The 8 a.m. hour may be a time when most are driving to work, still half asleep, yearning for a morning cup of Joe. But not Mary Clare Sweet. All smiles and energy, she welcomes her fellow yogis to Lotus House of Yoga. Each new arrival receives a hug or squeal of excitement attached to their name (usually both) as they walk through the door.
According to Sweet, eye contact and great big hugs are the most important yoga pose you will ever do. Bare feet begin to march their way into the studio and mats appear on the hardwood floors. Heat radiates through the air as Sweet takes a moment to adjust the lights and turn on the tunes before taking her place at the front of the room.
“So where is it that you need just a little more determination today?” Sweet asks, walking through the maze of bodies twisted every which way. It is readily evident that determination is something she knows quite well.
Sweet began her own yoga journey as a little girl as taught by her mother, Anne Sweet. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she moved to New York where she met yoga teachers that inspired her to want to devote her efforts to the practice and its way of life. Homesick, she moved back to Nebraska, settling in Omaha, where she taught at Nebraska Dance for five years before opening Lotus House of Yoga.
The studio just celebrated its fourth anniversary and boasts three locations in the Omaha area, one of which is nestled in Midtown Crossing. A fourth studio recently opened in Lincoln.
“Yoga has given me a sense of truly expanded consciousness,” said Sweet.
“Whatever my wildest dreams are, I have no fear in pursuing them. Yoga helps you be who you really are and you get excited about presenting that to the world.”
It is clear that Sweet is doing just that as she shares a passion for love, both inside and outside the studio. After being asked to officiate a friend’s wedding several years ago, she has gone on to perform several ceremonies. Two more are scheduled for later this year.
“I practice love, and love in every capacity,” adds Sweet. “It’s very easy for me to talk about love and to write about love. Officiating at weddings, she says, is “a really wonderful way for people to have a nontraditional ceremony, but also keep it in line with their spiritual beliefs and have some sense of universal spirituality in their ceremony.”
It’s no wonder that Sweet has Omahans getting up at the crack of dawn to make it to her studios. Love and compassion appear to envelope her like a cloud wherever she goes, and it’s felt by all that enter her doors.
“I come back because of how personal they make it,” said Summer Froehoich, a nurse at Methodist Hospital. “I developed relationships instantly with the teachers and other yogis. I’ve gained a real friendship base [and lots of warm hugs] through Lotus.”