The Birth of Circle Yoga Shala
Twenty-five years ago, Circle Yoga Shala founder, Holly Krepps, was in the midst of meditation when she found herself sitting on a piece of land. Though it hadn’t manifested yet, she knew that it was one day to be her land. She had been gifted a vision of a place where the interconnectedness of all things could be lived and breathed.
Eight years ago, she and her husband, Matt Krepps, sold their successful yoga studio and their home and put everything they had into purchasing 25 acres on Shiloh Mountain in the Ozarks.
Located minutes from the Buffalo National River, the property had an old barn, chicken houses, and a small orchard. It looked nothing like the vision Holly had seen years ago, but it was a beginning place. With determination that at first looked like madness to many friends and family, they began work with their own hands to transform the humble farm. As they did, new and old friends began to appear, curious about what Matt and Holly had left their well established and comfortable lives to build.
Every time the small family hit a wall, thinking they couldn’t move forward and were on the brink of folding to find different jobs or at worse, sell the property, the help always seemed to serendipitously arrive. Through all the hard work and mad determination, a beautiful community oriented organic farm and training center called Circle Yoga Shala was born.
The Shala and Farm Now
Well respected in the region for their teacher training program, CYS is registered with the National Yoga Alliance at the 500RYT level and with the elite International Association of Yoga Therapists. Matt and Holly have conducted over 5000 hours of training since 2001, and have trained teachers from Mexico, Greece, Switzerland, France, Italy, and across the US.
In 2011, eighteen months after arriving at the farm and nowhere close to finishing renovations, folks were chomping at the bit to step into their teacher training program, which had been put on hold for building and establishing gardens. Fortunately, there was so much demand for training folks were willing to offer Matt and Holly help on the farm in order to train with them.
So the couple found themselves hosting their first training, sleeping teachers on air mattresses in their home and in tents on the property grounds. Teaching occurred in the partially remodeled, still open air barn in the mornings, and in the afternoon's, trainees put their labor into progressing renovations.
The barn is now a studio and dorm that sleeps 16 people. An outdoor pavilion holds classes surrounded by nature when the weather is conducive. Two tiny cabins house long-term apprentices. The main home and kitchen house Matt and Holly, family, and apprentices. A new yurt also adds community and sleeping space. Living part or full time at the farm at any given time are a dozen practitioners consisting of faculty, apprentices, WWOOFers, and work-exchange relationships.
On-site programs have evolved to host over 175 community members per year including teacher trainees, SEVA volunteers, residential apprentices, WWOOFers, athletic and therapeutic clients and retreaters. In 2016, 60 of those individuals came on a donation/work exchange basis and over $13,000 was provided in scholarship funds to trainees. The last four years, the farm has also hosted the Ozark Mountain Yoga Festival.
A growing part of the vision includes the 'Movement Lab' for athletic training and yoga therapy application. Matt and Holly are official members of the Czech Republic Olympic Women's Beach Volleyball Team. Team members Slukova' and Hermannova' are inspirations for this athletic program and the professional volleyball court on the farm! They also work with a Russian-born tennis pro on the world circuit representing New Zealand.
Food and sustainability has always been at the heart of Matt and Holly's vision. Previously trained as a professional chef, Matt has developed a kitchen at the Shala that integrates organic food from the gardens, nutritional and Ayurvedic sciences and excellence in meal preparation.
The Shala is an approved farm with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organization, WWOOF. The property consists of approximately 1/2 an acre of organic vegetable gardens, flower and herb gardens, an orchard, chickens, and horses. WWOOFers come to help in the gardens and kitchen and have access to yoga classes and philosophy discussions.
Sustainability practices, including composting and water conservation, are top priorities in everything at the Shala. From the gardens, to the kitchens and the food that fuels all the people who visit, to the teachings of yoga and sister sciences of Ayurveda, biomechanics and self-inquiry, to the composting and organic growing process on the farm - life at the Shala is a living example of the inter-connectedness of all things in nature.
A Kitchen to Support Karmic Duty
As CYS continues to grow our community and offer more opportunities for transformation, it follows that we must grow the space needed to house that opportunity!
Transforming the barn into sleeping and training space was a major milestone for us. However, currently, all the cooking and dining at the Shala happens within Matt and Holly's private home!
The feat of feeding and providing a heart-warming food experience in their family sized kitchen for so many guests hosted over eight years is admirable. A success that has been integral to growing the community here. However, the time has now come to respond to that success. CYS is in great need of an adequate space to feed and house the growing residential teacher training programs and interest in the Shala's organic farm to table lifestyle.
To do so we plan to add a dining hall and an industrial sized kitchen that will still facilitate the process of cooking we follow, honoring best practices in Ayurveda, water conservation, and excellence in organic food preparation.
Included in the new space will be…
For this 1200 square foot project, we've projected $30 average cost per square foot based on the average in our area if you are your own builder.
- concrete for footers
- sub-floor materials
- tin for exterior roofing
- framing materials
- wood for inside ceiling
- wood for floors
- local hardwood for exterior
- plumbing - kitchen/laundry
- (3) large windows
- (1) small window for outside serving
- (1) set of french doors
- (1) exterior door
- sinks, appliances, windows, etc. will come from Habitat for Humanity
Service in Growth
People arrive here with different goals. Some come to learn and facilitate the organic process of food growth and water conservation. Some come to deepen their on-the-mat practice and learn to teach. Some come for movement-based rehabilitation or preparation for athletic work. Others come to live a life of compassionate service, to be in stillness and introspection. Regardless of where your interest begins, all who come have the opportunity to witness relationship, the circular and paradoxical nature of all things and participate in a community that thrives on sustainable and compassionate action.
With your help, we will open our doors to as many who want to experience the incredible gifts of life at the Shala.
Teacher Trainees and Guests' Reflections on Circle Yoga Shala
"A place for healing and community. Words can not describe the experience that the Circle Yoga Shala has to offer. Once you go, you are family. I am a new person after every module. My vessel is emptied and filled with knowledge. Matt and Holly are on par with the best teachers in the world and they will not let you be anything less. If you are reading reviews to find guidance, let this be a signpost that you are looking in the right place."
"The Circle Yoga Shala is a beautiful place with life changing opportunities! It is my favorite place to be and that is not an exaggeration! Every time I leave, I am restored, energized and inspired. It is a beautiful experience of community while also having many opportunities for peaceful solitude. I recommend everything that is offered; yoga teacher training, weekend workshops, the summer Seva program or just a weekend get away!"
"The Circle Yoga Shala is The Spiritual headquarters of Arkansas. Matt & Holly are incredibly wholesome, kind and inviting. The Shala helps many people along the way and I am thankful beyond words for this wonderful place to call home. "
"The farm is beautiful and peaceful, the food is delicious and Matt and Holly facilitate powerful learning, practice, and transformation."
"Circle Yoga Shala is an oasis perched atop the Shiloh mountain in Northern Arkansas located in the Buffalo River National Park. It is a place that gently welcomes all guests inviting each to enter the flow of yoga farm life. In season the gardens are abundant and boastful; the food is fresh and always well prepared, and the accommodations are comfortable and well appointed. No matter what brings you to this graceful place you are sure to be, in the very least, pointed in the direction of your true essence."
E. Prather Grisham
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Risks and challenges
Our project does not require any type of building approval by the county. We have been our own builders throughout the entire growth of Circle Yoga Shala. We have used recycled and local materials, and build everything to code.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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