When Chanel Brooks prevented Yoga House from closing its doors after the pandemic, she wanted to serve the Montrose community by making it a beacon of hope. And, that’s exactly what it’s been.
“Yoga House saved my life during the pandemic,” says Maddie White, who has taken classes at Yoga House for four years. “I was so depressed, as a lot of people were, and I had a hard time connecting with other resources.”
She also had a broken leg. She reached out to Brooks, who taught her meditations and breathwork she could practice while healing physically.“
It really lifted me out of depression,” White says. “I hadn’t experienced ‘off the mat yoga’ until working with the mind-body connection with Chanel and taking every experience moment by moment and breathing through it. Every class I’ve taken with her, I’ve tapped into a certain part of myself, whether it’s physical or emotional, and have felt a special release and connection with myself and with the community after class. People from all different professions and ages come there. It always feels comfortable and safe.”
FROM RUNNER TO RUNNING A BUSINESS
Brooks excelled in cross-country running in high school but suffered injuries, because she hated stretching. Her coach suggested yoga. From Brooks’ first class, she recognized how challenging and triggering it was for her.
“In my first yin class, I never wanted to crawl out of my skin so much. The deep stretch hurt me to the core of my belly. Then, I got out of class, and it was a 360. I felt something I never felt before,” she says. “I could see this practice was opening me up … and that’s where my teaching urge came from.”
In late 2012, she became a certified instructor. In early 2020, she was just about to launch a teacher training with Yoga House’s then-owner, Melissa Lowe. When COVID-19 hit, Lowe decided to sell Yoga House to focus more on her family. Meanwhile, Brooks gave birth to her son on February 2.
Still, Brooks knew she couldn’t let what she saw as the heartbeat of the community die. So, she dug deep into her faith and worked with Region 10. The nonprofit linked her with a mentor and helped her with business plans and grants. By August 2020, Brooks and her husband owned Yoga House.
TRANSFORMING INDIVIDUALLY + COLLECTIVELY
When Brooks started pushing the envelope of what’s possible in yoga by introducing Khalsa Way practices to a traditionally conservative community, some people left. But, new students filled classes.
“Khalsa Way is a prenatal Kundalini style of yoga, and it showed me how creative you could be in yoga classes,” she says.
She introduced chanting and breathwork in small, digestible portions, “listening to my audience and also doing what sets my heart on fire,” she adds.
Running the Yoga House, teaching and raising kids kept her busy. Then, her dad unexpectedly passed away in September 2021.
“I was trying to run the business like a generator (which Human Design refers to as the ‘builders of the world’) and not taking time to talk to my dad, because I was too busy,” she says. “It caused me to really pause and see the bigger picture. It woke me up and made me see what I did to him and what I was doing to my kids and husband — trying to be in control and run a business.”
She stepped away from teaching to take time to heal and discovered Yoga House continued to thrive. Slowly, she returned to teaching classes through Colorado Mesa University, allowing herself to be raw and authentic.
“It showed me how much I had to diligently hold my values to be of service and bring value, motivation and inspiration to the community,” she says. “Doing things that align with my values gives me energy back. I learned that my business can give me energy back, as long as I stay in alignment with what matters most to me. I’m so grateful, because I’ve had more opportunity to grow and more opportunity to become more of who I am and feel into these uncomfortable parts.”
She also discovered she’s a reflector, according to Human Design. Reflectors are meant to be the heart of their community, much like Yoga House is.
“I have a gift and a light, so I have to sit and hold that light,” she adds. “I’m creating this light so when it’s dark, people can come and find us.”
Yoga House aims to make yoga available for everyone through events and classes that motivate, challenge, inspire and create community.
“There’s so much stress and trauma given our (universal circumstances). If we can all focus on ourselves on an individual level, then we can show up better for our families and communities,” White believes. “Yoga House just promotes a healthy lifestyle.”
Photos courtesy of Yoga House.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2022 Issue.