Students at Harding University can find peace in new yoga classes.

Laurie Swain, Harding University alumna, had a dream to open up a studio to provide meditation for the community.

“Mindfulness is a way of life for me,” Swain said.

Swain began her journey with yoga over a decade ago. Starting as a yoga teacher, she found that the benefits of yoga go beyond a physical workout.

“I started playing around with meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction,” Swain said.

Last year, Swain started to form an idea to open a studio as part of the Mindful Living Center that focuses on mindfulness of the body and spirit. Swain and her team began to search for a location for the studio. While finding a space that would work proved to be difficult, Swain and her contractors decided to go ahead and move on with the construction process.

“I started to give up on my dream, but something happened,” Swain said. “I realized that if I stepped out on faith, we could create a studio in this space.”

Construction for the studio began in January. COVID-19 proved to delay the construction and opening dates.

“We were going to open on April 11, but we just kept on building,” Swain said.

While the studio was ready to open, the team chose not to risk the health of the community or the staff at that time.

“One of the limbs of yoga is non-harming,” Swain said. “We thought that to open right then would not be best for our community. So we waited.”

It was not until late May that Swain decided that reflective yoga was exactly what the community of Searcy needed amid the global circumstances.

“We need to move; we need to breathe,” Swain said. “It’s good for our flexible mind.”

The studio opened June 3 with the intent of promoting health and well-being in a space that welcomes authentic community. Dr. Amy Qualls, an instructor at Mindful State and professor of English at Harding, was drawn in by having the opportunity to teach a more widely accessible yoga class in the community. She teaches a pay-what-you-can outdoor community class on Thursday nights.

“I desperately wanted there to be an affordable option for a yoga practice in town for anybody who wanted to join,” Qualls said.

Mindful State Yoga has classes available for anyone.

“It’s a very welcoming space with a lot of different kinds of teachers with different teaching styles and different approaches to this practice,” Qualls said. “Particularly for students who may be experiencing stress, or are very busy and never have time to be still, this practice can offer that for them.”

Classes are offered every day, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Rather than offering full year passes, the studio offers semester passes lasting four months — a length that makes membership more attainable for returning college students. In addition, these passes include a streaming service for participants to watch classes when visiting the studio in person may not be a possibility.

“We offer eight different class names and four different levels,” Swain said. “The level is determined by pace and intensity. It’s more meditative, more about being in the moment.”

Mindful State Yoga also offers a “gratitude rate”: teachers, students and first responders pay a lower price for the classes.

This fall, Harding seniors Olivia Nutt and Rachel Frost began to teach classes, and a new 9 p.m. class has been added for a Sunday night session.

“You walk in there and you don’t feel like you have to live up to a certain standard,” Nutt said. “It’s a studio that offers so much heart and love; nothing feels like a competition.”

Nutt said participating at Mindful State Yoga would be a great way to try something new.

“I would tell people to come give it a try, and to try new things –– we don’t always have to know the outcome of how something is going to turn out in order for us to try things,” Nutt said.

Mindful State Yoga is located on Pleasure Avenue as part of the Mindful Living Center.

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