Wisdom Course leads to Landmark Education Graduates owning a Yoga Institute

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A Lawyer, a Doctor and a Yoga Institute

Thomas Acklin and David Scher believe that things happen for a reason — which explains why it took so long for Scher to take “Wisdom,” a Landmark Education class that focuses on what Scher describes as “fun, play and making life what you want.”

“The first time I heard about the class I didn’t register, the second time I heard about the class I registered but then withdrew for various reasons and the third time, I registered for the class and the instructor said ‘you’re not withdrawing, you’re taking the class,’ and I took the class and that’s when I met Tom,” said Scher, 40, an attorney who lives in Sterling.

The two never imagined that they would soon be running a business together.

Scher, a yoga enthusiast who takes classes and teaches at Great Falls Yoga Institute, was stunned when the institute’s founder and friend, Ellen Carroll, approached him at a Memorial Day picnic last May and informed him that she had decided to sell the studio. Although Scher enjoys his job as an immigration rights attorney, he had already been mapping out plans to build his own “Center for Well Being” franchise business. Scher asked Acklin if he was interested in a joint business venture and their partnership began.

“The blend between us is nice,” said Scher. “We have great teamwork and we have our eyes on the present and the future simultaneously.”

ACKLIN GREW UP in Alexandria but lives in Rockville, Md. He worked for several years as a neurologist but eventually gave up practicing medicine in favor of teaching high school. However, Acklin said he recently found himself taking an interest in the field of holistic health care, which is why he found the opportunity to help run what is now called the Great Falls Yoga Institute Centers for Well Being, so appealing.

Acklin, 42, took his first yoga class eight months ago during a Georgetown Hospital Mind and Body Medical Center conference in New Orleans.

“They had a 6 a.m. yoga class before the conference and I did it and I went home feeling wonderful, just having done it everyday for seven days,” said Acklin.

Scher first got actively involved in yoga in 2001 after picking up an instructional tape. He eventually met Ellen Carroll in the sports club where he was teaching classes and then followed her to Great Falls Yoga Institute. Carroll and her family lost everything when their Great Falls home burned to the ground in March of this year. She decided to sell the studio in May.

“I think the center had such a generous base and Ellen really took good care of the people and I think with everything going on she couldn’t really match that daily quality of care,” said Acklin. “And really one of the essences of yoga is having the power to know what you can’t do, as well as what you can do, so I really admire her for that … she’s been very generous in the transition.”

Carroll will continue to teach occasionally at the institute as Acklin and Scher phase themselves in. Since Scher will continue to work as an attorney, Acklin will hold down the day-to-day office operations at the studio. Scher said Carroll always told him that he could combine his love of his day job with his love of yoga.

“I was always sort of struggling with I’m a lawyer, but I’m into yoga — what do I do?” said Scher. “Ellen always said your purpose is to blend the two and so I really feel that I bring my heart to my job as a lawyer and my mind to yoga, which is interesting.”

USING VARIOUS instructor connections he has made over the last six years, Scher has hired a number of experienced teachers to run different classes at the studio.

“We have 28 classes on the schedule right now,” he said. “And we have every style and every age from 5 to infinity.”

The two friends and business partners are eventually planning to expand the center to include not only yoga, but massage therapy, holistic health services and various other offerings centered around the common theme of “well being.” Although they have already started their fall class schedule, Acklin and Scher said they will constantly be adding to their offerings and also plan to do special benefit events as well. For example, as Wednesday, Sept. 11 kicks off the fall season for them, Scher said he wanted to do something in honor of the 9-11 anniversary.

“We have a full schedule of seven classes that day and because it happens to be 9-11, anyone who registers for a class package that day, we will take 15 percent of that money and donate it to an injured firefighter,” said Scher. “I think it’s a sign of a our ‘well being’ commitment.”

In addition, the institute will also hold a “Dance Into October” relief event Sept. 28, 29 and 30, which will feature one of their instructors who was an Indian dancer but took up yoga after a knee injury. A portion of proceeds from those classes will be donated to Peruvian earthquake victims.

“Ballet, Indian Trance dancing, tango — you name it, we have it,” said Acklin. “If you focus on trauma you get more trauma, but if you focus on relief, you get more relief.”

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