NEW MILFORD, N.J. — A background in criminal justice served merely as the path to her passion for Melissa Varjan of Oradell.
But that's something the yoga instructor has been more than okay with since opening Hokis in New Milford last year.
Varjan took her first yoga class while studying for her Master's in juvenile justice and delinquency. She wasn't crazy about it but didn't want to waste the four remaining class passes she'd purchased.
"I ended up connecting with the teachers that I ended up studying with," Varjan said. "Then I sort of got peer-pressured into doing my yoga certifications."
It all worked out, though. Varjans began falling in love with the feeling she got from teaching. Besides, the pocket money was nothing to complain about.
She completed her Master's degree and began applying for jobs in the field — all of which she was overqualified for, she said.
Weeks went by and Varjan got nothing but radio silence from the employers. And so, she pursued her newfound passion and opened Hokis Personal Training and Yoga on Main Street in New Milford.
The day after her April 2 grand opening, Varjan got a call from a federal position she'd applied to.
It was too late.
"It was very weird but kind of reassuring," Varjan said. "It confirmed that this is where I'm supposed to be. I'm happy here."
Varjan aims to keep the "original elements of yoga" — such as mind and soul — in Hokis' classes. She chose teachers she knew students would want to be loyal to — ones that are eager to create a community.
"They'll remember your names, injuries and they'll check up on you when you're not there," the instructor said.
Yoga can be intimidating to some people but Varjan wants her studio to be welcoming, she said.
"Firefighters, body builders and women who just had surgery all walk in off the street," Varjan said. "Yoga is for everybody."
Criminal justice majors included.