Blooming Life Yoga Brings Magic To Zionsville
by Jenn Willhite
There is a thriving yoga movement in the heart of the Zionsville community and its genesis, Blooming Life Yoga, is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
When Lily Kessler first moved to Indianapolis from Washington D.C. with her husband, Michael, back in 2012, she felt disoriented. After nearly 20 years in the classroom as an elementary school teacher, Kessler says she was without a job for the first time in her life and realized she would have to reinvent herself.
Back in D.C., Kessler had taught yoga to area youth, so after getting settled, the California native returned to the mat. “My passion was self-study of the yoga tradition,” she explains. “I wanted to know about the ‘whys.’ Rather than push anything away or say ‘I don’t know,’ I wanted to get rid of any fear or judgment that I had.”
Kessler, who holds Master’s degrees in educational psychology and reading from the University of Virginia, says she discovered a profound message during her studies of the yoga tradition throughout the world. “I found the greatest message of peace for humanity,” she says.
Kessler knew she wanted to share the true history of yoga and its cultural components with others and says she joined some yoga teacher training programs as a guest teacher, however, she noticed a disturbing trend. In some instances, information about the practice of yoga and its traditions that was passed on to students was, at best, watered down, and in some cases polluted and diluted to the point of no longer resembling its true form.
In response, Kessler opened Blooming Life Yoga Studio + School in January 2015. Here she hosts certified 200 and 300-hour yoga trainings and philosophy talks. “In a way, Blooming Life opened as a space where we can be honest about our lives and have a transparent community to explore human concepts that really define the best of humanity and give us guidance on how to respond to situations we don’t yet know how to navigate,” Kessler says.
The 1,500-square-foot space located in the heart of downtown Zionsville is housed in the town’s first firehouse, which offers a rich historical backdrop for the studio space. Originally, Kessler opened the studio with the intention of offering an emphasis on teacher training, however, that element has become just one part of Blooming Life’s thriving community presence.
Yoga isn’t just about maintaining a dedicated practice on the mat, Kessler explains, but it is taking the lessons yoga teaches us out into the world. It is breathing life into those lessons to create positive change. From regular global oneand two-week-long yoga retreats to places including Peru, India, and Costa Rica, to environmental activism, and community nights, Blooming Life offers yogis a variety of ways to be active in the community and take their yoga off the mat in selfless service – frequently referred to as Karma Yoga.
Kessler encourages everyone who practices yoga to live their yoga authentically and out loud. And building a thriving local community presence is an integral part of Kessler’s vision for the studio.
“It is really about opening our eyes to our neighbors and I really believe it takes a village,” the 41-year-old says. “Blooming Life is almost considered a sanctuary. It is a safe place for people to show up, it is a safe place for people to show diversity and be different. We have tons of different viewpoints in our shala and everyone gets along. I feel like when there is a safe place to be it is an example that that type of essence can have a ripple effect in our community.”
As a community, it comes down to compassionate action based in love in order to make a difference. Not simply paying lip service to ideas of peace and harmony, Kessler says. “I am tired of the spiritual community talking about peace and love when there is a lot of breakdown and pain,” she says. “It is not just saying it is the Universe’s will. When you see a need, you lean into it. It is the action component by living the life we wish to live by doing the work and it isn’t always easy.”
Although she shies away from using the term yogi to describe herself, Kessler says, for her, it is about showing up authentically – both on and off the mat. It is about offering people a different perspective, or path, to find healing for themselves, she says. In an effort to further assist those traveling the yogic path, Kessler says she hopes her forthcoming book, “The History and Art of Living Yoga: Humanity’s Quest for Nourishment,” will be a valuable tool utilized on that journey.
Kessler admits one of the greatest challenges she has faced since opening the studio is keeping her focus on how she shows up in her professional and personal life and staying accountable. “I think a large part of it is pulling myself out of attachment and expectation to be as transparent as possible,” she says. “Having the studio is the largest part of my yoga right now because I am learning from everything.”
As Kessler looks to the future of Blooming Life Yoga and its role in the Indy community she hopes for abundance and envisions Blooming Life becoming a center for those seeking to deepen their knowledge about how to make the most of this journey known as life.
Empowerment comes from discernment, she says. It is about learning when to lean into things and when to let go. “I would like more people to be a part of that party where there is less judgment of themselves and others,” Kessler says. “And have Blooming Life be a fun, magical place where people can exhale and be who they are.”
Location: 30 South Elm St., Zionsville. For more information, visit BloomingLifeYoga.com.