Faces of the Medical District: Anne Marie Wyatt, Owner of SANA Yoga
May 24, 2024

We couldn’t have an equitable, vibrant, and prosperous Medical District without our people – which is why MMDC will be spotlighting a new business owner, creator, or activator within the District every other month. We’re excited to be kicking this series off with an interview from Anne Marie Wyatt, owner of Sana Yoga!

Tell us a little about yourself, are you from Memphis?

“I am from Memphis, born and raised. I graduated from University of Memphis and really never ventured far from home. I started working in my family business, and did that for about 18 years. I loved it until it started changing. We sold the business and it got a little bit more corporate. It wasn’t really mom and pop anymore, so I was starting to look for something different when I got into yoga,

Also, I have 3 young children. So, I was looking for something that would give me a little bit better work-life balance. I think I just realized I was burning both ends of the candle so I thought, ‘Well, an opportunity to do something I love, why not?’”

How long have you been practicing yoga?

“7 years ago before I had my third child. It was called Sumits Yoga at the time- we rebranded to Sana Yoga. The studio was right up the street from my house so I started getting back into it. I had done a little bit of yoga before in the past, but once I started going 4 times a week, I fell in love and it just grew from there.

I was a little apprehensive at first because it’s a heated class and I had never done hot yoga. I didn’t really like the idea of hot yoga, but I remember thinking ‘It’s three minutes from my house, how convenient would this be?’ So I went to a class, was given  some good pointers on how to deal with the heat. And I mean it was kind of like one of those love at first sight stories, I just loved it. I remember I went home and my husband was like ‘what did you think?’ And I was like “I want to do that everyday for the rest of my life.”

And so I just did it for fun, I never thought about it career-wise. My background was in business, I have a finance degree, and so I always thought I would run the family business one day, but you know as life would have it things change and this opportunity came up and I thought ‘Oh I can apply my business background to something I love.’

The owner, Amy, and I started talking, we had one meeting and my mind was already in my yoga studio. Around the same time the corporate team at my former job came to town and offered me a promotion. It was what I had been working for all these years and that’s when it hit me. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, if I do this I can’t do my yoga studio!’ And that’s how I knew.

I knew if I didn’t give it a try, I would always regret it.

It just felt right, I don’t know how else to explain it. Now I’m teaching and I’m getting to apply my business acumen. Every day is different and I love it.”

What was your journey like going from being a yoga student to the owner of a studio?

“It’s so surreal still, but it was really kind of an easy, natural transition. I was taking yoga all the time and I was really feeling the benefits– it really does creep up on you physically. When teacher training came I hadn’t even talked to Amy about opening a studio yet, but in my head I thought ‘If I’m ever going to own a yoga studio I have to be a teacher first.’ So I went into yoga teacher training and then I just started teaching once a week for fun. Then when the opportunity came up to own my own studio I was like ‘I got all the skills, now is the right time.’

It’s funny because I really still see myself more as a yoga student than a yoga teacher. But they say that never really ends. So now it just feels like my work, life and play is all one thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever really had a day off since opening the studio, but none of my days have really felt like work either.

Having a connection to the practice as a yogi myself helps I think with the students because I know what they’re looking for and what they might feel or not feel after a class. We want people to come in and feel better, that’s the whole point!

So it has really been a seamless transition.”

What makes Sana Yoga special?

“I think it is our community. Every yoga studio will say that, but I think we just have a very welcoming vibe. You see all types in our studios, all ages, demographics, men, women. So I just think that our inclusiveness and our signature sequence - there is just something about it that’s special. To me it is just the perfect combination where when you’re done you’ve hit every muscle in your body. People just can’t get enough.

And the class was designed originally with the beginner in mind, but that being said I’ve been doing it for seven years and I still want it 2-3 times a week. It’s very beginner friendly because it’s the same sequence every time, you learn the flow and can feel your practice advance. You feel where you can soften into a pose one day where maybe you couldn’t the week before and feeling that growth makes you want more. You’re rewarded quickly for your efforts and that keeps people wanting to come back because they can see and feel the differences in their body. We have beginners in every class and very advanced people in every class. It doesn’t make a difference, everyone is just on their own journey.

We also have pilates 1-2 times a day and people go crazy for it. I have found personally that it’s such a good accompaniment to your yoga practice because you build so much strength in your core and you need those core muscles to do a lot of the yoga so it goes hand in hand. You build strength a little bit faster that way.”

Why did you choose to put down roots in the Medical District?

"To go back to that community piece,

I could tell that everyone was in this together because all of the businesses were new, local, and small. Also just the vibe because Madison is a major street connecting Downtown and Midtown but it’s still quiet. There’s not that much traffic, there’s a park across the street, it has parking and so it had all of the amenities I needed.

Plus I knew Memphis Medical District Collaborative would be pushing for me, the Edge District would be pushing for me, Downtown Memphis Commission would be pushing for me, and I would need all the help I could get! So far it has proven to be a smart decision. So that was really the draw. We’re all talking as businesses about what we can do to help one another. Having Henry Turley Co. as the landlord too has been great. You really feel that they care.”

What message do you have for anyone who is interested in taking a yoga or pilates class at Sana Yoga?

“Just do it. Don’t be scared. I think there’s that intimidation factor where a lot of times what is being advertised for yoga is a perfect physique or perfect yoga clothes and really you don’t have to have any of that. Just come in, there’s something for everybody here. Just give it a try, you never know! It’s also one of those things where we know you’re not going to come in and one yoga class is going to change your life; it's more of a lifestyle. That’s why we open with our two week intro offer because we really want people to come in and give it two weeks. Get in as much as you can, see what it feels like to practice yoga 3-4 times a week. Try to put out any fears that you’re not flexible enough, noone is flexible not doing anything about it. So come in, keep an open mind, and just see how it feels.

Also the heat really does help warm up the muscles and make you more flexible. Plus the sweating gives you that extra cardiovascular workout and provides mental endurance. Sometimes it just feels good to sweat and detox! Before you judge it, try it, because you just don’t know. I remember being scared to take a hot yoga class and I almost didn’t go and then I took it and I was hooked!

This has really been a journey of finding myself and expressing myself all at once. It’s scary to leave something safe to something that is completely unknown and there’s still a lot of unknown, but it just feels too good.”
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