Sure, there are now an unlimited number of luxe yoga and fitness studios that radiate cool—but despite a growing public interest, meditation has remained rooted in an aura of crunch.
Unplug Meditation is shaking up that perception, as one of the first chic boutique studios devoted to making sitting in silence accessible—and appealing.
The Brentwood, Los Angeles, studio first opened in May to loads of fanfare and is now really “finding its groove,” says owner Suze Yalof Schwartz, a former fashion editor and stylist who says she was just trying to create the place she couldn’t find.
“I went to look for a place to meditate, and I couldn’t find a place where it was drop-in classes or felt chic inside or clean or not too religious or not too ‘woo woo,'” Schwartz says. “The more I researched it, the more I realized there was nothing out there, and I couldn’t believe it.”
So she created her ideal destination—a pretty, minimalist, almost-art-gallery-like space with 30- and 45-minute drop-in classes of all kinds ($20), all of which draw elements from traditional meditation methods (like mantras and sound vibrations) but are slightly tweaked for the modern consumer. “It’s like the best of every meditation edited down,” Schwartz explains. “I have teachers here who teach Vedic and TM, and they’ll come in and make it more secular and not use Sanskrit.”
And Schwartz brought on already popular LA yogis and meditation gurus to teach, like Olivia Rosewood (who counts one very well-known rock star among her private clients) and Maha Yoga founder Steve Ross, who brought many students along with him.
One of those students, interior designer Isla Schmidt, now goes to Unplug almost every Monday night. “It looks like nothing else I’d seen before,” Schmidt says. “I love the feeling of it and the aesthetic of it, as well as what it has to offer.”
Like the opportunity to escape the distractions that come with meditating at home (Did the dryer just buzz? If I open one eye, will I be able to see my inbox filling up?, as well as having a guide to steer you throughout the session, and the feeling of meditating with your peers.
“I think there’s a different energy involved when there’s a group of people doing it at the same time,” Schmidt says. “There’s a different connection you don’t feel than when you do it on your own. I don’t know if it’s the teacher and group combination, but I think there’s a collective consciousness. It’s not better, it’s just different. It can be more powerful.” Unplug, of course, is betting on (or manifesting) it. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.unplugmeditation.com