In truth, we are all students and we are all teachers.
– Stephanie Keach, co-founder, Asheville Yoga Center
Following a dream
This year, Asheville Yoga Center (AYC) celebrates twenty years of changing the world through yoga. What started in a small rented space has grown to a nationally renowned yoga center located on an eco-friendly campus with two studios, training spaces, and a boutique.
Sunny and Steph Keach, founders and owners of AYC, met in 1994 in Santa Barbara, California. Steph was already a yoga teacher with a mind thirsty for knowledge and a heart open to all possibilities, and she found a fellow seeker in Sunny. Together they nurtured a vision of using yoga, music, and movement to heal people and bring peace and harmony to the world.
The Keaches chose to follow their dream in Asheville, which they saw as the ideal location both to raise a family and to connect with a free-spirited and free-thinking community. They opened their first studio in 1997, with six yoga teachers leading 22 classes a week (Steph taught 14 of them herself!). At the time, there was only one other yoga studio in Asheville. Students flocked to the new studio, and AYC quickly outgrew the space.
Helping to build a yoga community
But AYC wasn’t just running out of space—it was running out of teachers. To meet that need, and help people deepen their yoga practice, the Keaches started offering Yoga Alliance-certified teacher trainings. The trainings were held throughout the Southeast using expert AYC staff, and solidified AYC’s reputation for excellence in the region and beyond. Hundreds of highly qualified yoga teachers graduated from the program and went out to serve the growing yoga community.
As the years went by, the growth continued. The more classes and trainings AYC offered, the more people came, requiring moves to larger spaces. But soon the wandering would end. In 2010, driving through North Asheville, Sunny and Steph found AYC’s new home. Where others saw an empty, weed-strewn lot, the Keaches saw potential—a green-built, custom yoga studio, the first of its kind in the country. Opened in 2012, the airy, tranquil space allowed AYC to expand their offerings and ensure everyone could have a yoga home.
The growing popularity of the teacher trainings coincided with an adjacent lot and building going up for sale. AYC purchased the lot and transformed the building into a training and event space alongside an eclectic boutique that offers students and guests everything they need to complement a yoga lifestyle.
A legacy and future of healing and transformation
Today, celebrating twenty years of healing, education, and personal transformation, AYC offers nearly 100 classes per week, leads teacher trainings throughout the year, and runs specialty workshops led by local teachers and world-renowned visiting instructors. The community AYC has built on its unique yoga campus nurtures and inspires its students and teachers, and gives back to the Asheville community through fundraisers and programs like the donation-based Yoga in the Park.
And still the visions and plans continue. The Southeast’s yoga “mothership” has helped birth a number of yoga studios, created a community of like-minded yogis, and helped turn Asheville into an international yoga destination. As for the future, AYC will continue to help fulfill the dreams of those starting their yoga journey and those who constantly strive to learn more, always with the mantra of “Peace. Love. Yoga.”