Home Japanese warriors Instructor wants yoga to be accessible to everyone at Bella Vista

Instructor wants yoga to be accessible to everyone at Bella Vista


BELLA VISTA – After leaving a career in film, stage and celebrity PR, Cat McGowan found her way to Bella Vista, where she became the owner of the Fire Fly Yoga and Reiki school.

She moved to Bella Vista 4 and a half years ago after getting divorced and wanting to leave Los Angeles.

“I basically had to find a new career,” she said.

Her first experience with yoga dates back to the age of 20. Her friends had suggested she try it because she suffered from depression, anxiety and back, neck and hip pain from previous car accidents. She didn’t think she would like it because she thought she wasn’t flexible enough and couldn’t sit still, but her experience surprised her.

She took classes over the years and tried many other types of exercises, but never understood why she felt so good after yoga classes. When she moved to Bella Vista, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic experience, she said. She started taking yoga classes, and that was the only thing that made her feel better, she said.

“I was on therapy and on anti-anxiety drugs. Therapy helps, but it’s a long healing process when you’re on talk therapy. The pills are just a band-aid,” she said. “The yoga was amazing. I wanted to know why this form of exercise made me feel so much better every time I went. I would have a panic attack on the way to class, but I would leave calm.”

This journey eventually led her to train as a yoga teacher with Yoga Gypsy in Springdale and Bee Well Yoga in Rogers.

McGowan began taking yoga teacher training courses and, after gaining some experience, began to grow her clientele, giving private lessons in people’s homes. She also looked into reiki training.

“Reiki is a Japanese energy healing system,” she said. “In Eastern healing we are two bodies, the physical body and the energy body. In Western medicine we focus only on the physical. Reiki is energy healing.”

Having become certified in reiki, McGowan began teaching small groups in her home. Then the covid pandemic hit, she said. She lost all of her clientele and was out of work for eight months due to covid. Then she taught with Bee Well Yoga at Rogers and with the Bella Vista Property Owners Association.

“Little by little, when things reopened, my clients started contacting me to set up classes,” she said. “What I was building fell apart when covid hit and I had to rebuild.”

She started looking for a home for her business and found one at 1719 Forest Hills Blvd. She signed a lease and was supposed to open in September, but due to covid and high demand for materials and distribution issues, the opening was pushed back to October. Then the city inspector said the bathroom needed to be rebuilt, so the opening was pushed back to November.

“I had a lot of bad luck, but it’s also a big blessing in disguise,” she said. “I was pre-selling vouchers, and on the day I opened, I had enough members to cover the rent. That’s probably unheard of for a brand new business, especially because yoga n is not a necessity.”

The school offers a variety of classes, including slow flow, chair yoga, power flow, yin, beginner classes, restorative and sound baths. There is a masseuse on staff and all staff are reiki trained.

The sound bath requires minimal stretching and consists mainly of lying on the floor listening to various sounds. McGowan plays sounds such as gongs, crystal bowls, sea drum, rain stick, etc.

After one of McGowan’s sound bath lessons, Bella Vista’s Nancy Spielvogel said, “I could feel my arms tingle. Sometimes it gets hot. At the end of it, I always feel calm and energized.”

Angela Horton of Bella Vista said of the sound bath, “Every time I go in it’s completely different. I might have a fit, but I’ll be stronger later. It’s worth it. It’s also a support group if you’re looking for a place to belong.”

Members of a Power Flow class, the school’s most advanced class, also weighed in on their experiences.

Bella Vista’s Kery Miller said: “I like to burn calories because sometimes I burn 200 calories in a class. I lean into these harder poses. I did it in Little Rock and then I moved here and I found this, so I’m glad she’s here.”

Bella Vista’s Jim Klinger said he loves yoga in general for the flexibility it brings. He said he attends about eight times a week.

“What’s so great is that you have everything from that slow flow sound bath to power flow. You can choose based on your ability,” he said.

McGowan said her school has a wide range of ages and abilities.

“I think I speak to a wider range of people and make it much more accessible,” she said. “My mission is to make yoga accessible to everyone and they come for them, not for me. The big part of me who shares yoga is because of what it has done for me. I have I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time I have back, neck and hip pain from previous car accidents, I don’t even feel pain until I still training me.

McGowan also runs a nonprofit, Fire Fly Yoga Warriors Inc., which she started to fully fund Bella Vista police and firefighters for free yoga classes. She received a $1,000 grant through WinRock’s Momentum Pitch competition for minority women business owners, and she donated those funds to the nonprofit, it said. she stated. So far, she has raised $2,500 for the organization.

She is looking for Bella Vista police and firefighters who have an interest in yoga or who suffer from back pain from their jobs and equipment or who may be suffering from extreme stress or trouble sleeping, she said. declared. Anyone working for departments, including dispatch and administration, can inquire at [email protected] or call 479-323-2200. Any person or company that wishes to sponsor police officers or firefighters for yoga will receive a 100% deduction from their donation, she said.