Jennifer Skelton has been involved with yoga for a large portion of her adult life but since opening her own studio, RePose, in 2016, she has taken a unique stance on the practice.
Skelton had been teaching yoga at least part time since 2004, but when she started having kids in 2010, she began focusing on pre-natal and post-natal yoga.
This allowed her to finding a niche in Yellowknife’s yoga community that had generally been untapped before.
“I had built a reputation on pre-natal and post-natal yoga but I wanted to build off that and expand because yoga with a combination of movement and breath had really helped me with my own health,” said Skelton.
By the time she opened RePose, she was establishing a reputation of taking a more science-oriented approach to the ancient practice.
Having a background in sciences, Skelton started learning from physio-therapists, pain scientists biomechanists and incorporating their findings into how she taught.
It’s this blending of science and tradition that Skelton says makes her studio and approach unique
“Yoga often goes beyond just the body approach, but takes a mind-body-spirit approach and yoga does a lot for building self awareness, calming the mind and has a lot of known mental health benefits,” said Skelton.
“But since it became so popular in North America, a lot of claims get made in the yoga community about physical health benefits aren’t always grounded in science.”
The most common misconception: that passively stretching tight and sore muscle groups will lead to reduced pain and improved health.
“Someone might be sitting in a chair all day and get tight and sore and think that stretching will help them, but strengthening their body with resistance bands and light weights, or even body weight exercises will do more for them,” said Skelton. “These findings are backed from feedback but also the science.”
The classes that Skelton has normally been teaching out of her third floor studio next to the Bellanca building on on 50 Street have been pre-registered six-week courses, which Skelton says usually have more specific focuses, such as pelvic floor muscle groups, hips and lower back.
“Since these are pre-registered, it will be the same people coming so I can tailor the classes towards their needs of the group,” said Skelton.
But after years of running her business this way, Skelton is now looking to change things up this fall.
“People really like the six-week pre-registered experience, but I’ve been trying to figure out how to give people more flexibility and support them more through the week,” said Skelton.
This fall she is bringing in one more teacher, Leslie Gray, so classes can be taught Monday through Friday.
Gray will be bringing in a yoga ‘nidra’ classes, with a focus on breathing and relaxation techniques and guided mediation, as well as strength classes similar to Skelton’s.
RePose will now also offer an eight-class punch card, so clients do not have to sign up for six-week programs.
Skelton said the best deal, though, are season memberships, which provides clients with access to classes and workshops, but also to a private Facebook group, where Skelton regularly posts videos and tips for her clients.
The coming seasonal membership will run from September to December with reduced rates
“I want my classes and options to be flexible but also to maintain the small groups and personally tailored and specialized classes.”
Skelton has learned that in most cities specializing is key, but Yellowknife is a small town.
“My original niche was pre-and post-natal, so being in a small town, the niche markets are small as well, so I’ve had to constantly continue learning and specialize in multiple areas,” said Skelton.
“I just love learning and taking new courses so I’m finding other ways to specialize. All of these specialties are different from mainstream yoga.”
This fall she will take training in chronic pain management taught by a combination of physiotherapists and yoga therapists to further hone her understanding of the body and further refine her therapeutic approach.