By Terrah Baker
This is the first in a series of articles featuring the newest yoga studios in Fayetteville, each with their own character, background and emphasis on the age-old practice.
Alexandria Mero, owner of Yoga Deza in Fayetteville (and Bentonville set to open Jan. 20), first found yoga in Denver, Colo., when training for the Frisby Golf National Championships.
“Someone told me yoga could help you focus. So, I went to a class around the corner at 6 a.m.,” Mero said.
That first class was the physically and mentally challenging style of Bikram Yoga, where the room is over 100 degrees, the teacher is fierce and the postures intense.
“I almost passed out like six times,” Mero explained.
But she was hooked. After winning the Frisby Golf championships she fell away from the sport and found herself obsessed with doing yoga. She began to practice Vinyasa flow yoga — a common style of Western yoga that incorporates breath with flowing movements — at the many studios in Denver.
In 2010, she accepted a job with Walmart that brought her to Northwest Arkansas. At the time, only Arkansas Yoga Center, and later Mojo’s Hot Yoga Studio, was actively advertising regular yoga classes and teacher training. After a year of practice in the area, Mero attended a teacher training in 2011.
Her teaching career began at Clubhaus Fitness and Soul Yoga Lounge on Dickson Street, where she also helped manage. Soon, she realized her urge to make yoga more accessible was growing stronger, and the opportunity to open the first Yoga Deza on Sycamore Avenue in Fayetteville sprung up.
“I had the intention to create the same availability to yoga as I had in Denver. I would say that would be the reason I started this, because I got a taste of something I really enjoyed and wanted,” Mero said.
Yoga Deza’s modest beginnings in 2011 on the side of a strip mall was made successful with bright colors, Earth-themed designs and plants lining the outside of the warehouse-style building. The success of the studio has led Mero to another opportunity that may change the course of her career.
“When I found out I had an opportunity to open another studio in Bentonville, I decided to take a leave of absence from Walmart. It was a huge intention for me to offer yoga in that community, having worked up there,” Mero explained. “I’m wanting to make yoga accessible to all different types of people.”
Yoga Deza isn’t just a studio for physical exercise, she explained. Mero hopes to make the space a place for a yoga school, where teachers support teachers and creativity can be inspired. To date, Yoga Deza has offered different types of teacher training — from weekend courses over eight weeks, to 10 days of 10 hour classes — and a host of yoga style classes. Right now, the studio offers vinyasa flow, smart flow, power vinyasa in a heated upstairs room, ashtanga and hatha yoga.
The studio now offers the Y12SR series which links the traditional 12-step AA program with a yoga practice, free to participants once a month. They hold meditation classes, cleansing programs, collaborate with physical trainers and have a free community class every Friday at 6 p.m. One of the greatest accomplishments of the studio to date, Mero said, was bringing in renowned yoga teacher and guru Baron Baptiste.
Mero contacted Baptiste to speak at Walmart to an audience about yoga and leadership, then to a room of Walmart CEO’s and executives, and then invited him to her studio. Most studios, she said, will be in his queue for years.
“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of. He doesn’t usually go to studios. He more so does all-day emersion programs,” she said.
Yoga Deza has a detailed website where you can sign up for classes before attending, buy packages and see what programs and events they have coming up. To learn more about the studio and what they offer, visit www.yogadeza.com.