By Scott Elpers - Photography by Madison Ham
Gina Pasquariello vividly remembers her first handstand. Having done it countless times since, she’s perfected the move along with many other yoga poses. That’s her in the photo on the left, doing what she once thought was unimaginable.
“It was one of those impossible moments,” Pasquariello said. “I never thought I’d be able to do that. It’s much like opening a yoga studio. The idea was awesome, but there was no way it was going to happen.”
Pasquariello, who’s been teaching yoga for 13 years, crossed another item off her list of impossible goals when she opened Hot Asana Yoga Studio in west Wichita three years ago. Last month, she opened a second location on the east side.
“We were getting a lot of requests for an east location. We have people drive from the east side of Wichita every day,” she said. “Having an east location essentially doubled the amount off classes we can offer.”
Pasquariello leads a team of instructors certified in hot yoga. The hour-long classes can be challenging, but are open to all ages and abilities.
“It’s more an athletic yoga practice. We do lots of handstands, arm balances and inversions. It’s a balance between strength and flexibility. It doesn’t really matter where you’re at physically. You’re going to be challenged in these classes,” she said. “We’re one of the only studios in the area that offers truly hot yoga. It’s 95 degrees in our studio. You’re going to sweat a lot.”
Owning a yoga studio was far from Pasquariello’s mind when she was in college. The Wichita native studied exercise science, only to switch her major to fine arts during her senior year at Wichita State University. She went on to get her master’s in education from Fort Hays State University, then spent seven years teaching pottery at Wichita East High School.
When she opened Hot Asana’s first location, she was balancing both jobs.
“Opening a second studio doesn’t seem so hard when you think that for almost three years I had two full time jobs at the same time,” she said. “I was never into safe bets. I was in fine arts. I wanted to do what I love, no matter the risk.”
She combined her love for teaching and yoga when she started certifying other yoga teachers with curriculum she designed. Pasquariello is designated E-YRT 500, which means she’s been teaching yoga for at least four years and has taught at least 2000 hours of yoga classes.
When it came to her owning her own studio, Pasquariello’s fingerprint is everywhere. She designed Hot Asana’s logo, its website and even painted the walls her favorite bright colors.
“I get to do what I love and what I’m passionate about,” she said. “Do what you love. The rest will fall into place.”