Blog: How I'm getting to know Fort Wayne through its yoga community

When I moved to Fort Wayne almost a year and a half ago, becoming a yoga teacher was not part of my plans. 

Neither was the global pandemic, or a quarantine that made meeting people in a new city all but impossible. 

Yet, all of this led me to take my first class at Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne on a weeknight last summer, because, well, what else did I have to do? That class set into motion what would soon become an entirely new community for me in Fort Wayne, and later, a new hobby as a certified yoga teacher.

Inside the studio at Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne.

Yoga wasn’t new to me before my first class at Baptiste; in fact, I had been practicing on and off for about eight years in studios all around the country. What was new to me, though, was going to a studio where the teachers make an effort to get to know the students and create a truly welcoming environment. 

This was the catalyst for me to find my place in my new city. I started to get curious: Is my experience just luck or quintessential Fort Wayne? The more I look for yoga and community in Fort Wayne, the more I’m surprised by the breadth of offerings here.

Let's start with my introduction to Fort Wayne’s yoga scene at Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne, a studio Sarah Evans and Leslie Williams opened in June 2019.

Sarah Evans and Leslie Williams are the owners of Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne.

“Somebody once told me that any place where three rivers come together is a powerful energy source,” says Evans. “I love Fort Wayne because I do feel like there’s good energy here. The people here are very much about community, and Baptiste Yoga is so rooted in community.”

Located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne on Lafayette St., Baptiste has grown into a place for new and experienced yogis alike.

“It’s so fun to find people who don’t know what yoga is at all, and then you teach them something, and they’re like ‘What? Breathing like this can affect how my brain works?’ It’s just that 'aha' moment that people get when they’ve never experienced something before,” says Evans. “I love that. I think every time that happens, and someone’s life is changed forever, what a gift that is to give to somebody.”

Leslie Williams and Sarah Evans are the owners of Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne.

In addition to the yoga studio, Evans also has a nonprofit, 3 Rivers Yoga Foundation. 3 Rivers aims to create community through yoga, making it accessible to anyone regardless of income level, body type, or age. A cornerstone of the nonprofit is the donation-based Friday night community class that’s held at the Baptiste studio.

“What I hope is that it continues to get really diverse down here,” says Evans. “I hope the studio is a place to create leaders in the community through action, using Baptiste yoga as the source, leaving our community, and the people that come in the space, better than we found them.”

Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne at 1301 Lafayette St.

After getting connected with Baptiste, I wanted to continue down the rabbit hole and find out what yoga looks like in other parts of Fort Wayne. I was curious if the sense of community I found at Baptiste was a pillar for other studios in town, too.

I decided to try Fusion Yoga, a studio on West Jefferson Blvd. that has been open since 2016. Co-owners Celeste Sexton and Meg Heminger have built Fusion into a space with an expansive range of class offerings.

The Co-owners of Fusion Yoga in Fort Wayne, Celeste Sexton and Meg Heminger.

“Having all of the teachers and all of the different venues of yoga has made us successful in that people can come here and find their niche,” Heminger tells me as we sit in Fusion’s sun-filled lobby. “It doesn’t all have to be power, it doesn’t all have to be fitness. There really is something for everybody.”

Fusion Yoga has also branched out into retail, selling yoga products from brands like Lululemon and Free People. Their retail offerings are growing, too, with plans for nine new labels to join the space.

The lobby of Fusion Yoga at 6382 W. Jefferson Blvd.

As we talk in the lobby, the sound of a doorbell fills the space each time someone walks in the front door. I’m reminded of being at a friend’s house.

“I know from taking yoga several different places, it can be intimidating to walk into a yoga studio when you don’t know anyone,” says Heminger. “So we really have just established that sense of community, and we are very welcoming to all levels.” 

The lobby of Fusion Yoga at 6382 W. Jefferson Blvd.

I did know what she was talking about. After all this time, I still get nervous when I’m taking a class at a studio for the first time. I tried a Flow Yoga with Meditation class at Fusion a few days after meeting Heminger, and found the welcoming environment that she told me about to be true.

Elsewhere in Fort Wayne, Jennifer Fremion, a registered nurse and yoga teacher, is bringing an entirely different type of yoga to Fort Wayne--and outside of it.

Five years ago while Fremion was working at Fort Wayne Oncology and Hematology as a chemotherapy nurse, she started to see how it made sense to incorporate yoga with cancer treatment. She then created a yoga for cancer program to combine western medicine with eastern healing modalities to help cancer patients with symptom management and emotional support. 

“I was teaching live classes at the outpatient cancer center, and then moved those classes to my studio because the classes outgrew our space at the hospital. I started to realize that these classes needed to be expanded beyond Fort Wayne because I could only reach so many patients locally,” says Fremion. “It occurred to me that I could take this online and make these therapies available to more patients in need. That’s where Integrative Cancer Therapy was born.”

The Healing Room offers sound healing, kundalini yoga, and other workshops.

Integrative Cancer Therapy is a medically supported online program for cancer patients that provides access to yoga therapy, yoga, guided meditations, and sound healing to help with side effects and symptoms related to cancer treatment. The program launched in early 2021 and is designed to be online so patients can access it whenever they need it. 

“I had someone ask me recently if I was able to capture online what we were able to do in live class, and I feel like online is better,” says Fremion. “Students have been saying ‘It’s like having you right in my living room,’ or ‘I have these practices right at the moment when I need them.’ That’s what’s brilliant about it, because patients have 24/7 access to these therapeutic practices whenever they need them.”

The Healing Room is located at 6202 Constitution Dr.

Fremion also has a studio in Fort Wayne, The Healing Room, where she leads sound healing, kundalini yoga, and other workshops. The studio is reopening for community classes in May. 

“It’s such an amazing array of people from all walks of life,” Fremion says of her community at The Healing Room. “We meet and have the alchemy of yoga, sound therapy, reiki, and many other offerings. I’m a huge proponent of self-care. It’s so important for us to take time daily for ourselves. After our workshops, students are able to take the tools they’ve practiced to use in their daily lives and to share with family and their communities.”

I’m excited to attend a class at The Healing Room when it reopens and to continue exploring the range of yoga that Fort Wayne has to offer. 

Community is a constant in Fort Wayne, and it’s ever-present in the yoga scene, too. If you’re willing to look, there’s something here for every type of yogi, and someone who wants to help you find it.
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