Fifteen years ago Theresa Conroy was a reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News.
The demands of the job were stressful. She smoked “like a fiend.” She had back problems and struggled with anxiety.
Conroy heard yoga was effective in dealing with anxiety, so one morning she asked her husband to pick up a yoga video. The first time she did yoga it was on a beach towel in her basement.
“I did it and after I was done I said to myself ‘If I do this every day I will never smoke again,'” she said. “At the time I didn’t understand the power of what was happening but I kept doing it and I stopped smoking.”
Her newfound hobby quickly turned into a part-time job. In 2008, she left reporting to open her own studio, Yoga on the Ridge, located at on the corner of Ridge Avenue and Domino Lane in Roxborough.
“When I opened the studio I knew I didn’t want it to follow the model of most yoga studios where they teach vinyassa classes and do teacher training,” Conroy said.
At the time she was in the midst of obtaining a yoga therapy certificate and had already started specializing in yoga therapy for Parkinson’s Disease. She started organizing workshops that were therapy-based and creating class models that were more focused on healing rather than practicing the inversions and sun salutations typically expected in a yoga class.
Fast forward seven years and Conroy says it feels as though the demand for yoga therapy has quadrupled. From arthritis to back and spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis to anxiety and mood disorders, Conroy says she has seen some remarkable transformations through the power of yoga.
“Yoga therapy is a young field,” she said. “But it’s a growing field and we are the only studio in the area that I know of that practices yoga therapy.”
About a year ago Conroy had to start cutting back on the regular classes she was teaching because she was having trouble meeting the demands of her private clients. She began to brainstorm how to reach out to more people in a shorter amount of time.
A yoga therapy clinic that will be opening in September at her studio in Roxborough.
“I decided to use the model of an urgent care clinic where you could walk in for quick treatment of something that’s not acute. It’s not going to be you woke up and you can’t move your legs … for that you go to the emergency room” Conroy said with a laugh. “But maybe you have a sore shoulder or your doctor told you that yoga might help your anxiety problem or you are starting to have mobility issues or balance issues or you just got diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”
For these types of issues Conroy says you can simply walk in to her studio, fill out form, complete an assessment and leave with a treatment plan, whether it be a couple things to do at home or an appointment for a full therapy session or maybe the guidance needed to join a class.
“I want to use the clinic as an opportunity to make the practice more accessible and less intimidating,” Conroy said. “The people in this community are like me, they’re like ‘just tell me things straight’ and that’s what this clinic will be about … I want to have my doors open to the 53-year-old mom who works really hard and has a bad back but can’t stop and doesn’t want to sit in a room and do a lot of stuff that is intimidating or embarrassing.”
The clinic will be open on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. beginning in September. The cost for drop-in is $45 and clients can expect to spend about 30 to 45 minutes at the clinic.
“We are not putting ourselves out there as medical professionals or talk therapists,” Conroy added. “Our tool is yoga and our method is to help guide people to find their own path to wellness.”