“Downtown for a Reason”
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Yoga is a form of exercise that involves restorative stretching and strength building postures. At Samsara Yoga Center on 113 E. Second Street in Jamestown, it’s also a way for those who practice it to experience personal growth, acceptance, and community.
Karen Hansen is one of the owners and describes the mindful teacher as someone who brings the student back to their own restorative experience. “It’s about recognizing yourself and giving yourself space,” she explains. The word “Samsara” relates to the practice of letting go of bad habits.
Hansen is a highly accredited yoga teacher who owned a studio previously. She teaches at Samsara, at Chautauqua Institution in the summer, and in private sessions. She began talking to friend Kristina Benson about yoga philosophy and the business of a yoga studio, and together they developed the idea of Samsara. “We are in the center of town for a reason,” Hansen said, “we want to be accessible to the community.”
The class schedule is well rounded to meet a variety of needs. “We have everything from laid-back restorative yoga to practice for physical fitness.” Hansen explained. Chair yoga is available to accommodate bigger bodies and those with disabilities.
Volunteering, Hiking, and More.
The yoga teachers are active in the community and in other organizations. Andrea DiMaio found strength through her yoga practice and began working for Ample Movement, a hiking and adventure group for those with marginalized bodies. “I hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro in March and am hoping to hike in Peru next year,” DiMaio said.
Kristina Benson, co-owner, gives back to the community by teaching yoga at the county jail during a time called “Mindful Mondays.” She has a passion to help women transition and build a new, positive community. Helping to run the business side of the studio, she emphasizes that everyone is welcome, including men. “It feels really positive,” Benson says.
Kara Bemis is another talented teacher who’s spent over a decade developing her yoga practice and has a long list of credentials, including time spent teaching internationally. With expertise in Hatha Yoga, Bemis pays attention to each student’s posture; her personal direction in improving the alignment of the body creates a great experience for anyone looking to find deep relaxation.
Another passion of this women owned business is to give back by offering free yoga events and donating the proceeds to other grassroots organizations. Since opening last November they’ve raised money for the Renew Center, the Audubon Community Nature Center, and St. Susan’s. The women agree, “Jamestown is truly rising and becoming a different place, and we want to support that.”
Classes are held Monday through Friday, with two to three offerings a day ranging from beginning yoga to yoga for athletes. The sessions are small and personal and can be booked online. Drop-in price is $15; $10 for students and seniors. www.samsarayogacenter.com