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Natural Awakenings Jacksonville-St. Augustine

Living and Breathing the Yoga Den Philosophy

May 28, 2021 09:31AM ● By Erin Lehn
Michigan native Kelly Chufo, owner of Yoga Den San Pablo and director of franchising for Yoga Den Inc., in Jacksonville, is very enthusiastic about the Yoga Den brand. “I love our mantra—‘We’ll meet you where you’re at.’ And we really do meet everyone exactly where they are. Our philosophy is no judgement. Whether you’re a seasoned or novice yogi, teen or senior, or healing from an injury—this is the brand for every body and everybody,” she exclaims. That philosophy is literally what drew Kelly into her first Yoga Den class.

Her yoga journey began in 2011 in a power yoga studio on Amelia Island. She loved the modality so much she became a certified Baptiste Power Yoga instructor. “But then life happened, and yoga went by the wayside,” she recalls. “I dabbled a bit with yoga but nothing stuck.”

Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy officer and proud mom of two college-age daughters, shares that she was “going through a moment,” and at some point, realized she needed to reconnect to something meaningful. That’s when she circled back to yoga. “There was a Yoga Den studio nearby, and I decided to commit to 30 days to see what would happen,” says this passionate yoga practitioner, whose life was transformed from that decision. “The community held such good space for everyone. It created a new spark in me.”

Not long after joining the Yoga Den community, Kelly completed the Yoga Den 300-hour teacher training. Around that time, a conversation with Alyson Foreacre, co-founder of Yoga Den, planted the seed for Kelly to help nurture future Yoga Den franchisees. “I’ve always loved the business aspect of things. When Alyson shared that she could use some help in the franchise department, I thought it would be a great opportunity,” she explains.

With Kelly’s help, Yoga Den now operates nine successful franchises in the Jacksonville area. She also recently had the opportunity to take ownership of the Yoga Den San Pablo Studio. “I’m convinced that the universe conspires to bring you what you need, when you need it,” she affirms. “When you put something out into the universe with your heart behind it, what needs to happen will happen.”

Kelly, a shining example of stepping forward into one’s truth, admits that taking on the role of franchise director and studio owner created a ton of resistance, but she kept moving toward the fear. “There are only two true emotions—hope and fear,” she says. “When you break it down, they’re the same thing. I’m afraid to take a step into this journey and I hope it’s the right thing to do. One cannot exist without the other. When you take a step forward, you take both with you, and the hope becomes more real.”

She maintains that the best life has to offer shows up when we step forward in fear. “It’s powerful. Fear is not something we should hide from. Share your fears. Community plays a huge part. Our friends and family will surround us with encouraging words to help us along our path,” affirms Kelly, adding that the hardest part about committing to a yoga practice is walking through the door and rolling out your mat. “Just know, we’re always ready to receive you in the studio, no matter how you show up that day. When you walk into a Yoga Den, you’re going to feel held by the whole community.”

Kelly confirms that this philosophy rings true, no matter what Yoga Den Studio you’re visiting. “We really mean it when we say come as you are. It’s okay if a student just wants to hang out in child’s pose the whole time. It’s whatever you need,” she insists. “The mat is there for you. It’s a safe space for you to bring grace and kindness back to yourself. Show up for yourself, whatever that looks like.”

When asked about plans of expansion for the Yoga Den family of studios, Kelly feels confident that the urban growth spurt currently happening in Jacksonville will create amazing opportunities for the yoga community. “There will be more of a demand for yoga studios and practitioners as our community grows and more and more people desire to practice yoga.”

And speaking of practicing yoga, this seasoned yogini loves nothing more than making some yogis sweat and laugh at the same time. “Laughing means you’re breathing and enjoying yourself. You’re doing it right,” she adds.

Yoga Den San Pablo Studio is located at 14185 Beach Blvd., Ste. 13, in Jacksonville. For more information, visit Yoga-den.com/location/yoga-den-san-pablo-studio. To learn about franchising opportunities, email [email protected].