We talked to: River Valley Yoga

We recently spoke to Suzie Goldstein, owner of River Valley Yoga in Florence. We love her mission, the studio's welcoming and supportive vibe, and Suzie's infectious enthusiasm.

How long has the studio been open? What made you choose to open a business in Florence?

The studio opened in 2013. I attended UMASS and became very involved in the yoga community in Northampton.  I decided to stay in this area due to the unique, wellness-minded community, and moved to Florence in 2009. There are so many people who share the same values here, and a commitment to self-care, as well as to physical and mental well-being.  As a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, my yoga practice focuses on physical alignment, self-awareness, and breath to alleviate pain, gain flexibility, and spread intelligence throughout the body. The practice really encourages people to tune into their individual needs and explore their capabilities as well as limitations.  I teach with great precision and attention to detail in a safe, warm, and supportive environment. The studio has a small sanctuary feel, and being in Florence it is also quiet and peaceful.

I love that this community is small enough that students start to get together outside of classes, planning to meet for coffee after yoga and/or meeting each other’s families. River Valley Yoga is part of the neighborhood. There is something truly special and sweet about this area, and I’m proud to be part of the community both as a business owner and a resident!

What do you love/appreciate most about the business community in Florence/Northampton?

This is a small business community, and we are all committed to our work and to supporting one another. I have received such wonderful advice and support from Kitty at the Freckled Fox, for example--I truly feel like she is watching out for me and is interested in seeing me continue to grow and thrive in my business. This is truly a unique community, with a variety of different types of businesses, from food to well-being to retail. It can be a challenge owning one’s own business, and particularly one that is a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown, but I feel like we all come together to look out for one another and offer help and support where it’s needed. It’s also nice when small businesses can collaborate and find ways to promote each other. Events like Florence Night Out really bring the spirit of Florence out and remind us all that we’re all in this together.  I am also so appreciative of Bill Arnold, who owns this building, and his commitment to making it a beautiful, vibrant space. He has been amazingly supportive of my business and has truly helped me continue to grow and thrive. And last year, we were named as winner of the 2019 Gazette Reader’s Choice award for best Yoga Studio.

What do you love/appreciate most about Florence/Northampton in general?

I love that there are so many wellness-minded people here, and that this is a very supportive, unique community.  I love that, even during winter storms, I often still hold classes, as students will happily ski or walk here via the bike path.  Classes are pretty great post-snow storm, and I feel so fortunate to have such dedicated students who want to be here, in all kinds of weather. I love that my students truly embrace my mission here, and welcome and assist new students so that they feel safe and comfortable as they begin their journey in this studio. This is a very inclusive environment, and we all have our own goals and needs, which vary from class to class. I want everyone to feel as comfortable and supported as possible, and all of my students are very respectful and mindful of this. I feel that Florence as a community has a similar feel--people are friendly, supportive, and truly want to help one another in any way they can.

What positive things do you see happening in Florence/Northampton?

Though we are in a state of flux, I see a lot of room for opportunity. Even though some businesses are closing, that allows for new ones to come in, which encourages a new, vibrant energy. There are also so many women-owned businesses, and a sense of support between all of us, rather than competition. Northampton also has  a wide range of businesses, from artists to retail shops to restaurants, and I really appreciate the energy and dedication that everyone brings to this area.

Are there any events you are particularly excited about, either in Florence/Northampton in general or at the studio?

I will hold a Thanksgiving morning class, one of my favorite classes to teach. It is a great way to start the day, get moving, and leave in a calm state of mind for the rest of the day. On Friday, we will also hold two Thanksgiving Recovery Classes in the morning and evening to help people decompress and feel refreshed after the holiday. I also teach a winter solstice workshop.  This year’s theme is Ignite Your Inner light, on Friday December 20th and Saturday December 21st. People can attend one or both classes. It’s the perfect time for self-reflection, nourishment and renewal, and we will have candles lit throughout the studio to create a welcoming, relaxing environment. It’s such a powerful and special time of the year, and the intensive will give people the permission and a safe space to think about how they want to grow and express themselves as we move toward a new year.

In terms of events going on in the community, I love Florence Night Out--the last one was incredible, with tons of people turning out and some amazing energy. I am already looking forward to the next one!

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