By Brett Milam
For Lori Kirsch of East Cincy Yoga in Batavia, she’s in the business of making people feel good.
Kirsch, the owner and mother of two children, ages six and nine, who she homeschools, opening a yoga business on the eastside of Cincinnati in November of 2015, may seem incongruent with its rural landscape, but she said they have a “pretty good following.”
“On this side of the loop, this is it,” Kirsch said, noting that she’s the only yoga game in town. “It’s a bit of a different mark. It’s a bit more rural.”
Located on Highway 32 next to the Dollar General, Kirsch said yoga is about doing good, feeling good and being good. And her business reflects that as it promotes local products, businesses in a community section, has a lending library and leans on a homeschooling network of parents to get the word out and do the accounting.
“I think it’s good karma,” she said.
In 2012, after doing yoga through P90X, the popular fitness regiment, Kirsch wanted to take a class, as she said the difference between a video, like P90X, and a class, is “night and day.”
“It made me feel so good, I want everybody to feel this way,” Kirsch said. “I said I guess I’ll make up my own company.”
Kirsch, originally from Tennessee, who moved to the county in 2005, earned her psychology degree from the University of Memphis, but she always had an interest in marketing, she said.
Then it was Cincinnati Yoga School, where she graduated in 2014, and getting a license with the Yoga Alliance.
“I didn’t think I was going to open a yoga business when I was in yoga school,” she said.
Then someone told her to start teaching classes and so she did, but with humble beginnings: Out of a room in the Days of Wonder school in Batavia.
She was grateful for the help she received there, as she had no clients or advertising yet.
As for the name, well, naming it by the location made sense to her, she said.
“I never really thought that I couldn’t do something because I’m a woman,” Kirsch said. “I have more of a male mentality: I’m going to open a business, so what? If you wanna do it, do it.”
Today, Kirsch has added four instructors and offers a plethora of different classes from gentle yoga to yin yoga to yin/yang yoga flow.
Kirsch proudly showed The Sun a framed letter from Ohio State Senator Joe Uecker, offering special recognition of Eastside Cincy Yoga after its grand opening in 2015.
“East Cincy Yoga is a welcome addition to the area, and this new studio will undoubtedly gain a loyal clientele and earn the gratitude and appreciation of many satisfied customers, enhancing the quality of life within Batavia,” Uecker’s letter said. “The opening of this venture is a justifiable source of pride and an excellent reflection not only on the enterprise itself, but also on its owner, Lori Kirsch, and on the entire community.”
Everybody is helping everybody
The message by the door above the shoe rack printed in black letters, echoes the mythos of Kirsch’s “everyone helping everyone” yoga, “Please leave your shoes and ego at the door.”
“We’re surrounded by awesome people. I have real people coming in,” Kirsch said. “They’ve opened the door to try something new. You’re challenging yourself. You’re still your mind.”
People make friends and even have found dating partners through Kirsch’s yoga classes, she said.
Ultimately, in that way, it’s about more than just yoga. Each yoga session begins with meditation.
“I have people come in and they walk out of class learning out to breathe,” Kirsch said. “In our world today, it’s so busy. I give them a guide sometimes, ‘Notice this, feel this.’”
There’s even a specific meditation class once a month where people meditate for an hour. Other classes include hula hoop, belly dancing and even kid’s yoga.
“I get little kids who don’t know how to do flips or cartwheels,” Kirsch said. “Imagine adult yoga, turn it upside down, that’s kid’s yoga.”
During the kid’s yoga, which involves other homeschooled kids, Kirsch said they play Focus Master, where the kids have to be still and can’t laugh, as other kids throw pillows and stuffed animals at them.
If they don’t laugh, they get a certificate for being a Focus Master.
Much like the adults in her classes, Kirsch said the goal is to teach them how to breathe, which can even help them to go to sleep at night.
Kirsch’s husband, who works at the local library, also gets involved at the studio by offering Reiki treatments, a Japanese healing therapy.
Her husband adds three children to the mix.
“We juggle it pretty well,” she said. “He’s a very relaxing, calm person.”
The studio itself is decorated with lights overhead to set the mood and Buddhist-inspired tapestry hanging on the walls and even paintings done by Kirsch’s step-son.
One of those paintings is the seeing hand with the quote above it, “Yoga is the journey of the self through the self to the self.”
At the moment, Kirsch is fine with where she’s at as a business, saying she takes it one day at a time. Even so, she’s happy to see how far the business has grown in just the past two months.
“I’m in year two, I don’t want to shoot too high. Keep going with the flow. I would love to say in five years I’m maxed out here. I’m a little limited right now,” she said. “My first job is to homeschool kids.”
As the kids get older, Kirsch said maybe another location in Amelia could happen. Another goal: Open a yoga School.
“That would be nice,” she said, about the Amelia idea. “I try to keep the Yogi mind with a lot of things,” she said.
It’s not a big corporation or company, Kirsch said, it’s personalized.
“I know everybody,” she said. “People open up. You’re not just coming here to work out.”
Kirsch offers a membership at $65 a month and individuals classes at $15, but she said she wants it to fit the person’s lifestyle, however many times they need or are able to come in a week.
“Before you make a commitment, you should try it out,” Kirsch said, which is why the first yoga class for people coming to her studio is free. “I feel strongly about trying something first. There is no hard sell.”
On April 30 at the studio, Kirsch is hosting a Holistic Wellness Fair, which is free to get into.
“I wanted to keep it friendly, open,” she said.
The fair will be from 12 to 4 p.m. and feature over 15 local healers, workshops, demonstrations and other holistic services, like tarot card readings, animal acupuncture and sound therapy.
Those interested in learning more about the yoga studio can visit their site at www.eastcincyyoga.com or on Facebook at EastCincinnatiYoga.