Yoga was just a fad in 1999 when Najla Coury Barile began practicing.
Today, she owns Harmony Yoga, which she says is the South Bay's longest continuously operating yoga studio.
Barile started taking yoga at Harmony in 1999 when it opened, then she started teaching there and eventually purchased the studio in 2011.
“Yoga wasn't a thing back then,” said Barile. “It was new and not many people were coming to class. I remember taking classes that had only four or five students in them. Because the classes were small, we received a lot of personal instruction.”
Today, some of those who attended the first classes are now full-time yoga teachers and studio owners.
The number of yoga options at Harmony has increased, but what has really changed, according to Barile, is that yoga is no longer just a fad.
“(It's) a legitimate form of exercise that encompasses mind and body," said Barile, who added the previous studio owner emphasized the importance of "keeping yoga—yoga."
"We believe in teaching yoga the most authentic way possible, true to its lineage,” said Barile.
Her technique has paid off.
“As yoga has grown in popularity, attendance has blossomed as well,” she said.
Barile said despite the increase in class size, her approach to teaching focuses on personal instruction.
“What has stayed most consistent over the years is the dedication we have towards our students," said Barile. "We teach with care and attention to detail."
Barile said Harmony instructors stay up-to-date with the latest techniques by taking classes from master teachers all over the world.
But the most important thing, she said, is that "above all else, we’re a true family of students and teachers who welcome newcomers—whether they’re brand new to yoga or seasoned yogis.”
To celebrate Harmony's 20th year, the studio is offering Glow Yoga free to the public on June 22 from 5 to 6:15 p.m.
"We will darken the room, paint ourselves with glow paint and do yoga with a live D.J.,” said Barile.
After the class, from 6:30-10:30 p.m., there will be food trucks, a bar, and dancing, as well as a silent raffle with many items donated from local businesses.
Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the 1736 Family Crisis Center according to Barile.
For more information, visit Harmony Yoga’s Instagram page @harmonyyogarb.