Five Peaks Power Yoga Opens in Purcellville 

Written by Shayda Windle
Photos by Gracie Withers

Five Peaks Yoga in Purcellville was founded by Lauren Christian as a sanctuary for those “ready to experience a deeper integration of yoga as a listening practice – both on and off the mat.” The studio offers a wide range of hot yoga classes from skillful and soulful instructors in addition to wellness retreats, certified Embodied Vitality teacher training, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of community that has turned one-time visitors into regular practitioners. 

When Christian decided to open her second studio in Purcellville, she wanted to replicate that same sense of community that she created at her Lansdowne location.This was an important focus giventhe increase in anxiety, depression, and other struggles her clients were facing during the pandemic. She shares, “So many are recovering physically, mentally, and spiritually from the pandemic which made me realize I could take the new studio in Purcellville beyond a yoga and group fitness center and transform it into a sanctuary for those seeking true health, vitality, and self-realization. I wanted this studio to be the answer to a holistic yoga practice.” 

Through one of her Embodied Vitality teacher trainings at Five Peaks, Christian met Garnet Nelson, a licensed mental and behavioral health therapist at ReEvolve, LLC.  The two began brainstorming how to use their specialties to address mental health. Through her practice, Nelson had 16 years of experience with countless patients including couples, families, and veterans suffering from mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Making the connection between psychotherapy and yoga, Nelson and Christian agreed that offering a holistic yoga program would be useful for those with mental health concerns. Now, some of Nelson’s clients who see her for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are also referred to Christian for somatic therapy to treat their conditions. 

The process usually begins with an initial client meeting at one of the two Five Peaks studio locations to discuss what the client is experiencing. “The mind and body are intricately interconnected,” Christian shares. “Through a somatic yoga practice, patients can reinvigorate their mind-body pathways to relieve chronic mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, and depression, to name a few.” After this initial meeting, Christian will recommend an individualized program for each client which often integrates both psychotherapy and yoga sessions. 

“Yoga allows you to release thoughts and emotions from past trauma from the body. It’s the physical treatment for those struggling with their mental health,” Christian says. She adds that practicing yoga is “taking time every day to connect to ourselves and our truest intention, to intentional stillness, movement, and prayer, so we can be more connected to others. When we can do this, we become more available to people, more creative, better listeners, and can have more authentic relationships.” 

Christian teaches these same principles in her yoga teacher trainings where she strives to place emphasis on community-building techniques. “When people keep coming together even when it is hard to appreciate and support each other because of our differences is when a community starts thriving,” she says. Christian’s teacher training consists of five weekends with sutra studies once a week. Those who don’t live in the area but are interested in the teacher trainings can meet online virtually for the weekly studies. At the end of the course, students will receive a 200- or 300-hour yoga teacher training certificate approved by Yoga Alliance. 


When asked what Christian hopes for with the future of her yoga program, she shares: “These times are super stressful and filled with tests of strength. I hope our new studio creates a strong sense of community. It’s ironic that the practices that help heal trauma, anxiety, and depression are the same things that create courageous and compassionate leaders. The hardest part is taking the first step.” ML

To view class times, service offerings, and memberships, or to register for a class, download the Five Peaks app: apps.apple.com/us/app/five-peaks-yoga/id1539681611. 

This article first appeared in the July 2022 Issue.

JK Community Farm and DC Central Kitchen Partner to Bring Fresh Produce to People Experiencing Hunger in DC

JK Community Farm and DC Central KitchenPartner to Bring Fresh Produce to People Experiencing Hunger in DC

STERLING, Va. (July 13, 2021)—Starting today, JK Community Farm, a 150-acre farm in Purcellville, Virginia, has partnered with DC Central Kitchen to expand its food distribution to reach those facing food insecurity in Washington, DC with healthy, organic produce and protein. As the nation’s largest nonprofit chemical-free community farm, it will donate close to 230,000 pounds of food in 2021 throughout the region with 40,000 pounds of food—the equivalent of 28,000 meals—going to DC Central Kitchen to combat hunger. 

“COVID challenged our efforts to keep up with demand, but we adapted our volunteer workforce and were able to increase yield to ensure more families had healthy meals on their plates,” explained Samantha Kuhn, executive director, JK Community Farm. “Our increased production is enabling us to grow our footprint, and we are excited that DC Central Kitchen is becoming a distribution partner to serve more with our healthy yield.”

Access to healthy, nutrient dense food is especially difficult to get in impoverished communities. The USDA reports strong correlations between food insecurity, and negative health outcomes including a higher probability of diet-related chronic disease – cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, kidney disease, and COPD. In Northern Virginia and DC, 160,000 people face food insecurity, and a large number of these are children. 

An iconic nonprofit and social enterprise that combats hunger and poverty through job training and job creation, DC Central Kitchen will be picking up from the farm twice per month. The farm’s nutrient-dense food will be used in the kitchens at DC Central Kitchen which provide culinary job training and prepared meals to local shelters and emergency mobile feeding sites, as well as using the fresh produce in produce bags that they distribute across the city.  DC Central Kitchen will also send groups of volunteers to harvest food at the JK Community Farm for distribution at DC Central Kitchen. Last year alone, DC Central Kitchen served 3.8 million emergency meals and brought healthy groceries to over 200 locations.

“DC Central Kitchen fights hunger differently, and we believe in the power of healthy food to create change. That is why we look forward to partnering with JK Community Farm to bring more fresh, local produce to our community.  Since March of 2020 DCCK has distributed 3 million pounds of fresh produce to the community, and this partnership with JK Community Farm will help to continue to bring the benefits of fresh produce, volunteer opportunities, and food education to our partners,” said Amy Bachman, director of Procurement and Sustainability, DC Central Kitchen. 

