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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Peachtree Yoga Center: 25 Years Teaching, Guiding and Inspiring in Atlanta

Dec 01, 2023 06:00AM ● By Camille Lueder

Graham Fowler assisting a yoga student

What started as a dream ended up as a great success. The founder of Peachtree Yoga Center (PYC), Graham Fowler, describes how he got motivated to quit his job and open a yoga studio.

“I had a dream one night that I was at a yoga workshop in Colorado. As I was walking across the parking lot, some thug grabbed me by the throat and said, ‘If you don’t start living the life you’re supposed to live, I’ll make it happen—and it won’t be pretty.’ I woke up in a cold sweat— and I knew what it was about,” says Fowler. He knew he’d have to listen to his heart if he wanted to be successful.

One of the oldest yoga studios in Atlanta, PYC is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. The center opened in December 1998, following the opening of Kashi Atlanta Urban Yoga Ashram earlier in 1998 and the Pierce Yoga Program in 1973. Since its inception, PYC has had two owners—its founder, Graham Fowler, and its current owner, Ilona Moore. It has flourished in Atlanta by offering numerous classes, including a variety of yoga styles, meditation, pranayama, tai chi, qigong as well as a teacher training program. 

Launching PYC

Soon after his vivid dream, Fowler had another strange interaction with his subconscious mind. He was alone in his office when he heard a voice that told him to shut down Fowler Communications, his business at that time. Emotionally, he was on board with the idea, but his logical side resisted. Then, his business began to flounder, and a competitor offered to buy the business. It was enough to fund the opening of PYC. 

At the time—the late 90s—the yoga community in Atlanta was in its infancy. Fowler says that landlords didn’t even want to give him a lease because they didn’t think a yoga studio could survive for long. But, with the help of students and friends who offered to help him build a new studio, Fowler persevered.

“Twenty people came in and volunteered their time to help get the studio ready. It was a beautiful community kind of experience, which is what keeps me [at PYC]. I still teach a couple of classes a week and still help with teacher training. A major motivator for me to keep coming to Peachtree Yoga is all the friends that I have made over all those years. Really close, close friendships,” says Fowler.

Passing the Torch

Moore was looking for a career change after her son went off to college and felt that she needed to find out who she was. With a background as an English teacher, she felt confident she was being pulled to teach yoga and signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training class. Moore dove into the practice, and once she completed the teacher training in 2015, she began to teach.

“After about six months, I started to realize that I really enjoy teaching, even though I had never seen myself as a yoga teacher. It was what I wanted to do. So I quit my job and just devoted my life to teaching yoga,” says Moore.

By 2017, Fowler was training several people to take over the studio, and once Moore completed a 300-hour teacher training class, he felt he saw tremendous potential in her. He sent her to teach at retreats and conferences and began to show her the business side of the job to challenge her and build her confidence. Moore says that Fowler never wanted the transfer of ownership to be just a business transaction; rather, he wanted somebody who would carry out his mission for the studio. 

In 2018, Moore purchased Peachtree Yoga from Fowler.

Ilona Moore

“The main quality he was looking for was having your soul in it, being dedicated to the yoga tradition, and carrying it forth into the community. He wanted the tradition of yoga to be continued the way that he envisioned it in a way that it was valued. He wanted to make sure that the new owner was established in both the mind and body principals of yoga and could not be torn by the fluctuations of the mind or of the world,” says Moore.

Moore says PYC is unique among Atlanta yoga studios because its teachings are not fitness-based; it offers spiritual teachings and body and mind practices. “It is about much more than the physical body; it is about the [mind’s] alignment with the physical body, and it is absolutely about being present in the physical body. At the same time, it is about connecting the physical body to the mind and the spirit. Meditation classes are not offered at all yoga studios. To us, it is a very sacred and valuable tradition,” says Moore.

Training the Next Generation

PYC has played a large role in the proliferation of yoga in Atlanta; approximately 1,000 yoga teachers have gotten their training through the studio’s teacher training program. Fowler has watched as interest in yoga has exploded in that time. PYC’s graduates have also gone on to other states and countries to open their own yoga studios.

“When I was in Oregon,” says Fowler, “I took a yoga class, and it somehow felt very familiar to me. Afterward, I asked the teacher, whom I did not recognize, where she did her teacher training. She said, ‘Peachtree Yoga.’ It’s not unusual for that to happen,” 

Fowler believes one of the reasons PYC’s graduates are so successful is because its students get opportunities to teach and practice their skills in front of the class.

Kim Hobbs had been looking for a career change, and after falling in love with yoga at PYC, she decided to enroll in the studio’s yoga teacher training courses. She completed the 200-hour course in 2018 and the 300-hour course in 2020.

“Peachtree really feels like a family environment … The people there feel open. I knew that I was getting a quality training that was authentic and that entrusted the practice and the teachings of yoga, which just hooked me right away,” says Hobbs. After graduating, she taught classes at other studios in Atlanta and then circled back to PYC, where she mentored students, taught classes and became the studio manager. Eventually, Hobbs purchased her own studio, Downtown Yoga Fargo, in Fargo, North Dakota.

“I think that if you love something, then it is in you, and you have no choice. You have to share it with other people,” says Fowler. ❧
Camille Lueder is a senior at Berry College pursuing a BA in journalism. She is the issues and impact editor for the school’s Valkyrie magazine, and served as Natural Awakenings intern this past summer.
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