When Corinne Gervai first tried to establish a yoga center in 1999, there were, to her knowledge, no existing studios in Woodstock, although instructors taught classes at their homes. When she finally succeeded in founding Euphoria Yoga, a decade later, it was the midst of a recession, at the end of the summer season, in what was then a sleepy part of town — yet the studio has persisted as one of Woodstock’s three longest-lived yoga centers, while others have come and gone.
Euphoria Yoga will celebrate its tenth anniversary on Sunday, September 1, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., serving snacks at the studio as a thank-you to the many students and instructors who have helped the center thrive. “In this time of screens and phones being so much a part of our culture,” said Corinne, “there’s great value to practicing together and being in community and having an hour and a half when your phone is off.”
Euphoria’s motto, “A Place with Heart in the Heart of Woodstock,” expresses the warmth Corinne brings to her business, with the help of instructor Laura Weiss, whose “loving, motherly energy” has inspired students since the studio opened. However, friends laughed in 2009 to hear Corinne call 99 Tinker Street the heart of town. Coming from New York City, she didn’t find two and a half blocks so far from the village green, but at the time, there were few businesses on that stretch. Now, as the town expands west, the area is lively, with the Station Bar and Nancy’s Creamery next door and shops popping up nearby. Upstairs in the building occupied by Euphoria Yoga, practitioners offer Pilates sessions, acupuncture, and other healing modalities.
Opening in a global recession was risky, people advised, pointing out that yoga classes are a luxury, which tend to be eliminated from tightened budgets. “But I felt in times of strife,” said Corinne, “people would make it a priority. They needed the feeling of community and the relaxing and uplifting effects of yoga. We were very well supported. At our opening, over 100 people came through.”
Corinne took her first yoga lesson at the age of 11. She was more drawn to meditation, but as she took classes over the years, she discovered the benefits of working at the body level. By the time she took a teacher training course at the Jivamukti Center in Manhattan, she was pursuing a career in visual arts and showing at galleries in New York City. “Yoga transformed my life. It released stresses held in my body for many years. It resonated so strongly, I felt called to spread yoga to other people.”
In 2011, when Yoga Journal printed an article on the top 10 yoga towns in the U.S., Woodstock was featured, including the Euphoria studio. According to Corinne’s calculations, “Woodstock came out with highest number of yoga classes per capita.” Each of the three centers in town, including Woodstock Yoga Center on Deming Street and Shakti Yoga on Sawkill Road, has its own energy and stylistic emphasis, offering a variety of talented instructors for students to choose from. Some students go to all the centers, while others stick to just one.
Euphoria began by offering primarily vinyasa flow, a relatively vigorous form of yoga that flows from posture to posture, linking breath and movement. When Will LeBlanc joined the staff, he added the slower-paced yin yoga style, which has become a feature at most studios, both upstate and in New York City. Now Euphoria has four different instructors teaching restorative or yin yoga, in which poses are held for a long time with the help of supports. Kundalini classes are also on the schedule.
Although yoga is an inward-focused practice, Corinne cultivates a sense of community among her students. A spacious side room has benches so people can socialize after class, while providing floor space on busy weekends when classes overflow the main room. “A lot of people work from home and are isolated,” Corinne noted. “Here they are noticed and acknowledged by other students. We provide them with a support system.”