Dana Walters, 39 

Co-Founder and Director of Operations, Project Yoga Richmond

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

"When I say yoga, other people think of poses," Dana Walters says. But it's much more than that, she says: a system, a lifestyle, a way of conduct.

Yoga is for children with autism who need to find calm, for grandparents who want to lift their grandchildren, for people recovering from substance abuse. Yoga is for everyone, Walters believes.

After she suffered a fractured skull in an ice-skating accident in 2007, yoga helped Walters recover her balance and her sense of self. "Within a few months I felt solid again, really solid," she says. "Once you get that, it's hard to just want to keep it and not give it away."

So becoming a yoga teacher in 2008 wasn't enough. She wanted to make yoga accessible to people who might not ordinarily step into a studio. In 2010 she and fellow teacher Jonathan Miles opened Project Yoga Richmond in a delightfully funky '70s building Walters had inherited from her grandmother, just off Dickens Road in the near West End.

Approaching its second anniversary, the nonprofit plays host to 11 classes a week at the studios, plus special workshops and events. Project Yoga also brings yoga to health fairs, retirement communities and public schools. Instead of the typical $15 per class, students pay what they can. In the summer months, the nonprofit sponsors free classes outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that often draw 100 people or more.

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