It has been said that “grief is the highest form of gratitude.” As we all work through the upcoming loss of our beloved Haven on the Lake, this quote has been at the forefront of our minds.
Haven has been a place of healing, strength and community — and a true refuge during this difficult past year. Painful as this new chapter feels, the connections we’ve built can never be diminished. No one is more grateful for these unbreakable connections than Heather Jefferson, Haven’s Program/Group Fitness Manager.
Throughout the pandemic, Heather remained fiercely committed to helping the Haven family find their center amidst the chaos. From leading Facebook live classes and yoga in the park to facilitating a safe return for socially distanced classes, Heather has been a constant source of hope and resilience. During this difficult time, we yet again turned to Heather for inspiration.
She was kind enough to share her reflections on Haven’s incredible legacy, as well as the lessons learned that can carry us into the next adventure with strength, grace and gratitude.
What brought you to Haven on the Lake?
Heather: When I first arrived at Haven as a yoga teacher four years ago, the beautiful lakefront location drew me in. As a nature lover, being able to teach this sacred practice in a magnificent space overlooking the lake felt like such a gift. Once I began getting to know the students, the gifts kept unraveling. Yoga studios can sometimes have a transient feeling, with students coming and going. However, because Haven is membership-based, a close-knit feeling among the members and staff occurs. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know the hundreds of members who came in all the time for mind-body classes or relaxation in the Healing Environments. When I decided to apply for the Program/Group Fitness Manager position, I had no idea how much the job would come to mean to me. Leading this extraordinary group of gifted teachers has been such an honor.
Do you have a favorite story or most memorable moment from your time at Haven?
Heather: As a yoga teacher and a manager, I was lucky to be in a trusted position where people shared their hearts with me. All the stories people shared, from the joys to the sorrows, are etched in my heart. Whether as a teacher, a manager, or a student, my days at Haven have been filled with so much goodness. When I look back on all of our wonderful programs, Goat Yoga, Puppy Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Family Yoga, Yin and Sound Healing, and Floating Acupuncture and Yoga Nidra definitely stand out in my memory.
These events were novel at Haven and ended up being beautiful, healing community experiences. Goat Yoga brought the students out of their ‘adult’ mindsets, and it was a joy to watch them laughing with their friends and family while playing with and taking selfies with the goats. Family Yoga is another amazing memory. I felt honored to watch the magic of yoga unfold as young moms gathered together and shared the practice they love with their kids. Like we were really making a difference in families’ lives. Similarly, our Aerial Yoga and Puppy Yoga workshops created a sense of community and connection in a very joyful way. Our monthly Yin and Sound Healing and Floating Acupuncture and Yoga Nidra workshops were quieter and more reflective; these workshops offered Haven members and non-members alike relaxing, restorative experiences that they could count on each month. Our monthly offerings also created a sense of community as students looked forward to seeing familiar faces each month. Haven drew people in and provided the space and freedom to try new things, something I know I and all our members will greatly miss.
What’s your favorite thing about the Haven community?
Heather: Where do I begin? I am amazed by our members’ gratitude, their kindness, their dedication to self-care. Their commitment to health and wellness is inspiring and admirable. Haven offers its members a sense of real friendship and support. I think this energy starts from the top, from Kevin and I, and is passed down to the instructors and to the members. Everyone lifts each other up from all directions. It’s a warm, inviting, beautiful place. The misconception that Haven is elite or snobby couldn’t be further from the truth.
One young couple and their mother took yoga at Haven regularly for years. They traveled the globe for their business and always told me there was nothing like Haven anywhere else in the world. In the months leading up to the pandemic, they found out they were pregnant; we loved watching them come in together, her belly growing, him always helping her with her mat and yoga props. After their baby daughter was born during the shutdown, they told me that they felt Haven helped form their baby because they came to yoga every day. After every class, their mother would take my hand and say, “Thank you so much for what you’re doing here.” Gratitude is such a gift to share and inspires more positivity and community.
Additionally, when I was new to my role, one of my first assignments was to find a unique way for teachers to end their classes. We decided on, “Thank you for joining the Haven family,” because that’s what this amazing community is–a group of people drawn together, all very different, but all loving one another. Through our mind-body practices, we learn that we are all one, and at Haven, we are one family.
How has Haven left a lasting impact on your wellness journey and life?
Heather: Being a manager at Haven has been the best job I’ve ever had. It’s an honor and a privilege to lead an amazing group of teachers who have so much knowledge and experience and such loving hearts. Thanks to my boss, Kevin, having the freedom and space to create a wide range of programs provided so many opportunities for me. My time at Haven has helped me grow as a leader and as a creator, which I will carry with me always.
As a yoga student, the Haven teachers’ commitment to their students’s well-being, and to the sacredness of yoga, has deepened my understanding of the practice and of myself. They have also opened my mind to new ways of practicing yoga. The physical practices that they’re shared — as well as their many beautiful themes and messages — have brought great peace and meaning to my life.
It’s honestly hard to put into words just how much of an impact Haven has had on my life. When I arrived at Haven, I felt like I had come home, like everything that came before it had prepared me to be there. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. In yoga, we learn to practice non-attachment, presence, and gratitude. In saying goodbye to our wonderful Haven, we are putting all our lessons into practice off the mat–letting go with grace, trusting in the future, and being grateful for the memories that will be with us always.
What else would you like people to know about Haven on the Lake?
Heather: Haven is and always will be a beloved place in all of our hearts. Our time at Haven, whether as members or staff, was always wonderful and helped us get through some difficult times. Each of us has a unique story. After April 30th, we will remain connected because Haven is a chapter in all of our stories. I remind my students that the energy of Haven has to go somewhere; it can never be destroyed. I feel grateful that Haven was able to endure for as long as it did in the COVID era. In its final hour, it truly lived up to its potential. It was a haven during a dark and uncertain year, providing healing and support to all who came through our doors. I’ll forever be grateful for that gift.