by Sheila Julson
Trinity Mays, owner of Cardinal Yoga, has always had an independent, creative spirit. Strongly interested in spiritualism, astrology and symbolism, she fondly remembers how, while growing up in Sapulpa, her grandmother had loved cardinals and enjoyed watching the beautiful creatures. Mays found the bird a symbolic spirit that would eventually become the namesake of her business.
After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics in 2003 from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Mays married and took a position at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Also an avid crafter, she enjoys knitting and sewing. She also sought out a new form of exercise, so she started taking yoga classes at the YMCA.
“I had a great teacher there who had a similar philosophical background to me. Her philosophy resonated with me; it was very different than my Southern Baptist childhood,” Mays says. “I realized how good I felt after yoga, both emotionally and physically.” Mays studied yoga and yoga teacher training through Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, in Colorado.
For 10 years, Mays taught at several different yoga studios. Then, Natalia Callard, manager of This Pose Yoga, approached Mays and suggested that they work together running that business. “Neither of us really wanted to run a business,” she recalls, “but I was in a transition to find a permanent place to teach some classes, so it worked out.”
The studio was in the Nichols Hills area, and Mays soon tired of commuting during rush hour from her home in the Paseo Arts District. She became aware of space available in a restored building constructed in 1911 that once housed a power station. She took advantage of the opportunity, and in January, she opened Cardinal Yoga. The 1,100-square-foot space, with restored wood and red accents that reflect the original colors in the building, proved an ideal space.
Mays strives to offer a different style of teaching yoga. She doesn’t offer the popular “hot” yoga, and she works with an older clientele. “Older being not 20 years old,” she says with a chuckle. “My goal is that if you start doing yoga now, you can do yoga until you’re 90.”
Her classes are designed for all skill levels. Yoga 101, for beginners, is offered during fall and winter. “It’s for people to get comfortable with yoga,” Mays explains. “You don’t have to be flexible or thin; you can be any age or mobility range; and we have gentle yoga to appeal to people that may be afraid to come into a yoga studio.”
Mays offers two classes focusing on meditation: The Learn to Meditate class covers philosophy and meditation; and the Yoga + Meditation weekly class is part yoga poses and part meditation, in which Mays incorporates her Shambhava Yoga background.
Cardinal Yoga also has slow flow vinyasa and classes that focus on alignment of poses and posture. Massage therapist and intuitive bodywork specialist Cindy Ciancarelli also has space at Cardinal Yoga. In addition to massage, her services include Usui Reiki and Upledger CranioSacral Therapy.
The journey into yoga has been a personal and satisfying one for Mays, and she continually strives to remain authentic in her teachings while finding ways to stay a beat ahead of everyone else—all while improving her entrepreneurial skills.
Mays is working on Healing Touch certification through Healing Beyond Borders, an organization that certifies through its Healing Touch International program. On March 19—the spring equinox—Mays will lead a candlelight yoga class to teach and encourage people to connect to their own spiritual nature. She admits that like many, she can put pressure on herself, but she’s excited to share self-care techniques she’s learned over the years. “I want people to find a more peaceful life and discover more practices to make that happen,” she says.
Mays donates free classes for charity events, and she hopes to get involved with more community organizations. On her own time, she raised money by shaving her hair off to fight childhood cancer during OKC’s annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser. As an animal lover with three dogs, she has volunteered at Rita’s Angel Fund, through the Oklahoma Humane Society.
Cardinal Yoga is located at 2412 N. Olie Ave., in Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-226-1177 or visit CardinalYogaOK.com.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-area freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.