As a little girl, Mary Clare Sweet watched her mother practice yoga with a sense of awe. In the 1980s, yoga wasn’t yet mainstream, and Lincoln yogis like her mother met in basements to practice an ancient art form that felt exotic and special. Watching her mother, Sweet would sometimes feel a brief flash of brilliance that yogis call present moment awareness.
MARY CLARE SWEET,OWNER AND YOGI,LOTUS HOUSE OF YOGA
“It’s like the moment when you get a joke,” Sweet explains. “You get it! And then it’s gone. It’s that moment of spark. Every human being can access present moment awareness, at any place in their lifetime.”
Thirty-year-old Sweet is owner of three Lotus House of Yoga studios in Omaha and a newly-opened Lincoln studio. Lotus is Sweet’s metaphorical hug to Omaha. Her first location opened in 2010 and offered classes steeped in Vinyasa low yoga, meditation and breathing that fosters a sense of being centered. Yoga aligns the energy to make that feeling happen. “We want to raise our vibration to match our optimal potential,” she said.
Sweet didn’t always see yoga as a career. Dance and ballet dominated her life since age 3, and in her 20s she left home for New York to teach and cho – reograph. Through it all, she was falling in love with yoga. “It helped me battle a lot of the demons that go with the dance world – like body image and grueling schedules,” she said. “Yoga became my place for solitude, where I could go and return back to my center.”
When she returned to Omaha, she found a city with a strong yoga community, but it was concentrated in the east part of town. At 26, she sat down with her uncle and crafted a plan to open her own studio. “I went into it with the mission of sharing more love,” she said. “I wanted people in Omaha to feel the excitement, the joy and the centering I have loved my whole life.”
In Lotus’ physical space and classes, Sweet sought to marry an ancient art form with modern energy. Music play – lists are funky, incorporating soul, hip- hop, folk and pop. Classes are physically challenging but also impart a deep sense of center. The studio is a place people can connect with instantly, Sweet said. “It feels like going to your best friend’s house to hang out for awhile.”
Demand prompted Lotus’ quick expansion. As word spreads, Sweet can envision her business growing much like its namesake flower. “That’s how I see Lotus – looking for more sunlight and expanding into more places,” Sweet said. “I want to share the energy that we have here with as many people as I can in the Heartland.”
MARY CLARE SWEET
owner and yogi, Lotus House of Yoga