I took Felicia Tomasko’s 7am yoga class recently at Yogis Anonymous and it felt like it had always been there. Not to mention Felicia’s class was excellent and well worth getting up early for. I asked Ally Hamilton to write a follow up to her last entry to see how running the studio was going. Here is her story - pretty inspiring!
Here we are, two months after our opening. To us, it is hard to believe it has only been two months as it has already been such a rich experience. Much of this is new…new baby, new business, and the first time my husband and I are partnering up in this way. Thankfully, the baby is sleeping slightly longer stretches, we are loving the studio, and we seem to complement each other well in business. One of the biggest factors in the quality of our experience as studio owners has been the quality of the people who have gathered around us. We are absolutely blessed to be joined in this adventure with such an amazing group of teachers, all of whom have brought their depth of experience and their desire and ability to teach from the heart.
One very cool thing we’ve witnessed is Jorgen Christiansson’s meditative approach to building a class. His sense of confidence (without a trace of arrogance) is infectious. From day one, he simply knew the right people would find him, and they have. I believed my awesome people would follow me up the block, but I have to admit it has been incredibly gratifying and a huge relief that they have. I cannot express the joy in my heart every time someone who has practiced with me for years comes walking through the door with a huge smile and a hug.
We’ve had some seriously fun parties including one of the best Halloween parties ever (”The Love Guru”, the “Green Fairy”, the glowing pregnant yogini who dressed as an oven complete with “bun”, and, of course, Satan). We are loving the opportunity to bring people together in regular clothes (well, except for Halloween, haha) and really start to build a community. It’s always bothered me that people don’t get a chance to hang out and get to know one another unless they go on a retreat together, especially since not everyone can afford to do that. I’ve watched friendships that began on retreats last for years, and it has been really cool to see the same thing happening through events at our space. Two of my all-time favorite students started chatting at our 2nd party, and now they are good girlfriends, hanging out on the weekends and having fun.
So there is the community happening at the studio, and then there is the larger community we are always looking for meaningful ways to serve. Our beautiful neighborhood in downtown Santa Monica is a tourist attraction but it is also the site of much suffering and hardship felt by Santa Monica’s large homeless population. In our effort to be a part of the solution to this problem we talked at length with city officials and met with local non-profits, and have decided to put our support behind OPCC, which is a network of shelters and services for the homeless on the west side of LA. On November 21, we’re hosting a fundraising event, “Karma Kirtan with Daniel Stewart and friends”, the proceeds of which will be donated to OPCC. One of the directors of the organization will be there to tell us about their work and how we as practitioners and citizens can get involved. We believe we have a responsibility and an opportunity as studio owners to help raise awareness and direct energy to worthy causes. We’ve placed a special emphasis on service in our own backyard, because there exists the possibility for a real and personal exchange of energy between the giver and receiver.
I would say that is the heart of where we are today. We have felt a tremendous outpouring of enthusiasm and support within the yoga community, and we’re so grateful. We are going to continue to do everything we can to create a place where all these incredible teachers and practitioners want to be. And I’m going to be very happy when I get 5 hours of sleep in a row