Sunflower Yoga blooms in Downtown Springfield

When Becky Smiddy began having anxiety issues a few years ago, her heart would race, and she had pains in her chest. So she began doing yoga and guided meditation.

“I realized yoga isn’t something to be afraid of,” Smiddy says.

Now, the Springfield resident is inviting others in the community to find out how yoga can help them, too, at her new studio, Sunflower Yoga. The studio, at 120 S. Center St., on the west end of the Heritage Center, will celebrate its grand opening on April 1.

Yoga is useful not only for anxiety, but also helps to relieve tension and stress, Smiddy says. It can help athletes who want to strengthen their body or people who want to begin working out again.

In short, it is meant for everyone, she says, and many doctors, psychologists and physical therapists recommend yoga for their patients. Some who try yoga even say they can see a difference in their arm and leg strength after just a few weeks.

Smiddy knows that some people are wary to try yoga, unsure that they will be able to do it.

“I think they think they’re going to have to bend like a pretzel or do exactly what the teacher does,” Smiddy says.

Instead, visitors to Sunflower Yoga can expect gentle breathing and stretching that can be modified for their needs. That includes the option of using props, such as blocks, blankets and bolsters, or modifications to practice yoga while sitting in a chair.

Age, walk of life or physical abilities don’t matter, she says. While some studios may have an exclusive feel, she wants Sunflower Yoga to be a place where everyone in the area can come to care for themselves.

“My goal is to create a place that is accessible to the Springfield community,” she says.

The 20-by-30-feet space has plants and lots of natural light, and she considered the historic nature of the Heritage Center as she prepared the studio.

“I tried to create a space that would complement the historic detail of the building and also create an atmosphere that was comfortable and welcoming,” she says.

The studio has 13 instructors, including Smiddy herself, and will offer classes every day of the week at a variety of times, from before the workday to lunch hours to evenings. Smiddy lives nearby, giving the studio more flexibility.

Among Sunflower Yoga’s class offerings are Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Gentle/Slow Flows, Power Flows and Vinyasa Flows. There also will be a six-week Yoga 101 workshop for beginners, Spanish-language classes, yoga classes specifically for pregnant women and cancer patients, as well as Pilates and Zumba classes.

Smiddy herself found yoga valuable both before and after she had a mastectomy. Knowing how to breath and being able to focus eased the pain during a biopsy and helped her strengthen her chest muscles after the surgery.

Looking ahead, the studio plans to include classes for kids as well as mothers with their babies.

In addition, the studio will have a coffee bar and courtyard garden. One of the studio’s instructors is a Master Gardener, and she and others will be cleaning, pruning and planting flowers – including sunflowers, Smiddy says. The space will include tables, benches and room to eat, read or meditate.

Smiddy – whose husband, David, is from Springfield and is executive director of the Warder Literacy Center – has lived here more the 20 years. Before then they spent more than four years abroad as missionaries, spending a year learning Spanish in Costa Rica followed by more than three years in Chile. The couple has four children, and the youngest - 16-year-old Maisy - designed Sunflower Yoga’s logo.

Abroad or stateside, working out has been an essential part of Smiddy’s life, whether it has been through weightlifting, aerobics, running or creating her own classes.

“It’s always been important to me,” she says.

Sunflower Yoga will celebrate its grand opening from 6 to 9 p.m. April 1, during First Friday. Visitors can see the studio and garden, sign up for classes, and have dessert and coffee. The studio is within the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, so guests also can bring beer or wine, she says.

A previous yoga studio in Springfield closed in 2019, and Smiddy knows that a lot of people drive to Dayton, Yellow Springs or Fairborn for yoga classes.

“Now it’s right here, Downtown,” she says.

Read more articles by Diane Erwin.