Those who are luckiest in life say they have one thing in common: They’ve found what they describe as their “calling” — that elusive “something” that gives them a sense of purpose in what they contribute to the world.
Meg Rima counts herself among those individuals.
“I was 100% called to open this,” she said, nestled comfortably in a chair from the lobby of her business that celebrates its eighth anniversary this month. “There was nothing like it here at the time. My husband and I thought, ‘Maybe I’m the one who is supposed to bring it.’ So, I brought it.”
Rima, 41, is the founder and owner of Ignite Power Yoga Studio, located on Dubuque’s west end. It houses a practice known as Baptiste, named for its founder, Baron Baptiste. It’s a type of heated power yoga that offers a higher intensity but that remains accessible and adaptable to various levels of physical ability.
The practice bases itself on five pillars: Drishti (gaze), ujjayi (breath), foundations (hands, feet and core), tapas (heat) and vinyasa (flow) that sets yoga postures to breath and movement. It also boasts the same health benefits and meditative qualities associated with traditional yoga.
Originally from the humble farming community of Maynard, Iowa, Rima’s path to the yoga mat was anything but predictable. She graduated from the University of Dubuque with studies in aviation before pursuing a career as a financial advisor — something that would later give her a boost in confidence when opening her business.
Life and career opportunities eventually relocated Rima and her husband, Scott, to La Crosse, Wis., where Rima stepped into her first hot yoga studio.
“I dabbled in yoga through college and practiced at home,” she said. “But my friend in La Crosse owned a hot yoga studio. It was super hot and super sweaty and so vigorous. I came from an athletic background, playing volleyball, so I was used to working out. But this rush of endorphins blew me away. The gates just opened.”
Rima, Scott and children — now ages 15, 12 and 6 — moved back to the area in 2012, when Scott took a position as a development officer with the University of Dubuque. After the couple settled in Peosta, Iowa, Rima began searching for a studio similar to what she had found in La Crosse.
“At the time, there wasn’t what there is now in terms of local yoga studios,” she said.
Unable to find what she was looking for and realizing a niche she could fill and a passion to share what she had experienced on her yoga mat, Rima decided to lay the groundwork for Ignite.
She embarked upon her first teacher training — having since completed a host of others — receiving her certification and offering heated yoga out of her garage, while accepting donations.
“I was teaching my neighbors,” Rima said, with a laugh. “It was great teaching practice. We would crank up the heat, which took hours for the garage to heat up.”
It didn’t take long for word to spread. When Rima had 12 to 15 yogis mat-to-mat in her garage and a waiting list to boot, she knew the practice was catching on and that she needed a more accommodating space.
She opened Ignite in January 2014. It includes one large studio for adult classes; a more intimate studio for youth classes, private sessions and meditations; showers; two bathrooms; cubbies for personal belongings; and an airy lobby that hosts merchandise and, most importantly, welcomes community.
“A lot of community happens in this space,” Rima said.
Heated power yoga classes are 94 degrees, while more meditative classes, such as yin yoga, are cooler. The studio also hosts international yoga retreats.
Classes are led by a team of yoga instructors, including Rima, who strives to help her fellow teachers balance their lives outside of the studio as much as within.
“Family comes first, and that goes for the staff, too,” she said. “It’s the most amazing and empowering group of women.”
Rima said the full-body benefits of Baptiste speak for themselves when it comes to toning the body and building strength and balance, improving cardiovascular health and flexibility, detoxing the body, boosting immunity and developing the mind by achieving greater focus.
“This is the form of yoga that hooked me,” she said. “The combination of breath and movement together as one community, by design, is very empowering.”
Like other studios, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Rima closed her doors and pivoted to offering livestreamed options via Zoom. Since reopening, virtual classes are something she continues to do, in addition to maintaining protocols for the health and safety of those wanting to practice at the studio.
“We as yoga teachers are working to inspire people to live healthier lives,” she said. “Adapting to the current situation with the pandemic supports that and is just the right thing to do for the well-being of others.”
Rima said that those looking to jump start their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions through yoga should arrive with water to remain hydrated, a yoga mat and a towel; however, dropped expectations and an open mind are paramount.
“This practice is accessible to everyone, but not everyone will be ready for yoga,” she said. “I wasn’t ready for yoga right away. I came back to it after many years.”
In addition to yoga, Rima said she loves working with athletes, continuing to play volleyball and even coaching for a time, as well as catering to her children’s interest in sports. Those range from volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer, football and wrestling.
“I also love traveling,” Rima said. “I love getting different stamps in my passport. I think, most of all, I just love learning and growing. I think that’s why people come to yoga to grow. And my mission is to share that.”
Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.