Pippi’s Healing Garden soothes the mind, body, and spirit

Studio offers alternative exercises for seniors, the disabled, and children

Vicky Hilleges stands in the spa room at Pippi's Healing Garden in Fayetteville.

Vicky Hilleges stands in the spa room at Pippi's Healing Garden in Fayetteville. Allie Wenner

— Vicky Hilleges spent 18 years working as an engineering consultant and 10 more years selling perennials before deciding to open Pippi’s Healing Garden in September. To some, the jump from engineering to gardening to teaching yoga may not make complete sense, but Hilleges says that after a while, the major physical and mental benefits she experienced from the yoga became so apparent that she felt she had to share her practice with others.

"Why did I come to yoga and decide that it would be the next phase of my life? Well, it really works for me. I couldn't sell anything I didn't believe in. I don't cite research very often because I've experienced yoga's benefits for myself," she said.

Hilleges struggled with infertility for seven years, Treatment after treatment, nothing seemed to work. After she had two miscarriages, she got back into practicing yoga regularly and was then able to get pregnant and maintain it-and she said the only variable that changed was the fact that she was practicing yoga again.

Pippi's Healing Garden is far from just a yoga studio, however. From play therapy for toddlers to chair yoga for seniors, there's something for everyone looking to improve their whole self. Hilleges said she's particularly interested in offering more classes for seniors and the disabled-two demographics that aren't usually associated with yoga practice.

"Many seniors just don't know that yoga is available to them. They think 'yoga-that's not for me. I'm not flexible or strong.' [Seniors] aren't looking for me, so I've got to go out and find them," she said.

And that;s precisely what she's doing. Hilleges is presenting at a multiple sclerosis support group to teach people in wheelchairs about the fundamentals of yoga. She said a big part of what she teaches is various breathing techniques to improve lung capacity and to help with anxiety. When it comes down to it, she said she wants to teach people skills they can use in everyday life to help with whatever they're going through.

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