Marianne Ames believes she and her business partners are opening up Monroe’s first hot studio — Bliss Yoga — right where it needs to be.

It is evident in the community’s reception and how plans have fallen into place, the Machias resident said. Classes are scheduled to begin March 17-18. The start date follows months of preparation, coordinating with the community, perfecting studio aesthetics and tailoring wellness offerings.

“It is such an individual practice, so we are really passionate about giving people the gift of people yoga on their terms,” she said.

Bliss co-founder Carolann Schmidt and Ames met during teacher training in 2016. They had practiced together before at the same Snohomish studio, but didn’t become aware until they were in the middle of the rigorous process to become certified. Both women are people and service-centered, and have a heart to teach others about the discipline and its healing abilities, Ames said.

The pair hit it off almost immediately when they met. Ames refers to their relationship as Yin and Yang. She is the more extroverted of the two. Their start with yoga also began under different circumstances.

As a new mother in 2001, Ames’ weight was close to 300 pounds. She began watching videos by Baron Baptiste, a renowned guru of power vinyasa, which is a series of fast-paced poses that focus on strength building, while her newborn slept next to her.

Yoga has a long list of benefits, large and small, according to Harvard Medical School, such as having a better body image, becoming a mindful eater, boosting weight loss, becoming more self aware and lowering blood pressure.

Once Ames was practicing regularly, she started to notice a shift in how she saw herself. She felt strong, believed her body was capable and she was able. A decade and a half later, she is a certified Barre teacher, is currently enrolled in the 500-hour Master Yoga program, and has completed Reiki Master Level 3, “to further grow her knowledge of the body, energy and compassionate healing,” according to her bio. 

Schmidt’s pursuit came from more of a feeling of mental discord, than physical. She began practicing in 2012.

“Yoga became a saving grace and a journey that allowed her to tap into the deepest part of herself,” the Monroe resident’s Bliss bio reads.

Schmidt was looking for an outlet from the stress and anxiety in her life. The connection of breath and movement to calm the mind led her to the peace she wanted.

Based in part because of their own experience, Ames and Schmidt are well aware yoga is not one-size-fits-all, Ames said. For that reason, the friends have made every effort to meet the unique needs of the community in which they are opening their new business.

Calcutta-born Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury founded Bikram yoga — or hot yoga — in the 1970s. Classes are about 90 minutes, and include 26 poses. Room temperatures can top out well above 100 degrees.

Bliss will have two rooms; one for heated sessions and the other for regular sessions. Not everyone likes or is comfortable with practicing in high temperatures, Ames said, and it can be intimidating for some.

Ames said she and Schmidt have formed an exceptional family of instructors, who will teach their students many varieties of yoga. Hatha — the hottest form of yoga — will be held in the heated room, along with power vinyasa, slow flow and Barre, which includes elements of ballet and pilates.

“This hot class is designed to work every muscle, ligament, tendon, organ, gland, nerve and joint in the body, while building strength, flexibility and balance,” according to Bliss’s class description of traditional Hatha. “Perfect for beginners, the Hatha series remains challenging for the advanced student and there is always room for growth.”

Unheated practices include Yoga Nidra, which is a meditative variation, restorative Yin that incorporates passive rather than active poses, and prenatal classes.

Running a yoga studio has been a longtime dream for Ames. She doesn’t recall when she first discussed the idea with Schmidt, who runs a salon in Monroe with her husband, Jordan. He’s their third business partner, and has been heading up construction of the new storefront at 207 N. Lewis St. What she does recall is receiving an invitation from Schmidt to check out new spaces she heard had opened up, including the one they took over on North Lewis Street, in the heart of the downtown corridor.

Since the lease was signed, the trio has coordinated with the community. Ames said the reception was more than what she was expecting. They have received tips that range from music taste to balancing the energy of a room. They have already felt accepted and embraced, she said, which is what the experienced yogis want for their clients when they walk through the doors.

“It feels very much like we are in line with what we are supposed to be doing,” Ames said.

She said her hope is that practitioners of all experience levels feel safe and excited enough to make the studio their own. Serenity, bravery, freedom and grace are all states she wants to facilitate at Bliss. Her aim is to assist every individual in feeling honored.

Ames said the idea is for everyone to cultivate one’s own practice. Moving next to someone who is at a different level automatically raises the vibration and energy in the room. Some yogis have trained for years and never set foot inside a studio; others are just beginning their journey.

“You can pick and choose, and find what you love,” she said.

An open house will be held 6-8 p.m. March 9 and 10 a.m. to noon March 10-11 at the studio. Ames said there is a full description of classes and information on instructors at

Staff will be available on those dates to walk through what equipment is needed for a practice, including how to pick out items that meet individual needs, such as a mat more suitable for someone with a knee injury. They can also help after the grand opening.

Ames does not recommend bringing anything for class other than water, clothes to get sweaty in and an open mind.