By Maggie Miles/Correspondent
Some people might be nervous to open a business during a pandemic, but not Wes Lassiter and Rhonda Bates, owners of Community Yoga, located in the Waterfront Shops in downtown Manteo.
“It was actually one of the reasons we did it, because we knew things were going to get better and had faith things were going to get better,” says Lassiter.
Since he was new to running a yoga studio, he says he didn’t mind if things were a bit slow while he learned the business. It’s that entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed the couple to have many successful projects and businesses during their more than 20 years together.
Sharing a mutual love of ﬁne art, Lassiter and Bates also own Red Drum Pottery together, where they sell their pottery, jewelry, and paintings, and serve organic coffees and healthy toasts and spreads. They also run three Airbnbs in Frisco and one in Manteo, and form the band Banjo Island. It’s an incredible number of passions and projects for one couple.
“Well, we certainly don’t want to just sit in a chair and watch the world go by,” says Lassiter, saying they aren’t stressed at all.
Lassiter and Bates, both in their 60s, say they are feeling pretty good and credit yoga. They fell in love with yoga a few years ago when Lassiter suffered a heart attack. He started going to a gym in Frisco that had yoga classes. Soon enough Bates joined in, and they started going on “yoga dates” together three or four times a week.
“We’ve really enjoyed what it’s done for us personally and what it’s given us personally —through stress, medical issues, we work really hard to live well, eat well, that sort of thing,” says Lassiter. “It’s a lifestyle for us.”
When Village Yoga closed their location in the couple’s downtown rental because of the pandemic, and after not ﬁnding a good ﬁt to take its place, Lassiter and Bates decided to give it a go. Bates had just gotten her yoga teacher certiﬁcation and with Lassiter’s business experience and a group of teachers was ready to join the team.
Lassiter is enjoying learning the ropes and coming up with trainings and programs, but he says he really loves joining everyone on the mat. If you check out a class at Community Yoga, there’s a good chance you will ﬁnd him enjoying the class alongside you.
Bates adds that yoga is what has given them a sense of community, hence the name of their studio. With their busy schedules, they didn’t have a huge friend base. Yoga has given them that.
“Yoga brought us a social life, people to be around, so we’re making new friend-ships all of the time,” says Bates.
Sure enough, it turns out that their clients at Community Yoga have had that same experience at their studio. Bethany Cunningham and her ﬁancé Wes Snyder keep a busy schedule with their photography business, and their time at the yoga studio has given them a chance to get to know people better.
“We run into a lot of people at Community Yoga. “… It’s been a great way to tie into the community and get to know our neighbors a little better,” says Cunningham, 43, of Manteo.
And it’s also helped them escape the stress of life. A couple of weeks ago, their home was being reroofed and after a few days of the noise they were ready to get out of the house.
“We went to the restorative class on Thursday night and it completely relaxed our minds and bodies and really took us to that place of yoga where we could really relax and forget about the stress from home,” says Cunningham.
Lassiter and Bates see the studio as a living organ-ism and planning new classes such as pilates and dance, and workshops on topics such as nutrition.
But what Lassiter, Bates, and Cunningham all say sets the studio apart, is the breathtaking view.
“We are really enjoying that its right down on the waterfront, with the view of the Elizabethan II, the horizon and a little bit of Nags Head,” says Cunningham. “It is amazing.”