COVID didn’t stop Jason Mazar-Kelly, also known as Yogi Jay, and his wife, Casey, from creating a new business on the Island. At the beginning of the pandemic, they co-founded Wholesome MV, based on a cooperative business model that suited their dedication to the Vineyard and their desire for connection. “The intention was to work with different local businesses and not-for-profits as well as different town organizations like the libraries to provide wellness opportunities to the community whether that be yoga, breathwork, mindfulness, calisthenics, or other wellness practices,” Jason explains.
That first winter, everything had to be virtual, and an early connection began with the West Tisbury library, which is still going strong. There are now more than 200 subscribers who join in on Jason’s online classes, which include a free yoga and chair meditation class at 7:30 am on Wednesdays, and Morning Kripalu Yoga at 7:30 am on Fridays. (See the virtual wellness studio schedule at wholesomemv.com/wholesomevirtualstudio.)
With the coming of warmer weather, both in 2020 and last year, they took their ventures outdoors, feeling it was so important for people to spend time with one another in a safe way. Early on, they allied with the Martha’s Vineyard Museum offering yoga classes and meditation classes. “My thought process was that since the museum is a historical landmark for the Island and there are obviously a lot of people and artists and amazing minds that go through that building it could be a great place to bring Islanders, tourists, and mainlander friends who come to visit us in the summer to feel like they’re part of the community,” Jason says.
During the summer of 2020 they added to their partnerships, working with The Trustees of Reservations and Island Alpaca, holding different outdoor events at various locations around the Island and with the alpacas on the Island Alpaca farm. Jason also collaborated with Chris Simmons, who does Inkwell Yoga on the beach and in connection with the Chappy Community Center, held a Strawberry Moon yoga class at Lighthouse Beach.
Jason and Casey hope to do more nonprofit and community work, including different educational opportunities. Some of the ideas in the works that they are exploring with other organizations are more wellness fundraisers for affordable housing, which they did a few times last summer at the museum.
Wholesome MV is holistic, not just in its physical wellness opportunities but through their dedication to experiences that nurture our bodies through food. Believers in “do it from scratch,” Jason and Casey believe food can be a uniting force, and that there are few things that can bring us together better than sharing a meal and connecting over food. With this philosophy in mind, they developed Wholesome Cooking, which is where Casey comes into it. Jason says, “I have thousands of hours of different training in the wellness world but Casey, who is currently a manager at Morning Glory Farm, also has had a life-long passion for cooking and studied in many different countries like Costa Rica, France, Italy. She majored in sustainability and eco-gastronomy, which is the study of cultures and food.”
With this background, they began Wholesome Living, offering interactive experiences to learn about eating and cooking with the seasons on the Island. “Maybe a group goes out with one of the local charters and comes back with an icebox full of fish and they want to learn how to integrate that into a really amazing meal,” Jason explains. “We’ll work with them, usually teaching a couple of different courses.”
Jason believes that one of the most beautiful things about the connection of yoga, wellness practices, and collaborative forms of business is that it allows us to really see one another. He says, “I think about all the different trauma that the world has gone through over the past couple of years. Everyone is working through their own struggles. Each individual is going to have a narrative about their life. Underlying all the stories though is being with emotions, energy, and excitement, sadness, and love.”
An example he points out is that each of us feels fear. But he says, “If we can understand that we all have a different expression of it. And whether we agree or disagree with that expression, we can still see through this, and compassion can come from that. Through all these practices and connections, I hope that it helps folks to take a step back, take a pause, evaluate your own personal story, and then to really be able to see each other from the complex human beings that we are and, hopefully, in doing so, build a more sustainable and open and inclusive community.”
For more information and offerings see wholesomemv.com.