Suzanne Ballantyne and her husband raised a family in the Cary suburbs but always longed to live in a more urban – and walkable – community.
This month, they settled in to their new home in downtown Cary, a seven-minute walk to Ballantyne’s job as a yoga instructor.
“My only goal was to be able to walk from home to the studio,” she said. “As soon as we made the decision to move, everything fell into place.
“I had reached my limit for suburban life,” she said. “I grew up in Montreal with public transport. Here, I can walk out for a drink, for dinner, to the post office, the library, the cultural arts center.”
All of that walking plays into Ballantyne’s philosophy as a yogi. She rents space for her business, Simply Practice, at Smiling Circle Yoga studios in Chocolate Smiles Village.
“My philosophy is that we can’t all be healthy all of our lives, but there are ways to find peace and well-being within those events,” Ballantyne said. “If I’m not down here participating, how can I be the voice?”
She said she has helped people quit smoking, stop using medications and cook to encourage better eating.
“Many of us grew up with convenience foods – maybe at some cost to our bodies,” she said. “It’s easy to keep doing what has been modeled for you. I hope that through yoga practice that their practices are not set in stone because they are habits.
“It’s all about practice. You can know everything, but if you don’t practice …”
Ballantyne, 53, has been practicing yoga for 20 years and teaching for seven years. She is also a health and wellness coach. In addition to regular classes, she holds silent yoga retreats and special programs. She also teaches on contract at SAS Institute.
The spirit of community is the bedrock of Simply Practice and Ballantyne’s teaching.
“It’s more important to have a group of people you know well and who will commune with you on a regular basis than it is to have the perfect yoga pose,” she said.
“My niche is people who practice within a community,” she said. “We will meet after class for a drink. People who are connected to a community keep showing up. Some people come to yoga, and the teacher is the one they get their hug from that week.”
She encourages participation from people of all levels of fitness. Her lunchtime classes are “gentle yoga” and can be done sitting in a chair, if that is what is preferred. Many of her clients are over the age of 50. She advises clients to listen to their bodies.
“If you can’t breathe while you’re doing it, it’s not yoga,” she said.
As much as she is enjoying downtown living, Ballantyne says there is one glaring omission.
“The other piece for me is having a food co-op, which I’m hoping for,” she said. “Because we are healthiest within a community.”
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