Healing 'from the inside out': Destin Hot Yoga gains steam

Molly Mosher
Stephanie Penhollow recalled her first visit to a Hot Yoga studio. "I went and had this wool mat ... It was so hot," she said, recalling the memory with a smile. But for whatever reason, she went back. And then she was hooked.

In 2010, Stephanie and Matt Penhollow left longtime careers to start Destin Hot Yoga together, and the two haven't looked back since.

"I know that I'm on the right path," said Stephanie, who left behind a corporate job in New York City to relocate to Destin and start the yoga practice with her then-future husband.

"Matthew is the rock at the studio, the primary teacher," his wife said of her partner who traded his career as a restaurateur behind Mulhollow's Sidewalk Cafe and Mulhollow's 215 because he was so inspired to live a yoga-centered life. "Without him there would be no Destin Hot Yoga."

The newlyweds opened at their first location Sept. 11, 2010, in a tiny garage space on Holiday Drive. That space could fit about 12 mats per session.

"We've come a long way since then," said Matt, adding that due to space restrictions, they were having to turn people away.

They opened up for more Nov. 8, 2011, when the couple moved to their current location next to Royal Orchid in Miramar Beach.

There, the couple provides guidance to help others find contentment and healing through yoga.

"Yoga lets us heal from the inside out," Stephanie said. "We just start to open up layer by layer. It's not a one-time thing: It's a practice."

Stephanie says the maximum benefit comes when yoga is practiced three to six times a week. Though that may sound like a lot to some, it soon becomes a satisfying way of life.

"If you build your life around your yoga practice and put God first, then everything else falls into place," she said of the connection to the divine one builds through the practice. "It's a 75 to 90 minute open-eyed moving meditation. You focus on the breath and you let everything else go."

Though the benefits of traditional yoga are far-reaching, yoga in 100-degree temperatures has the added advantage of warming up the muscles and lungs with heat and humidity, "completely detoxifying the body ... from the inside out."

It takes a few sessions for beginners to be acclimated to the heat, but once that happens, "the resistance in the body and mind begin to release," said Stephanie. "It's that 'aah,' and you begin to let go."

She has been practicing yoga for longer than 10 years but totally committed to it after moving to New York City in 2004.

Stephanie had a demanding job on Wall Street and sought a release, the answer to which came from constant chatter about hot yoga.

"I had seen hot yoga on the news," she said, adding that people around her had dropped after-work drinks to instead go to the yoga studio.

She wondered, "What is this that's got everyone hooked?"

So she decided to try it out and signed up for a 30-day yoga challenge, where she would attend 30 classes in so many days.

And after that, real healing happened, and her life was never the same.

Stephanie eventually decided to "transition out of corporate life altogether," and use yoga as a profession in addition to a personal practice through a work-study program at Bikram Yoga NYC.

In 2009, a divine push and a connection with an old friend led her to build a life in Destin.

"I listened to that guidance that says move to the beach," she said. "Have no fear, you have nothing to lose... Yoga taught me that."

Now as a teacher and owner of her own studio, Stephanie uses yoga to help guide and heal others.

"My mission statement is to open God's love in all hearts," she said.

The studio offers classes to fit any schedule, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The studio has an intro special for locals, which is $23 for seven days unlimited pass to "get acclimated to the heat." For more information and a schedule of classes, visit or call 547-6133. Stephanie Penhollow is also a nutritionist, visit for more info.