Verapose Yoga Breathes New Life Into Dexter’s Historic “Parsons House”

Verapose Yoga has stretched into a new, larger location and in doing so has breathed new life into a historic Dexter home.

Verapose Yoga was prompted to make the move when they outgrew their former studio located behind Hackney Hardware.  Since opening almost three years ago in 2015, Verapose has experienced increasing demand for more classes and workshops that can run concurrently.  Controlling the ambiance of the classes is vital for a yoga studio, especially in regards to sound-proofing against the day-to-day activities of businesses in the same building.  These “good problems” prompted Courtney to seek out their own stand alone location.  In early 2017, they settled on vacant house on Baker Rd near Main St, just across the street from Dexter Print and Embroidery.

View down Baker Rd from Main St. Date unknown. The Parsons House is barely visible – 3rd house from the right.

“The business has grown,” explains Courtney. “We’ve got lots of activities at lots of different hours.  I realized I needed my own space with very specific qualifications.  Number one was to get a space we could use full-time with the flexibility to offer more classes and concurrent classes.”

One new feature that Courtney is excited about is the meditation room.  It is a room devoted entirely to meditation.  There will be classes but the room will also be available during non-class times for drop-in meditation.  “If someone is perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the day and needs to declutter their thoughts, this room is available,” says Courtney.

In response to requests for instructional training, Verapose will be offering training for those who themselves would like to be able to instruct in the meditative arts.  “I have had a lot of requests over the years to do teacher trainings,” says Courtney.  “We finally realized it is time.  This location gives us the flexibility to do that.  We are starting our first cohort in September and that’s a big deal for us.”

“I have met so many people who are interested in helping others,” continues Courtney.  “I see this yoga house as a place for all the people I have met to come and collaborate in their work to help people.  My heart is working with others to help people come into their own best form.”

Interior view as the bike shop then, renovated yoga studio now

Another room is designated for Reiki (pronounced ray-key).  Reiki is a Japanese technique to reduce stress and promote relaxation and healing.  It is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” is present in all of us and flows through us and is that which causes us to be alive.  If one’s “life force energy” is low, then that person is more likely to get sick, be overwhelmed with stress, or fatigued.  If it is high, it allows that person to be happier and healthier.  “The first step in Reiki is becoming aware of that energy within your own body, how it moves, how it flows outward and how it leaves,” explains Courtney, herself a certified Reiki instructor.  “Reiki allows you to channel your energy for positive outcomes.”

Many Dexter residents are familiar with the house as being the location of Dexter Bike and Sport.  If you’ve lived in Dexter a little longer, you may remember it was at one time the Dexter Library since the late 50’s or early 60’s.  Built in 1877, nine years before the Dexter Cider Mill, the house was originally known as “the Parson’s house,” unsure as to whether that refers to a family name or a profession.  It has been a quiet fixture in the Dexter landscape now for 141 years.

Being an old house with a few additions over the years, there was plenty of work to be done in order to convert it into a meditative healing location.  “We purposely designed the ambiance here to be minimalistic,” says Courtney.  “I didn’t want a lot of clutter so that when someone comes in, the clutter from their lives can be left at the door.”

Originally Courtney and her husband Mike were going to convert the expansive upstairs into an apartment for themselves and their three sons.  They liked the idea of living downtown, a block away from Mike’s Edward Jones office on Main Street, and the efficiency of combining their residence and business into a single location.

“We had the plans drawn up by an architect and sent bids out,” says Courtney.  “As we began to receive the bids back, we realized the project just wasn’t going to work financially.  It was going to cost more than we expected to get the old upstairs renovated for today’s residential code.  We’ve tabled that idea for now.”

After months of navigating the necessary paperwork, Courtney and Mike signed the papers April 2nd and the conversion into a studio could now begin in earnest.  But Courtney had a broken rib from a nasty bout with bronchitis and the healer needed time to heal.  Work began in earnest at the beginning of May.

“My 14-year-old twin sons helped me tremendously,” says Courtney.  “There were a lot of people who said they wanted to lend a hand, but honestly, the work was so gross that I could not bring myself to ask for help.”

“There was lots of lifting, hauling, tearing down, and redoing things,” continues Courtney.  “The carpet was glued down in the big room and the floor had to be scraped by hand with a putty knife to remove the glue.  There was a purple tint on the windows too that had to be scraped off.  Fixtures were replaced and lots of tearing down and replacing of things.  All in all, it was three months of really hard, solid work taking many hours. We took about six truck loads to the dump.”

A minimalist design helps participants focus inward without outward distractions

The house had a mismatched interior from decades of refurbishing. Different wood stains, wallpapers, and colors created a hodge-podge look that Courtney wanted to change.  “I wanted one color all through the downstairs,” says Courtney.  “Slater Painting Company was amazing.  They went well beyond what we expected and what they themselves initially expected to do.”

As often the case when one tackles a big project, there were overwhelming times and moments of doubt. “When I first started, I definitely had moments where I was thinking ‘Oh my God what have I got myself into?’” says Courtney.  “Mike warned me that any project takes a lot longer than I would think.  I really learned that lesson here. But in that process I learned how to use all sorts of tools.  I know every square inch of this house.”

“But then, with every little accomplishment, momentum built my confidence to move on,” Courtney says. I’d get inspired for the next thing. Every time we took off a layer I just felt like this house could breathe again it just felt so much lighter in here. And it feels really good now.”

With now all the major renovation finished, Courtney herself can breathe again and get back to the business she so loves – helping people feel better.

More about Verapose Yoga – classes, workshops, and other services – can be found at https://veraposeyoga.com/

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