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Decatur Yoga & Pilates was Spawned by Love

By Jake Levin

From a foot injury came a yoga studio. There were many stops along the way for Debra Kelley, but the end product was Decatur Yoga & Pilates, conveniently located in Decatur, Ga.

Kelley followed an Ali MacGraw yoga video for a year while she recovered from surgery on her foot, saying that it helped greatly with her recovery. She finally took a class and became hooked.

But there was still the matter of her day job in the corporate world, where Kelley worked for Southern Living Magazine. She credited yoga with dealing with the stress of travel and meeting sales goals, but after a few years, she took a leave of absence from the magazine to train as a yoga teacher in Los Angeles.

Kelley said she returned a changed person, resigned from her job and set out to change the world. Two years later she opened her studio, which is still running in downtown Decatur 14 years later.

"The atmosphere is upbeat, open, and kind," Kelley said of the studio, which she owns. "We strive to never allow competition or comparison into our space."

The studio is focused on safety and education so that students can take responsibility for their own practice, which ensures that students are true to themselves during their journey. Multiple styles of yoga are taught, including Hot Vinyasa and Therapeutic, and patrons of all ages are more than welcome. Both pre and postnatal yoga is on the itinerary, as are yoga for kids and yoga for seniors.

"This helps foster diversity and a healthy lifestyle through all stages of life," Kelley said.

The benefits of exposing children to yoga are numerous, according to Kelley.

"Exposing your child to yoga will make your life as a parent so much easier," she said. "There are very few opportunities today for children to participate in a non-competitive extracurricular activity that also helps develop their emotional intelligence, social skills, coordination, and body awareness. Yoga gives them the opportunity to grow in many different areas at once, while empowering them to be in their own bodies."

Kelley added she wishes that she had been exposed to yoga at a younger age.

What helps Decatur Yoga & Pilates stand out from other studios, Kelley said, is its amazing customer service, diverse class schedule, welcoming and noncompetitive community and a stellar group of teachers.

"We continue to strive every day to improve the Decatur Yoga & Pilates experience and believe we have found a balanced formula that works," she said. "It is truly a place to connect and grow in your practice and throughout your life."

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