Your Neighbor: Meet Valerie Kiser

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 18, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson 

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Valerie Kiser has spent the last 20 years sharing an introduction to, education about, and immersion in yoga with the community through her studio, Sunrise Yoga. Growing up as an only child, Kiser learned early on that she enjoyed movement and the artistic expression of dance.

“I was primarily involved in ballet and stuck with it all through college when attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG),” Kiser said.

While pursuing her undergraduate studies, Kiser performed frequently enough to earn a minor in dance.

“UNCG has a wonderful dance department,” Kiser said. “Although I majored in information technology, I was able to earn a minor in dance because I participated a certain number of undergraduate and graduate performances each semester.”

Although her passion for dance was undeniable, she also excelled in the information technology (IT) department. Kiser was offered a position at then Wachovia Bank before graduating from UNCG and took it without hesitation.

“As a college kid, having a job opportunity directly after you finished school was extremely appealing,” Kiser said. “I was excited to take it.”

Wanting to have balance professionally and physically in her life, Kiser also worked at a gym.

“Someone had brought in a poster made of cut-out pictures of yoga poses,” Kiser said. “I thought to myself that I could do that too. So, I took a few classes and realized that I wanted to learn more and more. I started traveling to take workshops. I realized that I had gotten bitten by the bug. I was a yoga student for two years before I started going to the training and certification route. I started teaching at the tail end of 1999.”

Kiser’s love for alignment-based yoga began as a student.

“I loved the usage of yoga props to help you find openings and experience a practice to nurture your mind, body and soul,” Kiser said. “I began teaching at Sunrise United Methodist Church in Lewisville before opening my own studio in 2003. Initially, I was still working at Wachovia while opening the studio, too. I realized pretty quickly that wouldn’t be feasible,” notes Kiser. “My husband, Jonathan, and I had long conversations about what I had hoped for the studio, and he was in my corner to do it full time too.”

With Kiser celebrating 20 years as the owner of Sunrise Yoga Studio, she reflects on what has made the journey so special.

“I love that it’s more than a place to work out. It truly has something for everyone, whether you are new to yoga, experienced, healthy or needing to get some relief. There is also a sense of community. People come to class early. They stay after class to chat with friends and connections they’ve made outside of the classroom. There is even a group of students that formed a book club from meeting at Sunrise,” reveals Kiser.

A sense of community was something that was important to Kiser when she dreamed of opening the studio.

“I picked the location in Clemmons because it seemed like there was a real need for it in the county,” Kiser said. “I wanted a place that people looked forward to going to where they developed confidence and a real love for the practice. There is a variety of classes from levels 1-3, chair yoga and back yoga to just name a few. Even people with wheelchairs and canes are not prohibited from finding a class that suits their needs.

“I believe that yoga is a practice that allows us to take charge of our own lives through growth, balance and peace. Yoga is an exploration that leads us to greater awareness in mind, body and spirit. Yoga brings union, harmony and joy; it renews our energy and restores our spirit.”

If not teaching a yoga class or taking one, Kiser continues to always further her knowledge of her practice. She also enjoys traveling, reading, cross-stitching, or hanging out with her corgi, Louie.

“I stay pretty busy since the studio is open seven days a week,” Kiser said. “But the great thing about the line of work that I have chosen (is) it doesn’t seem like work. I can’t believe that I get to share my passion daily with members of the community that have become friends and more like family. It’s been such a gift.”

The reception of Kiser’s idea to open Sunrise has been appreciated by the community, too. Kiser has received multiple awards, including Winston-Salem Journal Reader’s Choice for 12 years as the Best Yoga Studio in Winston-Salem, Best Owned Woman’s Business by the Clemmons Courier for two years, and the Best Place to Work Out for two years by the Clemmons Courier.

“It’s humbling to have received those acknowledgments, but I am so grateful,” Kiser said. “I’m excited to continue to bring these resources in yoga to the community in 2024.”