Ravenna – Have you ever tried blowing your nose with a hundred other people? Nope, would likely be your answer. But, if you are Lauren Hellekson, owner of Ravenna’s newest yoga studio, her answer would be yes! Because that is essentially what she did each morning in Rishikesh, India where she trained to become a licensed yoga instructor. Everyone at the ashram would gather in the courtyard and use a Neti Pot to clean out their nasal passages and drink hot tea to prepare for the morning practice. “The Neti Pot is used to clear the way for pranayama (breathing),” Lauren said when explaining the intriguing ritual conducted each morning at the Rishikesh Yog Peeth. An ashram is a word for the center where she trained,  kind of like a hermitage or retreat and pranayama is how you control your breathing. “Prana” means life force and “Yama” means extending or stretching. Hence extending life force or pranayama breathing control is used in yoga practices to better connect an individual with their own awareness and movement for meditation.

Lauren is not a woman who is willing to conform to what others think she should be. “I am the maker of my own destiny,” she said. The majority of instructors train right here in the states for their certification, but Lauren easily made the decision to go right to the source and study her tradecraft in India, thereby gaining an invaluable experience by which students attending her sessions can benefit greatly due to her insight.

It was not a decision made simply in the heat of the moment, but more of a naturally progression to the fulfillment of becoming her own boss. Lauren began her career working in a bank, while taking yoga classes on the side. “I used yoga as my own kind of recovery therapy,” she said of coping with a job that did not seem aligned with someone of her free spirit. While occasionally teaching yoga and Zumba on the side Lauren still excelled at climbing the ladder in the corporate world with the goal of becoming her own boss. But, the ever present idea of avoiding conformity was an important aspect in her life, along with “building something that was all her own.”

After a stint working at a LuluLemon store in Pittsburgh, Lauren met a girl named Nikki Pruss. She sweetly describes Pruss as her soul sister, who discussed India and yoga with Lauren at length. It was one of those deep conversations that spurred the influence and lit the flame for Lauren’s desire to explore what life had to offer. So in August of 2016, after having saved up her finances for six months, packing only one bag and traveling for three days Lauren found herself following a dream of exploration to discover what she was made of and what she could make out of this life. 

After being taught a full curriculum of yoga she graduated from the ashram on her birthday, September 10, 2016. Lauren has roots in Ravenna and that is where she decided to open up her business. Her background in banking had not been wasted; it helped her have the knowledge she needed to open her own yoga practice.  Originally opening her first location in 2016, she eventually moved to uptown and reopened in September 2018.

She recalls it was a chaotic time in her life as she worked day in and day out revamping the space that was to become her own yoga studio at 264 West Main Street in Ravenna. An array of plants decorate the front window as you step inside to view the boutique area that sells distinctly unique artwork, jewelry, essential oil products and yoga accessories. Go behind the curtain into the studio to see beautiful, semi-original hardwood floors, traditional Indian/Asian décor and tapestries meant to enhance your yoga experience and inspire your meditation. 

The phrase “to meet her is to know her” seems to describe this young entrepreneur best as she leads her classes with a humor and confidence that makes all who walk into the Moksha yoga studio feel welcome. As Lauren explained Moksha translates to “breaking the cycle of rebirth.” “When you’ve learned everything you need to from the cycles of lives we live,” she said. This is a part of her training that struck a chord and it seems to be a fitting name for a new business and the town of Ravenna that is currently going through its own rebirth.

Information about classes and services offered by Moksha can be found at https://www.moksharavenna.com/. Call or email for further information at 330-577-4029 or Info@MokshaRavenna.com.