LONG TIME SUN
From outside the island, most misperceive Newport as a party place for rambunctious college kids or a vacation destination for the super-rich. But beyond the assumptions lies a quaint place with a growing creative community, built on shared talents, inspiration, and support. Kyla Rose Maher is one of the pioneers in the movement to abolish Newport's existing stigma. As the founder of Long Time Sun - a boutique for mind, body & spirit - she provides a place for young healthy people to congregate and meditate. Long Time Sun is unique in that it doubles as both a yoga studio and lifestyle shop.
Kyla's story is refreshing, and her personal growth has made her a champion for all of those who occupy this sunny seaside town. She has remained true to her mission of offering a haven for the spiritual sect and continuously encourages all to come for the experience, proclaiming "Yoga is not a competition. No matter what level you work at, you will reap the benefits." Just see for yourself at one of her Tuesday night sessions!
How did you come to launch Long Time Sun?
I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga, which is a very different kind of yoga. One of the teachings in this form of yoga is to wear white; So I started a clothing line of white yoga clothes - Long Time Sun Apparel - and the goal behind the company was to present this sort of odd, esoteric kind of yoga, in a way that's approachable, fun, modern, and cool. Originally I was just selling online, and traveling to yoga festivals to sell as a vendor. I had a humble little office in a Newport church where I packed and shipped all of my orders from. Then I started to get busier and busier, and the operation became a tad noisy. Boxes, tape, and tissue paper. All day. Mid-summer of last year, the cute old church manager finally kindly asked me to leave because my growing business was getting too disruptive.
I sort of took that as a push from the Universe - time to open a store! As a traveling hippie chick, I didn't have much start-up capital, but I knew I could make it happen somehow. In about 2 weeks, I had filmed a video, launched a Kickstarter, and then raised 13K to open a spiritual/yoga lifestyle boutique + event center in downtown Newport. It was pretty exciting.
You have such a strongest communities of local yogis! How did you come to acquire the studio and build a following?
I was already teaching Kundalini Yoga on Tuesday nights out of that same church where I was running my online business, before moving it over to my current space on Thames. I think part of building a following is just consistency - I've been teaching at the same time on the same night for close to 3 years. I've been in recovery for over 6 years, and there is a Young People's AA meeting just down the street right after my class. That said, I'm connected with a solid group of people on a spiritual path... Younger people looking to bring spirituality into their life has become increasingly more popular.
And now you've opened a second location. Congrats! What is the difference between the two spaces?
Thank you! Yes, i partnered with Patti Doyle, who owns Thames Street Yoga, on a gorgeous new yoga sanctuary called Shunya Studio Portsmouth. I own and direct the yoga lifestyle boutique, and Patti runs the yoga studio. There is also a room for skin treatments.
What products do you sell through the studio and how do these other local brands support Long Time Sun's mission?
I carry consciously made clothing from Thailand, India, and Peru - products that support a yogic lifestyle (meditation cushions, yoga mats, incense, sage, crystals, books, etc.), and a lot of locally crafted goods. The goal is to provide products to support the ever growing holistic community in Newport.
I love the look and feel of the space. Did you design the interior yourself?
The space sort of organically and magically came together with the help of family and friends. My sister Marial (Visual Manor) created our awesome stairs and the mural on the wall. My father (Seatown Woodwork) built the beautiful wooden racks on wheels that move to the back to create space for yoga. Any of the furniture pieces my father didn't build, he found at yard sales and then refinished them. We created displays on the walls using branches a friend found on a local beach. Saying I was addicted to Pinterest during this time would be an understatement.
What is your own yoga practice like?
I try and get to a few classes in each week. Yoga and teachers of all kinds inspire me. My home practice is inconsistent, real, expansive, personal, deep, and nurturing. I have a love-hate relationship with meditation. My go-to practice is Kundalini Yoga.
What kind of programming does Long Time Sun offer outside of the studio?
Outside of my Tuesday night class, we offer one-hour community chanting meditations that often sell out. The next event is this Saturday! It's called Sonic Sessions - yoga + meditation + deep house.
It must be difficult to find time for yourself. What does a nice day off in Newport look like?
It's actually not too bad. I try and make sure I have at least one day of absolutely nothing planned. Perfect day: morning run at Sachuest Point, breakfast at Corner Cafe, a relaxing day at Second Beach, maybe an evening yoga class at Thames Street Yoga... and then if I came home to a nice meal cooked by my beau, ah yes, that would be a pretty perfect day.
How does your local community influence you?
I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing without the community. The foundation of Long Time Sun was built on the community's support - and it thrives by people continuing to show up. I think I could safely say that 99% of the events we throw, or new products we carry, are ideas from people in the community. Luckily, I'm surrounded by extraordinarily conscious and creative people here in Newport!
Photos by Benjamin Kiracofe