The floor-to-ceiling windows inside One Self Yoga offer a birds-eye view of the bustle and activity through the heart of downtown Greenwood.
But inside the revamped historic space, owner Rachel Higareda has created an oasis for the mind, body and spirit. The din of traffic outside melts away in the airy and naturally lit space. Other than some shelving for mats and cushions, and a set of lockers along the back wall, nothing fills the room to distract from the focus on pose and form.
“There was a realization that I wanted to extend to others, that inherent peace and freedom. That is what this space is all about — beyond even yoga postures,” she said. “My goal is not the physical aspect; the pieces of the physical come in and are an added bonus to the practice.”
One Self Yoga opened to the public Jan. 17 on the second floor of the historic former Van Valer building in Old Town Greenwood. Offering classes to meet people of all body types and skill levels, the emphasis is on meeting people where they are, as opposed to slotting clients into a particular style or class.
“The focus is truly making it attainable for everyone,” “I’ve heard so many times through my years of teaching, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough, I don’t have balance.’ So I don’t have class levels or prerequisites.
“My whole goal is to show and embody that the places where the magic really happens (with yoga) is in a place of total acceptance and welcome, and not forcing yourself.”
Higareda started practicing yoga in 2016, and it brought much inner peace to her own life, so much so that she wanted to expand her knowledge of it. She started doing teacher training, mostly to enrich yoga in her own life, as opposed to starting her own classes.
But the more she learned, the more she realized she could help others benefit from the practice.
“The passion just grew from there,” she said. “I went through my first teacher training in 2016, and started teaching from that point.”
As Higareda honed her own skills, she also became more adept at instructing others. She started teaching at studios throughout the Greenwood community, up until the pandemic hit in 2020.
“Even prior to that, studios where I was working at were closing,” she said. “I decided I’d take a little break from teaching, just to get myself recalibrated. I had so much of my identity wrapped into teaching, I was at a loss.”
Higareda continued her own personal training, working online with instructors throughout the pandemic. Reevaluating her own goals, she decided that teaching was an important part of her life, and she wanted to do it in a space of her own.
“I wanted to extend this discovery that I felt, with is that we are all inherently peaceful. Sometimes it’s just clouded with our experience, and we become so wrapped up with things that happen to us in daily life,” she said.
But Higareda wasn’t going to force her vision into reality. She wanted to find the perfect place to house her yoga studio.
After discussing what she was looking for with her husband, she suggested that they look for a potential location for her studio.
“It had to be just the right space. And it would be so cool if it was in downtown Greenwood,” she said. “I’m a Greenwood resident, and I’ve always been drawn to this area. But I didn’t want to force it. If anything was meant to be, it would be the right time.”
Their searching didn’t yield any success initially, and that was OK with Higareda. But the next morning, driving down Main Street in Old Town Greenwood, she spotted a big yellow “for lease” sign in the window of the Van Valer building.
She fell in love with the room.
“We saw the space, and I had all the feels that this was it,” she said.
Work started turning the unit into a sanctuary for yoga. Walls were painted, though the exposed brick was left untouched, a testament to the historic nature of the building. They installed new flooring suitable for yoga practice, and hired artist Carl Leck to paint a long wall to appear to be distressed, with brick showing through it.
“My husband surprised me with it, and I feel like it was such a beautiful, incredible touch,” Higareda said.
Starting out with, One Self Yoga offers a variety of classes to cater to a variety of practitioners. The Gentle session focuses on functional movement, such as landing and resting in a pose, and then returning to a neutral, starting position. Vinyasa classes consist of creative ways to flow from one pose to another, while keeping things light-hearted and fun.
Restorative flow offers a time to recharge, asking participants to hold passive postures for longer periods of time in order to reach the deep connective tissues, releasing any tension stored in the body.
“I’m very intentional with the movements,” Higareda said. “It’s not about even so much with trying to have an end goal in mind. Everybody makes a different shape. So I like to make time in my teaching to get into a posture, breathe in the posture, before transitioning to the next.”
Interest has been building among potential clients as Higareda prepared to open, and she has received a warm reception from other businesses in the downtown Greenwood area.
“Everyone has just been incredibly welcoming, and the support and interest that has been shown by the community is overwhelming,” she said. “I’m moved and filled with so much gratitude to be here and be part of this amazing community even more.”