Bay Area Yoga Studio Highlight: Leela Yoga Alameda
Studio name: Leela Yoga
Owner: Beth Zygielbaum
Location/neighborhood: Alameda, smack dab in the middle of the main island
Parking? Plentiful, free street parking
What was the inspiration behind the studio? Purpose and luck. When I moved to Alameda, I had so many conversations with neighbors who were leaving the island to go to yoga studios elsewhere. There were small studios on the island, but they hadn't been modernized with online signups or the ability to pay with credit cards, so they needed a bit of updating. When one of these studios announced that it was closing, I was home with two tiny children taking a break from working full-time, and I figured carpe diem! I took on the space, made the upgrades, became clear on our mission to be community-minded, and the rest is history!
Do you have a mission at your studio? We basically wanted to be the Cheers bar of yoga studios (LOL)...a true community! Every decision we make is based on whether or not it will build community. This mission includes having instructors who are knowledgeable and friendly, who have a variety of backgrounds, and who truly live their practice. We welcome all humans with an eye towards inclusivity and body positivity. We've also kept pricing as accessible as possible. Our mission is to take our in-studio practice and spread the benefits of yoga throughout Alameda and the greater East Bay, which is why we regularly partner with Alameda nonprofits and schools. We have been named Best Yoga Studio in Alameda for four years running, have been featured as Studio of the Month by Athleta, named Best of the East Bay by BayArea.com, and were partners in helping Seva develop their international Yoga for Sight Day. While we have a large presence and an excellent reputation in the yoga community, you will still find that we are a low-key, homey, and welcoming space. No $100 yoga pants required!
What styles of yoga are taught at your studio? A wide variety. This is thanks to our incredible teachers who all have extensive training and particular specialties. We have a forrest yoga teacher who specializes in psoas. We have a yin teacher who emphasizes activism and effecting change. We have hatha teachers with iyengar backgrounds that are extremely knowledgeable about anatomy and injuries. We have a hatha flow teacher who specializes in yoga for scoliosis. I myself teach prenatal and postnatal yoga, and I also specialize in yoga for pelvic health for women. We have teachers that specialize in yoga for bigger bodies, as well as teachers who specialize in yoga for kids. Lots of options!
Do you offer meditation classes? We do. Meditation Mondays. We currently offer an evening class, and we have a mid-morning class coming soon.
Do you have Kirtan at your studio? We offer it occasionally as a special workshop!
Do you have a teacher training program at your studio? We do. It's a hatha 200-hour course called Finding Connection. We expand this idea of connection by highlighting layers. Like nesting dolls. How does breath connect with this pose? How does this pose apply to your life? How does your life apply to your relationships and community? How can we use that connection to speak our truth and become more engaged? And finally, how does this fit into the student-teacher connection? We limit the number of trainees to 12. It's a pretty special program. Our next training begins in January of 2020. We are also thrilled to be hosting a 200-hour yin and social justice training in August held by LoveLightYoga. More info on that at: lovelightyoga.com.
Do you offer special events or workshops? Lots. This is really where the teachers' specialties are showcased and where students might dive deeper into their own practice. We regularly host Yoga for Scoliosis, Awakening the Psoas, Yin Hips, Yoga for the Pelvic Floor, Prenatal Partners Yoga for Birth Prep, Intro to Inversions, and much more.
What kind of students would resonate with your studio? You know who we seem to fall in mutual love with? Students who weren't sure yoga was for them but then end up sticking around for a long-term relationship with a studio or a teacher! These are students who are growing into themselves, learning to navigate change, and seeking a springboard into their next step in the world. Students who want to be part of a community...which is exactly what we provide.
What is your favorite quote? My favorite quotes from movies aren't totally appropriate for this occasion (LOL). So, I'll go with: “Relax, nothing is under control.”