Yoga brought two women together over a decade ago, creating a deep bond of friendship and sisterhood. Cal Solheim and Tanya McLean are the owners of Union Yoga Co. and they are excited to share the story of how they were drawn to yoga, why they became teachers, how they got involved with the studio and share their vision for the future of Union Yoga Co.
Each of them found yoga through different avenues, yet they both realize the power and the impact that yoga has on their lives. What drew them to the practice of yoga? Cal laughs and says, “What’s funny is that I cannot pick a date, as a dancer and gymnast we did yoga not even knowing it was yoga at the time, our warms up involved a lot of yoga flows.” It has easily been over 25 years with some kind of yoga practice in her life. It ebbed and flowed during her 20’s as she traveled around racing bikes and competing in triathlons. Cal would hit up yoga whenever she could. Then in 2014 just two weeks after the birth of her youngest child, she committed fully to her practice. She needed an escape, an outlet outside of responsibilities. She ultimately Googled a yoga studio in Lake Stevens and showed up for class needing an hour to herself away from the house. Cal remembers, “I cruised into the studio not even knowing what class I was taking, but it fit the time slot I needed it to. After rolling out my mat, the instructor warned me that it was a strength class, and with some poop on my shoulder, fresh from breastfeeding, and probably crying, I was like whatever I don’t care — I haven’t missed one of Tanya’s power classes since then. That one hour with her is magic.”
A few years prior to Cal finding yoga, Tanya was introduced to the practice via her friend and dental hygienist. Her friend had been going to a hot studio in Mill Creek and was touting the benefits of hot yoga to her. Tanya shares that “I’m always cold so give me all the heat this sounds amazing, and so I joined her for a class. I think I almost died in that first class because it was 110F and super humid. At the time I didn’t realize that we went to a 90 min class instead of a 60 min class. I remember rocking my way through what felt to me was half way through that class, then my vision and hearing went a little fuzzy and I laid down on my mat and never got back up. I stayed in that room until the class was over and I was hooked after that. I went back for more!”
The two were drawn together over their personalities, Tanya is very introverted and chooses to recharge by being alone, yet she also acknowledges that the people in her life she’s most attracted too are the extroverts. Cal is a quintessential extrovert. In the beginning, they would visit over yoga and once Cal started her yoga teacher training she asked Tanya to be her mentor. They don’t really remember the first time they got together socially but when it happened it was magic. Even their husbands have become friends. Eventually they lead a yoga retreat in Hawaii and it was during this time that they realized they were truly Sisters, sharing a deep and powerful bond that went deeper than the business of yoga.
While they did become teachers for very different reasons, it does completely mirror their personalities and their friendship. After going for two years almost every single day to hot yoga, Tanya decided she wanted to become a yoga teacher. “I had a full time job as a high paying accountant and I had just been laid off. One evening I told my husband that I wanted to be a yoga instructor. His initial response was, “are you fu¢k¡ng crazy? And I said yes, but I really want to do this and he fully supported me and the idea. We were both all-in.” Even her daughter joined her for yoga teacher training which made it an extra special experience. Tanya completed an 8-month teacher training course. Upon becoming a certified yoga instructor she took as many teaching opportunities as she could, sometimes up to 9 or 10 classes a week. But she soon realized that for her, that was too many classes. She would grow tired of “peopling” as she calls it, and since those early days she has found her teaching balance.
For Cal it was a simple decision bourn of necessity as she needed a flexible job she could work around juggling her two daughters and a home business. “For me teaching was a business decision, but then I quickly learned that teaching becomes a pure form a learning and I found my calling.”
During the pandemic shutdown, the two were craving a creative outlet when the studios were shut down and they couldn’t teach, create and flow together. On Sunday mornings they would get together at Tanya’s house for yoga playtime. They did partner yoga, offered free classes on Instagram Live to their friends and followers and invited other yogis to join them. They would drink wine, take pictures, laugh, enjoy movement, record flows, and go rogue. They called themselves the Rogue Yogis, daring followers to take a Rogue-trip with them full of laughter, love and (slightly) inappropriate fun. Not only did this playtime further cement their friendship, it fortified their creative style and deepened their desire to grow in yoga together as a partnership.
