They say children hear everything. For Gretchen Olsen, her eight-year-old son’s acute awareness instigated her becoming co-owner of one of the original Bikram Yoga studios of Portland, Bikram Yoga Fremont Street.
In the Spring of 2005, Olsen began her on-again, off-again relationship with Bikram Yoga, a 90-minute class of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, completed in a 105 degree room with 40 percent humidity. Olsen’s story is one many women can relate to: She never put herself first, and escaping to a yoga class seemed selfish. Then came a gift from her father, fully-paid tuition to the nine-week Bikram Teacher Training in Los Angeles. She packed her bags in the Spring of 2013 and spent six days a week practicing and studying to become a certified yoga instructor.
Back in Portland, Gretchen’s life evolved. Divorce and life as a single mother drained her emotional energy, yet devotion to her yoga practice built her up again. Working as a flight attendant paid the bills, but she dreamt of owning her own studio. That’s when her son unwittingly told the previous owner of the Yoga Studio, “My mom and Danelle are going to have their own studio!” That comment led to a discussion that eventually transferred ownership of the studio to Gretchen, along with her friend Danelle Denstone, in January of 2016.
“. . . yoga is for any age and ability; classes aren’t focused on creating a perfect physique, but working towards a balanced mental state.”
In the past two years, Olsen and Denstone have created a beautiful, welcoming community atmosphere. Witnessing her students overcome emotional and physical trauma through yoga pushes Olsen to want to share these healing benefits with everyone. “Self-realization is a big part of the experience,” Olsen notes, wanting to instill in her students an energy of peace and inciting members to create their own story. She stresses that yoga is for any age and ability; classes aren’t focused on creating a perfect physique, but working towards a balanced mental state. Olsen was once a woman who, like so many of us, focused on taking care of everyone else first. By learning to value her needs, however, she now helps others focus on themselves.
4831 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213 | (503) 284-0555 | bikramyogafremontstreet.com | Facebook: @bikramyogafremontst