Special to the News
Fitness options in Dawson City have long included yoga classes, but as of this month, the town has its first yoga-dedicated space. Soulstice Yoga Studio opened on Sunday, May 8. About 30 visitors came by the modest-sized space to enjoy snacks, ask questions about class levels, and join a free 20-minute hatha yoga session.
The enterprise came together very quickly, says owner Sandy McClintock. From October to April, she and three others were taking a yoga instructor class with Joanne Van Nostrand, one of Dawson’s longtime yoga teachers.
“The business plan began because the four of us were graduating and none of us had anywhere to work. And we all wanted to continue teaching,” McClintock says. “So we had to come up with a plan as to where we were going to go come April after the school was done.”
McClintock took on the task of finding a suitable location. Dawson has a notoriously tight residential rental market, but some commercial places have been empty for years. One was the storefront side of the Aurora Office’s two-part retail space on Second Avenue. It was unrented from November 2013 until April 10 this year, when McClintock and her team moved in.
Until now, yoga classes in Dawson have been taught at the Downtown Hotel, the Yukon School of Visual Arts, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and the Alchemy Cafe, to name a few places. The advantage to gathering in one location is that classes can be scheduled without competition from other rental needs.
Soulstice started with seven instructors who have taken yoga teacher training through Van Nostrand’s Midnight Sun Yoga Studio (a business since 2008 that holds classes locally but does not have a proprietary space). McClintock began contacting other yoga instructors in town to see if they’d like to use the studio. Then more people began phoning her to describe their credentials.
“We’re slowly bringing everybody into the one space,” McClintock explains. “Different teachers mean different styles and different types of yoga. I like that everybody’s all together.”
A registered massage therapist, McClintock has been running her own massage and rehabilitation practice since 1998, frequently as the only RMT in town. She co-owns Pan of Gold, a pizza and sub restaurant with her husband (since 2013) and now owns Soulstice, where she also teaches.
“In the massage place, I teach rehab almost every single day,” McClintock notes. “In the last five years at least, when I teach rehab in the massage place, I will teach a flow sort of series, because it’s easier for people to repeat that than a series of single movements.”
There’s a tie-in to her personal health, too. “I run a lot, but I admittedly am terrible at going home and doing stretches. So a few years ago I would leave work, go out for my run and then run straight to the Downtown and take a yoga class. That was the perfect way to make sure I did proper stretching.
“So it seemed like a logical transition. I do yoga, I could teach people yoga, it would be a perfect additive. But I didn’t know how. So I decided to take the course. And it’s been awesome.”
For now, teachers at Soulstice have offered to waive their income until rent is covered. “I didn’t go into the business expecting that by any means,” McClintock says. “It was a voluntary thing from their side, and I’m grateful.”
In these early days, studio details are available only online, through a Facebook page. It’s co-administered by Krissy Fraughton, another newly-minted yoga instructor from Van Nostrand’s winter course.
“I am more than happy to work for free,” Fraughton states, pointing out that McClintock covers any shortfall on rent and all the other expenses of running a business.
“Yoga is a passion of mine and has helped me recover from a serious back injury almost 15 years ago,” Fraughton says. “Going to classes previously helped my injury, but I would still feel aches and pains. My back has not hurt since starting the program last October.”
Fraughton’s enthusiasm is measurable: she teaches three 6 a.m. classes a week at the studio.
“I really want the studio to be successful, Sandy’s success is all of our success, teachers and students alike. I just feel grateful that we have this wonderful space solely dedicated to yoga where everyone is welcome.”
Meg Walker is a freelance writer based in Dawson City.