Written By Ashlee Green
Suzanne Nagel has taught yoga at one of Pittsburgh’s best-known studios, Yoga Flow, since 2013. This spring, she’s branching out with her own place, Om Lounge in the East End, and bringing her vision to build an uplifting, come-as-you-are community with her.
LOCAL: What made you choose to leave Yoga Flow?
Suzanne Nagel: I appreciate the opportunities I had at Yoga Flow. It’s great to teach and to be a part of a studio for a long time, but also you can get into a place where you’re solely defined by a specific brand.
Throughout anyone’s career, they start to grow in ways that they didn’t expect. For me, I had some life changes. I got divorced in the past year.
Teaching yoga for a studio––hustling around––is not necessarily sustainable as a full-time living. At times it can be a struggle. Based on some life changes, I needed to think about how to proceed.
When any teacher that’s been an integral part of a studio’s business breaks off, people wonder, “What happened?,” “What’s the situation?” For me, it’s not about drama; it’s simply a business decision. For much of my life I’ve worked for other people and I wanted to work for myself.
LOCAL: What is your yoga vision? How do you want to bring yoga to people?
SN: In the yoga community, the most important thing is being a community––it’s lifting one another up. It shouldn’t be about competition; it should be about where students can practice at one studio or another and it shouldn’t feel like it’s a competition or wrong. The point of all of it is that people are doing yoga. I’m trying to do things in a different way; I want to be very open to the community as a whole.
For my studio, my goal is––whether it’s teachers, whether it’s students––that it feels like you can be a part of a community that is lifting you up. [It’s] less about… the competition or the business of yoga and more about experiencing the joy of it.
At the Om Lounge, there won’t be any one particular style. For my teachers and myself, it’s about doing whatever your strength is as a teacher––whatever you best bring to the mat. I want them to be themselves inherently and in how they approach the mat, teaching, and their students.
LOCAL: What are your fears?
SN: So many. Failure: That it doesn’t work, that nobody likes it. If you operate from the basis of that, though, you’ll never get anywhere. It was a huge leap of faith in myself to do this.
I always teach in my classes that at least one time in the class––if students can find one new thing that’s outside of a comfort zone––lifting one foot up into crow pose, whatever it is––I always talk about that.
Much of what’s held me back in life is not believing in myself and spending much of my life very capable but yet not allowing myself to do it for myself.
There’s a lot of people that want to do things that don’t think they can do––that are afraid of all the steps. For me, that was definitely the case. It’s all about action: If you want something, taking action to make it happen, believing in yourself.
Ultimately, if you want to succeed at anything, you’re going to have to shift yourself out of your comfort zone. Whatever empowers you is going to empower others.
Om Lounge was created out of all of the hopes and dreams and the path that I wanted to be on. I kept seeing “1111” everywhere in my life and I would pay attention to what I was thinking or feeling at that time and it would always make me feel like: “You have to believe in yourself.”
I want it to be a loving and supportive studio that creates a community of positive energy and spreads it out.
LOCAL: Is there a specific type of student that you hope comes to your studio?
SN: One of my favorite sayings is, “You attract what you’re ready for.” I think the Om Lounge will attract who is ready for the Om Lounge.
We all relate to one another so much. Everybody is holding back. You have your problems and you think that everything is perfect for [the other person]. What I’ve noticed is that everybody is struggling with the same things.
I just want it to be a place where when you come in––that’s where the “lounge” comes from––it’s going to feel like everybody knows your name. It’s home, it’s a community, it’s a place where… you’re going to feel the stress of the day and the world, and you’re going to feel like there are people there that care about you, that want to support you within your practice, within your yoga community.
There’s no specific person that I want to come here, I just want people to embrace this concept and enjoy themselves.