Blissworks a yoga fixture on State Street for more than a decade

Tricia McAvoy leads a 'Yoga & Abs' class at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State Street in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Tricia McAvoy leads a 'Yoga & Abs' class at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State Street in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London — As the end of an hour-and-15-minute class winds to a close on Wednesday morning, Trish McAvoy informs the 10 students in Yoga & Abs that it's inversion time.

They mostly assume shoulder stands, with one going into a headstand and another entering the happy baby pose. For the next 10 minutes or so after that, they lie in Shavasana, flat on their backs.

Inside the studio, chant music plays. But the seven windows in the second-floor studio are open, allowing both sunlight and the dulcet tones of a jackhammer to stream in.

"You guys did good relaxing through all that. It's a good testimonial," McAvoy says. "Remember you can take this peace with you as you move out into the world."

She runs Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts. Founded in 2004, it's the oldest yoga studio in New London, and it was recently named to Connecticut Magazine's Best of Connecticut list for the first time.

McAvoy, a Waterford resident who first started practicing yoga through New London Adult & Continuing Education in 1995, became certified to teach yoga in 2000.

She opened Blissworks across the street from the Garde Arts Center before moving to 253 State St. and then 228 State St. McAvoy said the current location used to be Back Stage Therapies, the first yoga studio in New London.

As McAvoy is talking about her background, Merrill Mazzella pops her head in to make sure any article about Blissworks mentions the sense of community. Indeed, in the room next door are a few women chatting after class.

"Trisha is really knowledgeable but she encourages you, pushes you, and I have confidence in her, and I trust her," said Karen Rosenberg, who has been coming to Blissworks for three and a half years.

Rosenberg, 69, said yoga has made her more flexible, improved her breathing and circulation, and made her feel stronger.

Melissa Hull, 38, likes yoga for its variety of styles, saying different styles are useful at different points.

"I had a bad bike injury and it was helpful recovering doing a lot of restorative work," she said. Hull has been doing yoga for more than 10 years but has only lived in New London for about a year.

"I think the teachers that I've had here have all been really solid," she said. "They're good at I think focusing on the alignment."

McAvoy also commented that her studio is very alignment-based. It used to have hot yoga classes but stopped because that's an offering at other area studios.

Asked how the popularity of yoga has ebbed and flowed since the opening of Blissworks, she replied, "Ironically it peaked when the market crashed in '08. I think it was a stress thing."

Along with her initial teacher training, McAvoy has gone to Colorado and Miami for additional training. She then began incorporating themes into her classes, such as the idea of living a more conscious life.

There are eight other teachers at Blissworks, which offers about 18 classes per week. For healing arts, the studio also offers several massage options, cupping and, most recently, lymphatic drainage.

In the future, McAvoy hopes to expand down the hallway to have more offerings, including more teacher trainings.

Laura McBride, front, participates in a 'Yoga & Abs' class with Tricia McAvoy at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State St. in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Laura McBride, front, participates in a 'Yoga & Abs' class with Tricia McAvoy at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State St. in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Tricia McAvoy, left, leads a 'Yoga & Abs' class at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State St. in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Tricia McAvoy, left, leads a 'Yoga & Abs' class at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts on State St. in New London Wednesday, September 13, 2017. The studio was recently named #1 yoga studio in the state by Connecticut Magazine. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Tricia McAvoy has owned Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts, now on State Street in New London, since 2004. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Tricia McAvoy has owned Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts, now on State Street in New London, since 2004. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Business Snapshot

Business: Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts

Where: 228 State St., New London

Owner: Tricia McAvoy

Prices: two weeks of unlimited yoga for new students: $25, drop-in: $11-16, monthly: $125-150

Fore more information: blissworksyoga.org

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