Each issue we highlight a yoga studio and what they do well. This issue we sat down with Yolanda Imprevento, the owner of Beach Belly Yoga and Wellness Center. She has put inclusion at the top of her studio’s priority list, explaining yoga is for every body, regardless of their size. 

Mindful Studio: How did your yoga studio come about?

Yolanda Imprevento: Beach Belly’s Yoga and Wellness Center came about when my daughter called me in the middle of the night saying she was on the side of the road in the middle of a full-on panic attack. I was able to talk her off the edge that time, and once she got home, I told her to find a yoga studio for meditation and yoga as a way to reduce stress and move her body.

She called a few days later and said she took a yoga class, but felt excluded and would never go back. When I asked why, I knew I had to make a place for my daughter and all who are living in a non-traditional body and those who live in a bigger body, because she felt she did not belong or was not included in most traditional yoga studios. My next class I taught, I looked around the room and realized she was right.

I decided to create a studio for her and others like her, understanding we have to see ourselves and others like us in the room to feel comfortable and included. Even our mascot, Belle, is a big beautiful mermaid reminding us all to celebrate our differences. She gives us all permission to live big, to live out loud.

MS: What was your vision?

YI: My goal is to bring attention to body preoccupation and its detrimental side effects in combating size discrimination. I am an advocate for change and inclusion when it comes to health, wellness and acceptance — embracing our perfect imperfections.

MS: What is an interesting feature about the studio’s design?

YI: We are organic from the minute you walk in the door, from the shabby chic décor to the mismatched teacups for herbal magi. There is a beachy, laid-back feel to our space. Most feel an immediate sense of “Welcome hOMe.” We have built a community that really feels like a family. 

We are a small “yogatique” located directly across the street from Ocean View Beach. We hold classes in the morning for sunrise and in the evening for sunset yoga. We are the only studio in this area with beach-front access, and we take full advantage of it.

MS: What is one key to your yoga studio’s success?

YI: We are free spirits and do not require our teachers to sign a non-compete clause. We encourage them to teach and shine wherever they can. Our prices are affordable. When we said we wanted to make a studio that was acceptable to all bodies, that also meant financially. Yoga should be affordable, so we stepped up and decided to do what nobody was doing.

MS: What is a piece of advice you could give to other studio owners?

YI: Follow your passion, find the courage to step out and shine your light. A quote by Brené Brown struck my heart: “Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear … You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

I looked around and found a space, followed my heart, checked in with what I wanted to bring light to, and it has blossomed into so much more. Our teachers are encouraged to find their own voice, their own way of teaching, without any micromanaging from me. 

The things I love I have learned to leave alone.