SNOWMASS VILLAGE - "My sister dragged me kicking and screaming to a yoga class in 1996," explained Staci Stokes, owner and lead teacher at Daly Om - A Yoga Space. "And I loved it!"
Yoga has been part of mental, physical and spiritual wellness in India for centuries. In the United States, the practice became popular in the 1980s. Now, Snowmass Village has a new exercise studio at the Offices at Snowmass (just below the wood bridge on Brush Creek Road) where yoga and other wellness practices are offered by a range of health practitioners.
Staci Stokes is the proud owner of Daly Om. She has been studying the practice of yoga since that first class in 1996. In 1998 she began a year-and-a-half period to learn how to teach yoga from her long-time teacher, Debra Koehn.
Staci has been teaching a yoga class at the Snowmass Chapel since 1999. Her husband, Stan, built the studio for her late last year, installing a new cork floor, and she opened Daly Om in January 2012.
"It's time for Snowmass to have its own yoga space where we can get teachers to come and do workshops," Staci said.
What does she like
"Fitness-wise, I am more flexible and I'm stronger now," explained Staci. "Physically, I am more balanced. Muscles that were tight are (looser) now. I'm more symmetrical in my body. And my mind is in a better place because I am much more conscious of how I use my balance. If I'm carrying something I'm more aware and won't always use the same arm."
While some yoga practices consist of going through a set number of positions or poses, Staci's yoga classes do not have a predetermined routine.
"I never plan a class before I teach," Staci said. "I ask for a little guidance and look for what the students need. I have a basis for (the classes), I try and work different parts of the body, and I try and give balance."
Real estate broker Rita Sherman, who has been taking yoga with Staci for a number of years, would agree with how Staci describes her classes.
"The thing about Staci is that she always gives you what you need," said Rita. "You don't have to vocalize that your shoulders are tense that day, Staci seems to instinctively pick up on that and gives you a class that helps with the part of the body that needs work."
"I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it is a religion," said Staci. "Another is that yoga is strictly a physical practice and meant as exercise. A couple of other misconceptions are that it is for women only and that you have to be flexible to do yoga. I was never a flexible person, and I have several men at my class at the Maroon Creek Club."
Snowmass has been home to Staci since she was young. Her parents used to bring her here because family friends had a vacation home in Snowmass, and that was pretty cool for a girl growing up in Milwaukee.
When her parents divorced, her mother was looking at a home in Vail but decided to check out Snowmass, and that's where she bought. After college in Milwaukee, Staci returned to Snowmass and has been here about 30 years.
She met her husband in 1984, and they married in 1986. Stan started Mighty Mouse Property Management in 1993 and Staci left her Mountain Dragon job in 1995 to help him. They have two children, Joey and Chessie.
In addition to yoga at Daily Om, you can also find other wellness classes and workshops. Jackie Forster is an aura-soma practitioner and can teach you how light and color therapy can be beneficial.
Over the winter there will be several yoga and other workshops at Daly Om. At the moment there are seven weekly yoga classes at Daly Om, encompassing every day of the week. Drop in classes are $15 and a 10-class punch pass is $125.
"If you haven't tried yoga, you are missing out," said Staci.
Steve Alldredge is a former assistant editor and reporter for the Snowmass Sun. He now has a local communications company and Related Colorado is a client. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.