Finding balance through practice
Water skiing performer opens local yoga studio
March 1, 2017
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Crystal Voigt’s four-years of performance for the Janesville Rock Aqua Jays water ski team ended after she suffered a back injury in 1996.
In hopes of regaining her balance in life, she became inspired to begin practicing yoga.
Her newfound hobby gave her the chance to recuperate from her injury, and she was able to return to water skiing. She has since competed for Team Belgium at the bi-annual water skiing world tournament in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
After seven years of teaching yoga privately to clients, Voigt opened her own yoga studio in Whitewater, finally taking the first step towards achieving her dream job—teaching yoga on a tropical island where there is no winter weather.
Youphoria Yoga, located at 149 W. Main St., opened its door to the community on Jan. 16. Youphoria Yoga offers hour-long sessions for Yoga, Pilates, Piyo and Reiki healing.
On opening day, Voigt led yoga practice promptly at 8:30 a.m., in the midst of a bitter ice storm. The session yielded a high turnout of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students and community members, some of whom were Whitewater High School teachers that had the day off due to inclement weather.
Voigt’s first experience with practicing yoga was watching a VHS tape in her living room—an experience she describes as a total throwback.
“I never really noticed improvement until I started taking progress photos,” Voigt said. “I still struggle with some poses—anything like balancing on my hands.”
Her advice for beginners: Keep trying.
“You always have to practice to get better,” Voigt said. “That’s why it’s practice and not a ‘yoga perfect.’ I just have to remind myself to keep working on it.”
Yoga provides many benefits, such as balance training, flexibility improvement and stress relief.
The UW-Whitewater fitness center also offers yoga and Pilates classes for students.
For some, an additional benefit to visiting a downtown yoga studio is having the chance to get off campus for an hour practice session.
“It lets you get away from the university atmosphere,” sophomore Morgan Jefferson said. “You’re able to escape from being a college student for a second. The difference of atmosphere is good to get a break. Students looking for an escape from school can find a safe haven.”
Jefferson said she has practiced yoga for two years. She attends sessions in her hometown as well as in Whitewater. She said practicing yoga in a studio setting is more structured than on her own.
Despite stereotypes about yoga, the hobby is not limited to women.
“There’s a stigma about yoga that it’s a girly thing, but I don’t think it should be thought of that way,” Jefferson said. “Anyone can do it. The studio is very welcoming to everyone.”
Attendees have come from mostly within Whitewater and the surrounding communities. Some men will attend sessions with their wives or girlfriends, with some others coming alone.
“It’s been very well received by the community,” Voigt said. “There’s all kinds of different age groups coming in. It’s been wonderful to watch the studio grow.”
Jefferson said she enjoys going to yoga practice off-campus because it allows her to support local businesses while learning more closely from an instructor.
“Crystal is amazing, “Jefferson said. “She has a lot of knowledge to share.”
The name of the business was a borrowed idea, Voigt admitted.
Several friends donated yoga mats to Voigt, who took inspiration from the specific brand of mats: Youphoria Yoga. Voigt reached out to the company in hopes of borrowing their name with the company’s permission, and her request was granted. The company had been looking into sponsoring a business dedicated in part to Reiki healing for some time, and found a contender in Voigt.
“We set our goal to branch out into the healing realm,” Voigt said. “Healing for yoga is the mind-body connection. We’re often too focused on other things in life that we forget to take time for ourselves.”
Voigt said she is hoping to hold outdoor yoga classes in the future, as soon as she finds a suitable location.
“I would teach yoga outside year-round if it was an option,” Voigt said.
Despite her own allergies, Voigt said she would like to open a second studio where people could practice yoga in the presence of cats. This would require a separate studio, because she does not want to exclude some members whom are allergic.
Voigt holds a certificate for completing 200 required hours of yoga exercises. She has worked with the Vince Lombardi cancer clinic in Elkhorn and has taught yoga privately to various individuals since 2010.
“Every day there’s a reason for me to go home and say, ‘wow,’” Voigt said. “It’s such a rewarding job.”
Voigt said her most memorable experience was practicing yoga with a client who has become a close friend, Jaci Bever.
When their private sessions began, Bever was pregnant with her first child. Voigt worked on pre-natal yoga with Bever during two pregnancies, and Bever’s young daughter and son both practice yoga with their mother.
Bever said her children find it difficult to manage a full hour-long session, but they see her passion and want to share it with their mother.
Voigt’s own children practice yoga regularly either with her or on their own as well. She has two step-daughters and a biological son.
“I had never been introduced to yaga before, and she [Crystal] really helped me to develop the passion for it,” Bever said. “She challenged me to try new things and see what my body could do.”
Bever added that the private yoga sessions—affectionately called a circus after her children joined in—were more customized than in a large group.
“It could depend on what I was feeling that day,” Bever said. “In the pre-natal stages, I could do recovery classes if I couldn’t move around much that day.”
Now that Voigt has her own studio, Bever, a Burlington resident, said she plans to attend classes in Whitewater.
“Crystal is extremely good at what she does,” Bever said. “Even if she hasn’t mastered a pose, she can still walk you through it and teach it to you. She is good at helping you to push yourself to get better. She’s able to bring that passion out in you.”