While Whitehorse’s newest yoga studio True North Massage and Yoga just opened, it’s already setting itself apart from the other offerings in town.

The yoga studio, located at 407 Black Street, opened mid-January. Since opening, its owners Sheila MacLean and Stephanie Padfield have set their sights on community partnerships and a hybrid approach to the practice.

With a focus on beginners to the practice, MacLean and Padfield have built their class offerings on an understanding that entering a new routine can be far more fun when there is some creativity involved.

This led them to develop Yarn Yoga in collaboration with the Itsy-Bitsy Yarn Store. Created for those who love to knit or crochet, the class combines an hour of flow and restorative yoga with an hour of working on your latest yarn-based project.

“Sometimes yoga can be a bit tricky to get into,” MacLean says. “[People] might not do yoga because they heard it was good for them once, but they might do it if – say for example – they are a knitter…now there is a class where they can go and do a bit of yoga beforehand… and then they sit and knit.”

Another of the duo’s hybrid classes take advantage of their training as massage therapists. For those looking for a relaxing way to make sore muscles happy, the studio will lead a restorative yoga class that combines gentle poses with massage.

Both MacLean and Padfield have each practiced as massage therapists for eight years. They met when MacLean visited Padfield for a massage herself. Instantly they developed a bond based on their common interest in combining yoga with massage therapy.

“At the time I hadn’t had a chance to talk with someone who does both massage and yoga like me,” MacLean says. “It was a great experience to meet someone with so much shared interest, so I talked through the whole massage.”

Padfield had become enamoured with the idea of owning a yoga studio for several years after completing her teacher training in Calgary. When she moved up to the Yukon with her partner, she began to re-envision her dream to fit the Whitehorse market.

MacLean, who is from Whitehorse, has been practicing yoga since she was 12. She used to go with a friend’s aunt to a studio above Sanchez Cantina. As a teenager in the MAD program at the Wood Street School, yoga was part of the daily routine.

In her massage therapy practice, she began to notice that clients needed something more than occasional massages if they were to find healing and wellness.

“I was seeing patterns with my clients where they would be really awesome and open when they left, and then I would see them two weeks later, and they would be back into the same positions,” MacLean says. “[I realized] this isn’t just relaxing and opening the body, this is strengthening the body and finding the balance in-between.”

MacLean’s vision blended perfectly with where Padfield was at in her business plan. Together, they took the leap and opened the studio.

MacLean and Padfield are continuing to explore community partnerships to grow their offerings of hybrid yoga classes. Currently they are developing a class with a local art therapist, which will combine the creative fun of a paint night with friends with yoga.