By Amber Bonem | ArtiZen Yoga, the popular yoga studio over in Newcastle Square in Uptown Beaufort, has had a pretty big change recently as ownership of the popular spot has changed hands with the business being taken over by married couple Christopher and Asmae Inglese in October.
Don’t panic yogis. The former owner, Elizabeth V., will still be there as a teacher and for support.
Chris and Asmae are bringing more than just their yoga skills to ArtiZen. They’re bringing a fascinating background and culture that is certain to enhance the studio’s already amazing environment.
Chris and Asmae met in 2008 while Chris and his father were visiting his sister who had just had her first born son. Chris’ father was asked by a friend back in Charleston to deliver some gifts to his son in Morocco while they were there. They made arrangements to deliver the gifts but the son didn’t speak any English so he brought his cousin, Asmae to help translate. They exchanged Facebook and Skype information, got engaged in 2013 and married in 2014.
Chris is an attorney here in Beaufort and in Charleston. Though law may seem like a big departure from yoga, it’s played a big part in Chris’ life. When he first tried yoga in his late 20’s, “I thought it was kinda weird.” When he was doing an internship in Los Angeles, he had the opportunity to try more classes. He started a regular practice in 2008 and committed to going at least once a week every week. From there, he went and earned his teacher training certification through the registered yoga school Holy Cow Yoga in Charleston. Since then, he has been involved in a number of advanced training workshops that count towards the 500 hours needed for further certification, which should be complete next year.
Asmae has just as an impressive background. Growing up in Morocco, she was always very active, taking classes such as karate and earning a black belt. Before moving here, she was an assistant engineer. She worked with engineers to manufacture prototypes of electric systems in cars, test it and ensure it was safe for production. Because she spoke three languages, English, French and Arabic, she was constantly working with business people from various countries.
She didn’t start with yoga until after she met Chris and he told her how great it was. During their Skype calls, Chris would lead yoga practice and she would follow along on Skype. (Say it with me now, “Aww!”) “At first, I thought it was just stretching,” but then she later got into the more challenging yoga classes. After she took her first tougher yoga class she said, “Shavasana was my favorite part. It meant it was over!”
Yoga made an even bigger impact on Asmae when she moved to Beaufort. Because she was coming from another country, a lot of her education didn’t transfer. Now she was in a new place, new culture, couldn’t drive yet and couldn’t get a job except as a hostess at a restaurant. All of which was very disheartening. She used yoga and meditation as a way to focus and to help her breathe so she could work through such a life changing transition.
The couple started going to ArtiZen almost 2 years ago. Asmae said, “We just loved this place, the energy and how friendly the people are here.” Now that the change of ownership is official, there are a lot of exciting things coming up. Chris and Asmae will be expanding the retail and will be including some Moroccan items, such as scarves, argan oil and candles, along with traditional yoga items. There is a free library for members, and non-members may utilize the library during business hours. We can also look forward to the introduction of beginner yoga classes and a number of yoga workshops hosted by naturopathic doctors, Jivamukti Master teachers, PhDs in anatomy and other esteemed guests.
The ultimate goal, is to turn ArtiZen into a registered yoga school.
The yogi power couple have some advice for people who may be interested in yoga but are a little nervous: “First, I would recommend that they take a beginner’s class and commit to a regular practice of at least once a week. If possible a commitment of 2-3 days or more per week is ideal. Focus on listening to your body which means knowing when to push and when to back off. Instead of pretending to do something because someone else is doing a pose a certain way, just be yourself. Nobody is looking at you. Everyone else is focused on their mat. Number one advice is to just breathe.”
If you’re still a little nervous, be sure to visit ArtiZen on November 12 th from 4p-7:30p for a free community class at 4p. Then after you’ve gotten your sweat on, there is a vegetarian potluck, which everyone can bring food to. They’ll also have live Kirtan music, which is Indian yoga music. Feel free to bring your own instrument to jump in and play! The entire event is kid friendly. Retail items will be on sale and you can enter your name in a drawing for a free 3 class pass!
Salam Aleikum – Peace be upon you. Namaste y’all.
Amber is the owner of GoFlex Training, an in-home personal training service here in Beaufort. She’s a nationally accredited personal trainer through NASM and ACE. She specializes in training the 50+ crowd but loves training with all ages and abilities. Check out Amber and Go Flex Training on Facebook here.