Greeneville isn’t likely the first thing that pops to mind when one thinks of yoga lifestyle, but piece by piece, one practitioner here is making a name for herself in yoga circles nationwide and abroad.
Randalle Love, owner of Love Yoga on East Bernard Avenue, is a busy woman.
Owning a business, teaching classes five days a week and raising two children is enough to fill anyone’s plate. But, in the weeks and months ahead, Love is taking on a demanding schedule that will take her across the country — then halfway across the world — as she impresses the name of her Greeneville-based business onto yogis of every type.
In the coming months, Love will be launching a new clothing line for active types, compiling an artistic coffee table-style book of yoga poses, modeling for another line of yoga clothing and various fitness publications, teaching locally and abroad and organizing a charity event for the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society.
Earlier this year, she was featured on the cover of Om Yoga & Lifestyle magazine, one of the world’s most-read publications for those into the ancient practice that aims to unite one’s body and mind.
Next month, she’s teaming up with Om Yoga & Lifestyle again for another cover. Then, in October, she’ll be one of the featured presenters at the Om Yoga Show in London — billed as the largest yoga event in the world.
Love is literally Om Yoga’s “poster girl.” The image of her in a classic type of sitting, lotus pose, taken by local photographer Lisa Cornwell, graces the Om Yoga Show website, program, advertisements and the convention’s other promotional materials being used worldwide.
“I’m teaching a workshop, which is pretty much an hour-and-a-half class. There are free classes there, and mine is a workshop that people pay for,” Love said in an interview last week. “It’s going to be called Love Yoga with Randalle. It’s going to be like a strength-building, core- and flexibility-building type of class — a little challenging.”
At a place like Om Yoga Show, Love is glad to delve into the more complicated aspects of the yoga practice and push — or twist and contort, as it were — her body and her students to the limit.
At her Greeneville studio, though, Love says she’s all about making physical and emotional well-being through yoga available to everyone of every skill and fitness level, whether they’re new to the ancient form of exercise or experienced in it.
“Around the Tri-Cities, all of the yoga classes I attended were very expensive. That was the first thing I noticed, and it kind of gave off a certain type of vibe,” she said. “I felt like some of the classes I’d been to had kind of a ‘You’re not yoga enough to be here’ thing. I wanted to make my studio non-judgmental so that anybody can feel comfortable.”
Since opening in March 2014, numbers of students visiting the studio for sessions with Love have grown. At a class last week, students and their yoga mats filled all of the upper-level space of the building Love shares with her husband Paul Love, a 5th Degree Master who teaches tae kwon do, combat hapkido, kickboxing and women’s self defense at Love School of Martial Arts on the ground floor.
“You get your name out there and people notice,” she said of her growing business. “That’s how I got on the cover of a magazine. But I didn’t start out this way. I started four years ago, taking classes at the YMCA. I signed up for a teacher training eight months later, went to my training and opened the studio a few months later.”
At Love Yoga, students range in age from 8 to 80 with skills from beginner to advanced. Love also takes her classes on the road, offering free classes on the Tusculum College campus, and working with athletes like the Tusculum College football, lacrosse and basketball teams and Greeneville High School baseball team.
“It’s a diverse group. It’s not just the same type of person,” she said about those learning yoga under her guidance. “In the past three years, I’ve met more ‘cool’ people than I’ve met in the whole time living here since 1993.”
Love said she designed her studio — and the rest of the brand she’s building through a pending clothing line, book and instructional online videos — to show that yoga doesn’t have to be eccentric, esoteric, “hippie,” or all about chants and rituals.
“It’s thousands of years old, and to me, it’s the most beneficial form of exercise you can do. People tell me at the end of class that they feel really great — their body feels energized, but their mind is relaxed,” she said. “At my studio, it’s about taking care of your body, taking care of your mind and loving yourself for who you are and where you’re at in your life.”
Many of the exercises are focused on self-confidence and feeling good about one’s body, no matter its current shape or level of fitness.
