Call it karma: Longtime friends open yoga space in Castle Street church

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County commissioner Jonathan Barfield and Mayor Bill Saffo, along with other dignataries, help Jackie DeConti, Becca Niamtu and Alexis Abbate celebrate the grand opening of Terra Sol Sanctuary Friday. Photos by Hilary Snow.
County commissioner Jonathan Barfield and Mayor Bill Saffo, along with other dignitaries, help Jackie DeConti, Becca Niamtu and Alexis Abbate celebrate the grand opening of Terra Sol Sanctuary Friday. Photos by Hilary Snow.

WILMINGTON — Jackie DeConti, Alexis Abbate and Becca Niamtu would use the word “called” to describe how they came to be co-owners of their own yoga studio.

The fact that the studio is located in a historic downtown church doesn’t hurt their claims.

Whether it be destiny, karma or simple luck, the three longtime friends say their Terra Sol Sanctuary came together quickly, seamlessly and better than they ever imagined.

To celebrate, the trio kicked off a weekend-long grand opening, which will include free yoga sessions throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.

A serene stained glass window stands as the centerpiece of the one-room sanctuary.
A serene stained glass window stands as the centerpiece of the one-room sanctuary.

Terra Sol is a welcome addition to Castle Street, Jonathan Barfield, chairman of the New Hanover County Commission. Attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Wilmington Downtown Inc. Friday, Barfield noted that his family had an established business, Barfield’s Barber Shop, one of few that survived the wane in commercial activity in that area a couple decades ago.

“We’ve been going through a transition here on Castle Street, puzzling, and putting the pieces together toward awesome,” added Terry Espy, president of the Downtown Business Alliance.

Terra Sol fills a vacancy in the quaint, 1900, one-room sanctuary left when Maggy’s Antiques moved further up Castle last year.

It’s prime real estate–the church is across the street from both popular eatery Rx and Fifth and Castle Design Shop, the store HGTV star Meg Caswell opened in a historic firehouse last year. And with its open layout, centered around a peaceful purple stained glass window, it seemed the perfect spot for meditative practice.

So, Niamtu was shocked when she stumbled upon it on Craigslist. She quickly and excitedly got in touch with her fellow yogis, and an oft-discussed idea was finally coming to fruition.

“We all had said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we had our own studio?’ but we never really had a plan. We just kind of put it out there and all of the sudden it’s like, ‘Whoa, we’re actually doing this,'” DeConti noted.

Converting the church into a yoga studio was easy, owners say, since a friend volunteered to use a wealth of reclaimed wood found inside the church to build needed structures like shelving.
Converting the church into a yoga studio was easy, owners say, since a friend volunteered to use a wealth of reclaimed wood found inside the church to build needed structures like shelving.

When they began working on the property, they discovered a wealth of scrap wood; wood that another yoga teacher’s husband used to build some needed storage shelves, benches and other structures.

“It feels really good doing this feeling like we have been led to it,” DeConti said.

Add to that a feeling of sincere support from surrounding Castle Street business owners and the three, first-time business owners believe 507 Castle St. is exactly where they’re supposed to be.

Terra Sol will offer a variety of classes–from flow to hip hop Asana–for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The community-minded women also plan to stage a “pay-what-you-can” class each week and they’ll reserve the space on the weekends for event rentals, such as family reunions or weddings.

But this weekend, they’ll keep the mats rolling out with free classes at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They’ll kick off first with an open house, featuring live music and refreshments, from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.