The Beginning of Union Yoga Co.
Cal found her way to Union Yoga Co. in the very beginning. She was teaching her kids at home during the Covid shutdown and some friends shared with her that there was a new studio opening in North Everett. “I immediately jumped on Instagram and shot a DM to the studio and Kari wrote me back within minutes. We scheduled a time for me to come in for an interview. At the time I didn’t know her but immediately admired her tenacity for opening a yoga studio in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Cal then called Tanya to see if she knew Kari.
Tanya remembers the phone call. She responded “yes, yes I do!” She originally met Kari through a local hot yoga studio in 2015 where they both had begun instructing. The two began teaching for Kari and Union Yoga Co. and are proud to have been there since the very beginning.
Their favorite class to take is the other person’s Power class. This is the class that binds us, it is both our favorite class to teach and to attend. Cal shares that “Tanya’s Power class is my church, it just keeps me whole. It’s the only class that I can shut off my brain from the thinking-side and just disappear in movement.” Tanya chuckles as she always knows when Cal is “gone.”
The Future of Union Yoga
The pair admire what Kari started and witnessed her working her ass off for the studio’s survival. Kari poured her heart and soul into making the studio what it is. They recall, “one day, the three of us were standing behind the desk and Kari quietly shared that she didn’t want to freak us out, but that she had listed the studio for sale. We just looked at each other and with just an exchange of glances and zero words, we turned to Kari asking her to remove the listing. We told her we would buy it. We have been the official owners since August 15, 2022.”
This is their why. They love family and a community-feel at the studio. They want to cultivate the kind of atmosphere where students know that when they show up for class, someone really cares that they are there. That they are surrounded by like-minded, friendly yogis in the room that share in laughter, love of yoga and are ready to support them thru the good, bad and truly challenging trials of life both on and off the mat. They want to create the space where if you fall apart on your mat because you are having a bad day/week/life you are safe in knowing that your people, YOUR crew will be there to surround and support you both physically and emotionally.
The pair are defined by creativity and a yearning to create unique classes with custom flows week in and week out. They always want to broaden their teaching and the experience they can provide. They emphasize that with their creativity in class at times, it is essential to be able to read the room and adjust lesson plans to meet the students where they are at that class. While everything they teach is planned, it is not scripted; they can call an audible in the middle of class, step away from their plan and free-flow to meet the energy and needs of the room making adjustments to create a class that is enjoyable, challenging and fun.
They are not conventional yogis, and are going to ask you to step outside your comfort zone. They will ask you to try new things, challenge you to play in your practice and they want you to have fun doing so. Their goal is to provide students with a safe space to go rogue, they understand the kind of freedom that can come of that. Tanya and Cal want you to flirt with your edge; wobble, shake, fall, get back up and try again until you too, find your inner strength and fire. Workshops offer a beautiful opportunity to have space and a chance to do just that. They are going to teach inversions, arm balances, rogue flows, twisty and bendy workshops designed to take you where you have never been in your practice before; uncharted yoga territory. They know deep down that you are stronger than you think you are and are determined to prove that to you.
Every yogi was a beginner at one time. We all start somewhere. Tanya and Cal want people to not be afraid to try yoga. They often hear the excuse, “I’m not flexible/strong enough to do yoga.” This is missing the point; you get more flexible and gain strength by practicing yoga. And you learn so much about yourself by embarking on the journey into your forward fold, your inversion, your arm balance or your warrior pose. That’s where the real magic of yoga begins… it’s what you learn about yourself once you actually begin.
Join them on the journey and experience the community at Union Yoga Co. for yourself. The New Student Special is the most competitive introductory offer around; $25 for two weeks of unlimited yoga. Try out as many classes and as many instructors as you can in two weeks. Then, you will be confident in choosing a Membership or Class Package option that best suits your needs.