SHEPHERDSTOWN — “It smells like sour milk and there’s bits of french fries on the floor, and you’re like, ‘I’ll try to ignore all of that,’” said Mohalu Yoga founder Lona Lozinski of her first time practicing yoga, back in 2001. The Berkeley County Parks & Recreation adult education class on the Rosemont Elementary School cafeteria floor may have been a humble beginning for a 21-year journey, but according to Lozinski, it didn’t stop her from immediately recognizing the benefit it could be for her, as a Shepherd University undergraduate student and 167th Airlift Wing — West Virginia Air National Guard member.
“It was transforming, for me, to be in this place where I’m in the cafeteria, but I’m also in this really calm space in my body,” Lozinski said. “I picked it up as a private practice for me and would take a class in it, wherever I could get it.”
Her journey led from her taking yoga classes whenever possible, including at two yoga studios in Shepherdstown, to her opening up her own yoga studio as a 200RYT yoga instructor. The studio space for the two Shepherdstown studios she formerly practiced at is now, ironically, the space she is now using to teach from — 211 East New Street.
“Being connected to Shepherdstown as a student here, I found Harmony Healing Arts, which was right here, in this space, and began practicing there — here. When I had my kids, I did my prenatal yoga here, 15 years ago, so this space, to me, was home,” Lozinski said. “I was preparing for birth in this room! I was managing a very young military career out of this space. And then Jala Yoga took it over, and I started practicing with them, after Harmony Healing Arts had closed.”
According to Lozinski, though she currently shares the space with Jala Yoga, she does offer her yogis a unique skill set — one they could not get anywhere else in the Eastern Panhandle — certification as a Warriors at Ease instructor.
“About 13 years into my military career, I became a first sergeant,” said the Shepherd University alumna. “It’s this job where you manage disciplinary actions, but you’re also kind of the support system for members of the unit: they get in trouble, you make sure they’re getting the care that they need; they’re going through a divorce, you make sure the people get the care that they need; or they walk into your office and their lives are falling apart, and you help them find the resources to fix it, basically. The job, it was like a lightbulb moment for me, where I’m like, ‘We’re missing something, when it comes to how we manage care for military personnel.’
“I thought, for me, my resilience was born out of my yoga practice. It helped me feel grounded, helped me feel centered, helped me feel like, ‘I can do this, whatever it is.’ So, at some point, I decided my longterm goal was to become a yoga teacher, because I want to teach yoga to veterans,” Lozinski said. “I stumbled across this program, Warriors at Ease. It’s this international program that teaches yoga teachers how to teach yoga to veterans. It’s the only one of its kind.”
As of when she opened her studio at 211 East New Street three weeks ago, Lozinski holds one-on-one classes with military members, to help them more directly address the trauma they’ve experienced in the military. She also offers a monthly Warriors at Ease group class that is free to military personnel and open to civilian yogis, who are encouraged to give a donation to help cover the class costs. The schedule for that class and others, as well as the place to book a one-on-one class with Lozinski, can be found at https://www.mohaluwellness.com/.
As for the studio name’s origin? Lozinski said it’s connected with the fact that her first name is Hawaiian; that she, as a half-Korean woman, feels at home there because of its high Asian population; and that she completed her yoga teacher training there, during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“In Hawaiian culture, the 12th phase of the cycle of the moon is called ‘Mohalu,’ and in that cycle the Hawaiian god Kane planted flowers. He believed this would be the most important time to plant flowers — it was right before the moon becomes full. When I was looking at Hawaiian culture and what I wanted Mohalu to represent, I stumbled on the Hawaiian calendar and I saw this word and all the descriptions of it. It means ‘to bloom,’ the actual word, ‘Mohalu,’ does,” Lozinski said. “It’s representative of that moment right before we bloom, right before the moon gets full. And I thought, ‘How beautiful is that?
“Even when we get to that point where we feel we’ve accomplished it all, we’re always finding something else that we want to accomplish,” Lozinski said. “It’s kind of a reminder, by calling it ‘Mohalu,’ that we’re never ever really done. We could always bloom a little more.”