“I’m never going to let someone come in my class and then feel they’re not ‘yoga enough.’ Yoga is supposed to be laid back,” she said. “You can come to yoga and be totally beginner. People ask questions and I answer and demonstrate. I do verbal cues; I don’t go around and manually adjust, because a lot of people don’t like to be touched.”
Some of Love’s fellow practitioners don’t mind contact, though. Online, Facebook and Instagram profiles show off some of the complicated two- and three-person poses Love and her friends model for the camera.
Those types of visually interesting poses — many with contortions that seem almost superhuman — and the feedback she’s received for them have inspired Love to take on a new project: an art book.
The aptly named “Love Yoga” coffee table-style book will feature photographs of Love in varying poses, accompanied by inspirational thoughts and quotes.
While Love will be photographed in the nude, none of the images will be explicit in any way, she said.
“The body is beautiful and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Yoga is so beautiful — it is an art,” she said. “But this will not be anything ‘dirty.’ Everything I do, I want my kids to be able to look back on and be proud.”
Love is working with local photographer Jessica Holt, of Dalton Lane Portrait Company, for the book, to be printed by Steuben Press later this summer. Holt also shot the photograph that will be the Om Yoga & Lifestyle magazine cover in July.
In a few days, Love will be in San Diego, California, for a session with fitness photographer Natiya Guin, whose work has been published in numerous magazines, both niche, like Yoga Journal, and big name, like SELF and People. Some of those images will be used to model products by Manduka, a purveyor of “yoga essentials” like mats, towels, bags and apparel.
Although she will model for that clothing line, Love is in the process of designing her own collection of activewear. Those products, being developed by Love alongside the design team at Clothier Designs, will arrive under the brand name LoveFit, likely later this year.
“I’ve been sending sketches and checking fabric swatches and stitches,” she said. “The clothing line is going to be really good quality yoga clothes, because I know what works and what doesn’t. My goal is to have this pant that’s going to be great, but have multiple colors of it — just a really good quality yoga pant coming from somebody who teaches yoga all the time.”
But, Love said with a laugh, “You don’t necessarily have to do yoga in it,” because everyone can appreciate a pair of pants that doesn’t bust at the seams when one bends over.
Beyond books and magazines, photo shoots, clothing lines and conventions, Love has even more planned for the weeks and months ahead.
In early May, she began working with a video production team on the first of at least three instructional videos that will be made available on YouTube under the name “Randalle Love Yoga.” The first, a 30-minute “yoga flow” should be available to learners worldwide later this summer.
As summer winds down, in September, Love will take the lead on the second annual “Down For Dogs” charity event to benefit the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society. The inaugural event, in fall 2016, attracted guests to the General Morgan Inn’s rooftop terrace for a yoga session, music, social hour and more to benefit animals in need.
This year, “Down For Dogs” will return on Saturday, Sept. 30. It will start with 45 minutes of yoga, led by Love, followed by bands, dancing, food, a social hour and more.
When it’s all done, Love will continue focusing on growing her Greeneville-based business, perhaps even franchising to establish locations in other areas.
“That’s something that we’re looking at doing within the next year or two. I want to do a big city, somewhere doable, like Knoxville or Asheville,” she said. “I would obviously have to go there and interview different yoga teachers — I want someone with the same style that I teach in. If I can find the perfect person who can teach all the classes like I do, then we can keep the overhead and the prices low.”
Although she has several large projects in the works and many “irons in the fire,” Love is far from tired. She has ample energy to balance all the demands.
“If you second-guess yourself, you screw it up. So I’m just like, ‘OK, this is my idea, let’s do it,’” She said. “I had my kids back in the mid-2000s, back to back, so I’m done with that phase. One’s going into middle school and one is going into fourth grade, so I’ve got my own things going now. I think it’s good to show my kids, by example, that you can have your own passion and your own things that you’re interested in.”
It’s a lesson Love hopes to impress on other people beyond sons Liam Andrews, 11, and Colin Andrews, 9.
“Usually people end up moving away from Greeneville to do stuff,” she said. “You don’t have to be in New York to do big things.”