Jessica Jacobs was sitting in a circle of 26 women in Bali when she had a life-changing experience.
The now co-owner of The Yoga Junction was told to speak out loud something they were ashamed of that was having an impact on their lives.
“I legitimately had my hand over my mouth trying to hold back from being sick. I couldn’t help it, it just sort of came out. Nobody gasped. Nobody came over to console me. The only thing that changed in that moment was me,” says Jacobs.
“So I never really wanted to be a yoga teacher, like I didn’t get all fired up teaching people how to do a downward dog. But what did fire me up was the possibility of being able to create a space where people could come together as they are, and just sort of be authentically themselves.”
Jacobs opened The Yoga Junction in Airdrie with her partner Tricia McDonald in 2021. The idea was to bring her transformative experience in Bali to women and men in the local community through yoga and workshops.
It all stemmed from Jacobs’ already existing wellness retreat business in Water Valley, AB.
Bringing the retreat to Airdrie
McDonald was one of the first women to attend Jacobs’ retreats.
She found the experience so transformative, together they hashed out a plan to open a studio in Airdrie. Both felt the need to bring a sense of connection to the city after several studios shuttered and classes were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was something lacking in the yoga community when it came to Airdrie. So, we just believed that there was an opportunity for a studio here that was specific to people who have never done yoga before, who have injuries or chronic pain or maybe have been doing it for years,” says McDonald.
“We just wanted to make something that was way more accessible to a lot more of the community. We’re just at that point where we don’t feel like we need to look a certain way or act a certain way in order to practice yoga so that is why we picked Airdrie. We thought that there was an opportunity to grow.”
A growing community
The studio now has more than 200 active members and offers a wide range of yoga classes for beginners and experienced practitioners. They also offer meditation, breathing and drum circle workshops depending on each client’s need and comfort levels.
In an effort to give back to local women, the studio offers a scholarship for free admission to one of their wellness retreats. It is awarded to someone who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend.
Jacobs says creating a positive and inclusive space in Airdrie for people to come together on a regular basis has been wonderful in connecting the community.
“Yoga has been given the image that you have to be doing a headstand underneath a waterfall while pouring a glass of wine while wearing Lululemon. If you can’t do those things and post it on Instagram then you can’t do yoga, and that is not the case at all,” says Jacobs.
“It is really the practice of self-reflection, no judgment, no expectations. Sometimes that means laying on your mat the entire class in Savasana. We are all going through something, and I think to build a community that shows a little grace to that is what we need here. So that’s what we are trying to accomplish in Airdrie, a place where people can come and show up exactly where they are.”