Yoga Melrose co-owners and Melrose area natives, Anne Hoeschen and Amy Herkenhoff-Terres are passionate about building community along with wellness. Stressing the importance of accessible spaces and yoga that gives back, Anne and Amy chatted with me about the heart of Yoga Melrose.
Reeve: Tell me about both your backgrounds in yoga and how the studio came to be!
Anne Hoeschen: I started practicing yoga on VHS tapes 25 years ago. Immediately, I felt like this planted a little seed. I loved going to community ed yoga classes, but I was at the stage where I’d skip out on savasana [laughter]. Eventually, I decided to attend yoga teacher training with Mary Beth Nehl at the Yoga Loft in Wilmar in 2007 and received my 300 hours in 2013. I met Amy while I taught community ed classes and eventually we created Yoga Melrose in 2016! Now, we employ four yoga teachers and two fitness instructors, offer a kids class once a month, and provide specialty classes and workshops like our Restore and Restock class, where all the proceeds go to a local food shelf.
Amy Herkenhoff-Terres: I’m a photographer, and my yoga journey started when my husband told me I should find another hobby besides photography! I opened a community handbook and saw Anne’s classes listed, so I started going – and I signed up for as many classes as I could with her! She talked about me getting trained in 2014 with Mary Beth and I thought it would be a wonderful thing to broaden my life, but I didn’t think I’d ever actually teach yoga. And then a friend talked me into looking at a commercial space for my photography business, but when I looked at it, I could only see a yoga space. I told Anne about it, and she said, “If you do it with me, I’ll do it!” We rented studio space for a while and then found a building for sale and renovated it in 2019. We’d been open there for a year and then Covid hit! It was really hard, but it forced us to learn how to use technology and we still offer some hybrid classes.
Tell me what the heart of your studio is, what you want all students to experience when they come?
Anne: We want everyone to feel like they belong and that yoga is for everybody. Amy and I are ten years apart, among other teachers of various ages. We try to model modifications so students can meet their body’s needs moment to moment, breath by breath.
Amy: Anne does a beautiful job making that presence known, making it really feel like yoga is for everybody and you can move at your own pace. We also try to be extremely careful with our wording, even using the phrase “yoga for trauma,” — we never want to make yoga sound scary or daunting, or trigger people. We work really hard to normalize yoga and however you experience it.
What does making yoga accessible look like at Yoga Melrose?
Anne: With street level entry, our space is accessible for people who use wheelchairs. Prior to Covid, my dad was at the local memory care unit. We worked with the facility to create a special chair yoga class for any interested older adults. Five people participated, including my dad. It was so special to see my dad roll in and take a yoga class [gets choked up…]. They were very grateful and gracious. Missy Frieler, one of our teachers, skillfully integrates her sensitive yoga training throughout her classes. We try our best to help our students feel safe and comfortable as they increase mobility and peace of mind.
What would you say to someone who’s hesitant to come and try yoga for the first time?
Amy: I’d ask them why, and really listen to them. I try to be quiet and give just a little feedback, really letting the person talk it out. Wherever people feel like yoga might be beneficial in their life, whether it’s physically or mentally—it doesn’t matter to me, because I know it works on both those sides. I want to just pull people into it, at least just to get them to try, and if it’s not for them that’s fine! But I just want people to say they’ve given it a chance.
What has been the biggest challenge and joy of owning Yoga Melrose?
Amy: Honestly, the fact that I’m scheduled to show up and teach helped my own yoga practice! Getting to share the experience of yoga just feels so wonderful. Covid was the hardest part so far. We were doing so well before and it’s been hard to bounce back.
Anne: It brings me joy to see how yoga positively impacts people’s lives. It is a beautiful thing to witness, whether they’re our little kids or someone much older. We love to see our local (in town) population/membership grow more.
What do both of your personal yoga practices look like?
Amy: As discombobulated and disorganized as I am! [laughs] I get creative in the classes I teach, but when I’m sick of sitting at my desk I’ll just go do yoga in the grass for a minute, and I usually meditate every morning. And because of yoga, I’m more aware of everything—what emotions am I feeling? Am I angry? What is my body feeling? Being able to recognize that for what it is and that it’s valid and purposeful, that it’s all part of life… that’s beautiful.
Anne: I like to follow Kino MacGregor, she’s one of my favorite Ashtanga teachers who makes everything accessible. Lately I’ve been studying Jill Miller and her new book, Body by Breath. I’m trying ardently to meditate every day with the Ten Percent Happier app by Dan Harris.
What are your hobbies outside of the studio?
Anne: I teach first grade and am a recently retired triathlete. I love spending time with family and friends, hiking, reading, and biking to the occasional brewery. I really love to be active, so yoga (especially yoga nidra) is the perfect antidote.
Amy: I’m an entrepreneur. I also co-own a Montesorri school here in town. And I went to college for photography in 2003 and am still doing it now! I photograph all the sports teams here (and even do some training and yoga with them). I have four kids and I’m a huge homebody! We live on 14 acres and I love to garden! My hands are always dirty and I’m not ashamed of it! Being outside with my family grounds me.
What are your goals and dreams for the studio in the next five years?
Amy: I just love that space so much, and I want people to use it to its fullest potential. And that’s it. Wherever the road goes, I’m very open minded. I want people to see it as a safe, wonderful place.
Anne: Long term, it would be ideal to create more diversity in our membership as we serve our community and teach the benefits of practicing yoga.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.