By Linda Tuccio-Koonz
“I think about it every day,” says Elora Herberick, of the Peace Corps stint that helped her find her path in the world.
“That experience changed me in so many ways. It’s the reason I became a yoga teacher. It’s the reason I own this studio.”
Open since 2021, the New Milford business—EVOLVE Yoga Wellness Nutrition—is a gathering place for yoga enthusiasts of all levels. You’ll find it behind the bright purple door near the foot of Bank Street.
Herberick, who grew up in New Milford, has always practiced yoga. While teaching English in Thailand with the Peace Corps, she decided to incorporate it into her classes. Not only was it fun, she found “it created lasting change for me and the people around me.”
During her Peace Corps service (2015 to 2017), Herberick realized yoga was the path to melding her personal and professional goals—a way to transform lives while creating a sense of community.
EVOLVE, on the second floor of a 1902 building, is where she continues that work today. “I painted the door purple because the crown chakra is represented by the color purple. The crown chakra is connectivity to ourselves and to the divine.”
Herberick’s airy studio, with its wood floors and wide windows, has a Zen-like vibe. There’s also a rooftop deck; the staircase that leads there features hand-painted messages of affirmation. “I am centered and grounded,” says one. “My potential is unlimited,” says another.
“A lot of people think yoga is just stretching, but it’s so much more,” she explains. “It’s this connectivity to your breath and being able to control your emotions and adapt, and being able to find like-minded people who are on a similar journey.”
“I think when people open that purple door, it’s like opening a gateway to their own being. It’s an energy portal, an energy portal to your entire self.”
There are hundreds of energy points throughout the body, Herberick says. EVOLVE helps students tap into them through a wide range of classes, including different styles.
Among them are “vinyasa, gentle flow, yin and restorative,” she says. “Yin is a practice where you hold the positions for three to five minutes…Restorative yoga is complete relaxation. We use bolsters, blankets, anything to get really, really comfortable, where we’re holding positions for up to 20 minutes. So, it becomes almost like a deep, deep relaxation.”
One style not offered is hot yoga; Herberick says that requires a warm room where it’s 90-plus degrees. “We keep our thermostat around 72, so it’s a nice temperature for everybody. Outside of that we have public events such as workshops and free yoga on the green.”
Herberick has taught hundreds of students over the years. “Our students always end up becoming our friends in some capacity; I think that’s true for all my teachers. We love building our community.”
That commitment to community is a big part of what makes EVOLVE stand out.
“You know, you meet someone here, and you may not think you have anything in common with them. But then you go through a practice or a meditation together, and you learn a lot about each other and yourself, which is our main purpose, right? Self-love, self-awareness—it’s all so we can create a better and more sustainable planet.”