The farm’s other partners include Loudoun Hunger Relief, Food for Others, and Arlington Food Assistance Center. To nearly double production this year, JK Community Farm is planting on 14 acres—up from eight, as well as continuing to grow in high tunnels, greenhouses, and raised beds. It produces a variety of vegetables, such as lettuce, arugula, kale, broccoli, radishes, onions, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, squash, zucchini, and protein.  The farm has also increased its volunteer workforce by 33 percent to meet its lofty goals.  Other changes at the farm this year include enhanced educational programming by incorporating a bee hotel, beneficial insect habitat, pollinator habitat, flowers, blue bird trail, and a sensory footpath. 

JK Community Farm, a 501(c)3 nonprofit started in 2018 with the support of JK Moving Services, seeks to have a lasting and healthy impact on struggling families within the Washington, DC metro region by growing and donating chemical-free, healthy produce and protein to those struggling with food insecurity. In addition to volunteer support, the farm relies on donations. The farm—which donates 100% of its yield—is efficient and can grow one pound of organic, healthy food for $1.18.  Every $35 donation ensures an additional two weeks of food for a person in need. www.jkcommunityfarm.org

Contact: Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609

8 Fast Facts about Hugo Bar & Eatery

By Jessica Miller

8 Fast Facts about Hugo Bar & Eatery, Purcellville’s new cocktail lounge (opened in May)

  1. The owners are Michael Mercer and Jason Miller
  2. They sell wine on the go – 15% off cases.
  3. Cocktails are made with products from Purcellville’s Catoctin Creek Distillery.
  4. They serve pizza & calzone prepared on a brick oven hearth (see menu here).
  5. Hugo is located in the same renovated farm house as WK Hearth in Purcellville.
  6. The cocktails are inspired by Hugo Ensslin recipes (author of one of the most influential cocktail books ever).
  7. Tuesday nights are “flight nights” (3-2oz tastes of 3 different wines, whites or reds).
  8. $10 off of bottles on Tuesdays.


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HeroHomes Building a New Life for Wounded Warriors

by Leonard Shapiro

Please forgive Jason Brownell for choking up and pausing to compose himself as he recalls his decision 18 months ago to give back to wounded veterans living in Loudoun County by starting an organization called “HeroHomes.”

Recently, Brownell and other members of his fledgling 501(c) (3) non-profit broke ground on a lot in Purcellville that soon will have a new single family house on the property. At some point, it will go to a former soldier injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Depending on the veteran’s circumstances, the dwelling will either be transferred with a modest mortgage attached, or totally free and clear.


Brownell, who’s family has lived in Purcellville for 285 years, is a builder and developer, just like his father, Bruce. His dad started Brownell Inc. and Jason has Western Loudoun Development and Charcol LLC. The new house will be located in the same subdivision Bruce Brownell first developed many years ago, on the only unbuilt lot remaining.

“I had been looking for a place to do this for a while,” Jason Brownell said. “One day, I was driving by and saw a For Sale sign on this lot. I just figured God had sent me there for a reason, and that’s where we’re building the first house.”

Brownell never served in the military, but has been doing good works most of his adult life. When New Orleans was
devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he spent nine months in the swamped Lower 9th Ward trying to help residents of a mostly impoverished area rebuild.

A few years go, he was the project manager for a local barn builder, John Fuog, who also was doing a home in Lovettsville for a severely wounded veteran named Tony Porta. That house was financed by “Tunnels to Towers” as part of the New York-based Siller Foundation. Steve Siller was a New York City fireman who was playing golf on 9/11 when he heard about the first of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center. He rushed to his fire house and made it into one of the towers, only to be killed when it collapsed.

Porta, a Marine, had been badly injured in Iraq in May, 2005 when a roadside bomb went off under his Humvee. The blast killed two comrades and pinned Porta under a piece of the burning vehicle, loaded with 500 gallons ofjet fuel and 1,000 rounds of 50-caliber ammunition.

Porta was pulled out with massive burns over 80 per cent of his body. His face was disfigured, and he lost his right arm and fingers on his left hand. He spent 6 1/2 years in a San Antonio Hospital, undergoing more than 140 surgeries, before finally settling in Lovettsville a few years ago. He and his wife, Deicy, had gotten lost there on his way to look at land in Martinsburg,West Virginia. They, too, passed a For Sale sign and decided Western Loudoun was where they wanted to be.

Brownell had often spoken with Porta about the soldier’s near death experience in Iraq, and the two have remained good friends.

“Tony said to me he was following the light but that God told him he wasn’t ready (to die) because he had other stuff to do,” Brownell said, pausing to regain his own composure. “I guess you could say I am that stuff. I think God delivered me to Tony to do good for others. If he didn’t change my life, no one will.”

Porta told Brownell many other wounded veterans in Loudoun also needed help. Last October, Brownell began trying to raise money to build the first HeroHomes house. So far, he’s helped raise $50,000 and collected donated building materials from local contractors and suppliers, including the design for the first house from architect Ron Mizerak. The hone will cost about $350,000 and a number of fundraisers also are being planned.

He’s also particularly proud that HeroHomes is all volunteer, and virtually every dollar raised will be used to build homes. No salaries. No overhead. “When we pick out a veteran, depending on his circumstance, we’ll craft a contract based on his earning ability,” Brownell said. “If he’s totally disabled, he’ll get a free home.”

Brownell has seven acres in Purcellville where he plans to build homes on 24 lots. Four will be HeroHomes projects, and he’s constantly trying to raise money and materials to get them done.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” he said, “so I can pretty much walk into someone’s office and tell them what we’re doing and what we need. We’re going to build as many homes as we can. We’re going to build these homes until I run out of air.”

(For more information, go to www.HeroHomesLoudoun.org.)