AYC Owner Focuses Passion on Health, Instruction (First Person)

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Andrea Fournet

Founder, Arkansas Yoga Center


After I hurt my back in a windsailing accident in 1984, my doctor told me if I wanted to be pain free, I needed to do yoga.

So I did and I got serious about it.

I’m a type “A” personality, so I went from being a student to becoming a teacher to eventually starting a school.

The Arkansas Yoga Center became a registered training center in May 2001, and since then we’ve certified nearly 40 teachers. Certification costs $2,900, and we’re the only school registered with the Yoga Alliance within 200 miles.

We teach VariYoga, which incorporates a variety of types of yoga. We have classes for different levels from introductory to advanced. It’s not like taking classes at a gym, because we offer a yoga community.

Our current campus opened in August 2005. Since it opened, we’ve never been in the red. We built it from the ground up, and it incorporates sustainable, green designs. It was a parking lot before we built on it.

Before opening the school, I developed and directed the yoga program at Washington Regional Hospital’s Exercise Center. When I left there, I had 75 clients and now the AYC has had more than 1,800.

I was also the yoga coach for the UA men’s basketball team in 1994 and 1995. Corliss Williamson came up with my nickname, “yoga lady.” At first, the team was apprehensive about it, but they came to love it and took it very seriously.

Corliss got really into it. He’d practice and say, “Look what I can do!”

Many people think yoga is just about flexibility and doing crazy poses. But it’s not. It’s about breathing, concentration, relaxation and calming your mind.

I’ve done 150 episodes of “Yoga with Andrea” that have aired on AETN and the Jones Network. I don’t get paid for it, but the show creates awareness about yoga and is a way to give back to the community.

– Interviewed by Robert Bell