Yoga didn’t always seem accessible to Brooke Toftoy, so she sought her own lane. This Edina High School alum is now a Holy Yoga instructor at The Well Movement Studio near 50th and France. She’s also the company’s community development director.
After moving back to Edina after college, Toftoy signed up for a yoga class with her dad. He injured himself and decided to stop, but she decided to keep moving forward and eventually founded Holy Yoga and became an instructor. At Holy Yoga classes, the instructor sets an intention on a verse from the bible or invites participants to pray. While Holy Yoga has a Christian perspective, Toftoy hopes the message will resonate with participants regardless of their faith.
“We hope that these classes continue to be places where anyone feels welcome and leaves inspired,” Toftoy says.
In the larger context of The Well, Holy Yoga of fers Revelation Wellness, Refit and Barre classes along with Holy Yoga. Holy Yoga was started as a donation-based program, and Toftoy also teaches donation-based classes at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. She hopes to keep it going for as long as possible while maintaining a pay-it-forward attitude.
“We have men and women of all ages,” Toftoy says. “There aren’t many things that broad.”
With attendees paying what they can, the door opened to experienced yogis as well as first-timers. Toftoy even sees people paying it forward by donating enough for more than one person to participate.
“It’s yoga with a heart, and it’s not your typical studio,” Holy Yoga participant Jenn Myers says. “All are welcome.”
Myers had no previous experience in yoga before she discovered Holy Yoga in churches. Now she can walk or bike to the new studio, where she appreciates that the classes are taught by a certified yoga instructor.
Most wouldn’t immediately connect yoga and Christianity, as its origins has ties to Eastern faith traditions, but Toftoy finds commonalities between religions. “They [both] open you up to something,” she says. “We are made for a connection to God and a higher power.”
The intention at Holy Yoga attracted Kim Masters to the classes. After battling an eating disorder, Masters was looking for a way to incorporate moving into her life.
“It’s a different atmosphere … because everybody looks different,” says Masters. “There’s no pressure to keep up and perform like there is at other studios.”
The classes have become more than a place to move for Masters, who calls the class an anchor in her week.
“It’s a community, not just a place to show up to exercise,” Masters says. “It’s been really nice to feel enveloped by the people.”
It’s not just the participants either. Toftoy’s felt a transformation as well.
“I didn’t know it was possible to feel like a kid,” says Toftoy, who has found healing from anxiety and an eating disorder though practicing yoga. “The mistrust and disconnection from my body isn’t the end.”
Since Holy Yoga first came to the Twin Cities in 2010, its yoga school has expanded to teach 33 classes a week, all seven days, through instructors teaching at churches, gyms and studios. Classes and locations are listed on their website, or stop by The Well in Edina for a look at the class schedule.