East Meets West Yoga Studio

Dawn Curtis is the owner and founder of East Meets West yoga studio.

Dawn has been involved in the yoga community for the past 26 years. It all began for her with a 1989 Kundalini yoga class. “I saw a flyer for a studio near my home and went to this class and I loved it. Kundalini yoga was such a freeing practice for me. It really helped me release stress and tension. By the time I was in savasana (corpse pose), I would be incredibly relaxed.”

She studied Kundalini yoga for a while then then took that teacher training in 2003. While Kundalini yoga is Hatha based, it has a Tantric emphasis. Dawn began to look deeper into the various forms of yoga, studying Anusara yoga and later taking a basic Hatha yoga teacher training. “By then I knew I wanted to open my own studio.” she said. “I wanted a broad base of understanding so I could offer more.” Knowing Kundalini wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, she focused on learning more about alignment to make classes safe and accessible to everyone. In 2006 she opened her studio in Old Town Vienna but relocated to Tysons Corner four years ago.

As a child Curtis wanted to be a shoe designer, but her father cautioned direly, “You’re gonna starve!” She chuckles at the memory. “Instead, I ended up doing time in corporate America, in the legal world and as an executive assistant to CEO’s.” She began to burn out in that very hectic, 24/7 traveling lifestyle. It was yoga that kept her balanced as she struggled on. “Some people thought I’d lost my mind when I wanted to open the studio.” People questioned how she would sustain herself. Around that time she lost both of her parents in an automobile accident. Yoga nourished her then. It served as a touch point, allowing her to “fill the well” at a time when she felt very depleted and grieved.

Dawn named her studio East Meets West because it felt right. “I wanted it to reflect the blending of the philosophies.” She had considered changing the studio’s name with the move to Tysons Corner but thought better of it when her students protested.

Though some may think otherwise, for Dawn, yoga is not a workout. “It’s kind of funny to me when people say this as I believe yoga is a practice that reminds you who you truly are. That’s it for me. It’s not a workout, it’s a remembering. On the mat, you just get to be you and remember who you are.”

Remarking that the metro DC area has its share of high stress occupations, Dawn reflects,
“My students come for stress relief. Yoga helps them remember to be, not do or over extend, just to be.” She pauses then adds, “ I feel like I’m making a difference in other people’s lives by offering these teachings. That’s what keeps me in this lifestyle. It gives me a purpose. It’s the best job in the world.”

Students who come to East Meets West will be warmly welcomed and encouraged to drop any thinking of being less than perfect for who they are. “No matter what your situation is, even if you have chronic illness like Parkinson’s or MS we have ways of adapting poses and giving any modifications as needed. You can come in here and still do yoga.” She adds emphatically, “I’m completely certain that no one has come to the studio and left here thinking, ‘I can’t do that’”.

Dawn’s focus is on fostering and nurturing the community of yogis at her studio. “From the person who’s been here 9 years to the person who just walked in 5 minutes ago, both are just as important to us.” Inclusion rates high, she trains all the teachers to introduce themselves and make one on one contact from the very beginning. “I try to get everyone in the room involved to be there for one another and build a community.” She emphasizes, “My hope is that if you run into someone in the grocery store outside of yoga class, you’ll be able to greet them by name, not just slink away because you can’t recall who they are.”

East Meets West has always offered many types of yoga. Being an all inclusive center of yoga and meditation, for whatever life stage is the goal. “We’re not branded a specific type of studio on purpose.” Dawn’s quest for knowledge continues. She is currently working on her second year of yoga therapy certification, having logged thousands of hours of coursework over the years she’s been teaching. “At some point, the insurance companies will pick up on the benefits of yoga as a form of therapy.” Dawn Curtis wants to be ready for that move towards including yoga in the burgeoning wave of integrative medicine.

East Meets West
East Meets West Yoga
8227 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 310
Vienna, VA 22182

703-356-9642 (YOGA)