Yoga is a discipline about focus and flexibility. Sometimes that flexibility comes behind the scenes. Such is the case with Hello Yoga, a Wilton yoga studio that has recently displayed a little flexibility in ownership. When founding owner Annie Clark relocated to Oklahoma with her family more than a year ago, she ran the business from afar with the help of a loyal core of instructors, including Wilton resident Nicole Thornbrough.

But to say running a business from 1,500 miles can be complicated is an understatement. So after a year, Clark decided it was time to find a new owner for the popular yoga studio.

That’s where Marianne Erena came in. As a teacher at Hello Yoga since 2012, she had become familiar with how things worked, and understood the spirit that Clark was trying to promote.

“She wanted it to be a local place, no pretense, just a no-frills yoga studio, and we’re all Wilton,” Erena explains. “Annie did a great job running it from Oklahoma for a year, with a lot of help from Nicole. That was not easy. But she knew it wasn’t locally-run anymore. It was a pretty natural progression for me to take over, as I had been the general manager at Saraswati’s Yoga in Norwalk and New Canaan.”

That’s where she got what she calls the indoctrination and crash course in learning the administrative side of a yoga studio and seeing how a small business was run. While she says it gave her a glimpse at what running a business was like, she laughs at how much more it is now that the business truly is hers and hers alone. “There’s something new every day!”

She’s glad it was an opportunity she didn’t let slip by.

“If you had said to me, ‘Do you want to own your own yoga studio,’ I’d say, ‘Absolutely not!’ But it’s open, it’s done and it runs. That was very appealing. I didn’t have to start from the ground up. I can certainly go in and hopefully make it grow as well,” she says.

One of the things that Erena felt was so special about the Hello Yoga studio is the feeling of community. “It’s the attitude of community, without any clique-iness. It might feel intimidating to walk into a new yoga studio or spin studio, and all of these people who already ‘know,’ and it can feel off-putting. I don’t think we have that. The community is small enough in Wilton that people bring their friends, their family, their children and husband. It’s really easy to just come in and feel comfortable. That was Annie’s goal and it’s definitely my goal.”

One of the things Erena wants to make sure is that people know one another well. “I sometimes go to a yoga studio in Brooklyn, and I go enough that I know they know me. But nobody ever says my name. The teacher has never said my name. That’s fine. It’s NYC, it’s a different environment, they must see so many more people. Part of what I like when I’m teaching and also when I’m a student is feeling like I’m known, and feeling like I’m part of what’s happening.”

Erena has kept the same teachers who have taught there for years. “We have such a great group,” she says.

So what if you don’t know everybody’s name there, or it’s your first time ever doing yoga? How do you walk in that door?

“We get that question a lot. Even if you’re very active, but you’re a runner or you spin, and you’ve never been on a yoga mat before. Often I hear, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.’ That’s actually the point:  bring us your tight, we’ll open you. It’s going to be ok,” she says. “We try to do a beginner series once every quarter, and that’s 100-percent for people who have never stepped on a mat before. We try to make it as non-intimidating as possible.”

For the time being, Erena doesn’t foresee any major changes to the studio; Hello Yoga will still offer a wide range of classes, and keep things pretty consistent with how Clark used to run things.

“The way it’s set up has been successful and it’s grown every year that it’s been open. It supports the community. The only thing I’d like to do more of is specialized series and workshops–working with injuries, working with runners, working with people in recovery or who have eating disorders,” Erena says, adding that she has special training through a program called, “Eat, Breathe, Thrive.”

“That’s a particular passion of mine,” she says. “I’d like to work with that. Body image is really important and it’s a conversation I want to have with people.” Erena will be working with Silver Hill Hospital’s eating disorder clinic as well.

As for taking Hello Yoga forward, Erena says she’s not moving too quickly to take the studio in a different direction. “I don’t want to rock the boat too much. It’s been working so well, and people really like it. That’s part of my responsibility. They’re the ones I want to take care of.”

Hello Yoga is located at 80 Old Ridgefield Rd., one floor above Signature Style and B. Chic. For more information, visit Hello Yoga’s website.