Sound Body Studio Is a Hub for Yoga and Community in Wilmington

This Wilmington studio practices inclusivity and healing.

It is often said that great things arise from inspiration or desperation. According to Shannon Branch, it was the latter. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Branch was regularly teaching and practicing yoga at Yoga U in Wilmington. But like many other small businesses, the studio closed its doors in 2020. A group of displaced yoga students, including Branch, were left without a place to practice.

“[During] that time, my husband lost his job for 10 months, and I lost a lot of my teaching gigs,” Branch says. “After a lot of reflection and talking, I decided to open up the studio using some of my life savings.” By December 2020, Sound Body Studio was up and running in Yoga U’s former location.

Students were grateful. “I remember entering Sound Body Studio for the first time. It was at the end of the COVID lockdown as the world was beginning to get back to normal,” yoga practitioner Barbara M. Tibbetts says. “It was a safe, welcoming, wonderful return to my practice. I’ll never forget the feeling.”

- Advertisement -

At first, Branch juggled her part-time job and taught 14 yoga classes per week by herself. “Little by little as [the world] started to open up, I had teachers ready to teach,” she says. However, nine months later, just as she was hitting her stride, Branch was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In true First State fashion, the community stepped up to help. Branch shares that Meredith McFadden from Pure Yoga in Trolley Square loaned some of her instructors to cover classes. Practitioners brought meals and flowers. “It was just beautiful. They were there for me,” Branch says. Another silver lining: She returned to teaching with a renewed appreciation for healing and a compassionate heart.

“I really wanted to make this space very community-oriented and a place where people would come to find healing and peace,” Sound Body Studio founder Shannon Branch says.
“I really wanted to make this space very community-oriented and a place where people would come to find healing and peace,” Sound Body Studio founder Shannon Branch says. Photograph by Angie Gray.

At Sound Body Studio, Branch has created an inclusive environment. “The idea is to not leave anybody behind. I am very passionate about bringing bodies in of all walks of life—Black, brown, LGBTQ+, large, small, young, old,” she says. “I really want it to be a place [where] people feel safe.”

Branch doesn’t just talk the talk—she’s created a tiered pricing structure that allows generous members of the community to subsidize members who are experiencing financial hardship or who have a marginalized identity. Sound Body Studio has also awarded student scholarships, and Branch has taught for the Cancer Support Community. She often leads fundraising classes that donate 100% of proceeds to charities.

“I found my yoga home at Sound Body. Shannon is Mother Earth incarnate. She sets the standard for a warm and welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable,” student Vanessa Robin Chapman says.

- Partner Content -

As the studio continues to provide a sanctuary of inclusivity and support in the heart of Wilmington, students continue to show up to their mats. “I love spending time with my Sound Body family while getting some exercise done,” practitioner Sally Seletos says. “It is a studio that embodies compassion in its practice every day.”

Related: Meditation Offers Heart Health Benefits for Delawareans

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.