Only love

Aimee McCarthy

Photo By David Robert

There should be a club in Reno for folks whose post-Sept. 11 epiphany included a desire to start a nice fresh life in northern Nevada. Yoga instructor Aimee McCarthy had actually moved to Reno from the Bay Area a few years before the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, but the tragedy was one factor that caused her to rethink her life. She ended up in the Himalayas in India, studying for a certification to teach yoga. Now McCarthy, 42, conducts yoga sessions at the Zen Den, 85 Washington St., for a variety of clients, including children, senior citizens, disabled individuals and pregnant women. (Call 848-7280.) McCarthy also started a non-profit called the Only Love Foundation.

What brought you to Reno?

I got really tired of the traffic in the Bay Area and decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life commuting. And I was in a bad boyfriend place, so I said, “I’m outta here. I don’t want to do this in my life.”

So it was a big change.

When I came to Reno, I didn’t know anyone here. All my friends were in San Francisco. I owned a house in Austin, Nevada, and Reno was close enough to where I could work in a “big city” and still be close to Austin. I spent weekends renovating the house there. It was built in 1871. Since then, I’ve sold it.

Sounds like a beautiful project.

It was so gratifying to pour love into a place that somebody will enjoy living in. That’s how I look at yoga. Your body is your house. I look at yoga as a way of renovating it and making it a great place to live.

What sparked your interest in yoga?

I was 21 and really interested in body building. From an athletic standpoint, the bodies of people involved in yoga are incredible. … Fast forward to today, 21 years later, and I’ve realized it’s not about the body. But that’s a good side benefit.

What is yoga about, then?

It’s about centering your heart, your head, your mental and spiritual aspects of your Self. And you should capitalize “Self.”

How did your interest in yoga instruction come about?

I landed an assignment for a money management firm [in Reno]. They had great confidence in my abilities, which was flattering. After doing some traveling to some really poor Third World countries, I started realizing that this isn’t all there is—work your butt off to try and make money. About four years ago, I enrolled at UNR and had this great writing instructor. … She let us write on any topic we wanted, and I chose, “Why are we here?” It was the theme I was grappling with at the time. … I’d been to New Guinea where I saw some of the happiest people who had absolutely nothing. So all these things were swimming around in my search for answers. Two things came out of that soul-searching episode. I started the non-profit foundation where we spread random acts of kindness. [Terrorist] attacks brought us fear. I decided to combat that with love.

Sounds great.

I still felt compelled to do more. I quit my job with adequate notice, went to the Himalayas and studied to teach yoga in a small ashram. We got great attention from our swamis. … I came back to the United States, and that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

And how’s that going?

It’s so gratifying to know you’re helping someone with his or her quality of life. I can’t tell you how great it is. When I start thinking about it, I start crying. It’s so cool—and it’s snowing!