dil Yoga Sanctuary Opens Doors to Community

By HATTIE LEFAVOUR

MIDDLEBURY — At dil Yoga Sanctuary, yoga is for everybody. The studio opened its doors on Oct. 13, welcoming the residents of Middlebury with the message that dil is a place for those from all corners of the community. Its grand opening attracted around 200 people into the 700-square-foot studio, launching the business in the same way that the owners hope to run it –  as a space of acceptance and warmth.

The studio — named “dil” (intentionally spelled lowercase), carrying the Persian and Hindi meanings of heart, soul, courage, generosity and wish – was started by sisters Jaime and Jennifer Parmelee and their close friend Bronwen Kent, all of whom are also instructors in several weekly classes at the studio. Both of the Parmelees graduated from Middlebury Union High School and have practiced yoga for two decades, having taught professionally in New York City before returning to Middlebury. Kent, too, has avidly practiced yoga before dil, and met the Parmelees through training as a yoga student.

“It has been beautiful to see the community coming together and experiencing what we’ve put our heart and soul into,” Jennifer said, reflecting on dil’s first few days open. 

Bronwen agreed that the new yoga sanctuary provided the town with a new means of community building. “In a place like Middlebury, I sometimes feel like I know everybody in town, so meeting all these new people is so nice,” she said.

In terms of community involvement, the studio’s location helps. Situated adjacent to Middlebury Bagel and Deli and two doors down from the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, dil’s central location allows it to integrate into the town’s structure and its residents’ lives. Dil takes up the 13 Washington Street address, previously “Ollie’s Other Place,” a gift store that stocked books, toys and educational games for kids, which closed this past June.

The studio is currently offering what Jennifer Parmelee described as “a bouquet of classes depending on what the community’s needs are.” These classes range from those suitable for beginners that focus on the mental benefits of yoga, to higher-level classes with titles such as “Sweat and Surrender” that emphasize yoga’s physicality. Regardless of type, every class aims to take a holistic approach in hopes of retaining yoga’s original purposes. 

The goal is to “keep mind, body and spirit centered and grounded,” said Jaime. “It’s yoga as it’s intended to be.”

In addition to regular classes, dil also has several workshops planned, including a Beginner’s Workshop on Nov. 10 and a Singing Bowls & Healing Restorative Workshop on Nov. 3, open to anyone in the community. They are also offering 200-hour yoga teacher training sessions led by the owners.

The variety of classes and workshops offered is a crucial part of dil’s identity as a yoga studio, as it offers classes not only for each level of student but also for those of all ages and abilities. This includes pre- and post-natal yoga, classes aimed at middle schoolers and sessions specifically for the elderly and differently abled. 

Dil’s owners also intend to develop a relationship with Middlebury College students. The Parmelees and Kent have been in contact with the college’s Yoga Club and hope that the classes they are offering will attract its students. From overstressed students to in-season varsity athletes, the Parmelees and Kent believe in the restorative powers of yoga in every aspect of life. 

Courtesy of dil Yoga Sanctuary
Co-owners of dil Yoga Sanctuary celebrate studio’s opening. From left to right: Jamie Parmelee, Jennifer Parmelee, and Bronwen Kent.

Jaime Parmelee said she loves working with athletes, and is excited to reach those on Middlebury’s campus and from Middlebury Union High School. While teaching yoga in New York City, she often worked with professional athletes in private sessions. Of this work, Parmelee said that the yoga “strengthens your body and connects your mind to your space, and it really shows in their performance on the field.”

Walking into the sanctuary, you can see why. The instructors are warm and welcoming, and the softly-lit wooden room relaxes guests before classes even begin. A few of Middlebury’s students have already given dil a test run, including Elizabeth Callaway ’21, who attended a Self-Discovery Level 1-2 class taught by owner Jaime Parmelee. After the class, Callaway complimented the instructor for being “able to fit the yoga experience to everyone in the class. It was very customizable, and it was a great reprieve from student life.

“A little joy is relaxing and we want to make [everyone] feel as welcome as possible,” Kent said.

 This has proven to be true so far. “All of the instructors are so friendly and conversational — they want you to have fun in the class, and you do,” said Middlebury College Yoga Club member Olivia Sommers ’21, who has already attended a few classes at dil. “It’s so much fun but still so calming.”

As dil sets out to connect with the community, it wants others to find their own connections to both yoga and themselves. Above all, the owners hope to create a space that allows people from all walks of life to experience yoga. They want students to be laughing and smiling in classes while also discovering themselves and finding inner balance. As Jennifer said, “Everyone has a specific connection to yoga in some way.”

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