Fire+Embers Yoga School in Turners Falls hopes to heal community with free outdoor yoga

  • Mishel Ixchel, center, leads a hot yoga class in December 2019 at Fire+Embers Hot Yoga in Turners Falls, now called Fire+Embers Yoga School. Ixchel is offering free yoga sessions in Unity Park on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Mishel Ixchel is offering free yoga sessions in Unity Park on Sundays at 8 a.m. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2021 4:37:36 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Given the mental and physical toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, yoga instructor Mishel Ixchel believes yoga may be an invaluable, even lifesaving remedy.

As the owner and primary instructor at Fire+Embers Yoga School at 142 Second St., Ixchel felt a duty to give back to her community in the way she knows best. In conjunction with the Montague Parks & Recreation Department, Ixchel has arranged free weekly yoga classes on Sunday mornings in Unity Park. She said this commitment was inspired by a desire to make yoga more accessible to everybody, regardless of fitness, skill level or economic status.

Timing wasn’t quite on Ixchel’s side when she decided to open a yoga studio. What had then been named Fire+Embers Hot Yoga would only exist for three months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown. Once the worst of it had seemingly been made history, Ixchel started to consider the aftermath.

“I just realized how much of a toll the pandemic put on people’s minds and bodies,” she said.

Naturally, Ixchel turned to yoga for its healing potential as an idea to be of service to her community. Although her business is relatively new, she said her passion for yoga began over a decade ago. She credits her experience with it as affirmation of its benefits.

“This is just a simple practice to help people feel better in their bodies,” Ixchel said. “It just felt like the right thing to offer. ... Once a week for an hour feels like a bare minimum for a give-back.”

One of Ixchel’s goals is to make yoga both more appealing and more accessible to the public. In its earliest stages, her yoga school had focused primarily on hot yoga, where the studio is heated to about 105 degrees, and every class session runs through the exact same positions in the exact same order. Ixchel had noticed the public’s wariness of hot yoga. Generalizing the name by changing it from “Fire+Embers Hot Yoga” to “Fire+Embers Yoga School,” she hopes to garner more interest.

In terms of accessibility, she recognizes that many yoga programs are overly exclusive due to both financial and physical difficulties entailed. She feels her free yoga sessions on Sundays should alleviate these concerns by being geared toward people of all skill levels.

The purpose of getting more people involved is twofold for Ixchel. Not only does it expose more people to yoga’s benefits, but it gives her more people to network with, and hopefully convince to join her hot yoga program.

“This is an effort to put myself out there and meet people who might otherwise be turned off by the hot yoga that I do,” Ixchel explained.

Once invested, Ixchel said she hopes community members realize the magnitude of yoga’s power.

“It’s such a cliché that it saves lives, but it really does,” she said.

Ixchel will host her outdoor yoga sessions at 8 a.m. in Unity Park on Sundays beginning July 11. She advises those who are interested in participating to arrive to the picnic area behind the basketball court at 7:45 a.m. and to bring a water bottle and yoga mat.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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