- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - It was standing-room only on Monday night at Shoshana Treichel’s new Above and Beyond Hot Yoga studio, where more than 100 people packed into the space on Hillcrest Road in west Mobile for the grand opening. Though she’s only lived in Mobile for about a year and a half, Shoshana has inspired a lot of excitement among the normally calm yoga community.

When she moved to Mobile with her Coast Guard husband, Jake, they didn’t expect to be here very long. But then they fell in love with the city, and she decided that her own studio “was meant to be,” she said.

Shoshana made a name for herself at Sterling Hot Yoga Works in midtown Mobile, where she was known for providing ice-cold, lavender-scented towels to her sweat-drenched students at the end of each class taught in 100-degree-plus heat. Her classes were so popular that she was voted Best Yoga Instructor in Lagniappe’s 2015 Nappie Awards.

Her following includes many people who claim their health, and even their lives, were changed for the better through hot yoga. Her business partner, Ashley Ramsay-Naile, was one of the students who loved Shoshana’s classes. “I remember the first class I took,” Ashley said. “I felt like I’d known her all my life.”

Monday night’s grand opening was the culmination of several months of planning for the new studio. Shoshana and Ashley welcomed their families and friends, instructors and students at Above and Beyond. Guests noshed on vegetable korma and brown rice, as well as other dishes prepared by Mobile’s vegan chef, Tracey Glover (who will also teach yoga classes); listened to music provided by Shoshana’s friend Aimee Wilson, who drove from Washington to play sitar and sing; and toured the brand-new facility on Hillcrest Road.

Guests included Rabbi Steve Silberman of Mobile’s Congregation Ahavas Chesed, who hung a mezuzah at the entrance to the yoga room to bless the space, and Shoshana’s 92-year-old father, a World War II veteran, and her daughter, visiting from California.

The studio will offer hot yoga as well as a variety of other classes, including restorative yoga, power yoga, Tai Chi and, eventually, yoga for children. “It will be one-stop shopping for yoga and strength training,” Shoshana said.

At the grand opening, Shoshana ushered the guests into “our sanctuary,” the yoga room, with its walls painted a calming shade called “Buoyant Blue.” The room has a stereo system and state-of-the-art heating system, as well as a refrigerator for those trademark cold towels. Mirrors line the front and side walls, and the back wall is painted with a lotus flower, its image reflected in the mirror.

The lotus flower is “one of the most potent symbols in India,” Shoshana said. Though it grows in murky, slimy water, it opens with the sunshine and closes with the dark. The water rolls off of its leaves, which “indicates detachment from the material world,” she said. “It rises above all obstacles and shows us how to rise above and beyond the ordinary, which is what we hope will happen with our students.”

In her life, like the lotus flower, Shoshana has risen above the obstacles placed before her. She grew up in California, England and Israel, and moved to New York City to study musical theater at Lee Strasberg’s New York Theatre Institute. Just three months after arriving in the city in the mid-1980s, she was mugged by a gang at gunpoint.

A petite woman, she vowed, as she was being attacked, to become the strongest woman in the world - and immediately took up bodybuilding and started entering strength contests. Photos from the next two decades show a completely different Shoshana, with tanned skin and sculpted muscles where now she conveys a softer, more subtle strength.

She competed as a professional bodybuilder for 23 years, during which time she went through a divorce, the loss of a child and several moves, including a stint in Alaska, where she owned her own gym and trained world-class athletes and worked with the Special Olympics powerlifting program for years. She also studied medical stress reduction through exercise and nutrition at Harvard University, and discovered yoga. She also met Jake, her second husband, who works as an aeronautical engineer with the Coast Guard.

Her last bodybuilding competition was four years ago in New Orleans. Now she has turned her mind, body and spirit to practicing yoga. After completing advanced yoga certification, she is now earning an advanced degree in yoga therapy in Chennai, India. She spent the month of November in India and will go again in April, then graduate in June of 2017.

“I love helping women protect and empower themselves,” she said, “yet find an inner light and peace” - which is exactly what yoga has helped her to achieve.

Going above and beyond

Since she left Sterling last July, she has been teaching yoga from her garage to a group she jokingly refers to as her “Garage Goddesses.” In September, she and Ashley started talking more seriously about opening a studio together.

They already knew they worked well as a team. During the 2015 Mobile Jewish Film Festival, Shoshana had worked with Ashley and her sister, Amber, to plan a reception for Nancy Spielberg, sister of Steven Spielberg and executive producer of the 2014 documentary film “Above and Beyond.” The movie was about the U.S. airmen who volunteered to help fight in Israel’s 1948 war for independence.

The reception was the best Spielberg had ever had at any screening, she told Shoshana, who named the new yoga studio after the film in honor of her first collaboration with Ashley.

Coincidentally, the screening of and reception for “Above and Beyond” was held last Jan. 18, which was the same date the studio opened. The number, in Hebrew, corresponds with the word “chai,” which means “bringing life to others, instilling powerful ways of living,” she said. The date was also the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.” Likewise, Shoshana took a leap of faith in opening the studio.

As her teacher, TKV Desikachar, told her, Shoshana’s “dharma,” or purpose, is “to bring yoga to the people.”

With her strength training background and years of experience in studying and teaching yoga, Shoshana calls herself “a body whisperer.” ”I can also tell what the mind needs,” she said.

Having experienced the benefits of Shoshana’s classes, Ashley wanted to help her friend touch as many others as possible through their new studio. Ashley jokes that she and Shoshana are “a very good marriage of yin and yang” - Shoshana is the creative mind, while Ashley has the business sense.

As chief operating officer of Crowder Gulf - a disaster cleanup company with contracts all over the United States - Ashley helps with other family businesses as well, including JW Legacy Group employment agency and Gulf Equipment Corp. general contractor, and is involved in the community through her work with the Community Foundation of South Alabama and the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute. Yoga, she said, has helped bring calmness to her Type A personality.

And she’s passionate about sharing Shoshana with others through Above and Beyond. “My mission is to bring what she does to as many people as possible,” said Ashley.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide