In my hometown of Auburn, Alabama, there is a beautiful little place called Yogafly Studio that is a “must-go-do” whenever I’m visiting.
But first let me say that this town is no sleepy Alabama community like you might find portrayed in some offbeat Hollywood movie; it is one that is very much alive and is constantly en flux, with a major university that attracts unique and innovative people that have their own ideas about how they want to live their lives. Over the last five years, every time I’ve returned to visit my family I’m always amazed at the masses of new business that have opened and the vibrancy that seems to constantly surround the city. Yet Auburn is not the same “Auburn” it was when I was a child nor is it the same town where I went to college. In those days the thought of there being a yoga studio in town would have been considered a far-out idea by some.
However when Yogafly owner and director Peach Dumars first opened her doors in 2012, it was almost as if the town had grown an appendage for itself, saying “now is the time for yoga.” Located in a spacious studio inside the popular boutique Behind the Glass that overlooks downtown Auburn, the studio has grown to be immensely popular even amongst some of the most unlikely of yogis. It seems that almost everyone I run into in town has been to a class at Yogafly. I was first introduced to the studio by my good friend (and fellow shetrusts contributor) Alana Dillette when I was visiting for Thanksgiving this past Fall. I returned several other times that week with my stepmom and sisters, even attending one of their signature vinyasa classes together on Thanksgiving morning. Not only did they provide top-notch instruction, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to practice yoga together as a family. They even host out-of-town weekend retreats (Peach is leading the next retreat in the North Carolina mountains from July 10th-13th. Visit her website for more information!) and provide teacher-training. Now whenever I find myself back in Auburn (which has been a lot more frequently lately thanks to my move back to the East coast), a class at Yogafly is a must.
So of course I had to share Yogafly, and the woman who is making it all happen, with my fellow shetrusters! Recently, Peach was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, sharing her inspirations for Yogafly, how yoga’s role in her life has evolved, and the fashion products she trusts to help keep everything in her life moving forward....
- Katherine Hanson | founder, shetrusts.com
A shetrusts Q + A with Yogafly founder Peach Dumars:
A few basics about yourself: where are you from originally and where did you grow up? Was yoga a part of your life as a child?
“I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. My mom owned a yoga & dance studio for many years, so, while I didn’t practice yoga as a young child, it was something I knew about, and something that others all around me did. I started practicing in high school, and though from my very first experience yoga had a profound impact on me, I only practiced on and off for about ten years. I would be super committed for six months or so, and then get distracted by something else, and so on. It was during graduate school, when I was living in California, that I started to dedicate myself to a more conscious practice.”
How did you and your family come to live in Auburn?
“My husband is a campus planner at Auburn University and that was our official reason for the move, but, after six years in urban California, I also wanted a return to small town life.”
What was the initial inspiration for YogaFly? How long was it from that point until you first opened your doors?
“I had an inkling that I might open a yoga studio in Auburn before we even moved here. Just doing the research to move—I saw that this was a thriving college community without a thriving yoga scene. But I wasn’t sure I would really do it, and it takes a little while to get to know a place. So I taught out of my house, my backyard, a local church and a local gym for about two years before deciding to go for it!”
I love your location inside of Behind the Glass in downtown Auburn. Did you have that location in mind when you first began planning YogaFly? How did that arrangement come about?
“I love our location too! Everything just fell into place. That happens when the time is right, I think!”
I’m a big believer in the idea that “all roads lead to Rome”, meaning that even the most minute life experiences eventually come together to form a bigger picture or assist in achieving a larger endeavor. What was your professional background prior to founding YogaFly? Do you feel that it lends itself well to owning and operating a yoga studio?
“My professional background was varied. I was a published author with several years experience working in the field of eating disorders, as well as in fitness, dance, and yoga studios. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, and the idea of owning my own business felt natural, but also scary. There has been a learning curve to the business side of things, but I am a pretty quick learner & quick thinker, and the excitement of ‘making it happen’ propelled me forward.”
Despite being a top university town, Auburn has a reputation of being a pretty conservative place. Did you find the community to be receptive of a yoga studio at first? Have you found that the community’s attitudes and perceptions about yoga have changed since you first opened your doors?
“I am so amazed by Auburn. Yes, when we first moved here I was scared to ‘OM’ in classes. I was scared to use Sanskrit. I was scared people were going to judge me or think I was weird. Big lesson: I was the one judging! Because in fact, Auburn loves yoga and people here have been so incredibly open to the experience. My own perceptions that Auburn was conservative have been demolished. This town is rad. The people here are creative and amazing. I expect to see more progressive growth in the years to come!”
Moving forward, what do you see in the future for YogaFly? How do you see the studio evolving and growing over time?
“One of the best part of my job is training teachers. I run a 200-hour Yoga Alliance approved training program, and I am so passionate about that whole process. I hope that, moving forward, this aspect of my own role continues to develop as I can train more teachers to share yoga with the Deep South!”
*Editor's note: Peach is leading a weekend retreat in the North Carolina mountains from July 10th-13th. Visit her website for more information!
You’re pretty open about your past struggles with exercise addiction and eating disorders, and it is the main topic of your book Diary of an Exercise Addict. Is that a part of yourself that you still have to be mindful of? Have you found that owning and running an athletic business has amplified or muted any internal “noise” about exercise for you?
“Great question, and, I see it a little differently. While for sure practice yoga asana (the postures) is great exercise, and uses the body fairly intensely, I really don’t see it as an “athletic business.” Yoga is such a multi-faceted practice. It views the whole experience of being alive, and treats the physical body as one part of that. And then that aside, I have really done my work around recovery. I take good care of my body and I love that now as much as I used to love (or obsess) over constant exercise. Now I relish in self-care, which is woven into the threads of every choice I make.”
What role has yoga played in your recovery? What is your exercise routine like now?
“Yoga has been a support to me throughout my life, in all transitions. When I was very active with my eating disorder, I abused asana just like I abused running and food. As I began to recover, so did my healthy yoga balance. Practicing yoga is a teacher to me: it mirrors what’s real & honest in my physical body as well as my emotional, energetic, mental, and spiritual bodies. It’s not really separate from me. Yoga is what I experience when I’m being real.
“I don’t really exercise for exercise. I practice yoga for the whole experience of yoga (which is translated from Sanskrit as “union,” or, “to yoke”) and I walk sometimes because I love being outside and because I try to make choices that are supportive of sustaining the health of the earth. So, when I don’t have to use my car, I try not to. But I do not really exercise for the sake of just working out. That is still tied to the days of my eating disorder, and, kinda seems unnecessary. I feel happy and strong as I am now.”
What products are your go-to’s for your yoga practice (apparel, gear, etc.)?
“I really care about the function of my yoga wear. It has to feel good to practice in! I love Beyond Yoga & Hard Tail pants. I also like OmGirl for less sweaty practices or when I am teaching (their cotton feels so soft and I love their designs, but, it shows sweat). I have had my Manduka mat for about seven years and I couldn’t live without it! That’s really all I need to practice: good pants and a good mat!”
What have you found to be your “tools” in balancing work, friends, family and personal time? Do you find it difficult to find balance it all?
“I kind of snorted reading this. I don’t know: either I have it perfectly in balance, or totally out of balance. What I mean is: I eat, sleep & breathe Yogafly. I work a lot, and I do very little outside of my work right now. And as to whether that is in balance or out of balance might depend on whom you ask. I love my work and I love the people I work with. I actually feel very fulfilled spending time at the studio teaching, in meetings, and mentoring teachers. When I go home, I really just want to be with my husband and my kids. So, certainly, since opening Yogafly my social life has changed. And I don’t carve out time for much else. I suspect that may shift over time if I choose to focus on other things, but, this business is a labor of love.”
Describe what would be a typical day for you:
“Wake up at 6, tongue scrape, pranayama, shower. Get dressed, make coffee for me and my husband, and breakfast for the kids. Pack lunches. Wake the kids up, dress, and get them off to school.
“Get to the studio about 8:30am and either practice or teach for the morning. Lately I keep my Vitamix at the studio so I can make green drinks for lunch at work! My office is like a mini kitchen filled with veggies for smoothies, rice cakes, hummus, almond butter, kombucha, and dark chocolate. In the afternoons I’m typically in meetings until 3:30pm when I leave to get the kids and either spend a couple of hours doing sweet things with them, or taking them to various activities. On Tuesday nights I go back to Yogafly to teach, the other nights I make dinner for my family at home.
“After the kids are in bed I typically spend another couple of hours working, generally catching up on email or the business end of things.”
What are some of your other personal interests and hobbies?
“I love reading & writing. I love taking walks. I love talking to my husband, my girlfriends, my mom. My parents & siblings get on this big daily group text, which is a constant source of amusement. Yesterday the whole thread was in French… we are goofy!”
What do you like to do when you have a day to yourself?
“Yoga, walk, eat, massage, bath, movie.”
What are the top five things that you cannot live without?
- My sweet babies! My daughter is 5 and my son is 3. They are amazing little creatures who teach me something new every day.
- Dark chocolate & almond butter… together!
- Daily practice
- My iPhone + MacBook. My whole life is organized on those two machines.
- Bare feet in the grass. That feeling.
Where your favorite places to eat, drink, and shop in Auburn?
“Favorite place to shop is Behind the Glass, and I am lucky enough to walk through that store a dozen times a day. I tell them if they would start stocking milk & stamps I would never need to go anywhere else!
“I am a big supporter of small local businesses, so I try to put all my dollars there. We eat at Hamilton’s a lot, the Hound, and Acre. But honestly—despite it’s non-small business-ness, we end up at Chipotle probably once a week. I cook at home as much as I can. I prefer to eat natural, healthy food, and while Auburn has some great restaurants the pickings are slim for my eating style. I was so happy when Earth Fare opened because I can get good produce and meat there, and, I also shop at Dayspring for some other healthy essentials!”
At shetrusts, we’re ultimately interested in sharing with women what fashion products and accessories that other awesomely inspiring women trust as they go about their lives. So, what are the top five fashion items that you trust?
“I live in yoga clothes. Lately Beyond Yoga or OmGirl leggings with fun funky drapey tops that I pick up at Behind the Glass. I wear boots throughout most of the year. I love my Frye boots that I bought about seven years ago. I also don’t leave the house without my mala beads that came from my good friend’s yoga boutique in California, and I wear a Rolex handed down to me from my mom, plus Cartier’s trinity ring. I like to think my style is a mix of classic + hippie yoga mom. If that makes any sense.”
Any parting words?
“I have one more thing I want to say! I have the most incredible team of employees and teachers, as well as an amazingly supportive family. I feel like I am who I am because of what I’m made of, and, part of Yogafly’s success is because of these incredible people.”