Q & A with Megan Stancil Reilly and Kristin Nemecek,
What brought each of you to health and wellness as a career path?
Did you experience results as a practitioner that you wanted to share with others?
Megan: I've always been a high energy, "type A", go, go, go person. As a kid my parents quickly enrolled me in lots of sports. I loved it. I loved working hard. I loved seeing progress. My first "serious" sport was gymnastics. I wanted to be the next Mary Lou Retton. I must have been four years old when she swept gold at the Olympics. The problem with me and gymnastics was that 1) I’ve always been tall, and 2) I am not naturally flexible (as a child, I remember it being very hard to touch my toes!). My mom recognized that I was working my butt off, but destined to not make much progress. I distinctly remember in the third grade when she told me... "Megan, you know you can quit, right?"... quitting had never even occurred to me as an option. Once she put it out there (don't mamas always know what we need), it made sense to my little brain. I quit the next week. My smart mama knew that sitting around the house was not something that would be good for me, so she suggested a different sport — swimming. I did an intro camp and was easily hooked — it was something I was good at, something that worked for me, and something that I could work toward and see progress.
I had a successful swimming career — unfortunately, my shoulder did not like all of the repetitive motion. After I was told I either needed to have extensive rotator cuff surgery of not swim in college, I stopped. However, that desire to keep moving stayed with me — at the University of Wisconsin, I rowed crew, I joined the water polo team, and I worked as a lifeguard and a supervisor. I loved being around movement. I started getting into yoga after college, when I moved to Hawaii. I spent three years soaking up Oahu and while I was there, I joined a Gold’s Gym. They offered a ashtanga yoga class, which I did three times a week. I moved, I worked up a sweat, and I even gained some flexibility. My yoga practice to a short break when I moved to Milwaukee, where the styles of yoga being offered were very slow — my active mind and body couldn’t slow down that much!
Fast forward to 2011. I was pregnant with my son — and my husband and I made the decision to move to Madison. I had a traumatic childbirth, and my postpartum period was the darkest part of my life so far. I was alone, in a new city, with a new baby, and I had also decided to leave my job in Milwaukee, unable to justify a commute. It was in this dark place that I came back to yoga. Dragonfly Hot Yoga has just opened in Fitchburg — they had a Groupon and childcare on-site. I finally found something I was so desperate for, something that made me feel good. A year after my son was born, we found out we were pregnant with our second child, and to say I was feeling overwhelmed was an extreme understatement. My incredible OB, Dr. Laura Berghahn, was fully on-board with my hot yoga practice. I felt strong and balance through my second pregnancy.
After getting through the newborn stage with my second child, I found out about the yoga teacher training at Dragonfly. I loved yoga and figured at the very least, I could get a job at Prairie Athletic Club, the gym I loved to go to. I graduated from teacher training in 2015 and started leading yoga classes at Dragonfly’s brand-new Sun Prairie located and for the new hot yoga studio at Prairie Athletic Club. It wasn’t my intention to have a yoga career, but I found myself feeling so good every time I taught. I loved seeing my students strong – seeing them do things with joy that they didn’t think were possible. And now, Haumea. I’m so excited about this next step in my journey.
It was so hard to see the light when I was at my lowest. Yoga gave me that — and I can’t wait to bring it to others!
Kristin: In 2006, I was in my first year of teaching early childhood special education in San Diego. I had just run a marathon and felt I was at my best, mentally and physically. I then suffered a debilitating back injury on a hike and my physical therapist recommended yoga work for strengthening my core. I fell in love with yoga at a small studio in Oceanside, California — and ended up getting a part-time job at the front desk! I continued to practice at this studio the rest of the time I lived in California.
In 2012, family brought me back to Madison and I found myself a part-time job at a local studio and took my first class before I had even slept in my new apartment. The studio’s owner was my biggest cheerleader and saw potential in me, both as a yoga instructor and my ability to play a larger role in the Madison yoga community. Eventually, I left the education field and pursued furthering my yoga training in 2014. Yoga has been a part of my life for the last 3 years, and it was the contemplation and reflection that I found on my yoga mat that has led me to where I am today: working with Megan to create the Haumea community.
