Yoga on Center co-owners Katina Knapp, left, and Jenn Russo, right.

Healdsburg’s only full-time yoga studio, the nearly 20-year-old Yoga on Center, is moving back to the downtown area this summer — two-and-a-half years after the owners say they got kicked out of their original location at 401 Center St.

It was a light-filled space overlooking one of Healdsburg’s most bustling streets, and owners Jenn Russo and Katina Knapp were devastated when they lost it.

“We have been trying to find a space in town ever since,” Jenn says. “We are thrilled to be moving to Mill Street.”

In early August, they’ll reopen their yoga studio at 44C Mill St. in the Mill Street shopping center — the same space where the Top Cheer Elite gym used to live, right next to the Speed of Sound music shop and across from the Elephant in the Room pub. (TCElite recently moved into a “much bigger space on the back side of the building,” in the 44B unit, according to Jenn.)

The Mill Street shopping center, soon-to-be home of Yoga on Center. (Image: Google Maps)

Yoga on Center’s new space is “basically a big, open rectangle, which is really what we needed,” Jenn says. “It’ll be light and airy and a good size for classes.”

Since the start of 2022, Yoga on Center has been running yoga and dance classes out of the idyllic little Felta Schoolhouse along Westside Road, about a 5-minute drive into the countryside from town. But it wasn’t large or central enough for the business to thrive.

While the schoolhouse fits around 20 people, the new Mill Street studio will fit more like 40 or 50. It also has the foot-traffic factor.

“It’s hard for the visitors and tourists to get out there” to Felta School “because they don’t always have cars,” Jenn says. “Now, they can walk from the square and walk from hotels, and go get a coffee after and things like that.”

Katina and Jenn at the former Felta School on Westside Road, where they’ve been running their business since early 2022. (Photo: Yoga on Center)

The new studio needs some work, though. Jenn and Katina launched a fundraiser last month on the BetterWorld platform to help pay for renovations. As of this writing, they’ve raised around $17,000 — a little more than half of the $30,000 they’re shooting for. You can donate here. Here’s the pitch from Jenn and Katina, from their fundraising page:

The Healdsburg community is in need of a space for yoga and one with the flexibility to support other classes such as dance for children and adults.

To bring our dream studio into reality and keep rent manageable at the same time, we must assume responsibility for a few improvements, including a new floor. To fund these changes, we must raise $30,000. We hope you will join us by donating generously to help us realize our goal. Please also help us by spreading the word.

Whether you are a current or past student at YOC, or a community member committed to supporting local business, this is an opportunity to help better serve the people of Healdsburg and the surrounding communities.

Here are a few things your donation will help fund:

  •  $15,000 floor
  •  $7000 HVAC
  •  $8000 electrical, paint, ceiling, walls and other miscellaneous improvements.

We are so excited to finally “come home” to a new space. So many of you have been part of that journey, and we can’t wait to share this new phase with you. Once in our new studio, we will offer more yoga and barre classes for our community, bring dance back to Healdsburg (taught by the Healdsburg Dance Collective), create more offerings and trainings as well.

Our studio has been called a “life-line” for many students, and we are committed to emphasizing togetherness and joy through the practices at YOC.

Dance classes already planned at 44C Mill St. this fall include an “intro to ballet and contemporary dance for beginning (or returning) tween/teen dancers” and, for kids aged five to nine, a class called “Make Your Move” that allows them to “build their own movement style developed through playful games and creative challenges.”

Both of those will be taught by local dancer and artist Greta Schoenberg, one of four women in town who launched the Healdsburg Dance Collective last year to “bolster community support for dance.” She has since been teaching ballet and other styles at Yoga on Center’s Felta Schoolhouse location, as well as the Parkpoint gym and The Studio fitness space in the CVS shopping center.

Miss Greta with some of her youngest ballet students at the Felta Schoolhouse. (Photo: Greta Schoenberg)

Another local dance group that stands to benefit: the UPside Dance Company, which lost their home when Yoga on Center left 401 Center St. and had to move their rehearsals to the Santa Rosa Junior College campus. UPside will now be able to practice here in town again.

“Losing that space on Center Street was a huge blow to us as a dance community,” Greta says. “So having this return of an even larger space right in town — one that will be convenient for our students — is a huge asset, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

This Mill Street homecoming of sorts might be just the healing this joint yoga/dance community needs after the confusing and mysterious move in late 2021 by Yoga on Center’s longtime downtown landlord.

“We paid rent all through Covid,” Jenn says, “and once we reopened we were told by the landlord that they were not going to renew our lease. No reason was given other than a brief, ‘We no longer want to rent to exercise people.’ We offered to pay more or move to the space next door — which has been empty for over three years — and they said, ‘No.’ Both spaces still sit there empty today.”

The building’s owner is listed in online records as a guy named Chuck Bradley in Santa Rosa. I tried to contact him through multiple avenues, to no avail. (Another odd thing I noticed: The organizers of Edge Esmeralda, that big “popup village” of techies and futurists that came to town in June, rented out the space for many of their events. Including some yoga-like stuff. Awkward.)

Downward dog at 401 Center St. (Photo: Yoga on Center)

Back on New Year’s Day 2022, Katina wrote on Facebook: “The tears are flowing with no end in sight. We have only 2 more days left at our current location of Yoga On Center. It has been the heart of Downtown Healdsburg for 17 years.”

Jenn tells me now that it’s time to “let go and move on.”

She and Katina aren’t about to cut ties with the brand and legacy they built on Center Street, though — including the name “Yoga on Center.”

In years past, when Yoga on Center tried opening a second location on First Street in Cloverdale — a dream that was ultimately squashed by the pandemic — they kept their name then, too. (Which also reminds me of Mill Street Antiques, the three-decade-old antique emporium that, early last year, got priced out of the very same Mill Street shopping center that Yoga on Center is now moving into. They moved to Cloverdale, but likewise preserved their name.)

Jenn says of the Yoga on Center moniker: “Everyone thinks it’s because we were on Center Street. Which definitely was a part of it. But also, we come to yoga to find our center — and that’s everywhere, wherever we are.”

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Simone Wilson was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where she was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound's Bark. She has since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. Simone is now a senior product manager and staff writer for the Healdsburg Tribune.


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