Ground Floor: Making yoga accessible to all ages

Toula Yoga offers beginning, advance classes

Andrea Franz Parks (right) leads a class at Toula Yoga in Cedar Rapids. Parks, a former high school German teacher, opened her studio in April. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Andrea Franz Parks (right) leads a class at Toula Yoga in Cedar Rapids. Parks, a former high school German teacher, opened her studio in April. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Andrea Parks’ yoga practice first helped her cope with the aches and discomfort of pregnancy. It later gave her some “me time” away from her three small children at home.

Six years ago, the high school German teacher started teaching others about the benefits of a yoga practice.

“Yoga just made such a big difference in my life,” she said of her decision to become a yoga instructor. “I have a love of teaching anyway, and I’m teaching something that’s important to me.”

In 2013, with her youngest daughter off to school, Parks began looking at potential spaces for her own yoga studio. She opened Toula Yoga in April.

While Toula Yoga offers traditional yoga classes for beginners to advanced yogis, Parks has a particular interest in working with children and people who have mobility issues. “My mission is to open yoga to everybody.” she said.

Parks, who is a certified yoga instructor through the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, recently completed training in adaptive yoga. In an adaptive yoga class, the teacher adapts basic yoga poses to meet a student’s individual needs, often with the use of props like chairs, blocks and blankets.

“It’s useful for anyone who can’t get down and up off the floor,” she explained. “I even have kids with cerebral palsy, and one spends most of the day in a wheelchair. She feels so much better and can breathe better when we get her body stretched out and in alignment.”

Toula Yoga offers prenatal classes for expectant mothers, infant and toddler classes for caregiver and child, and kids-only classes by age group starting at age three.

“I really wanted this to be a family place,” Parks said, noting the benefits of yoga for children include increased focus, coordination and strength.

With a background as a foreign language teacher, Parks said she was drawn to yoga in part because the names of yoga poses are in the Sanskrit language. Her studio’s name further reflects Parks’ love of languages.

“The name Toula is Greek and means divine light,” she said. “That’s fitting for yoga since “namaste” (a yoga term) refers to that light, also.”

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At a Glance

Owner: Andrea Franz Parks

Business: Toula Yoga LLC

Address: 2720 First Ave. NE, Suite 108, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 721-0368


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