Giving back for yoga studio owner means coaching students at Wenatchee High
Elvis Garcia has a special talent for inspiring students to elevate their musical and performance skills as a volunteer coach for the Wenatchee High School band program, says band director Jim Kovach.
I recently had a chance to see Elvis working with 14 students who participate in the school’s color guard and marveled at his talent in relating to students and coaching them to perform at a high level.
He brings a sense of calm professionalism, enthusiasm as well as a commitment to helping kids find a sense of belonging. Together, they pursue excellence.
Garcia returned to Wenatchee with his husband Teddy this year to open Seattle Yoga Lounge and Café in the downtown Wenatchee space that previously housed the Hunter’s Wife.
To be successful in color guard requires physical condition, stamina, choreography and artistry. It is a beautiful thing to watch and challenging to do well. Elvis is passionate about helping kids succeed and he relates to kids who struggle with feeling like they don’t fit in.
Elvis knows what that is like. He didn’t feel a sense of belonging in this community 20 years ago when he was a student at Wenatchee High School. Being openly gay was not well accepted at that time, but circumstances have changed. Giving back to the school that helped shape him has become a significant part of his life here.
Elvis first started working with WHS band and color guard students five years ago during summer camps as a paid coach, a relationship that has blossomed into a volunteer position during the school year.
Elvis had been working in a high-pressure job for Gene Juarez in Seattle when he attended a yoga class and he said the experience changed his life. “I stumbled into my first yoga class and it was a humbling experience,” said Elvis. He thought of himself as somewhat athletic but struggled to make it through a one-hour class.
Despite the struggles, he left that class with a feeling of peace, calm and clarity and the practice of yoga transformed his life. He went on to become a yoga teacher and ultimately quit his job and he and Teddy started the Seattle Yoga Lounge and Café near Green Lake in north Seattle.
This fall, the Garcias opened their Wenatchee studio with a goal of creating welcoming environment for kids and adults to come in and have a cup of coffee or pastry, share conversations as well as practice yoga.
He credits the calmness and equanimity that he learned to develop through yoga with helping him work with students. Mindfulness practices are becoming a widely accepted and appreciated approach in schools to help students gain those skills.
“I wish I knew how to do this (mindfulness practice) at a much younger age,” said Elvis. When he works with students, at times he will lead them in a mindfulness practices that enhance concentration and that has led to “some of our best rehearsals.”
Kovach is thrilled with the help that Elvis is giving to the students and the impact it is having on the quality of the color guard, in particular. The number of students participating has grown significantly as has the sophistication of the choreography.
Reconnecting with Kovach has been a positive experience, Elvis said. The lessons he learned from Kovach in high school were life changing lessons. “At the time, I didn’t know that he was teaching us to be better adults, better human beings and functioning members of society,” said Elvis.
Elvis Garcia is paying those life lessons forward coaching the next generation of band and color guard students. Building that sense of community connection with students and educators offers powerful opportunities to mentor students and support their growth.