Plenty of celebrities have launched health-related businesses—activewear brands and natural skin-care lines are particularly popular choices—but fashion and entertainment mogul Russell Simmons is going way bigger (and spiritually higher) with his new wellness endeavor.
The devout yogi, vegan, and Transcendental Meditation devotee is opening a two-story hot yoga studio, Tantris, in Los Angeles. It’s a passion project that’s five years in the making, and yet the timing seems perfect for the new post-election era. (Speaking of the election, Simmons has been a vocal critic of his longtime friend Donald Trump, first urging him to “stop the bullsh*t” in an open letter a year ago and last week calling out the president-elect’s “radical beliefs” in “A Prayer for Donald Trump and America, from an Old Friend.”)
“People are going to vinyasa classes and looking for a yoga butt instead of realizing yoga is a moving prayer.”
Debuting on November 18 in the same building as Soho House West Hollywood, the space will include not just yoga, but a juice bar, a lounge with city views, and a hair salon for post-flow blowouts (!). There will also be retail in the mix—a boutique showcasing Simmons’ new activewear collection, also named Tantris, which is made up of both high-end performance pieces and studio-to-street fashion. Yet despite all of these urbane amenities, Simmons’ main goal is to bring some serious depth to the mat in his adopted hometown.
“People are going to vinyasa classes and looking for a yoga butt instead of realizing yoga is a moving prayer,” the fashion and entertainment mogul tells me. “Yogic science is a lot more than asana, and I think more people could use that [knowledge].”
To that end, classes at Tantris will encompass all eight limbs of yoga, the tenets upon which the practice is based. In addition to asana (movement), pranayama (breathwork), and varying levels of sensory withdrawal and meditation, students will also be schooled in the ethical standards and personal practices laid forth in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (essentially the bible of yoga).
It’s no secret that most yoga classes in the West are heavily weighted towards the physical, and Simmons feels we’re all missing out as a result. “The eight limbs all work together, and to do the asana practice [alone] is a waste, I think,” he says. “Yoga is so much more enjoyable and productive if you’re practicing the other seven limbs, too.”
Studio members will be privy to daily yoga classes—yes, there will be some hip-hop on the soundtrack—as well as regular workshops and speaking engagements, all based around a monthly theme and led by a roster of as-yet-unannounced teachers. In spring 2017, Tantris will launch a rigorous, proprietary teacher training program, where students will dive deep into everything from Sanskrit to philosophy. “Even some of the teachers we’re hiring could not pass the teacher training we’re gonna come up with,” Simmons says, lamenting the fact that the standard 200-hour program doesn’t touch on much more than poses.
With this approach, Simmons hopes that students will begin to realize that yoga’s not just fancy handstands and flexibility—it’s a lifestyle. “Yoga is happiness; a consciousness that’s free from suffering,” he says. “That’s all we want, right? If you knew you were working on achieving a higher state of happiness, the inspiration to practice yoga would be so much stronger.” Every damn day, even.
Tantris, 9200 Sunset Blvd. #170, West Hollywood, CA, 90069, tantris.com
Need a hit of Zen, like, now? Here’s a yoga sequence that will calm your post-election nerves. Or download this buzzy yoga alarm clock to ensure tomorrow’s a good day.