Nicole Frieling, owner of habit in Great Falls, Montana, began practicing yoga when she was a freshman in college. She was participating in the university’s modern dance program while pursuing her degree, and one of her dance instructors encouraged the students to explore yoga as a supplemental practice to their dance training and curriculum. Nicole signed up for an intro to yoga class on campus and fell in love. It wasn’t long until she found a hot yoga studio in the community that became home for both her practice and training.
Ever since, yoga has been a constant in Nicole’s life, helping her to embrace abyhasa—steady effort in the direction one wants to go—throughout life’s stages, including graduate school, the opening of a business and yoga studio, and most recently, the journey of welcoming a child to the world. “In May of this year, we will meet our daughter,” shares Nicole. “Yoga has continued to be a constant throughout the experience of pregnancy, reteaching me the art of listening to my body.”
THE FIRST HEATED YOGA STUDIO IN THE COMMUNITY
Nicole’s husband farms in central Montana, which was the main catalyst for moving away from her home community almost 10 years ago. While she was warmly welcomed, Nicole explains that she had a hard time adjusting to the predominantly industrial and agricultural environment of Great Falls. Little existed in the way of an established yoga community, and she longed for a dedicated place and people to practice with. In 2022, she and her husband opened habit, a yoga studio and boutique, filling a void in her world and offering their community something that they hopefully had longed for as well. 15 months later, Nicole is grateful for the overwhelming support their community has provided.
habit offers a variety of classes, from vinyasa flows to restorative.
“When we set out, our mission was to cultivate a culture and community of yoga that existed but needed a place to gather and thrive,” says Nicole. “At habit, we bring mindfulness to the habitual practice of living a balanced life through yoga as a mindset, not just a workout.” habit offers community-style yoga classes, including hot yoga, as Nicole believes that sweat is a good thing and an important component of balanced living.
Likewise, she understands that it is important to exercise and balance the mind with the body. “While for many in our community, guided meditation was a new and sometimes intimidating practice, we have been intentional about pairing the physical aspect of yoga with meditation. We pair stretching muscles with stretching the mind, and like sweat, this is a good thing.”
In their boutique, the focus is on embracing quality products and apparel to support their yogis’ practice and goals. Whether through hard-earned sweat or a purchased apparel item, habit’s mission is to support the habitual practice of balanced living with the belief that good things should not come to an end.
As the only heated studio in the Great Falls community, the unique opportunity to participate in heated classes is exciting for habit’s students. Nicole and her team have invested into making habit a place for everyone and everybody. Especially because yoga is largely unexplored in their community, they have many who come curious but intimidated. “Regardless of age, stature, experience, or otherwise, there is a class offered in our studio everyone can connect with,” says Nicole. “We have been wonderfully surprised by the wide spectrum of yogis who have discovered our studio and chosen to make it part of their place of practice.”
THE STUDIO’S MISSION, GOALS, AND GROWTH
From when they first opened over year ago, Nicole’s goal has been to offer her community a place to discover and explore yoga. One of her greatest joys is taking practice in the back of the studio and lifting her gaze to be encouraged by a room of people each independently embracing their practice. “From the four corners of each person’s mat to the four corners of the room, the joy of cultivating such a place for people is an ultimate satisfaction,” Nicole shares. As they move forward from one year of business, they hope to make a difference in their community through opportunities to collaborate and get curious about practice, opening the door for others still intimidated by yoga to consider it.
When asked what inspires her, Nicole says, “If I had to sum up my positionality, it would be that I teach because I have the privilege of creating spaces where all people feel safe, loved, and empowered. In this way, I draw inspiration from these kinds of spaces and the opportunities to experience and collaborate within them. It is an honor that habit has developed into one of these spaces within our community.”
In one year of business, they have grown from their original 4 instructors to 11. We now offer 4-5 classes every day. habit previously offer 2-3 intro to yoga classes each week based on demand, and now only fill 2-3 intro classes a month. Nicole believes that the studio has grown because those in the yoga community have personalized their practices and leaned into growth.
NICOLE’S THOUGHTS ON YOGA AND MOTHERHOOD
“I have practiced on the same Manduka PRO mat for 12 years. It is more than a mat. It has supported me through several pivotal stages in the last decade, but most recently, the journey of welcoming a child to the world. My yoga practice has adapted significantly in the last 8 months, but one thing that hasn’t changed is how I can arrive on my mat day after day to listen to and rely on my body. The experience of pregnancy is incredible and exhausting. I have found that pregnancy is its own journey of consistently arriving each day—to listen to cravings for rest, to rely on its ability to provide baby what she needs, to depend on its consistency to still support my daily needs. Becoming a mother has shaped my yoga practice by demonstrating the power of consistently arriving. There is plenty that is out of my control, but I can control the habitual investment of arriving within the four corners of my mat, the four corners of each room, and my corner of the universe with compassion and a heart to listen.”