News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
Please enjoy the second installment of SBG's Meet Our Members!
What is your name and the name of your business?
My name is Katie O’Connell, and I am the owner of Dragonfly Yoga Barn Studio & Retreat.
How did you get to Sandwich, NH?
My family moved to Center Sandwich when I was eleven and in the 6th grade. They had visited locally for years and loved the area, so we moved to Center Sandwich while our home on Wing Rd. was being built.
Tell us about your business. What do you make, do, or offer as a service?
Dragonfly Yoga Barn is a yoga studio and intimate retreat center offering daily classes, as well as yoga and meditation retreats, yoga teacher training, workshops and series classes, seasonal concerts, and an occasional wedding.
How did your business get started?
Well, that’s an interesting story. I started practicing yoga 23 years ago, right after my daughter, Bridie, was born. It was love from my very first downward dog. I practiced regularly for about three years before one of my teachers suggested I get certified so I could come and teach yoga at her gym.
During that time, my husband, Declan, and I had already disassembled and moved our first of three old barns (which some will remember as Edwin Elliott’s old barn across from the spring in North Sandwich). We put it back up as a barn on Bennett Street, about a mile from its original footings, and then started to look for another barn to move as our house.
While the search was on for the second barn, I completed my first yoga training and began teaching weekly yoga classes at the Benz Center, at a local gym, and at Inter-Lakes High School where I was an English teacher—getting my yogi feet wet, so to speak.
It was back in 2003 that I named our business “Dragonfly Yoga.” I’d always loved dragonflies and knew the animal spirit of Dragonfly as the energy of transformation, and since I believe yoga has the power to transform us in all capacities: body, mind, and spirit, it became our namesake.
The second barn went up as a house in 2003, we moved in during the fall of 2004, and in the summer of 2005, a friend of Declan’s was at a baseball game in Moultonborough and heard a man asking if anyone needed an old barn! Funny thing was, about a week before this, I had told Declan I would love to have a small yoga studio up here near our new “old” home on the edge of the forest… and literally the barn just appeared! We took the third barn down and stored it for almost two years while we started to make plans for building the studio.
I completed another yoga training in 2006, completed a final year of teaching English before I gave my notice, and in 2008 jumped into yoga full time! My Benz Center yogis actually came up to practice in the yoga studio when it was just a post and beam frame--they wanted to be a part of it from the very beginning. It was a magical time! We ran our first yoga retreats in 2009, and the rest is, well… a new piece of Sandwich history--all under the eaves of three old barns.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your work?
I love sharing yoga with my daily yogis, my retreat yogis, and my trainees. It’s hard to pinpoint what the most satisfying thing is, but I would say it’s when a student has that “a-ha” moment and something shifts in their body or mind as a result of the practice. The recognition that yoga can support us where we are in our lives at that moment--as well as in our evolution as beings--is very inspiring to me.
What is the hardest?
Owning a business on the farthest outskirts of a small town can be pretty challenging. We’ve spent over a decade wondering how many students would make the trek to the Whiteface section of Sandwich for a daily yoga class. I have such an amazing and dedicated crew that have been rolling out the mat together for years--and they love the community we’ve created, but sometimes it’s not easy to complete with frost heaves in the winter and living in a place with so many amazing things to do outside in the summer.
What has happened to your business in this last Covid year?
Our last retreat at Dragonfly was 14 months ago. Thinking about how many events have been cancelled in the past year is a little overwhelming at times. But Declan has been my greatest help and biggest cheerleader. To give it some perspective, I left for India in early February 2020 to lead an Ayurveda and Yoga retreat--there were 16 of us in the group--and I fully expected to reopen my studio upon arrival home, but when I barely made it back to the States on March 16th after a series of cancelled flights and hold-ups in Mumbai, it hit me that life was changing for all of us.
I came home to lockdown and had to pivot to online teaching. As much as it was nerve wracking to be in front of a live camera every day, putting my classes online has been something I’ve wanted to do for years. It has been so successful, I now think I’ll keep the online options even after we reopen to the public.
What are your goals for the future?
I can’t wait to lead international retreats once again... so stay tuned for adventures in Hawaii, Ireland, Greece, Central America, India, to name a few. It might take time to get back to some of my favorite spots and destinations, but I have faith we will have those wanderlust adventures again soon.
What else can you tell us about yourself and your business?
I love to garden, cook, spend time with my kids and husband, and perform with my band The Starlight Honeys. I love to paddleboard, snowshoe, walk in the forest, and I could spend days beachcombing for stones and shells. Sunrise and sunset are perhaps the most precious moments of the day for me. I’m definitely a Nature girl. All of these things are woven into who I am as a yoga teacher and what I share with my students every single day here at Dragonfly Yoga Barn. It is a wonderful way of life, this Yoga pathway, and I’m so grateful to be here in beautiful Sandwich.
News & Views
News of what's happening in Sandwich and other items of interest. An archive of blog entries from May, 2015 to May, 2018, is available here.
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