by Sara Caron | photography by Nicole Rand


The Sanctuary, a yoga and bodywork studio, is nothing short of what its name implies. The entrance is dimly lit and bathed in sunbeams, the scent of light incense wafts around you as you enter, and the high ceilings with exposed beams and natural wood highlights may make you feel as though you’ve arrived in a different world. Making your way past the open concept bodywork area, through a low doorway, you find another high, post-and-beam ceilinged room hung with flowing silks. The Sanctuary has many offerings for health and wellbeing, but this area is designed for various yoga styles, including aerial yoga. The Sanctuary is the only studio to offer aerial yoga in the LA area. Owner Shanna Breton shares the benefits of aerial yoga and the many other opportunities available for “self care” at The Sanctuary.

Going with the flow

Shanna Breton - Owner - The Sanctuary, Lewiston Maine

Shanna Breton

Breton opened her studio in 2015, then known as Poise Yoga Studio and Foot Sanctuary. Frequently, people would enter and refer to the space as “a sanctuary,” and so Breton is in the process of rebranding the business. The classes are fun, and the health benefits are obvious, but there is more to The Sanctuary than just the classes. As many of Breton’s clients have stated, the space itself gives the feeling of being in another land altogether. It is whimsical and vibrant while also providing a calm and steady feeling.

“When I was looking for a location and found 351 Lisbon Street, it needed a lot of repair and renovations,” says Breton. “Most people likely would have walked away, but I could see beyond the chaos – I was excited to make it my own.”

Breton‘s goal was to create a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere, and she did much of the work herself, with help from family and friends.

“I have a passion for interior design – often I will walk into a space, and automatically my brain starts seeing what could be,” says Breton. “I envisioned a place where the community can enter and instantly feel a sense of calm – a place to escape from the stresses of life, even if it’s only for an hour.”


Yoga abroad

While traditional yoga is done on the floor or ground, typically on a mat or pad, aerial yoga is practiced in the air. Suspended from the ceiling is a large, long “silk.” A person’s entire body can be wrapped inside the silk, as you would use a rope or a swing, providing support and stability while balancing. Aerial yoga incorporates standing balancing poses, deep stretches with full inversions, hanging upside down or with your feet above or over your head. Just as with traditional styles of yoga, the goal is to build strength, improve flexibility and overall balance, while relaxing and having fun.

In 2018, Breton traveled to Thailand to study aerial yoga. She had always had an interest in learning the style, but could not find a place to train her locally. She decided to make a vacation out of it. Breton trained with a Thai massage therapist and took the fifty-hour aerial yoga teacher training.

“I chose Thailand because of my background in Thai Bodywork, which I studied under two of my yoga teachers in 2013,” Breton reports. “It seemed like a beautifully artistic way to practice yoga while still honoring the traditional practice – offering inversions and adding a little bit of fun.”


 Up in the air

Aerial Yoga Balancing Pose at The Sanctuary, Lewiston, Maine

Aerial yoga balance pose

According to Breton, compared to traditional yoga – performed with feet firmly on the floor – some aerial yoga instruction offers full inversions where you will be fully suspended upside down and in the air, decompressing the spine, as well as assisting some types of stretch.

“Both styles can improve balance, flexibility, and relaxation,” Breton shares. “Aerial yoga combines traditional (yoga) poses within the silk.”

All yoga sessions at The Sanctuary are fully guided and suitable for beginners; no previous yoga experience is required.

“If someone is new to yoga or aerial yoga, not to worry – I will lead the class, demonstrate poses,  and assist if anyone needs me,” Breton says. “Inversions are optional and requires more trust and letting go of fear – but they feel amazing and are fun!”

Classes begin with a brief meditation practice and breathwork to settle participants in. Every aerial yoga class will include basic standing and balancing poses, such as Warrior Two, and chest/heart opening poses, like Wheel Pose. Students will practice inversions in the more difficult classes, and all classes end with Savasana or final resting pose. For those who might be nervous about the height or difficulty of aerial yoga, restorative aerial yoga may be a good alternative. It is practiced with the silk hung lower to the ground. It requires less familiarity with yoga and no standing. According to Breton, it is more restful and gentle compared to traditional aerial yoga.

The Sanctuary is great for people celebrating a special occasion or looking for something healthy, unique, and fun to do with friends, co-workers, or loved ones. Knowing that a group class setting isn’t right for everyone, Breton does offer private individual classes, and booking private events or parties is easy from The Sanctuary website.


Down to earth

The Sanctuary offers many unique classes and services. Aerial yoga is one of them, and restorative yoga – with hot Thai herbal compresses, a concoction of aromatic herbs wrapped in material and applied to the body during massage – is another service provided at The Sanctuary.

Breton created this offering by combining the Thai compresses she uses in Thai bodywork sessions and adding them to small-group classes. Another unique offering is restorative yoga with foot reflexology. Foot reflexology is a form of massage therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the foot – another idea born by combining two of Breton’s specialties.

As for the future, Breton was asked if her plans included expansion.

“I ALWAYS see expansion!” Breton says. ”I am currently adding other classes, teachers, and a massage therapist, starting in September.”

It’s clear that Breton’s enthusiasm for her work inspires her towards continued improvement in her business. With her indomitable spirit and enthusiasm, the only thing up in the air for Breton will be her clients.


The Sanctuary

Lewiston |

Shanna Breton RYT 500, E-RYT 200

Registered Yoga Teacher with 500 hours of training. Experienced Yoga teacher with 200 (or more) additional hours of teaching