What caused you to think specifically about bringing health, wellness, and education together in a holistic way through the development of Haumea?
Megan: The sum of yoga is so much bigger than its parts. Through movement, we develop compassion, courage, and patience. Yoga really brings with it the importance of interconnection. So often we want to silo: nutrition, sleep, education, work. We can achieve so much more by bringing these things together rather than viewing them as separate. The backbone of Haumea is community. A village of support for mamas. By bringing people together in community as they journey to become parents, we hope to strengthen and grow this community.
Kristin: Being a parent is a tough job! There are many wonderful resources for parents in the Madison area, but how amazing to have all of these resources in one space. We wanted to develop a comprehensive offering of movement classes. workshops, wellness and educational offerings to help parents make informed decisions without feeling judged. By offering all of these at Haumea, we hope to bring families together together in hopes of building a better community as a whole.
Was there a specific moment you can think of where you thought, “if only there was a place that did this…” — where you really thought about putting the wheels in motion to make Haumea a reality?
Megan: After I had my son, I attended a few new mom groups. The group I attended was structured, with each mama taking her turn at sharing her struggle for the week. As a mom who was already coming from a dark place, I found this to be the opposite of what I needed. When I did my Prenatal Yoga Teacher training at Blooma in Minneapolis, I found a space that offered love, support, gratitude, and joy. This is what I was missing -- and it’s what Kristin and I want to bring to Haumea.
Kristin: I had taken a prenatal training at an amazing studio in Minneapolis in 2016. I left that training thinking, “There’s nothing like this in Madison — and there needs to be.” I was inspired by that studio and the community that was created in the greater Minneapolis area. I went back to pursue three different trainings/certifications from that same studio. Megan and I had many, many conversations about creating a space like this. Eventually in early 2018, Megan and I decided to take the leap.
What do you think is missing in terms of prenatal and postnatal wellness that you want to fill with Haumea?
Megan: We are so very lucky to have truly inspirational birth professionals in the Madison area: yoga teachers, midwives, doulas, OBs, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists. However, they’re spread out -- there isn’t one location that can build community by offering services in one location. By offering multiple services in one spot, we hope to create a place that is greater than the sum of its parts. A place of belonging, community, and care.
Kristin: There are so many wonderful options for prenatal and postnatal care in Madison. To find the community, movement, education, and wellness, women and families have to drive all over town. At Haumea, we’ll offer a space that will fulfill all of these needs and more!
What is your goal with creating a community of parents and mamas at Haumea?
Why do you think community is so important for mamas and families during this time?
Megan: Being a new mom can be so lonely. It’s a huge change, and huge changes have huge transitions. Transitions are inherently unstable. Instability can be scary. If a mama knows she has a community of support to catch her when she falls, to lend her a hand to get back up, and give her a huge high-five when she does, we can send that loneliness packing. We can make this a time of joy. And on those days she’s feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed, we can offer her a hug, let her know she’s not alone, and let her know the feeling won’t last forever.
I cannot WAIT for the doors to open. Come on in, mama. We’ve got your amazing, strong, beautiful, and tired back.
Kristin: Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had the privilege of having. I came in to parenting in a non-traditional way. In 2017, I met an amazing man who has four equally amazing children: twins that are now 11, a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old. They have been through inconceivable loss after losing their mother to cancer in 2016. I am now a mother figure to these children and they need me at my best. My husband and these children deserve me at my best. How do I become the best me? How we become the best version of ourselves is a lofty and often overwhelming question. I started to think about what type of space and work environment that I crave being a part of outside of our home. This is where Haumea comes in. We want to support families anywhere in their journey — whether that’s a more traditional path or a non-traditional path. Every path is important. There is space for everyone at Haumea. Preconception, prenatal, postnatal, no kids, grown kids, empty nester, grandparent and anyone else in between. This is a space where everyone is supported, empowered, encouraged and challenged to become the best versions of ourselves. In turn, we we will take this positive energy with us in to our homes, families, relationships, workplaces, friendships, and the greater Madison community will feel the overwhelming benefit as a result of the community at Haumea.