Yoga both changed and saved Lisa Fleming's life.
The studio director of Awaken Yoga Studio, School & Healing Arts had a shortsighted view of the practice until 2008 when it opened her eyes to entrepreneurship, helped her get through a divorce and shed her dependence on chemotherapy and a long list of medicines.
"I had always fought yoga — my mom tried to get me to take yoga for my whole life," Fleming said. "I liked going to the gym and (thought) yoga was dumb, and it's stretching, and what's the point?
"I was depressed and didn't care about anything, but I went to the class and had a very spiritual experience. I never felt closer to God than I did in this yoga class."
Lupus developed in Fleming when she was 11, but she hasn't felt sick since practicing yoga. After healing her mind and body, yoga now puts food on Fleming's table. She opened Awaken Yoga, 7312 Center Street, with Jennifer Langsdale on April 21.
Awaken Yoga shares its name with Langsdale's school, which she opened years ago at the Shore Cultural Centre in Euclid. That's where Fleming and Langsdale met. Fleming completed her yoga instruction training under Langsdale and eventually bought One Tree Yoga, also housed at Shore.
The women combined their ideas, created a partnership and expanded into Mentor, where Fleming grew up. Awaken features two studios and rooms for Thai massages and Reiki. Its teachers are a collection of people who work with Fleming and Langsdale at their other businesses, which still operate in Euclid.
"What yoga does for you is it helps you to combine your breath, your body movements and your mind into one function," Fleming said. "If you think about it, if you're breathing, thinking and moving all at the same time with the same intentions, where is there room for stress or trauma or anything?"
Awaken will host a beginner's workshop once a month. That's the two-hour session Fleming recommends for those who are skeptical or curious about the practice.
Fleming's adoration for yoga supercedes any competition within the industry. That's why she advertises other studios and doesn't envision her One Tree studio or any other taking away from what Awaken can accomplish.
"There's people that don't like me or Jen or the way we teach, that's fine, we just want people to practice yoga," Fleming said.
"It saved my life, and I want everyone on the planet to experience it. It's not a competition."
View Awaken Yoga's schedule of upcoming classes here.