The opening of Citizen Yoga
in downtown Royal Oak is so much more than an entrepreneurial endeavor for owner Kacee Must.
From a 3,000-square-foot space at 500 S. Washington, an unusually large and prominent spot for a yoga studio, Must wants to tie together a near-lifetime of experience in yoga and the knowledge gained studying philosophy in India for three years with her love for entrepreneurial artists, fashion and, most profoundly, the memory of a sister lost to suicide five years ago.
Citizen Yoga will open Sunday and for the first two weeks all yoga is free -- part of Must's push to attract beginners and also to be a good citizen.
Citizen Yoga will be body alignment-based so that instructors can gently guide students through poses.
"We view taking care of yourself as being easy on yourself…learning how to move into discomfort to ease in to the breath and use your own mental coping skills," says Must, 29, and a Cranbrook Academy and Northwestern University graduate who was introduced to yoga by her mom at age 12, "before yoga was hip or cool, before most people knew what yoga was."
Her yoga experience through the years, locally and around the world has shaped the approach her studio will take.
"I saw this untapped not just yoga market, but also cohesive community here in Royal Oak that I believe would want to hear the message and learn the proper way to use yoga to take care of yourself physically and spiritually, " she says. "You can't even compare us to somebody else. We're offering something that our community has moved so far away from," she says. "I really promote authenticity and ethics and being very encouraging to my teachers and students."
If visitors during the first two weeks care to make a donation it will go to the charity Born and Raised in Detroit, which is run by Must's friends and offers fun, happy events and programs to enrich the lives of Detroiters.
Charity and a personal philosophy of good citizenship is also behind Citizen Yoga.
Philosophically, Must, who spent three years in India studying philosophy, wants to explore her yearning for community togetherness by "promoting how we can all be better citizens in every aspect of our lives," she says.
The studio will also honor Must's sister, Miya. She committed suicide in 2007 and since then her family has strived to help others by working in suicide prevention and support of women living with bipolar disorder.
"I want to do a lot of suicide prevention, awareness type stuff," Must says. "Without her and that memory of her and that drive of hers, I don't know if I could have done this. I was really afraid to do this on my own. Being an entrepreneur in its essence is all about self-belief, and I feel like she's been here with me pushing me to believe in myself."
Also in her sister's honor, Citizen Yoga will offer Yoga Medics
, a medically designed yoga program. Her sister and a friend ran a Yoga Medics in their Colorado yoga studio. Must has received a $50,000 grant to use Yoga Medics to give yoga rehabilitation therapy to veterans.
There will also be two massage rooms at Citizen Yoga. Spa Mariana
from Birmingham will run the massage therapy.
It's her wanting to build a community that has her inviting in other metro Detroit entrepreneurs like the spa to share the space, which is next door to the Fifth Avenue apartments. It underwent an 18-month renovation of re-used materials -- the old jewelry store floor is the ceiling -- rustic woods, and brick mixed with touches of industrial.
Jewelry by Leah Rose Damour
, organic nail polish by AKAYStyle
and a Jesse Fenton's I Use Yoga clothing line will go into the retail space at Citizen Yoga.
"From an owner perspective," she says, "my theory is the more you collaborate and the more you work together, the more you're going to actually succeed."
Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kacee Must, owner, Citizen Yoga