Not so many years ago in the UK, yoga was viewed by many with mild scepticism and perceived as a hippy throwback appealing to just a minority of zany advocates. Today, along with its counterpart Pilates, it is firmly established in the zeitgeist, gaining traction during COVID to become a significant growth industry worth upwards of £926 million. Appealing across the board to twenty-somethings right through to octogenarians, the physical and mental benefits are markedly improving thousands of lives across all demographics.
Making yoga and Pilates accessible in Yorkshire, Ebru Evrim is an entrepreneurial woman at the forefront of spreading the magic. In 2015, armed with just six mats she began teaching yoga in village halls in the Yorkshire Dales. Now she is opening her second dedicated studio, has her own brand of activewear fashion, runs luxury retreat holidays at home and abroad, and has an enviable Instagram following worldwide.
Ebru’s journey to becoming a leading yoga guru is a surprising one. Born in Turkey, she began her working life as a pathologist in Istanbul. That science-based background gives her valuable insight into the physical make-up of the human body and an innate understanding of the natural benefits in practising yoga – but it wasn’t the catalyst for a direct career path.
From pathology she actually moved into the contrasting busy, dizzy world of digital marketing, working with significant international clients including Microsoft, Cadbury and Colgate. City life and the fast pace of the digital media industry at that level was inevitably demanding and fast-paced, and Ebru took up yoga in 2007 as an antidote to the stress in her lifestyle.
Before long, she was hooked – enough to want to share the benefits and teach yoga to others. Soon after moving to the UK with her family, Ebru completed a 200-hour intensive teacher training course in Ashtanga Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga with Lalit Kumar at the Himalaya Yoga Valley in Goa, India. Later she trained in Polestar Pilates under Claire Sparrow in Leeds and Judith Lasater in London.
Combining these disciplines, my passion is in balancing the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the human experience to help people cope with the demands of twenty-first century living.”
The popularity of Ebru’s Dales yoga classes grew exponentially as she attracted a cross section of pupils. Men and women of all ages endured chilly village halls as a small price to pay for improved physical dexterity and spiritual calm. Ebru, meanwhile, began to dream of creating a dedicated space for them; warm, comfortable and fitted with state-of-the-art apparatus for physio reformer Pilates work.
Turning the dream into a reality, Ebru moved to the market town of Skipton and set about creating a stunning studio space. She transformed the canal side three storey nineteenth century building to create a ground floor studio with reformer apparatus and a first-floor studio dedicated to mat work. Luxuriously appointed, it forms an innately calm environment for wellbeing. She gathered a team of fellow practitioners, and the Studio was soon filled with clients from the original Dales sessions plus a host of newcomers attending classes and workshops in all disciplines of yoga and Pilates. Then along came COVID.
While the world battened-down the hatches and several fledgling businesses unfortunately failed, Ebru harnessed her inner resources and former marketing talents to adapt, channelling her offering to help the souls lost in lockdown and ensure her own commercial survival. More than ever, she knew, people needed the restorative healing of yoga and Pilates, so she became one of the earliest practitioners to harness Zoom as a means of continuing to offer classes. That format remains an option for those who have come to prefer online sessions in the privacy of home and has played a significant part in attracting new pupils across the world.
A flair for fitness fashion
Disappointed by the quality of some of the leggings and other leisurewear on the market and thinking further outside the box, Ebru also used the time in lockdown to develop her own range of fitness clothing to sell online. Designed from a user’s perspective and sourcing ethical manufacturers, her Activewear range of leggings, vests, hoodies and bras have already been endorsed widely. Jade Moscrop of Closer magazine in her roundup of fitness wear in 2021 picked out Ebru Evrim Activewear leggings as “My go-to patterned pair! These leggings are like no other and have a unique pattern that I absolutely love. They look and feel great on and off the yoga mat.”
Ebru is involved in every step of the process, from design to shipping, regularly visiting the factory in Turkey to ensure quality is integral. There is love, passion and yoga pizzazz woven through every thread, to take the wearer from fitness studio to street in style.
Yachts, yurts and yoga
As the world tentatively emerged from lockdown, and working with personal contacts in her Mediterranean homeland, luxury wellness holidays and yoga retreats were introduced into the Ebru Evrim brand mix. Yachts, yurts and yoga form the perfect blend for mindfulness and meditation in Southern Turkey, while in the UK, Silverholme Manor in the Lake District provides a genteel country house setting for manifestation retreats. Carefully chosen new locations are being sourced to complement these.
Spa town synergy
With the Skipton studio approaching capacity, Ebru looked to expand within a comfortable radius of home. Considering the options did not take long. “What better location to choose than Harrogate, a savvy spa town already famed for championing wellness?” she says. Finding prime location premises in the centre of the town on James Street, Ebru set about reproducing the same stylish blend of yoga and Pilates studio space alongside tantalisingly tasteful displays of retail fitness-wear to purchase. The new branch also has the additional attraction of a larger space to linger and socialise before or after sessions featuring a café run by a catering partner specialising in food for wellness. There is also a dedicated area for working with clients requiring specialist therapy for conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Despite the rapid growth of recent years, Ebru remains firmly grounded and along with her small team of like-minded professionals, guided by the lifestyle message she teaches, explaining:
The spiritual side is so important in yoga, as we are all spiritual beings in these physical bodies. The most important thing is for us each to remember who we are and carry this inner conscious into normal life; it’s important not to lose sight of that.