After experiencing an emotional and spiritual transformation over the past seven years, Riverhead native Jessica Milligan decided to come back to her roots to share her passion for yoga with her community.
Love Life Yoga and Wellness Center will open May 5 in Calverton Commons. Ms. Milligan transformed the space with welcoming yellows and blues, and, most importantly, incorporated her spirit animal in a large mural of a colorful peacock.
“I feel as if it is a very welcoming, uplifting space for people,” she said.
“When I came to look at the space there were two peacocks near the gazebo in the commons,” she added. “I believe in signs and I get my signs through feathers, numbers and peacocks.”
After she called the landlord and found out rent was just $1,400 a month, she knew she found her future yoga space.
She wanted to open shop in this area because there are no freestanding yoga studios in Riverhead. Besides certain gyms that offer yoga classes, this will be the only yoga studio between Wading River and Mattituck.
“All my classes are all levels that anyone can come to, even if you are a beginner,” she said. “The teachers will modify for whoever is in the class.”
Ms. Milligan has been practicing yoga for seven years and has taught for two. She started yoga as a physical exercise to lose weight, but soon realized it could have a deeper meaning.
She realized her true calling while in savasana, a meditative yoga pose, and allowed her to accept religion, something that she had long struggled with.
“I had always questioned religion, and yoga is the oldest philosophy in the world, and I realized that that’s what my soul had been searching for,” she said. “It wasn’t enough to just do it. I needed to bring it deeper and that’s when I decided to go to yoga teacher training.”
She learned by connecting with the spirit within how to achieve true happiness, and it has become her mission to bring that same peace to the Riverhead community where she has deep roots. She graduated from Riverhead High School in 1999, and her grandfather Albert Summerville was a detective in the Riverhead Police Department.
She also cleans houses and has done so for the past 17 years. Previously, she was a plus-size model on the Home Shopping Network and walked in New York Fashion Week, but she said that was when she was the least happy.
In the reception area, yoga equipment and Sattva Organic Skincare will be sold. The studio practice room can hold about 25 people comfortably. There will be giveaways of Sattva products for people who sign up for classes at the grand opening next weekend.
Ms. Milligan has more planned for the space than just the standard yoga. Her classes include Early Morning Flow, Good Morning Stretch, and Flow Yoga. Chair Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga are offered on a daily basis that is aimed at senior citizens and offers a simpler approach to yoga. Open meditation is from 11:45 to 12:30 every afternoon, seven days a week.
Drop-in classes are $15 a class with options to purchase a 5 class, 10 class, or 20 class card for $70, $130 and $240, respectively. Several other memberships are available, like unlimited monthly or yearly, and a new student special of unlimited monthly for $100. More information about pricing can be found on LoveLifeYogaLI.com. Memberships include access to all classes offered at the studio.
“It’s very important to me to make if affordable and accessible for people because I want people to do yoga,” Ms. Milligan said. “The average drop-in price is $20 to $22 per class, and a big turn off for people is the price.”
Five other yoga instructors will be teaching alongside Ms. Milligan. She will hold mindfulness, nutritional and chemical intake workshops on Saturdays. She’ll also hold beginner yoga workshops along with crystal ball healing circles and full moon circles.
“Society and religion teaches us so much to look outside of ourselves for answers we can find within,” Ms. Milligan said. “When we detach from material things and shut everything off and connect with the spirit that’s inside of us, we can find a lot of the answers and confidence in ourselves.”
Photo caption: Riverhead native Jessica Milligan outside her Calverton yoga studio. (Rachel Siford photo)