Hiking excursions. Acting classes. Live music and matcha lattes.
Nope, this isn’t the activities menu for some super-hip summer camp for adults—it’s a sample of the offerings at some of LA’s newest yoga studios.
While one-stop wellness mega-destinations such as The Springs and Wanderlust Hollywood have broadened the concept of what a yoga studio can be—adding restaurants, retail, spa amenities, and spiritual workshops into the mix—smaller neighborhood studios are blurring the boundaries even further. Lots of their events don’t even settle neatly into the category of wellness, let alone yoga in a physical sense; rather, they’re designed to give members as many reasons as possible to linger after they roll out of savasana.
At Santa Monica’s new Create Yoga, for example, 40 weekly yoga classes are bookended with activities like wine and beer nights, dream board-crafting sessions, beach clean-ups, and outdoor adventure excursions (a Catalina Island trip is planned for October).
“I have noticed a lot more ‘yoga mills’ in the past five years that just pump students out after a packed class,” says Selah Estrada, who co-founded the space with fellow yoga instructor Marissa Scheerer and local spa owner Jennifer Block. “The student goes twice a week, but hasn’t really connected with the teacher, felt at home in the studio, or [met] anyone who they take class with.”
Along with Create’s mind-boggling event lineup, Estrada tells me that the studio has “Open House” hours to manifest the sense of community she feels is lacking elsewhere; anyone can come over to work, have meetings, study, or just hang out and have a cup of tea. “We are a second home, and we want people to know that,” she says.
Hyperslow, a new yoga and meditation studio in West Hollywood, has a similar ethos. Teachers Asher Luzzatto and Emily Davenport kitted out the space with a café serving fair trade coffee and organic food, as well as a gallery showcasing local artists.
Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that for a studio owner, it’s good business to pad the space with as many revenue streams and paying customers as possible—after all, there are only so many yoga classes that members can take in a day. But there’s more to the story than that. According to Kate Duyn Cariati, a former Exhale Venice instructor who this month opened her own Mar Vista studio called Light on Lotus, this evolution of yoga studios is only natural, given the growing popularity of wellness in general. (Workouts are the new happy hour, after all.)
“Yoga has always been such a personal practice, but now it’s becoming more social,” she says. “I think for a long time, people had that at the bar—you’d go there to meet people and mingle and connect. But now we have another alternative.”
Light on Lotus’ calendar includes massage workshops, film screenings, book signings, sound baths, and yes, acting classes with an Emmy-winning thespian. “I want to see people of all types interacting in the space,” says Cariati. A fun night out, minus the hangover? Sold.