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Community Yoga opens in downtown Manteo

When husband and wife team Wes Lassiter and Rhonda Bates purchased the commercial space at the Manteo waterfront shops seven years ago, “The room just reeked yoga. It always felt like a yoga studio from day one,” Lassiter said. The large arched windows open up to beautiful views of the Shallowbag Bay and the rows of docked sailboats. “It’s so nice doing upward dog looking at that view,” Lassiter said. They decided to combine their two passions – yoga and art – into one space, offering classes inside the gallery displaying Bates’s vibrant paintings.

Bates and Lassiter developed a passion for yoga fifteen years ago. “Our dates were yoga dates,” they laughed. “We didn’t have any friends, but through yoga we developed a social circle,” Lassiter said. It was those friendships that sustained their interest in the activity. “People are hungry for community,” he added. “Yoga is an expression of unity, that’s what brought us together.”

Community Yoga offers 75-minute classes six days a week, with a variety of teachers and styles. “Our instructors are so marvelous,” Lassiter said. The owners prioritize safety, so classes are limited to twelve people and the studio is equipped with a HEPA filtration system. Participants can book online or they can drop in for classes if space is available. Memberships are offered, as is special pricing to essential workers and teachers. Residents are encouraged to contact the studio for information on a locals discount.

Lassiter and Bates are actively trying to get the word out about the studio through events and partnerships with local bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs. They have plans for participating in Manteo’s First Friday events by offering “Grateful Yoga” in the courtyard outside the studio, which is yoga performed to The Grateful Dead music. “Things can get pretty hilarious,” Bates said. They also plan to offer workshops and reike, which are healing, energy events.

The space has gone through a series of tenant changes over the years, functioning as an art gallery for much of the time. “It seemed like a better place for something to do, not something to buy,” Lassiter said. So Lassiter and Bates decided to offer both. The couple owns Red Drum Pottery in Frisco. Though Bates earned a fine arts degree in painting, she recalls, “I didn’t realize pottery was going to take me over.” She always knew she would return to painting and she is thrilled to be returning to her first love. “It has been welling up in me for thirty years. I just had to get back to it,” she said.

Bates describes the painting process as an almost delirious experience: “It takes every ounce of everything out of me to paint a painting. I use every muscle in my body. I can’t think of anything but the brush and the strokes.” Bates uses water-soluble oil paint and works with a lot of complementary colors – reds and greens or blues and oranges. “I like how they interact with each other,” she said. She makes handmade brushes with bamboo handles and deer tail brushes. She paints landscapes of the ocean, trees and the sound, some series paintings as well as more abstract scenes that still reflect her distinct style. Bates has been invited to participate in the Dare County Arts Council at the Manteo Courthouse in August, along with two other artists, where she will display about thirty pieces of her artwork.

For more information on Community Yoga and Art Gallery, visit obxcommunityyoga.com or stop in at the studio at 207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue in Manteo.

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