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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Multi-Studio Owners Expand Yoga’s Presence

Sep 02, 2021 06:00AM ● By Sheila Ewers

Lori Denton (Photo: Barbie Margolies)

Even in this era of unprecedented challenge and competition, three tenacious Atlanta studio owners have been able to sustain multiple studios and broaden their reach. Elspeth Brotherton, Ahoo Sarab and Lori Denton influence thousands of yoga practitioners throughout the metro area, employ dozens of teachers and juggle the demands of entrepreneurship with the kind of equanimity that comes from years of personal yoga practice. We caught up with each of them to learn more about their journeys and the communities they steward.

Elspeth Brotherton

Highland Yoga

Elsie Brotherton (Photo: 2TPHOTO)

Elsie Brotherton opened the first Highland Yoga location in February 2015. She has since added four more locations in Buckhead, Decatur, Memorial Drive and the Westside and plans to open a sixth location in Brookhaven in March 2022. All Highland Yoga studios focus on creative and dynamic hot vinyasa yoga.

Can you describe your own yoga roots and inspiration?

My yoga journey began in law school. On a whim, I signed up for a class at the East Lake Y where I connected with a truly inspiring teacher. In the early days of my career as a lawyer in Texas, I started relying more and more on yoga to help with anxiety and stress and to counter the physical effects of sitting at a desk for 10 to 12 hours a day doing legal work. During that time, my former husband—now my business partner!—and I were taking care of a close friend who ultimately lost his battle with colon cancer. Realizing that life is too short to do work that makes you chronically anxious and stressed out, we decided to move back to Atlanta from Texas to open a yoga studio in Virginia Highlands in February 2015.

How did you choose to expand?

While opening our first location, I caught the entrepreneurial bug! I love the creativity and problem-solving required for business-building. I also love seeing our community of students and teachers grow.

What makes your community unique?

Our style of yoga combines strength, flexibility, breathing practices, mindfulness and meditation to create the ultimate one-hour practice. It is consistent and disciplined and has enough creativity to keep things interesting. Importantly, our yoga is challenging without being unsafe or inaccessible. We believe that students should take what they need and leave what they don’t in each practice. Although I believe all forms and styles of yoga and movement are wonderful, our style checks a lot of important boxes in a way that is very efficient and predictable, and I think this keeps students coming back. We also have an amazing community that is built on our belief that every single student matters.

Ahoo Sarab

Korsi Hot Yoga and Still Hot Yoga

Ahoo Sarab

Ahoo Sarab opened Korsi Hot Yoga in Roswell in 2015 and took ownership of Still Hot Yoga in Decatur in 2017. The Korsi studio offers a variety of heated styles, including hot flow, yin and Bikram, while Still Hot focuses primarily on Bikram.

Can you describe your own yoga roots and inspiration?

I began a home yoga practice with VHS tapes at the age of 17, and it began to shape me physically, emotionally and mentally. In my late 20s, I volunteered at a yoga center in Virginia. Soon after, I left the [U.S.] and didn’t return for a decade, moving to Kazakhstan, Russia, England and Ukraine. With time on my hands and a need for a yoga community, I began my first 200-hour certification. It was a self-study program, and I filmed myself teaching to empty rooms. I went on to complete a kids yoga certification and a reiki certification soon after using the same mail-away method. In Ukraine, I became friends with a Bikram-certified instructor, who reinvigorated my love of the practice. We were planning to open a studio in Kiev, but when life took a turn again, I returned to Roswell, where I grew up. Still clear about my intention, I immediately set about opening a space there.

How did you choose to expand?

My second studio happened to be one of the first hot studios that I had ever practiced in. It was too serendipitous to pass up. The owner was retiring and approached me about buying. 

What makes your community unique?

I’ve always felt you need to practice many styles of yoga to have a well-rounded practice. At different times in my life, I’ve had different needs. Sometimes I need power; other times, I simply need to breathe. I’ve tried keeping our studio flexible in this way. I believe in honoring the traditions and values of yoga, and the extensive amount of time I’ve spent living and traveling overseas has allowed me to blend Eastern and Western culture and ideology where I can be respectful to both. 

Lori Denton

Lift Yoga, Alpharetta and Dunwoody

Lori Denton took ownership of Lift Yoga Alpharetta in June 2019 and expanded into the former YogaWorks space in Dunwoody when that studio closed as a result of the pandemic. Lift offers a variety of classes, including warm and hot vinyasa, yin yoga and meditation.

Can you describe your own yoga roots and inspiration:

I have had the benefit of living in some wonderful places in North America, including the D.C. area, Las Vegas, Rhode Island and Vancouver, B.C. Every time I moved to a new city, I searched for a yoga studio that resonated with me. Yoga became a way to find my community, my home. Finding a space that made me feel safe and welcome was always the first priority. Shortly after moving to the Atlanta area, I began to compile a list of the highlights of all the yoga studios I had visited in my travels and envisioned how I would create my own studio based on those experiences. While going through this process, I stumbled upon Lift Yoga + Body, which was owned by the founder, Kim Saunders, at that time. I immediately fell in love with the community there. As fortune would have it, Kim was looking to step away from owning a studio to spend more time with family, just as I was ready to take on that challenge.

How did you choose to expand?

When studios closed during the pandemic, I felt for the communities being torn apart. At a time when people needed connection more than ever before, there were fewer options with every passing month. When YogaWorks announced they were closing their Dunwoody location, several teachers approached me and suggested that I consider taking it on. The more I learned about it, the more I realized how similar the Alpharetta and Dunwoody communities were; both were loyal and diverse groups of yogis who see the studio as their second home. I knew it would be a natural fit to roll them into the Lift family. 

What makes your community unique?

We have something to offer everyone, no matter where they are on their yoga journey. While I do not teach, I take pride in having cultivated an amazing team comprised of unique individuals who all have one thing in common: a love for the practice and a love for sharing that joy with every person who walks through the doors. ❧ 

Learn more about Elspeth Brotherton at Connect with Ahoo Sarab at or Learn more about Lori Denton at

Sheila Ewers, ERYT500, YACEP, owns Blue Lotus Yoga in Johns Creek. A former professor of writing and literature, she leads group and private lessons, yoga philosophy workshops, yoga teacher trainings and retreats. Contact her at [email protected].

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