The tranquility of the country is at the root of a new spiritual cooperative that will meet on a family farm just northwest of Highview near Webster City.
Peace on the Prairie is, for its founder Catherine Nedved, the culmination of a life path that led to well-being through yoga.
"Yoga, for me, is a journey into self-awareness," said Nedved, who has been teaching yoga for more than 10 years. "Finding out why I am here, what I am meant to do while I am here, and the lessons that I am supposed to learn. Yoga is not just on the mat for me; those are the tools that I take out into my everyday life. And that's what I like to share with people."
Catherine Nedved was introduced to yoga when she was a teen, but it was decades until she embraced it.
In the latest incarnation of her journey, Nedved will have company: Mary-Louise Burt, of Rowan; Trish Johnson-Wempen, of Stratford; and Sam Coleman, of Fort Dodge. That's two yoga teachers and a dream therapist, with reflexology, cosmetology and the skills of a licensed esthetician thrown in.
Together - and separately - they will lead classes. To introduce their cooperative venture, the four will host an open house Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the pool house on Nedved's family farm, 2042 Chase Ave., Webster City, where the classes will be led.
"I have a connection for many generations in the area where I live," Nedved said. "My great-great-grandparents raised my great-grandmother in the house I grew up in and where I live now. It feels like home, and, for me, the different things that we're going to be doing is like journeying back home to what that word means: security, foundation, trust."
Daily classes will be augmented by workshops in a myriad of disciplines. For example, Coleman will lead monthly Journeys with Sam that will encompass dream interpretation, the study of archetypes, feng shui adjustments, and relationship contracts.
Coleman, a northern California native who moved to Fort Dodge when she married Joe Coleman Jr., has studied the work of Carolyn Myss, an author and speaker on spirituality and mysticism; Barbara Marx Hubbard, a leader in conscious evolution; Wayne Dwyer, who lectures on self-development; and soul coach Denise Linn. She's also done extensive work in topics led by Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston, who are advocates for human potential. She's offering courses in understanding the human spirit.
"Dreams are a great beginning point in one's decision to journey into the self," Coleman said. "Dreams are personal and private yet we all have them and wonder what they mean. Once you understand that a dream is a communication from your subconscious self to your conscious self, you are able to access a wealth of information about what is going on inside you."
For Burt, who trained extensively in Costa Mesa, Calif., embracing yoga was a response to her then-pressured lifestyle.
"I had rather stressful jobs in Orange County, and my yoga classes shifted me so dramatically from stressed to peaceful," said Burt, who also teaches yoga at Fuller Hall in Webster City.
"What I notice as I meet students is that one thing we all have in common for the most part is a need to be still and slow down."
Yoga felt like a good fit right away, she said.
"Simply put, yoga brings together so much," Burt said. "After reading many books on health and nutrition I see so much possibility for spreading the word that so many of our physical and mental problems can be resolved on our own through lifestyle modification. Yoga is thousands of years old and it shows you how to do this."
Johnson-Wempen, a Clarion native, was introduced to yoga by a friend.
"Teaching yoga has taught me that people are longing for some kind of stress relief," she said. "Taking them through an hour of yoga/relaxation gives me a great sense of accomplishment that I made them feel better."
Johnson-Wempen, who owns the Stratford salon Beautique Hair and Spa, is a licensed cosmetologist, a licensed esthetician, and is certified in reflexology. She is also a certified Vinysa yoga instructor. Vinysa yoga focuses on synchronizing movement and breath. It is also called Flow yoga.
Kundalini yoga, a popular discipline taught by Nedved, is often referred to as the yoga of awareness.
Nedved's personal awareness of yoga came at an early age, but it took her a long time to acknowledge it.
"The seed was planted by my cousin's French-Canadian husband when I was 13 years old and they came to visit. He was a chiropractor and a Hatha teacher to the nuns in Three Rivers, Canada. He demonstrated to us, right where we're going to be having these yoga classes, and he looked at me and said, 'You should do yoga.' I never forgot that, but it never seemed to be the right time," she said.
"Probably the turning point for me was when my dad got sick and I kind of stopped taking care of myself in all different ways. His illness made me stop and realize that if I didn't start going in a different direction I wasn't going to be here. Slowly, it all just fell into place."
Nedved began practicing yoga and meditation in 2002. She is certified to teach Kundalini levels one and two, Flow yoga through White Lotus, and Xen yoga with light weights.
"I teach what I need to learn myself," she said. "So just because I practice yoga doesn't mean I've mastered anything. I am just along for the journey, on my path, and trying to, day to day, find out: Am I going in the right direction?' It makes me stop and ask that question."
Yoga changed - and likely saved - her life.
"I quit smoking 21 years ago," she said. "And I just sort of had teenagers and was just sort of overwhelmed as a parent and went from 115 pounds to 186 pounds. I was eating junk food, I was eating out all the time at fast food places, and I ended up having a breast biopsy. That was before my dad got sick. That was the nudge."