By Kristi Kates
The story of how Tiffany Lenaus Yoga Roots studio began, Lenau says, is a
magical and miraculous story that has its own roots early in her life.
Its also part of the path that led her to being named Best Yoga
Instructor for Emmet County/Petoskey by Express readers.
Lenau, who began practicing yoga 19 years ago when she was a student at
The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor, says her first yoga class was it - an
experience that left her with a sense of peacefulness unlike anything
shed ever experienced.
I felt like I was floating in a yoga bubble, and nothing or no one could
burst the sense of joy and love that I was encapsulated in, she explains.
At that moment, I knew I would be practicing yoga for the rest of my
In the following years, Lenau sought out opportunities to practice with
instructors of many different yoga traditions as she traveled the world.
While studying in New Zealand, she discovered Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (also
known as power yoga) and says she fell in love instantly. She completed
college, attended a 200-hour training session in California, and became
certified to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. She returned to Northern
Michigan and began teaching in the Petoskey/Harbor Springs area.
Today, she has spent half of her life deepening her love of the yoga
practice. I feel very blessed to wake up every day and share the gift of
yoga, she says.
Training new yoga teachers, which Lenau will soon also be certified for,
is the next step in what she calls a ripple effect of creating conscious
change in her community and the world.
Empowering others to teach will be my great accomplishment, Lenau smiles.
While being part of her community and sharing her yoga knowledge with
others are two of the things that are most important in Lenaus life, she
says that opening Yoga Roots was not a conscious decision that she made;
she didnt have a business plan, for starters, nor did she even plan on
opening the studio at all.
Lenau had just finished a nine-day intensive training session in
meditation and pranayama (breath work) when she returned home to Northern
Michigan with a new goal in mind - ending a relationship that she didnt
feel was right for her. Her search for a new place to live proved
challenging; the only place she found was right above a pilates studio.
The landlord had previously suggested that Lenau use the space as a yoga
studio, but Lenau, in the middle of so many life changes, in school and
working, politely declined.
She ended up taking the apartment, and became friends with the landlord,
finding out that shed worked with his wife at college and had tutored his
daughter - one of many coincidences that I ignored, she says - and even
more pieces were about to fall into place.
I had a client who was also a yoga teacher downstate, she says.
Unfortunately her husband got into a ski accident, and she had to be his
caretaker. She showed up at class one day and said she had to close her
studio as she was no longer planning to teach yoga, and she walked me to
the back of her car. I want to give you these things, she said. She
opened her trunk, and there were mats, bolsters, blocks, tables, candle
holders - about everything I needed to start a yoga studio. I was
Lenau took her fellow yoga teachers offerings, but still wasnt
financially able to start a studio; she was still in school, was waiting
tables, and didnt know the first thing about business. The final
pieces, unbeknownst to Lenau, were still on the way.
I got a call from the man I had separated from, telling me Id left
behind a box. It was an old metal lunch box I used to stash tips
in the box had $480 in it. A couple of days later, my landlord called
me, she says, he had been thinking about the studio and wanted me to
start my business. He explained that his mother was a poor single mom and
that someone had once given her the chance to start a small business, and
that he wanted to do the same for me. He offered the space for free for
the first couple of months, putting Lenau on a graduated payment schedule
that would grow with her business. He even offered to help pay to have the
place painted and the carpets cleaned.
Lenau clearly saw where she was supposed to go. She used the $480 to open
an account, called on friends to help paint the space, and used a doodle
of her own (the same tree with curly roots Id been drawing since I was a
child, she says) as the Yoga Roots studio logo.
By the time everything was ready, the studio was opened for business on
November 13, 2007 -- my 30th birthday, she says. I never took out a loan
for the studio - it has been debt free since day one. For the first two
and a half years it was open I waited tables on weekends to support
myself. In May of last year, when Yoga Roots (the business) could afford
to pay me, I quit, and I am now a full-time yoga instructor and business
Good news indeed for the many people who have adopted Lenau as their yoga
instructor. Lenaus focus, dedication, and community interest are just a
few of the likely reasons why she was named Best Yoga Instructor by
Express readers. The studio has expanded, and offers a variety of
additional experiences and workshops from Acupuncture to Qi Gong.
Yoga Roots is a sacred space where people of all ages and abilities can
gain healing, peace, and presence, Lenau says. My vision with Yoga Roots
was community; creating community and giving back to community is
important to me. I wanted it to be a place where people felt at home and
could come to heal. Today, Yoga Roots and Healing Arts is a talented crew
of instructors, therapists, and practitioners, a supportive and talented
group of women who love what they do.
I love what I do, too, she continues, and I feel so blessed that I have
an abundance of what I have to share. For me, leaving a legacy of peace
and presence is my purpose in life.
Yoga Roots is located at 413 Howard St., Petoskey, MI, telephone
231-838-8992; more information about the studio, Lenau, and her team may
be found at
www.yogarootspetoskey.com. Yoga Roots will also expand to a new location
this summer to accommodate their increasing clientele; that space will be