At Warrior ONE Yoga — Winter Garden/ Windermere, owner and instructor Julie Sanchez helps visitors find self growth and clarity.
Inside the four walls covered with paintings of butterflies and colorful patterns, Julie Sanchez leads her yoga class through the motions.
It’s her Wednesday night hot power class, and the small heater at the back of the room of Warrior ONE Yoga — Winter Garden/Windermere reads “90 degrees.” That’s the perfect temperature for the class, so Sanchez never pushes the thermostat any further.
And the temperature — combined with the transitions from pose to pose — has her students drenched with sweat, but the atmosphere in the cozy, intimate space is one of total tranquility. It’s an incredibly beneficial style of yoga, Sanchez said.
“They help you to create inner-strength, help you tap into your own inner-power,” she said. “Whether it’s your first day of yoga or your 25th year, it’s all levels. But the beautiful thing about hot yoga is once your body is at a nice warming point, you’re really able to create length and create space.
“Your body is like glass, so if glass is cold and you try to shape it and mold it, it doesn’t happen,” said Sanchez, owner and instructor at the studio. “But if you get it warm, you can find a lot of space in your body.”
Although the class is a popular one, it’s just one of the many offered by Sanchez and the several other instructors who call Warrior ONE home.
From 6 a.m. until about 8:30 at night, Warrior ONE holds every kind of yoga class imaginable. Some classes promote relaxation, while others focus on stretching. Then there’s the yin yoga class, which concentrates on deep stretching. And in this day and age, simply stretching is important for good health, Sanchez said.
“People sit all day — they drive in their car, they go to their office, and they sit, and they work on their computer, then they get back in their car, and then they drive back home, and they sit at their table and eat,” Sanchez said. “If you look at studies right now, sitting has become as dangerous as smoking. Why? Because sitting constricts blood flow, not allowing breath … so we have classes that are yin classes that can make people feel comfortable and create stretch, create blood flow and create strength without injury.”
The role of healthy living is something that extends beyond the studio, and it’s what got Sanchez started in yoga. When she arrived to Florida with her family five years ago from Texas, she already had years of experience as a personal trainer and had dabbled in yoga for her own personal health.
It was her mom, who suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis, who inspired her to become a personal trainer and yoga instructor all those years ago.
“She didn’t want to go to a gym, she felt self-conscious, she couldn’t do the things that other people did,” Sanchez said. “And here I am, looking at this mother of mine, who is this amazing strong woman. … So I became a personal trainer. I help people who needed community and who needed health and wellness. I knew that somehow I had to empower them and bring them together, and I didn’t want them to feel left out and feel alone.”
“If you look at studies right now, sitting has become as dangerous as smoking. Why? Because sitting constricts blood flow, not allowing breath … so we have classes that are yin classes that can make people feel comfortable and create stretch, create blood flow and create strength without injury.”
— Julie Sanchez
The sense of community and the benefits yoga brings play a huge role in Sanchez’s day-to-day life as a yoga instructor and practitioner. She saw how yoga helped bring people together, and she ran with it. The hope was that she could help those like her mom, or the young woman who used to watch her children that took her own life a few years back.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Sanchez said. “Yoga can help bring a community together, and yoga can be individual at the same time. People needed that connection more than ever, so I chose to dive into all different kinds of yoga.”
Since that deep dive into the yoga world, Sanchez can be found, not only in her studio, but also out in the community. She has done numerous chair yoga classes for the seniors in retirement homes and has gone out to teach yoga to Orange Count Public Schools teachers.
Just the act of teaching and helping people is enough to keep the fire in Sanchez’s belly lit and burning brighter than ever.
“I really believe that when you are passionate about something, and when you are up to something bigger, it’s a different energy — it doesn’t feel draining or that it’s depleting me,” Sanchez said. “On the other hand, I see people’s lives that are impacted in a positive way, and it just makes me want to reach out and do more.”