurs have a clear plan on how to execute effectively. Allison had the right mix of drive, creativity, and skill to transform her idea into a viable, scalable business. Her passion was contagious and she made the audience (and obviously the judges) want to be part of her team," she said.

Reitz is currently working on expanding her current software and plans to offer this yoga service in North Lake Tahoe, and beyond.

By automating her current system, she will be able to scale Community Yogi to reach more cities and can support an almost unlimited number of teachers who want to use the platform.

"I'm hoping to have the software finished by spring or summer of next year; it'll probably take about six months to build it and before we build I need to raise money. Once we have the software, I'm planning to grow using an ambassador program and hopefully by 2019 we will be in 20 cities," Reitz said.

Instructors can complete a form on the website to become involved in the program and students can access the weekly calendar with the entire class schedule right on their site's homepage.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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