Studio Name: Bikram Yoga New Orleans
Owner’s Name: Krystall Snemyr
Location: 638 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Krystall Snemyr recently opened the first Bikram Yoga studio in the Arts District of New Orleans. Her journey from teacher to studio owner was fraught with the typical set backs that come from launching a new business and remodeling a vacant space. Throughout these continual challenges, Krystall said she just kept focusing on her students and how she really wanted to create a high quality space designed specifically for their practice of Bikram Yoga.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with Bikram Yoga, can you give us an idea of what their first class might be like? Each person’s “first class” of Bikram Yoga will be different, of course! Generally though, a student will experience one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of his or her life, followed immediately by an incomparable sense of achievement and satisfaction. You will sweat, you will struggle, you will smile, and you will want to come back the next day…
You really put a lot of attention into the design elements of the studio, from the antimicrobial carpet to the marble showers. How do you feel the space and these details affect students as they practice Bikram Yoga? As a teacher of Bikram Yoga for almost three years in New Orleans, I was inspired by the students from the very beginning… it is my sincerest desire to bring Bikram Yoga to New Orleans in a facility that would meet Bikram Choudhury’s (the guru, if you will) standards. I wanted to have the cleanest, most sanitary features and technology, and simultaneously I wanted to highlight a little bit of New Orleans charm. When I stumbled upon the historic building, located on Julia Row, I immediately knew it was “the one.” The renovation allowed for raw historic, architectural elements to remain throughout, while also implementing the technology for the “hot room” that was necessary. The design allows for students to practice Bikram’s yoga in a room with a very sophisticated heating system, antibacterial carpet, and fresh air, with a backdrop of exposed brick and sunlight streaming into the room from Julia Street. Occasionally in class, you hear the faint rumble of the streetcar passing. It’s a “perfect marriage” between Bikram Yoga and New Orleans.
You mentioned that a friend brought you to your first yoga class at a point in your life when you weren’t very content with the way things were going. How did yoga positively change your life and set you on the path to teaching and opening a studio? Honestly, it all started with the physical. I began to sleep better, lose weight, and change eating habits. I changed my entire lifestyle because yoga made me feel so good. Eventually, the mental aspects of the yoga classes made themselves evident as well… patience, awareness, mindfulness, willpower, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, etc. Everyone around me can attest to the complete turnaround I made in my life within the first six months of discovering Bikram Yoga. I feel like the most fortunate person in the world to have discovered something that I am passionate about, and I knew I had to share this with others.
While you had some set backs as you were building the studio, overall you describe the experience as a positive one where local residents, contractors and vendors were helpful and supportive. How do you feel attitudes are changing about yoga and wellness locally? Within the first couple of days of being open for business, classes were filling up. A gentleman, a New Orleans resident, said to me after class, “hey, thanks for bringing something healthy to New Orleans…” It was wildly fulfilling to hear those words.
What do you hope students leave your studio with? I hope the students leave feeling just a tiny bit better than when they walked in. It is not always easy to bring yourself to a hot room (in the middle of downtown New Orleans, to boot) to do yoga postures and practice stillness. I hope that I’ve been able to help create an environment that may make it slightly more inviting and motivating to do the Bikram Yoga practice. We teach that trying your best, and doing a little bit the right way is what counts. Our guru teaches us that, “as long as you are trying the right way, and you don’t give up. That’s the ultimate destination.”