Sara Trapani’s journey started in Rockport, Massachusetts, on the tip of Cape Ann on the North Shore. She ventured across the state to UMass at Amherst for college, then across the sea to Senegal, West Africa for two years’ service to the Peace Corps in 2009, and then back to western New England, where she started apprenticing at a yoga studio. She eventually found a full-time job at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, working in development. And then, love struck. “Shortly after moving to the Hudson Valley, I met Ryan, my husband. He’s a New Paltz native, so the rest is history,” she says.
Sara and Whole Sky Yoga’s 14 other teachers offer 40 weekly classes geared to all skill levels and many styles.
Sara’s experience in yoga, organizational development, and marketing, nurtured by her time at Omega, has served her well in opening Whole Sky, as has the sense of possibility and determination that she internalized while living in Senegal. But it was motherhood that inspired her to seize the opportunity:
“When I returned from maternity leave after having my firstborn, something shifted in me,” she says.
“I realized the fragility of life, and that working nine-to-five was not going to work for me as a new mother. The seed of a dream to open my own studio had grown within me; I’d always put it off, thinking I wasn't ready.
Then, on a whim, I went and looked at what would become our original space in High Falls. I knew it was the right spot. I asked Ryan what he thought and he said, ‘I think if you don’t do this then you’re always going to regret it.’
At that moment, it became an easy choice because I knew he was 100 percent in my corner.”
On March 29, 2014, Whole Sky Yoga was born. “I had been teaching yoga for years at Bard College, at Omega Institute, and at other local studios. In High Falls, I was definitely starting from nothing; I had virtually no following or presence in the area. I mailed some postcards out and offered a lot of free classes that first season to gain momentum.”
Sara had a five-year plan, and she knew what kind of yoga studio she wanted to create—warm and mellow, a “welcoming and reliable resource for students to explore yoga, create a personal practice, and connect with each other.” That original location was, she says, turnkey perfection. Charming and centrally located, High Falls had no yoga classes at the time. “We looked at the demographics and my father said ‘If you’ve got people that want to drive 15 to 30 minutes for yoga, I think you’ve got a shot.’ Knowing how spread out everything is here, how everyone drives to get anywhere, I had a hunch it would work.” Her hunch turned out to be accurate, and her instincts pitch-perfect as far as local yoga fans were concerned.
“We get good-natured, kind-hearted women and men aged 14 to 75, from all over Ulster County and beyond, with an interest in personal health, spirituality, self-development, community, and, of course, yoga.”
Now relocated to the heart of Stone Ridge and drawing in 80 to 100 new customers a month, Sara and Whole Sky Yoga’s 14 other teachers offer 40 weekly classes geared to all skill levels and many styles.
“We get good-natured, kind-hearted women and men aged 14 to 75, from all over Ulster County and beyond, with an interest in personal health, spirituality, self-development, community, and, of course, yoga,” says Sara. “The goal is to contribute to students' lives by encouraging a regular, ongoing yoga practice; classes are welcoming, student-focused, accommodating for all levels, well-intentioned, and from the heart. We offer gentle and yin/restorative classes, as well as classes with more strength-based focus.”
Whole Sky also offers individual instruction, workshops, and events. Intro deals, monthly memberships with unlimited yoga, and drop-in options are part of a simple, streamlined pricing system.
“For me it's all about deepening the quality and quantity so that it’s convenient and accommodates a wide range of people,” Sara says. “More learning opportunities, more variety, more services. I’m starting to add deeper learning opportunities in yoga and yoga philosophy for members, as part of their membership.” Sara is currently studying for her certification in yoga therapy and plans to add it to the roster soon. A Yoga Alliance-approved, 200-hour teacher training course is currently in its first year.
“We’ve got a wonderful first group of trainees to work with,” says Sara. “Trainees receive unlimited yoga at WSY for the year of the training. We look forward to fine-tuning this program and offering it every year.”
Besides teaching seven classes a week herself, the mom of three (ages 5, 3, and 1) handles marketing strategy and implementation, website updates, project management, social media, programing classes and workshops, and more. “I have one dear woman, Kelly, who supports my admin duties. There’s not a ton of leisure time in my life right now,” she says. “But doing what I love is a blessing. I thrive with routine; I tackle one thing at a time and get goals accomplished little by little. Days sort of flow by from one task to the next. When my kids go to bed, I often work on projects and tasks related to my business and teaching.
“I love sitting at the front desk checking people in. It brings me joy to hear about their lives, their projects, new jobs, kids, grandkids, all of it. It warms my heart that they come to Whole Sky and get something positive enough that they come back year after year. I have dozens of long-term students who’ve been a huge part of the growth and evolution of the studio. To me, that’s priceless,” Sara says.
“I actually love the business end almost as much as teaching—I love the balance of being challenged physically, creatively, and strategically, on so many levels. I’m constantly learning. Every day I get to be creative and share with others this practice that has impacted my own life so profoundly. I’ve created this vehicle that allows me to follow my calling and find meaning and purpose in life. What more could I ask for?”
whole sky yoga
3588 Main Street, Stone Ridge