A lady in her early 70s came into Blue Mountain Yoga in Ringgold with one goal: she wanted to be able to get up off the floor by herself.
This is one of the things that excites Diane Ryland about her work at her yoga and fitness studio. "We start with people where they are," says Ryland. "We sit down with them and make sure we understand what they want and need, and we help them develop a plan that will work best for them."
The client who wanted to be able to get up off the floor achieved her goal and still attends classes at the yoga and fitness studio, along with other clients ranging in age from 11 to almost 80.
By day, Ryland works as a nurse anesthetist in Rome, but her enthusiasm for exercise dates back to her childhood and she’s taught some form of fitness most of her adult life, including at Gold’s Gym and Bradley Wellness in Dalton. In high school, she danced with the Miami Ballet Company. "After high school, I stopped dancing, but I got into the Jane Fonda-style aerobics, which involves a lot of choreography," she says.
Blue Mountain Yoga and its companion business, fitWORKS, share space at their location on Millennium Circle behind Cracker Barrel. Between the two of them – and eight instructors – they offer not only many forms of yoga (including Vinyasa Flow yoga, Power Yoga, Beginner Yoga, Yoga for All Shapes and Yoga for Back Care), but zumba, step aerobics, cardio-interval classes, Pilates, barre, line dancing and abdominal-core work.
But Ryland’s heart is with the yoga. "It’s a way anyone can improve their health and quality of life. We have athletes come in to learn yoga to help reduce the chance of injury. For a lot of people, it’s about a more peaceful mindset and way of life."
Ryland emphasizes that there’s nothing mystical about her yoga classes. "You learn how to relax your breathing and that helps you improve your frame of mind, to be less stressed and more intentional about all parts of your life."
Yoga, says Ryland, is something you practice, not something you do. "We help people create their own yoga practice. There’s not just one way to do it. Each person’s goals are different and each person’s body is different. We even offer chair yoga for those who can’t get down on the floor."
Ryland says she had an older couple come in with chronic pain issues, and she was able to help them develop a practice that eased their pain.
"Sometimes when athletes come in," says Ryland, "they’re a little embarrassed, but they end up falling in love with yoga. One person came in and said ‘I can barely spell yoga,’ but she fell in love with what it did for her body and how it quieted her mind."
Ryland’s yoga and fitness studio also embodies her passion for her community. She holds fundraising events for local causes like Bethany Children’s Home, Catoosa Citizen’s for Animal Care, and Ringgold Tiger Band.
"Community is really important to us," Ryland says. "Our classes help create that, where we become like family and encourage each other. And we try to help those in our community who are sacrificing to help others or who are making their world a better place."
Ryland encourages those who have never tried yoga to give it a chance. "Your time on the mat can help you become a more peaceful person. If you worry about remaining functional and flexible as you get older, you want to be able to play on the floor with your grandchildren, or you’re an athlete concerned about preventing injury, we can help you develop a practice that works for you. We have classes for expectant mothers, people dealing with back pain, and lots more."