On the exterior, Maya Whole Health Studio resembles other yoga studios, save perhaps for the resident picnic table outside its front door that gives passersby reason to pause. The business is discreetly tucked on the ground floor of a mixed-use building on Lake Washington Boulevard. 

Yet inside, a community gathering place beckons. According to its social mediva profile, the studio’s purpose is “to provide renewal and fortification of body, mind, and spirit.” The gentle energy found inside the business holds true to the promise — and more.

Located a short stroll from Gene Coulon Park, Maya sits modestly in the center of the Kennydale community.

“Our objective has always been to blend our collective strengths into the community to build a stronger and more vibrant connection,” said owner Ikemefuna “Ike” Udeze.

Udeze launched Maya in 2010, along with two husband-and-wife teams. One couple — one a pilates instructor and the other a licensed massage practitioner — operated the first Maya studio in Fremont years earlier. They teamed with Udeze and Shannon and Doug Payne to open the Renton branch, although later they exited the partnership to pursue other interests.

Recently, the Paynes also left the venture to follow a new path. “Part of the intrinsic flow of Maya’s business model is to nurture practitioners; they come and go, but always know they are welcome back,” Udeze said. “The overarching current here is to support people’s aspirations in the spirit of strengthening the community and creating a healthy social connection.”

Maya offers a variety of health- and fitness-related products and services in a beautiful and serene environment. Services at the main facility include medical and wellness massage, yoga and Pilates group classes, private instruction, and frequent educational workshops. Services are a la carte or offered in packages, with classes occurring daily, and participants are encouraged to schedule online.

The studio also operates a satellite location in Kennydale with Pilates equipment, circuit classes, and private instruction. It is run in partnership with another local wellness operation, Advanced Holistic Health.

“We forged our relationship with Advanced Holistic Health during a time of need when our facility flooded in 2016 and customers needed our ongoing primary care services,” Udeze said. “It remains a positive, community-centered relationship that fits with our values.”

Udeze feels Maya’s caring staff and the holistic, nontransactional community focus are what have made the operation so successful. “Maya’s staff are the pulse and heartbeat and emblematic of who we are and what we strive to be,” he said.

Maya also has a long-standing practice of contributing toward local charity causes. “We try to offer at least one free benefit class per month and donate all contributions to a nominated charity,” Udeze said.

When Udeze was asked what he sees in Maya’s future, he first recited his favorite phrase — “The only way out is through” — then smiled and said, “We’ve tried a lot of different things, but the synergy is always found in the undercurrent of community and family here, and we know there is more potential to explore and experience.”