2012-02-01 / Perspectives / Sports News

A Journey with Vikasa Yoga

By Annie Chesnut Photos by Chris Layton


Kathy, Lara, and Melia strike a pose at their Main Street studio. Kathy, Lara, and Melia strike a pose at their Main Street studio. Like the concepts of “exercise,” or “meditation,” yoga can mean something very different to almost everyone.

“Vikasa,” a Sanskrit term roughly meaning “Spiritual unfoldment,” or “journey” (both spiritual and intellectual) is the name of the Main Street studio in Cold Spring that brings yoga—along with Pilates—to this community.

The three founders of Vikasa Yoga in Cold Spring—Melia Marzollo, Kathy Toris, and Lara Voloto—are bright, grounded women with energy to spare, and share. Each has lived in Cold Spring for about ten years.

The practice of yoga dates back a lot further, to the pre- Christian era in what is now India. Sipping “a little bit of herbal elixir,” we chatted with Melia and Lara about the history of the studio.


The lotus blossom—rising up from the mud through water, reaching the air and seeking the light of the sun—is a key symbol in eastern religion, particularly Buddhism. The lotus blossom—rising up from the mud through water, reaching the air and seeking the light of the sun—is a key symbol in eastern religion, particularly Buddhism. Vikasa’s teachers are not the only yoga/Pilates instructors in Cold Spring. There are classes at The Living Room, Boscobel, and Philipstown Recreation, and a number of independent yoga and Pilates practitioners here, as well. What stands out about Vikasa is the strong commitment to the community that’s evident in everything they do.

The studio has been in its 15 Main Street location about three years but the three have been together for twice that long. They first met at a Beacon studio at which they were all teaching.

In the beginning the three women moved together to a location on Lane Gate Road for two years and then migrated to the studio, Many Light Hands, which was located for a time at 69 Main Street. The current location is charming, a former office space that was completely refurbished with love by friends and family, Melia recalled, within a period of two weeks.


Classes at Vikasa teach skills to participants at all levels. Classes at Vikasa teach skills to participants at all levels. Kathy first worked “in the corporate world of high heels and desks,” Lara explained, and eventually left.

Lara lived in New York City and was a children’s book designer, laid off just as she moved to Cold Spring. After adopting and giving birth to her children, she found a sanctuary in the practice of yoga.

Melia was a high school English teacher who would go to Pilates class on the side. She became certified “just to deepen my own practice,” but when she entered the studio in Beacon ten years ago and was offered a job by chance, she began teaching one class at night and found she needed to change her lifestyle…so she did.

At the studio, Melia said, “people feel better and they look to you in the positive way; often as a teacher, or in the corporate world, you’re not.”

Lara summarized the connection between the three teachers: “We all were behind a desk, and we all were seeking something that was meaningful—a way that we could make a difference…we didn’t feel vital.”

Their mission as studio owners, Lara added, is to serve this community. “Come as you are” is their slogan; they want to meet the community where it is and offer back their knowledge in gratitude “for all that it has given us.”

Vikasa offers different styles of yoga including; Anusara, Yin, Hatha, Restorative and Vinyasa. The 4-week beginner yoga series and 6-week beginner Pilates series are favorites. Pilates classes include private and semi-private mat and apparatus. There are prenatal yoga classes, which can be hard to find. Private and semi-private boxing classes are also available. There is Buddhist-centered meditation twice a month, on the second and fourth Friday evenings, and there’s even a small display of fitness clothing and related items.

Asked if they are busy all the time, Lara replied, “We are here every day of the week and we structure most of our classes around what the community needs. Our morning classes are during pre-schools. Our evening classes are for the most part train-schedule oriented.”

“Yoga for Stiff Dudes” is a class focusing on people (primarily, but not only, men) who have lost some flexibility—the kind of folks who can’t quite touch their toes any more.

Vikasa recently collaborated with Main Street’s Go-Go Pops (providing the juices) on a “7- day Chakra and Juice Cleanse,” which the teachers described as “a smashing success.” More than 25 people participated in the program, which also included “getting rid of bad habits” like caffeine, alcohol, meats, and so on, Melia added. A 3-day “weekend internal wash” is scheduled for early next month—after the Super Bowl and before Valentine’s Day.

Lara is currently offering an Anusara Yoga Immersion— “it’s a prerequisite for teaching, but it’s also for people who just want to deepen their practice,” she said. Offering “a path for awakening, the opportunity for focused study and to join together with likeminded students, the program is set for Sundays 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Jan. 29, Feb. 12 and 26, March 11, and April 15. Contact the studio for pricing and registration details.

To a newcomer, what is most refreshing about Vikasa is its friendly, welcoming atmosphere and the obvious knowledge of the teachers.

For details call 914-588- 8166, email vikasastudio@gmail.com, or visit vikasastudio.com.

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