Crystal Irwin, Kickapoo, started her yoga journey to integrate the practice into her work as a hospital respiratory therapist. Yesterday, July 12, she hosted the grand opening of her own yoga studio, Oshnik Yoga, Inc., in Topeka, Kansas. Oshnik Yoga is named after Crystal Irwin’s late grandmother. It was her Indian name.
“My classes are more centered on the gentle practice, the mind-body connection, controlling the breath and controlling where our emotions go – calming that visceral reaction we have in our body when we are stressed,” she explains.
Irwin, 34, started her yoga journey in 2010. While raising two kids, now a junior and senior in high school, yoga has been one form of balance and self-exploration for the disciplined student. She has worked as a respiratory therapist at Stormont Vail Health for more than 8 years with experience in emergency room care, trauma, intensive care and more. Irwin earned her Bachelor of Health Science at Washburn University in 2012, and her Master of Health Science also at Washburn in 2015. Irwin is currently working on doctorate for Global Health at Nova Southeastern University, where she has explored how the mind, body, spirit connection through yoga benefits chronic disease management for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She is slated to graduate in 2019. Meanwhile, she’s a continuous student of yoga. A few years ago she completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training under the instruction of Gopi Sandal at Westside Yoga in Lawrence, Kansas, “for more of a philosophical background,” and she has intentions to earn her 500-hour certification.
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Situated in the the Potwin Place Historic District, Irwin’s intimate 1,600 square-foot studio, including reception area, dressing room and restroom, can accommodate up to 25 yogis at one time. “It’s a very inviting space. Everything in the studio has been done by myself, family, friend, or a friend of a friend. There’s a lot of love here,” Irwin says. “I want people to feel invited and comfortable.”
While yoga has gained popularity in Topeka, like most major cities, replacing misconceptions some people have about the practice has taken patience. “People ask, ‘Is it hot?!’ Thinking it will be 100 degrees and they’ll pass out. Bringing a different perspective on what yoga practice is has been kind of challenging,” she admits.
Irwin offers chair yoga, restorative, yoga for children, and beginners classes, among other Hatha and Vinyasa flow-types of classes. “Yoga has become very commercialized, capitalized and labeled in the United States. I don’t have these beautiful names for my classes,” she says.
Oshnik Yoga is situated about 25 minutes from the Prairie Band of Potawatomi, and roughly an hour away from her tribe, the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas. “I know in the future that I have some interest in doing community outreach, where I would go to the tribes and offer classes or invite them to the studio,” she says.
For now, Irwin is focused on acclimating to her new roles as business owner and frequent instructor. Looking ahead to National American Indian Heritage Month, November, Irwin envisions uniting indigenous yogis for a weekend workshop. “I’m really excited about meeting new people and reaching out to other indigenous business owners,” she says.
501 SW Washburn Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66606