Her and Hothouse

The mirrors of the studio are filled with steam from the heat as yogis exit the room, dripping in sweat. This is typical for a Hothouse yoga class. Afterward, you can find Maureen Mondanaro, owner of Hothouse Yoga Studio, smiling and chatting with her students. 

Mondanaro first got into yoga because of her former husband. She never actually wanted to open a yoga studio; it was her then husband’s idea.

She started her yoga journey in Florida 2002, and later that year, he had the idea of opening a hot yoga studio back home in Iowa City, which she now owns and runs. 

“I went to yoga teacher training in California for ten weeks, and he stayed with our three daughters all under the age of six years old,” Mondanaro said. “Then we opened Hothouse.”

Her favorite part about being in the yoga environment is the community of yogis she is surrounded with.

While yoga is based on breath to movement and simple meditation, spunky and energetic Mondanaro loves her job because she can be completely herself in her practice and when she is teaching others. 

“The most challenging component of being an authentic teacher is how do you just be you?” she prompted. “Who is a yoga teacher? Well, it’s just like any other teacher. It is somebody who is passionate about what they do. When you’re you, you have more of an opportunity to make a deeper connection with people because the mask is off.” 

With the intense heat, a variety of classes and their authentic instructors, Hothouse also offers the regulated 200 teacher hour training for those who aspire to become yoga instructors.

“It is amazing,” Mondanaro said about the program. “We’ve been doing it for six years. It’s incredible how we give so much, but we also receive so much. I just feel so honored and grateful to be able to do what we do.” 

Hothouse currently is home to thirteen yoga instructors who all teach different styles, but this yoga training not only certifies you as an instructor, it also opens a door to a journey of self-discovery, Mondanaro stated. 

“This isn’t training just for yoga. It is an opportunity to go within,” she said. Mondanaro said they do a lot of practice and reflecting on questions of ‘Who are we? Who am I in the world? How can I make a difference?’ That’s what their training is about.

Maureen Mandanaro. Photo by yoga instructor Cara Viner.


Mondanero has grown in her personal practice of yoga through the Hothouse studio, teaching, and traveling to different destinations. She just returned from a three-week yoga retreat in Costa Rica. 

“It’s a magical place,” she said. “You’re surrounded by ocean and you can hear the water during your practice, the birds. It’s amazing.” 

In past years, the studio has taken those who choose to go on a retreat to Mexico. This year, Hothouse has organized a retreat to San Jose, Costa Rica, in February as an opportunity for people to reset physically and mentally and escape the winter. 

“The people on the retreat are different and the timing of each retreat is different,” Mondanaro said. “You just never know how it is all going to end up.” 

Mondanaro is always trying to improve the studio and her teaching, but she just unlocks the door she pointed out. They are the ones who show up for class.

“I just believe that when you show up in your life, stuff shows up for you,” Mondanaro said. “That’s the beauty of the practice, you can hit the pause button and you can think ‘I can choose to go to war or stay at peace, and I always have that choice.’”

Maureen Mondanaro teaching a hot yoga class. Photo by Cara Viner.
The front of Hothouse Yoga Studio in Iowa City. Maureen also has another studio located in Coralville.


The Hothouse community provides something special and different for everyone who walks through their doors. 

For Sarah Brown, an instructor at Hothouse and a senior at the University of Iowa, the studio brings her different friendships but also unwavering support. 

“Maureen has always been so understanding when it comes to school because I am a full-time student,” Brown said. “And when I left to go study abroad, I had so many people send me messages and write me cards. It just means a lot knowing people have your back.”

Another UI student, Greyson Dumont, started her yoga teacher training this year after calling Hothouse her home for the last four years. 

“The way they make everyone feel welcomed and important is a big part of what makes them special,” Dumont said. “You don’t just come and go to classes. It is a family.” 

In the end, Maureen found the community of Hothouse to be a safe haven for her through some of her toughest battles.

“I went through the darkest days of my life when I owned this studio,” Mondanaro said. “I could barely get out of bed every morning, but I knew that I needed to show up.” 

What does the Hothouse community mean to her? Everything. The studio and the people of the studio have become an intricate part of who she is. 

“I can’t tell you the amount of love and support that I got from this community. I would have never ever been able to go through what I went through had I not had them,” she said. 

Hothouse has been in business for 17 years now and getting to work at a job she loves everyday doesn’t get old for Mondanaro

“I feel really grateful everyday, to be able to unlock the door, to teach my class, and to see everyone show up,” she said.

Leave a Comment