Honest Soul Yoga

Honest Soul Yoga
Photo credit: Maggie Lynn Olson

Virginia Yoga Week spoke with Suzie Mills, owner of Honest Soul Yoga to learn of her journey to practice and how she was influenced to open her own studio.

Suzie starts off by saying her way to yoga was though an injury, though she became aware of yoga during a deployment to Afghanistan where she saw that yoga was being used to help combat troops manage their stress.

“I came home and I was feeling very low, so I started training for races because I needed something intense.” she says, “In the process of training I injured my knee and that’s when I remembered yoga being helpful for injury. I found a power yoga class and I was hooked.” At first her attitude to yoga was very much about the intensity and flow of the practice, but she soon realized that it was also having an effect on her inner self as well.

Mills found herself on the fast track to teacher training, taking it within her first year of establishing her regular practice. She was determined to start her own space and bring more yoga to her colleagues in the military. She met resistance within her family. “My dad laughed at me, he thought I was crazy. Technically, I didn’t have the money, but I believed in the mission.” WIth Suzie’s dogged determination, “no never meant no, but rather find another way.”

And with that determination, her studio began to take shape with her micro studio. “I had just five mats in my basement.” Word of mouth about the yoga classes began to circulate through her military community. “I was selling out within two months of beginning classes. I started looking for space in April, I signed a lease in June, and opened Honest Soul in August.” It was a whirlwind of a year and suddenly it was August of her second year in business. “That’s when we opened our expansion space and added a second room. It was crazy how it happened.”

Between intentionality and serendipity, things took off. Being located just outside of Fort Belvoir felt like a natural fit as many students are military, including spouses and families. Veterans too know the studio and take class on site. Honest Soul also offers free yoga classes in other locations for the Metro DC USO.

“All studios offer something unique, but because we are military we understand the frequent transitions military families undergo. We base our business on the military calendar. We know that every two years we’ll lose some students due to transfers.” She explains that when soldiers and their families move so often, they must seek out new connections and friends so they can acclimate quickly to their new place.

At first classes were in the higher energy power yoga style. “I kept the meditative side out of it.” Suzie explains. The idea of doing yoga is “sort of new to the military so we started with the physical side.” But she adds when people get in the door, “They realize that they need that other facet.” The studio offers primarily flow and restore yoga in gentle, moderate and intense levels. Honest Soul also has heated classes and a vigorous Ashtanga class called Rocket.

At Honest Soul, anyone can find a way in. “We do yoga with all shapes and sizes, there’s no one way to do alignment in any stature. We offer safe alternatives for students who require modified poses so that everyone one feels welcomed.” Unique to Honest Soul is the absence of studio mirrors. “We don’t have mirrors purposely so that people can learn how their body will work in the pose.” By exploring how the pose feels for them, students think less about what the pose should look like and not worry about their neighbor on the next mat over. “alignment by the book” doesn’t work for everyone says Mills.

A welcoming place for all, but with an affinity for the special needs for her military “family”, Honest Soul just might be the place you can call “home”.

Honest Soul Yoga

Honest Soul Yoga
6470 Landsdowne Center
Alexandria, VA