Bluffton Packet

Building a new 'om' -- Idled homebuilder finds a new business

Former Marine and construction manager turned yoga instructor Herman Wandall begins his Hatha Yoga Level 2 class with some meditation at Innersphere Yoga Studio.
Former Marine and construction manager turned yoga instructor Herman Wandall begins his Hatha Yoga Level 2 class with some meditation at Innersphere Yoga Studio. Jay Karr

Herman Wandall is liberated.

The feeling of freedom runs from the top of his head down to the tips of his toes, which happen to be shoeless on most work days.

For decades, this was hardly the case. Wandall would lace up his stiff, confining, heavy work boots and head off to a dusty, noisy construction site.

Two years ago, as a result of a down economy that decimated the building business, Wandall took a deep breath and made a dramatic career change.

He walked away from his demanding job as a construction site manager and became a yoga instructor. To further advance his knowledge in anatomy training, Wandall studied massage therapy at the Technical College of the Lowcountry and became a certified instructor in August.

"I love helping people, so I think it was a perfect fit," said Wandall, whose physique screams football jock.

"Rather than building a house for people where they're stressed out about it and I'm stressed out about it, now I'm giving people a relaxation. In turn, when I relieve their stress and do something good for people, it makes you feel so good."

Wandall and his wife, Carrie, opened InnerSphere Yoga on Calhoun Street in Bluffton more than two years ago.

Wandall built the interior of the 1,500-foot space, installing a double layer of sheet rock so the rooms are practically sound proof.

His wife, trained as an interior designer, turned the space into a green-friendly studio, using muted colors, soft lighting and Asian influences.

The couple met near their hometowns in northeast Pennsylvania. Carrie, 38, was working as an interior designer. Herman, 53, and the father of three children, was working in construction.

During a 2002 honeymoon to the Lowcountry, the Wandalls fell in love with the area and decided to move to Hilton Head Island. They have since relocated to Bluffton.

Carrie already was deep into yoga training and its lifestyle, something she was introduced to as a young girl. Herman, who played football, wrestled and weight trained in his younger days, became intrigued with his wife's passion and began learning yoga under her instruction.

Employment came easy for the new residents. Wandall already had a job lined up. Carrie worked as an interior designer.

"The building business was booming," Wandall said. "There was so much work it was unbelievable. It was fantastic, making money, one house right after the other. At one time, we had 12 to 14 houses going at once."

But his non-stop workload brought mounds of stress.

"I was getting to the point of having anxiety attacks. I even went to the hospital once because I thought it was a heart attack," Wandall said.

And then the construction business was put on life support.

Wandall said he didn't see it coming. The wake-up call forced him to look beyond his trade.

Today, he teaches intermediate and advanced yoga classes twice a week. He still has a finger in the building business, doing home inspections.

"I was all for it, of course," Carrie said about her husband's career change. "It meant we'd be completely aligned doing the same thing. And I've found the more time we spend together, the more we get along."

The massage training was a logical next step, Wandall said.

"During yoga class, when we did restorative yoga and people were laying in the final rest corpse pose, I would give then little foot rubs to relax," Wandall said. "It touched my heart that I was doing good for people and I thought maybe I should be giving a full massage."

Wandall was one of 10 students in his massage class, nine of whom were women.

His spirit proved uplifting.

"Like with a lot of things in life what someone gets out of a program is based on what they put into it," said Denise Van Nostran, coordinator of massage therapy at TCL.

"And someone like Herman put his whole heart and soul into his work."