CRESTVIEW — Soft sounds of a river resonate throughout room at Grateful Hearts Yoga in Crestview amidst the chatter from “yogis”—participants of the yoga practice—reuniting after their last session.
Gracie Simmons, the owner of the yoga studio, begins the Wednesday morning practice by giving everyone stress relief essential oils to rub on their palms and having each woman in the studio proclaim their energy level from one to 10.
Anna Summers, a returning “yogi,” said her energy level was an 11.
Summers has been coming to the yoga studio since she won a free year of yoga at the open house and said she plans on returning to the “bright and cheery” studio.
During her Wednesday practice, Simmons said yoga was not a religion.
“You can be in a room full of people each with different ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, gay, transgender, bisexual, any sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter. You can all just practice love,” Simmons said. “I think that’s what our country needs right now.”
Simmons grew up in Baker and graduated from Baker School. Although she calls herself a “Baker girl,” she currently resides in Escambia Farms.
Love, Namaste, mindfulness, and grateful—all of these words will be heard at some point during a yoga practice and summarize the mindset Simmons had when she and her husband opened Grateful Hearts Yoga in Crestview.
Simmons' husband of nine years gave her the yoga studio as a gift. Grateful Hearts Yoga is located in a strip owned by Simmons’ father-in-law.
Simmons said she knew there was a need in Crestview for a yoga studio.
“There’s a lot of depth to yoga,” Simmons said. “A lot of people think it’s just headstands or handstands, but there’s much more involved in being present in the moment, calming your mind, letting go of any stress that you may be holding.”
For the Simmons family, yoga is more than just a good form of exercise.
Simmons said yoga has even affected the way her family interacts with each other because they have learned to approach situations with more composure.
“My oldest daughter will tell me, ‘Yoga has changed our lives.’ She even left me a Google review … I cried. It was so sweet,” Simmons said.
In July, Grateful Hearts Yoga hosted a week-long kid’s camp where Simmons’ 11-year-old daughter helped teach some of the classes. Simmons said her daughter will also start teaching a regular class on Thursday afternoon for kids.
“I think everyone should do yoga, but kids especially because they can get some of that extra energy out,” Simmons said. “They can learn some mindfulness and how to love themselves and love others.”