UPDATE: Since June 2015, Christina no longer owns Harmony Yoga Studio. She’s decided to dedicate her work to acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Harmony Wellness Center. Not to worry, the yoga studio still exists under the same name by two lovely owners, Jane and John Hicks. The same loving and healing energy continues on at Harmony Yoga Studio that Christina originally brought to it.
I’m not sure if you all remember a little yoga studio in a little shopping center on the corner of 1792 and Horatio called Mindful Body of Maitland. It holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I taught one of my first yoga class. Mindful Body closed its doors a few years ago, and that’s when Christina Prieto stepped in. She bought the studio, and opened it right next door to her other business, Harmony Wellness Center, where she practices Chinese Medicine.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching Harmony Yoga Studio grow and thrive since she has taken it over, so I was excited to talk to her about her experiences of owning a yoga studio alongside her acupuncture and Chinese Medicine business. Keep reading to find out the types of classes and events that Harmony Yoga Studio offers, and how it can benefit you and the community. This might just be the place you’ve been looking for…
Monica: What inspired you to study Chinese Medicine?
Christina: Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field. So naturally, I began to work my way towards nursing school and realized very early on that the Western medical system was not my idea of health-care, rather it was more a form of sick-care. So at 21 years old and back to the drawing board, I began searching for careers based on less invasive modalities. BOOM! ⤑ Traditional Chinese medicine hit me like a 2×4 and I never looked back! I’m so grateful to be doing something that I love so much!
Monica: When & Why did you become a yoga instructor?
Christina: Ahhh yoga, my sweet beloved yoga! What can I say?! I went to My first yoga class in 2006 when my personal trainer, Tammy Smith, and I made a field trip to Marilyn Glasser’s Hatha yoga class. Something deep inside me woke up to the realization that I needed more of this in my life, and I walked out asking “where do I sign up for a package?!” The rest is history. So of course, when I discovered that that there was a way to go deeper into this stuff, I did my 200 hours, then 300 more! I had no intention of teaching or especially ever owning a studio, but the universe had other plans for me.
Monica: What motivated you to become a studio owner, and what has been the experience of combining a yoga studio business alongside your Chinese Medicine business?
Christina: Like I mentioned, I never intended to become a studio owner. To make a long story short, the yoga studio located next door to my acupuncture practice, where I was teaching once a week became available. I thought long and hard about it, and decided to go for it. It was a no-brainer to dedicate the time to something that was very close to my heart, and it sure beat the space turning into a kitchen cabinet showroom!
Monica: What were the hopes and goals for Harmony Yoga Studio when you first opened? Is it going the direction you wanted it to, or has it kind of gone a different route?
Christina: My only goal as the owner of Harmony is to hold space so that others might be able to have the personal growth through yoga that I have been blessed to experience. Owning a studio is much like what I imagine having a kid might be like. It has a personality of its own. It has its own karma to unfold, and I’m just there to help guide it to become the best it can be. It requires constant attention and it takes a village to raise it! The direction that I would like for it to go to is simply in the direction of love and healing. That’s all.
Monica: How do you want Harmony Yoga Studio to benefit students? When they leave the studio, what kind of energy are you hoping they take with them?
Christina: I would like for the Harmony yoga to be a place where students can come and experience themselves through yoga. I would like for it to be a sanctuary, a sacred space, where they can come and just be. If even for that one hour to not have their handheld devices, no one is asking anything of them, there’s only the breath and movement. I think more importantly than taking anything is what they leave behind in the process of purification.
Monica: Do you feel Harmony Yoga Studio is different from other yoga studios in the area? If so, how?
Christina: Every studio in Orlando has its own personality, which I love. When I’m feeling sassy I go to one studio, when I want to meditate I go to a another studio, and when I want to see my friends and play, I go to a different studio. That is the beauty of our yoga community! As for us, we are a cozy fireplace, dim-lighting, chill-vibe kind of studio. Generally, our classes are not high-volume which attracts the type of person that really wants to go inward and experience an energy of serenity and tranquility.
Monica: Do you find that your clients from Harmony Wellness get a lot of benefit from having the studio right next door, and from attending the classes alongside their treatments?
Christina: Absolutely, they are a perfect marriage! I do however find it amusing that I find myself hounding my acupuncture patients to come to yoga, especially the ones with back pain, shoulder pain and other musculoskeletal issues. The yoga students, however are all about acupuncture and massage, and are self motivated to try those modalities.
Monica: What objectives or goals do you have for Harmony in the future? What makes you most excited when you think of the long term?
Christina: Of course my goals and objectives for the yoga studio is to be the best we can, to provide high-quality yoga, and to serve anyone that unrolls their yoga mat inside those four walls. When I think of long-term, a couple of words come to mind: impermanence and non-attachment. We are after all in the business of yoga. Because I trust in the most high, I know in my heart that the space will serve the community in ways that I cannot drum up in my own small mind’s imagination. There is a much bigger picture that I’m unaware of and I can’t wait to see what comes of it all.
Monica: How has being a studio owner, Doctor of Chinese Medicine, and yoga teacher benefited you? What have you gained from it?
Christina: Every day is a bounty of rewarding experiences, sprinkled in with some challenges, and then topped off with more rewarding experiences that makes it all worthwhile. As the owner of this place, I’ve gained so much in the form of wonderful relationships, lots of laughter and fun times (like a lot!), and tons of knowledge from the presenters that we’ve had. But mostly, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of myself, a level of compassion I didn’t know I was capable of, a strength I didn’t know I had, and a voice I never heard.
Love & Namaste,