Greater Tulsa Reporter
FINDING CALM: Joe Picorale, owner of Be Love Yoga Studio, sits in Be Love’s Tulsa location, which he opened in the Pearl District at 1310 E. 6th St. in 2013. The studio focuses on following the Eight Limbs of Yoga and fostering community.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
The practice of yoga has seen a sharp uptick in national popularity in the past four years. Tulsa is no exception to that.
Broken Arrow native Joe Picorale, owner of Be Love Yoga Studio, co-founded Tulsa’s I Am yoga, music and art festival in 2011 when there were only three local yoga studios, he says.
Fast forward to present time, and the practice of yoga is alive and well in Tulsa, with the number of yoga studios continuing to multiply.
Yet, upon visiting various studios, students will find that studios’ areas of emphasis within the practice of yoga can vary, sometimes dramatically.
“At many yoga studios, students come only for the fitness element,” Picorale says, which is the strength portion of yoga that involves postures, or poses. However, the postures make up only one aspect of the practice. Postures are one of the “eight limbs of yoga,” referred to as Asana.
“We focus on all of the ‘eight limbs,’ so our studio draws more students who are interested in following the lifestyle of a yogi,” Picorale says.
Other “limbs” include Pranayama, proper breathing; Dharana, concentration; and Dhyana, meditation.
The original intent of yoga is to merge the mind, body, soul, spirit and emotions in order to attain self-realization, or pure awareness. Therefore, the practice of yoga involves attaining calmness and peace, something that Picorale found himself searching for five years ago.
Picorale had previously become heavily involved in political activism but found himself feeling increasingly anxious and dissatisfied with politics.
After cutting ties with those efforts, he attended a spiritual retreat in Oregon, where he met a fellow Tulsan who suggested that he try yoga and even took Picorale to his first yoga class when they both returned to Tulsa.
Picorale was quickly touched by the practice of yoga and its emphasis on peace and harmony of mind and body, he says. A year later, he organized the first I Am festival, which he co-founded, in an effort to connect and grow the local yoga community.
The festival is currently being run by its other co-founder, Melissa Joy, and takes place each summer.
After they created the festival, Picorale and Joy saw the need for their own yoga space, to allow them to more easily hold fundraising events for the festival and to further encourage the local yoga movement.
The I Am Yoga Studio, located at 1310 E. 6th St. in Tulsa’s Pearl District, opened in November 2013. A few months later, Picorale changed the name to Be Love in order to avoid confusion and to keep separation with the festival.
Recognizing the growing national and local trend of yoga, Picorale, who is the sole owner of Be Love, took a number of steps after opening the Tulsa location.
In January 2015, yoga instructor Mandy Eubanks founded Everyone Yoga School, a 200-hour yoga certification program, which is housed at Be Love. To date, the school has graduated 75 yoga teachers, making it the largest Tulsa-area provider of yoga teachers, he says.
In September 2015, Picorale opened Be Love studio on the western edge of Broken Arrow at 4904 W. Kenosha St., on the corner of 71st Street and Garnett Road. He, then, opened a third studio location in the greater Tulsa area in downtown Jenks, 211 E. Main St., in April 2016.
“We expanded quickly in order to get ahead of the curve; as a studio, we wanted to be well established as the demand grows,” Picorale says.
In addition to focusing on the comprehensive practices of yoga, Be Love also makes effort to provide a feeling of community for its members.
Every Friday evening, the studio holds a donation class with proceeds benefiting a local cause. In the past, donations have benefited local business owners, schools and individuals in need.
“We want people to come here and feel good about themselves and receive a feeling of community,” says Picorale.
“That’s what makes it a community here: our students are trying to live better lives, and they recognize that in one another and, oftentimes, become friends outside of the studio.”