I knew I wanted to open a yoga studio before I became a yoga teacher. And that is the funny thing about dharma…sometimes your path is clear but the reasons either are not or maybe the reasons change. I wanted a Gulf Breeze yoga studio for convenience, I was tired of driving “over the bridge”. Every Breezer understands “over the bridge” because as we joke and make fun of ourselves for dreading the 3 miles of beauty, we all get it. We all know, especially in the last few years as Gulf Breeze has become a busy thoroughfare, that we could easily get trapped due to insane levels of traffic or the daily accident. So, that was my initial intention, to avoid the bridge.
I completed teacher training in May of 2015 and had been marinating in the idea of a studio for almost a year. I was not sure it would really happen. By teacher training graduation, I was not even sure I would actually teach yoga even after the life-changing experience I had just had. My partner knew… she knew when I first brought her the idea a year earlier that this would come to be. We found a location in a space in Harbourtown, a place we initially said would never be a possibility since its walking traffic had gotten so low over the years, and we went for it. Within a month we were open for business and I was officially a yoga studio owner, 5 months after becoming a yoga teacher and I was scared to death as I sat at the front of the room to lead the studio’s first full class.
I am a “Breezer”. I recently celebrated my 20 year high school reunion. I grew up in the Gulf
Breeze community and I run into someone I know just about every time I go to the grocery store. Gulf Breeze is a little microcosm and we like to stay in our sweet little piece of land so close to the beach but it is also one of the most welcoming little chunks of geography. Its like a small town where everyone knows each other.
After we opened the studio, my intention became clearer. I was learning how to be a teacher in so many ways. I was learning to fully embody my practice. I was learning how to run a business. I was learning to stand confidently and firmly on my own two feet. I was learning how to connect deeply with people. One of my strongest intentions when in yoga teacher training was to offer yoga to people in a way that was loving, welcoming and un-intimidating.
Many people over the last few years have spoken to me about the stereotype of yoga and how they can’t do it because (fill in the blank). I wanted to remove the (fill in the blank) and offer yoga in a way that was accessible not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. I wanted to soften the esoteric side of yoga so that the beautiful philosophy could be learned in a reachable way. I wanted people to know that they could do yoga without any knowledge of it at all because they would learn without having to understand it all at once and it would touch them deeply whether they expected it to or not. We don’t always do Yoga, Yoga does us. Opening the studio for me was the perfect way to live my intention. I wanted students to feel the way I feel when I walk into the studio, like they are coming home.
Part of my life in Gulf Breeze is being a mom and connecting to the community. I have two kids in elementary school. I hold a small role of the PTA as “The Cupcake Lady”….I manage the cupcakes to be distributed to kids during lunch when it is their birthday month and I love it! I love being in the school. I love connecting with moms and teachers. I love seeing the cute little kindergarteners coming up for their cupcake having no idea when their birthday is. I love being connected to my kids in this way. As a householder, I have so many duties beyond yoga. My kids argue and I have to correct them, I help with homework, make lunches, clean dishes constantly and take summer vacations to Disney World. I used to feel that being a householder in this day and age was the antithesis of yoga and that I lived a dual life. I realize that my householder life is my biggest yoga practice. That the teachings of yoga help me to live in a more connected way so that I can parent more compassionately, work ethically and live more openly…and this is what the majority of my students, and possibly everyone, deeply wants too. For me, my practice helps me to live sweetly in the life I was given.
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
The excited and nervous feeling of the first day of opening has dissipated, I have relaxed into the role as teacher and owner and feel that the Gulf Breeze community is embracing yoga. Many new students have entered the studio and openly express how welcomed they have felt by the smiling face of every one of our yoga teachers and how that welcoming attitude brought them to a practice that has brought so much peace into their lives.
The connections I have made with the people who enter the studio is immeasurable. I have made deep friendships of all ages and learned so much from their lives. Their openness and growth inspires me. I know that I am learning daily from my students. I may be guiding the class through asana, pranayama and meditation but the energy and practice of the people in the room guides me too and opens me up daily.
I knew I wanted to open a Gulf Breeze studio before I even became a yoga teacher. My intention was to create a welcoming and convenient space for the Gulf Breeze community to practice yoga. What I did not anticipate was how the students would change and enrich my life, the deep connections that would touch me or the sense of peace I would gain.
Kerry Whiteley began her regular yoga practice when she was pregnant with her second child in 2010. In October 2013, she decided to deepen her practice by learning how to teach yoga in URU’s 200 hour program. In September 2014, she partnered with Rebecca Sathre to open URU Yoga Gulf Breeze. At this same time, she completed training in Transcendental Meditation with Prudence Bruns and enjoys incorporating meditation practices of all kinds into her classes.
She enjoys making the seemingly unattainable, attainable and assists students in reaching a place of comfort in poses while also inviting the beauty of yoga beyond asana. Kerry loves spending time with her husband, Tim, who has supported her journey and her kids who inspire her.