Santa Monica’s newest yoga studio, YogaCo is truly a breath of fresh air in more ways than one as it sets itself apart by being the largest green studio in Santa Monica, offering unique yoga classes like Daddy&ME and recovery yoga and most importantly in these economic times, asking donation only class fees. Although yoga’s popularity has yielded many generic, commercialized studios, YogaCo is an authentic port of refuge that promotes balance and harmony through their metaphorical compass of “Co”: “Collective Community Consciousness”.
Built on dreams rather than profit margins, co-founders Grant and Kelsey Gottfurcht have reinvented what a studio ought to be, from operating solely on a donation basis to offering addiction recovery classes. Grant and Kelsey recruited their favorite teacher and mentor Tamal Dodge to join YogaCo as their partner and head teacher. Their collaboration is driven by a desire for an environmentally conscious, physically empowering and emotionally enlightening institution.
When YogaCo founders Kelsey and Grant searched for a place to build their vision, they discovered a neglected 7,000 square foot interior amid the action on the 3rd Street Promenade. Leave it to two yoga enthusiasts to see the hidden potential beneath the surface of a place that had been dormant for 25 years. Kelsey and Grant rolled up their sleeves and went to work on stretching the space as though it were the body of a Yoga master, carving out three lounges, a Teachers’ Lounge, two Yoga rooms, stores and bathrooms. A third Yoga room is in development. The studio also features a stunning lobby and relaxing courtyard.
The interplay of bold neutrals against the backdrop of pristine, white walls is revealed by low lighting that illuminates without intruding. Bamboo palm plants are placed throughout the studio to complement the ambience and the environmentally friendly bamboo is used in constructing many of the studio’s elements, including the flooring, shoe cubbies and benches. A deliberate use of elegant artwork and portraits adorn the walls. Select walls within the studio also showcase grand and classic lettering that express messages like “Breathe” and “Namaste”.
YogaCo transcends the atmosphere of other yoga locations by promoting a wholly Green environment in their studio. The aforementioned bamboo is a renewable resource. For water conservation, YogaCo conserves up to 40,000 gallons of water a year via waterless urinals and low-flow toilets. Quadruple-paned windows work to mitigate the loss of heat and air for maximum energy efficiency. Hepa-filters are used in the studio and filter 100% of existing air 2 to 5 times per hour while oxygen-producing plants removed harmful elements like Benzene, Formaldehyde and TCE.
The champion plants in removing benzene used in the studio are: ivy, gerbera daisies, pot mums, peace lily, bamboo palm, and Mother-in-law’s Tongue. Chinese Evergreens and pot mums extract benzene coming from detergents, while Dracaena extracts it from ink, dyes, tobacco smoke and rubber. Ivy extracted easily the toxins coming from petroleum products, while benzene from plastics was rapidly sucked up by Gerbera daisy.
While this allows YogaCo’s visitors to feel good about practicing in an environmentally responsible studio, these green enhancements also elevate the quality of the workouts themselves. For example, the filtering out of Formaldehyde cleanses the air breathed by all as the chemical is an irritant of the eyes, nose, and throat. Formaldehyde causes dermatitis and headaches, is a common cause of asthma and has been connected to throat cancer.
YogaCo does not charge a standard rate for classes. They don’t believe that people should be deprived the opportunity to practice because of an arbitrary cost, particularly in light of the strain many are experiencing in today’s economic climate. Instead, they simply encourage their visitors to pay whatever they can for a class. On their website, they poetically express, “In the yogic sense of karma, as we are giving to you a gift, it is our hope that you will give back.”
YogaCo thinks outside the box (or off the mat) in developing the studio’s curriculum and class options. All of the preferred types of yoga are taught, including Power Yoga, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anasura, Vinyasa, and Yin Yoga. The studio also offers pre-natal and meditation classes.
In addition to Mommy&Me sessions, YogaCo has created separate Daddy&Me sessions. For those looking for an alternative or even supplement to AA meetings, the studio has recovery classes through specific forms of Yoga for drug and alcohol addiction.
If you’ve attended a yoga studio you also know that just as important as the classes offered are the instructors who teach them. YogaCo has one the most extensive and diverse assortment of Yoga instructors on the Westside
Their instructors are encouraged to incorporate their own personality and life experiences into their teaching. The faculty of YogaCo all discovered yoga for a variety of reasons and found it at various points in their lives. YogaCo’s teachers include everything from athletes to musicians to published authors. Many have multiple professional accreditations and experiences. All bring a passion for their craft and working with yoga students.
While the instructors offer unique experiences in their classes, the influence on YogaCo’s energy and tone by lead teacher and co-founder Tamal Dodge is unmistakable. Tamal derived an appreciation for yoga at an early age as he was born into a family that founded and ran a yoga center in Hawaii. As a young boy, Tamal discussed yogic philosophy while learning the art of yoga postures and deep meditation.
YogaCo began as the dream of co-founders Grant and Kelsey, who poured their life savings into the studio. Grant discovered yoga while backpacking across India 14 years ago. As Grant describes it, his first “yogic breath” was filled with the fresh aroma of trash and cow dung along the River Ganges in the city of Varanasi. Incredibly undeterred by the experience he continued to practice yoga and calls it a calming and centering power in his life.
By the time Kelsey was 19 years old, she had already lived in 7 different countries. However, her discovery of yoga came not from her world travels but from dealing with personal tragedy after her return to the U.S. After years of practicing she became a teacher herself. YogaCo is the culmination of her experiences and a testament to Kelsey’s love for the peace of mind that Yoga brings.
YogaCo, 1408 3rd St. Promenade, 3rd Floor, Santa Monica
For more information, visit: www.yogaco.com.
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Written by Jason Taylor