With emphasis on nature and healing, Tormey Cole will open new yoga studio in Knox

Laurel Tormey Cole

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Like a bird: Laurel Tormey Cole strikes a Bird of Paradise yoga pose at her studio in Guilderland Center, Orchid Tree Yoga. 

KNOX — A new yoga studio will be coming to the Hilltowns in April.

“Leaf House” will be a satellite branch in Knox of the Guilderland Center studio Orchid Tree Yoga, said Laurel Tormey Cole, the owner of Orchid Tree.

The new studio will be in a large room in her home at 99 Street Road in Knox, Tormey Cole said, with a wall of windows facing out to the Helderberg escarpment. The property backs up to the Winn Preserve and Tormey Cole, who teaches about backyard habitats at the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center, designed her own property to be a “mini wildlife sanctuary to attract various wildlife.

“It’s just a really creative setting,” she said.

Leaf House will operate as a home business, as Tormey Cole will be the only employee there. She expects to have eight students in each class, with beginner courses offered Monday and Tuesday evenings as well as a “bigger bodies” class on Thursday mornings.

“Basically, if you can breathe, you can do yoga,” she explained.

Tormey Cole has lived in Knox for the last 22 years. She said she was inspired to offer yoga in the Hilltowns because of the few options nearby.

“For a lot of people up in the Hilltowns, everything is far,” she said.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Twist and shout: Yoga instructor Laurel Tormey Cole maneuvers, while smiling, into an eight-angle pose at her studio in Guilderland Center. 



Orchid Tree

After being an instructor for over a decade at Orenda Yoga & Healing Arts in the Park Guilderland plaza, Tormey Cole bought the studio in 2016 and renamed it Orchid Tree. The name was inspired when, after her father died, a friend gave her an orchid to keep.

“And I grow all kinds of houseplants, but I had never grown an orchid before,” said Tormey Cole. “So I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, orchids are supposed to be really hard to grow. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this.’ And, I did it, and it was beautiful.”

Tormey Cole said she fell in love with the plants, and whenever they are in bloom she keeps some at her studio.

She will now split her time between  Leaf House and Orchid Tree. There are four other instructors at Orchid Tree, but she said that she is looking for more.

Healing in yoga

Tormey Cole was introduced to yoga decades ago while living in Rhode Island.

“I didn’t do sports,” she said. “But I like to move. So, I think that was the appeal for me.”

Tormey Cole said that the focus on breathing in yoga allowed her mind to “slow down” and helped her overcome her anxiety. She said that yoga can also help those dealing with depression or addiction.

“They’re doing a lot of research to confirm what yogis have known for 2,000 years,” she said.

Tormey Cole said she also has used yoga to help her body heal from injuries, helping to correct her gait. Her instruction at Orchid Tree focuses on healing and balance.

While Tormey Cole is not formally trained in the practice — she trained with the instructor Cyndi Lee in New York City — she teaches in the style of Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, known for introducing the modern concept of yoga to the Western world. Iyengar Yoga focuses on posture, balance, and breath. Tormey Cole’s own instruction often includes improving balance and correcting bad posture.

Iyengar Yoga is especially useful for her preferred student groups, beginners and those over 50. Tormey Cole is 63 herself and says that it can be encouraging for her students to see someone their age be able to perform complicated positions.

But, Tormey later added: “It’s not about being a pretzel,” she said. “It’s really about — yes, creating more flexibility — developing strength, and improving balance.”

Tormey Cole also tries to account for the individual rather than just having students follow her movements, such as offering support for someone’s knees in a certain position if needed. She said that she enjoys seeing a significant improvement in her students.

“Until they take the class, they can’t know how good they’re going to feel,” she said. “It’s a different type of exercise.”

Tormey Cole added that yoga is an activity that is both energizing and calming.

“It’s an interesting dichotomy,” she said.

More Hilltowns News

  • A Spectrum employee was killed in Berne in what the company’s regional vice president of communications called a “tragic accident” while the employee was working on a line early in the morning. 

  • Determining the median income of the Rensselaerville water district will potentially make the district eligible for more funding for district improvement projects, since it’s believed that the water district may have a lower median income than the town overall.

  • The Rensselaerville Post Office is expected to move to another location within the 12147 ZIP code, according to a United States Postal Service flier, and the public is invited to submit comments on the proposal by mail. 

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