All Shall Be WellFeb 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Gayle Morrow
What do you do in your “spare” time if you’re a critical care nurse at Robert Packer Hospital? If you’re Kelly McElhaney, you open a yoga studio/wellness center.
“We all have this reason for being in Sayre,” says Kelly, the owner and proprietor of Zen Den. “We do have a civic duty to each other to be well.” It’s a kind of cosmic/karma thing, if you’re inclined to look at it that way. And she does. She says she loves the studio—it’s the welcoming place where she offers yoga and other kinds of wellness encouragements and opportunities—but adds that it’s what’s happening all around it that is also very wonderful, that being something of a resurgence of downtown Sayre.
“The studio is just one little piece of that,” she says.
Communities and the buildings and people in them do share some characteristics. They have histories and stories to tell. They need attention, maintenance, purpose—and each other. The building at 204 Desmond Street, which is now home to Zen Den, has been, among other things, a mercantile/boarding house in the 1880s, offices for a newspaper, and studio space for a radio station. It’s had three fires. The last one, in the 1980s, left the building “pretty much a shell,” Kelly says. She and her family had been living in Baltimore, then moved to Sayre seven years ago (she is originally from upstate New York) for her husband’s job at Robert Packer. She explains that she “discovered my yoga practice” while living in California, and “realized if I wanted to stay in a high stress career, I needed an outlet.”
“Then my husband said, ‘Hey, why don’t you open a yoga studio?’”
“We bought the building in 2019,” she continues. “But no one had any idea the world was going to come to a screeching halt.”
With over 100 years of previous interior renovations—“God only knows what was in the air here!” Kelly laughs—it proved to be a good time for a family project that required wearing masks.
The repurposed studio space includes a large room for yoga practice, pilates, chair yoga, and hot yoga. There is a dry salt therapy booth—think of it as a mini vacation at the beach, plus, as Kelly notes, “It is good for your respiratory tract and your skin,” an infrared sauna, rooms for massage, and opportunities for individual instruction. There is some locally made merchandise for sale, the signage comes from local artisans, and even the yoga mats come from a Pennsylvania-based company.
“The space we’ve created here—it’s not so much my studio, but people have created a sense of community here with their wellness practice,” Kelly says. “I’ve never lived someplace where you have the beautiful sense of everyone trying to lift everyone up. Getting the community to believe in it all is really where we’re at.”
Hours and class schedules/class offerings vary. To find out more, call (570) 731-0920, or visit ruralyogatribe.com to book a time.