Firefly Yoga in Ocoee is hoping to help meet the West Orange community’s need for more options for yoga practice, as well as to create a sense of community that extends beyond the mat.
OCOEE The seed for Firefly Yoga’s new studio in Ocoee, a studio that celebrated its soft opening in March and grand opening this month, was planted by dedicated commuters — people such as Melanie Sachs.
Sachs, who moved to Windermere three years ago from Brooklyn, observed a few things about her new community in West Orange when she arrived. First, it was a community that placed a priority on being active. Second, despite her first observation, there were limited options for yoga — a stark contrast from living in a locale that featured a studio on almost every corner.
“This community is such an active community, and there is such an interest in wellness and nutrition — and there was no yoga,” Sachs said. “Everyone I spoke to was very interested in it.”
Sachs started going to Firefly’s original studio, which is in the Colonialtown neighborhood of Orlando, just east of downtown off of Ferncreek Avenue.
There, she — and others — put the bug in Holly Garrison’s ear that there was a market for a studio on the west side of Orange County.
“We wanted to come to a place where there would be more of a need for yoga, so we could fill more of a need,” Garrison said. “I had had a lot of people come into the studio downtown and say, ‘You should really open a studio in Winter Garden.’”
A friend recommended the location Garrison and her team ultimately settled upon on Maguire Road in Ocoee next to the West Orange Cinema. Although not in Winter Garden, the location has worked well because it is easily accessible to clients in Ocoee, Winter Garden and Windermere, Garrison said. Moreover, its close proximity to the East-West Expressway means she and her instructors can commute between locations.
“It’s perfect,” Garrison said. “I can be present at both (locations) and my teachers can teach at both.”
“We wanted to come to a place where there would be more of a need for yoga, so we could fill more of a need."
— Holly Garrison,
Although there are a few yoga options in West Orange, Garrison still believes that there is plenty of need and that Firefly has a unique offering.
“We are a family — it definitely is already feeling like that here (in Ocoee), which I love,” Garrison said. “We’re about the little things. We teach to each person. To me, it’s very important that everyone that comes through the door can find the space that they need to be in.”
Building on that, Garrison said she and her teachers aspire to do more than just facilitate a rewarding yoga practice for their clients. As she moved through a Sunday class of 25 students April 23, the veteran instructor reminded her students to “be in the moment” — something she finds important beyond the mat.
“When we can do that in yoga, we can get good in doing it off the mat,” Garrison said. “Our goal is to teach people that, too.”
Although the schedule at the Ocoee location is not yet finalized, Garrison and her instructors said they are encouraged by attendance, which already mirrors that of the Orlando location.
Sarah Rosenburg, an instructor with Firefly, said the community aspect already has taken hold at the Ocoee location.
“It’s not just about coming and taking a yoga class — it’s about coming and finding a community that is supportive,” Rosenburg said. “Part of the teacher training (at Firefly) is about learning how to make it your own.”
Rosenburg and Sachs both attribute the community feel of Firefly to Garrison, though Garrison herself views her role as that of a facilitator more than anything.
“All I do is hold the key,” Garrison said.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].