Yoga is crazy popular in the United States. And over the last decade, it’s only gotten more popular. In 2021, 34 million Americans took a yoga class. That’s up 15 million from a decade earlier.
And the industry has adapted to Western exercise habits. It’s not a strictly spiritual practice here. It’s a way to build muscle tone and balance. It’s also a very competitive industry. Dozens of yoga studios have come and gone in Lafayette over the years.
Toni Heinen spent much of the last decade as a Pilates and yoga instructor in other peoples’ studios. In 2019, after 14 years in the yoga biz, she bought her own studio: GoodWolf Yoga Studio.
Since then, Toni has grown the operation with a lot of love and community support. Today the operation employs 27 people to run classes from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Good Wolf runs classes for all experience levels, including hot yoga, power yoga and Tabata yoga, their most popular course.
Toni is a certified yoga and Barre instructor, co-owns Ami’s Kitchen and is the creator of “Booty Ballet.”
Yoga’s popularity in Acadiana shouldn’t be all that surprising. Indian culture has had a presence here for decades. Lafayette has long attracted students and professionals from the Indian subcontinent. Folks like Jay Patel, who came to Lafayette in 1978 to work as a mechanical engineer.
Jay helped anchor a growing presence of Hindu people by founding the Acadiana India Association in 1991. In 2013, Jay stepped away from AIA – to build a temple.
Jay comes from a family of temple builders. His father and uncle each built one. And for years, the Acadiana Hindu community gathered without one. In 2019, Jay opened the Sri Krushna Balaji Mandir in Lafayette. “Mandir” is the Hindi word for temple.