Main Street Wellness Company
Photos by Kara Thorpe
Few forms of fitness have roots that date back over 5,000 years – only yoga has those bragging rights. The ancient practice that includes meditation, breath work, mantras, fluid muscle-building and stretching movements, and poses (called asanas) has had many evolutions and iterations over the years. And Main Street Wellness Company in the heart of Old Town, is proud to be part of one of such evolution.
Studio owner and teacher Gretchen Yahn has prioritized physical fitness her entire life. A competitive swimmer in her early 20s, she has run the gamut of exercise forms with weightlifting and spinning being her two former top favorites. But after repeated massages and active release therapy (ART) treatments, Gretchen realized the work she was doing to improve her body was actually taking an unexpected toll in the form of chronic pain and injuries. Her physical therapist recommended she try yoga to alleviate pain and introduce a low impact form of physical fitness. It didn’t take long for her to be bitten by the yoga bug. At first, she preferred heated vinyasa, a sequenced fluid series of movements done in coordination with the breath. But once she was comfortable with vinyasa, her interest in other forms was piqued.
Many who embark on a yogic journey, find exploring new disciplines and studying the art to be satisfying. But Gretchen is a community-minded business owner who is constantly striving to push herself, find ways to share with others and give back, so her journey didn’t stop at the personal level. After practicing yoga for five years, and learning from friends who have participated in various forms for fitness and other forms such as yin, which focuses on poses held for a length of time to get deep into the fascia, restorative yoga, which helps restore balance to the body, and Thai yoga, an ancient form of yoga massage, Gretchen took the next step and began her teacher journey to become a RYT 200-hour certified yoga instructor.
In 2018, when the historic building on Main Street became available, she thought it would be the perfect location to create a co-operative of yoga professionals and community. “The building has a great energy and vibe, with the exposed brick interior walls and its rich history. People often comment on the energy in here and feel a good harmony in the space. It all systematically came together very quickly,” Gretchen said. She refers to the set-up of Main Street Wellness as a think tank because she feels it is a place where teachers and those who practice all contribute to the direction and flow. “I don’t hold ownership for content dictation, I ask others to come up with unique ideas, unique things that different people of different ages would want. It’s like a consortium,” she said.
With many gyms now offering yoga and Pilates, how is this studio different? Gretchen believes there is something for everyone and doesn’t discourage anyone from doing yoga where they feel most comfortable. However, she feels strongly that in the right environment with creative teachers who encourage students to get out of autopilot, you allow yourself to let go and try new things. The studio setting offers smaller classes and strips away the other pressure of fitness. While yoga has all of the key components to fitness, it is not just a workout, it is a systematic, holistic approach to wellness of the body, mind and breath. Gretchen found this to be a personal journey as she found that practicing in a studio gave her the perspective of taking away the competitiveness of what workouts and what you ‘should do’ every day.
Main Street Wellness offers a variety of yoga classes that include but are not limited to ashtanga, hatha, yin, restorative, chair, and rope yoga. It also offers mat and springboard Pilates. Specialty classes, such as harmonic bowl meditation and an upcoming Solo Jazz Workshop with community member and teacher eWa Burak, are constantly being added to keep things fresh and to offer different options to the community.
Gretchen likes to keep creativity top of mind and recently added her aptly named “anti-slouch asana” to one of her classes to help break habitual habits such as slouching and open up clients to a new perspective. She likes to offer things in class that can be taken off the mat and added to daily life.
Working with and giving back to the community that has welcomed Main Street Wellness is important. Gretchen is an investor in White Springs Senior Living, the new assisted living facility in town and has been working with leadership to integrate yoga into the facility.
“This has been an evolution owning the studio and being around great yogis, going to retreats and creating a sense of community. I have been in Warrenton since 1988, and the community has been very good to me, so I was happy to have the opportunity to do something to give back. This has provided me with a great platform to engage with people I’ve been passing in town for the past 20 years. I now know their names and it makes me very happy,” Gretchen added.
In the vein of giving back, The Karma Club is a discounted class pass for active or retired educators, first responders and active or retired members of the military. This was created to give back to those groups who the staff at Main Street Wellness feels need it the most. There has been a great response from these groups and they are excited to watch this group grow.
Within the Main Street Wellness community is Andie, Gretchen’s sister and right arm. Andie handles the marketing and all administrative duties at the studio. And while Gretchen began Main Street Wellness, she very humbly praises the teachers at the studio. “They all come to the table with amazing years of experience and bring an incredibly broad spectrum of expertise, knowledge, thoughtfulness and caring to the students.
Wellness and community are clearly two top tenets of Gretchen’s life. When you speak with her, you can quickly tell that she is organized, busy and always on the go. For her, yoga has become not just a way of life, but a way to life and through Main Street Wellness, she hopes to spread the message of wellness through yoga to the community.
“Yoga is a reconciliation about where you are in your life and what you can really do in an honest, authentic fashion. And that can change every single day. You feel different every day.” Namaste.