LUMBERTON — A high school principal by day and a yoga instructor by night, Melissa Flowers says yoga erases the stress and makes her mentally and physically stronger.
“Yoga prepares me for the real world,” said Flowers, owner of the Little Yoga Studio in Lumberton. “I bring the real world to my mat.”
The Rowland native began practicing yoga in 2006 after she injured her hip while running. She had been athletic her entire life and saw yoga as a way to stay active.
“I cannot put in words how it made me feel, but I do know, from the very beginning, that it was the best that I had ever felt,” Flowers said.
Yoga, which means “union,” is a centuries old physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India to gain a state of peace. Practiced by athletes, children and seniors, yoga can be modified to suit all levels of fitness. Yoga helps with weight loss, blood pressure, increasing blood flow in the body, gaining flexibility, strength and balance, and relaxation.
“It connects the mind, body and soul,” Flowers said.
Before opening her own studio, Flowers traveled to Wilmington, Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Raleigh to practice yoga because of the lack of access in Lumberton. Tired of the inconvenience of traveling, Flowers and her husband, David, decided to build a studio in their backyard.
In October, the Little Yoga Studio opened for business. By April, the clientele of Flowers’ yoga classes had grown larger than what the seven-person studio in the backyard of her Rowland home could hold. In March, Flowers moved her studio to its current location at 1903 N. Pine St. in Lumberton.
“I brought it to Lumberton because it was in other communities and I wanted something locally,” Flowers said.
Flowers earned her 200-hour yoga certification in 2007, and she is currently working on her 500-hour certification. She said yoga helps her with day-to-day life as the principal at East Robeson High School.
“It really keeps me grounded,” Flowers said.
Flowers said one of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it takes a certain amount of physical strength or flexibility.
“I want people to understand that they don’t have to be perfect to practice yoga,” Flowers said. ” … Yoga is for everyone, all ages, shapes, sizes, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds and flexibilities.”
Renee Hoot, who attended Flowers’ yoga boot camp on Tuesday nigh, has been practicing yoga for about three years.
“Yoga is something that anyone can try,” Hoot said.
New to Flowers’ studio, Hoot began practicing at the Little Yoga Studio in May. She says it’s completely different from other yoga studios.
She describes Flowers’ style of yoga as “very centering and relaxing.”
“One of the things that you will find out, as you get to know her is that her classes become a little community,” Hoot said. “And it’s nice to have a community of people that you can interact with and share and practice with.”
The environment of the studio is one of Cindy Wilcox’s favorite aspects of the Little Yoga Studio.
“It’s just a family-oriented environment,” Wilcox said. “There’s great people and it’s small enough to get to know everyone.”
Wilcox has been practicing yoga for about five months, but came to Flowers’ studio about a month ago because she began offering a class that combines cardio and yoga.
“It’s a phenomenal class and it makes me feel heavenly,” Wilcox said.
Flowers has worked for the Public Schools of Robeson County for 25 years, including the last three as principal at East Robeson. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology Education and her master’s degree in School Administration from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Flowers is not the only educator in the family; her husband David is a retired middle school teacher and her two daughters, Katie and Ashley, are teachers as well. Katie teaches at Fairmont High School and Ashley teaches at an elementary school in Charlotte. Flowers’ son, Ben, attends the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Flowers’ introduced her husband, a former high school coach in Robeson County, to yoga about a year ago and he has been practicing it ever since.
Flowers offers classes every night of the week except on Sundays. For information on the studio, fees or to obtain a class schedule, call 910-608-0404 or visit www.littleyogastudiolumberton.com