Lotus and Lettuce yoga studio has only been open since Jan. 2 but they have already entrenched themselves into the culture of the downtown core.
“Yoga is about community,” said Michellene Kandert, owner of Lotus &Lettuce, as she sits in the window of her studio waving to passersby.
“When we go to eat, we try and stay within the downtown core; we have the ladies from the bookstore (next to the studio) coming to a regular beginners class, and anytime a student wants a book or we need a book, we purchase our books there.
“The gentleman that owns The Cracked Pot now comes to class; Andrew from Ratio wants to do a matcha drink together with yoga; we just have really tried to promote what’s happening downtown.”
Kandert doesn’t want people to feel intimidated by yoga and she says that western society has turned yoga into a physical practice where the emphasis is put on the visual benefits of practising yoga.
“The truth is, that yes, yoga has some really awesome physical benefits but that’s a subset to what yoga really is,” she said.
“It’s meant to unite people, bridge gaps, connect people, heal people with no judgment, with an open door and open arms, it’s not about what you look like or what you wear to your yoga class.”
Kandert turned to yoga in 2008 as a way to relieve pain after suffering injuries from an accident that left her with an artificial hip and a spine fused together in two places.
She became a certified teacher in 2013 and has taught classes seven days a week ever since.
Kandert had a Lotus &Lettuce studio in Edmonton where she did private lessons, personal training and nutrition but after another surgery last spring she wasn’t sure if she could teach or practise yoga again.
“We moved to Lake Country in August and by October I had been away from yoga and teaching for nine months and I was kinda jonesing,” she laughs.
She began teaching yoga classes at Ladies World five days a week and continues to teach there.
“One day I was walking downtown and I walked past this building, and of course it had been for rent for about seven months, so the windows were dirty, the floors were dirty, it was brown and there were water stain marks but something inside me welled up with possibility,” she said.
The space on 30th Avenue across from Towne Theatre reminded her of old Montreal and New York where store-front yoga studios are not uncommon.
With the support of her husband, she decided to move forward with the studio, and called her friend and fellow yoga teacher Shawn McMann, who was still living in Edmonton.
“I didn’t even formulate the question of ‘Hey do you want to come and teach?’ he just said, ‘OK I’m ready to go,’” said Kandert.
Kandert and McMann teach most of the classes but will have two more teachers joining their roster for the spring and summer schedule.
Tessa Weatherill will be teaching a kids’ yoga class every Thursday until May 11 and Niki Boettcher is teaching a 60 minute detox flow yoga class.
“We are trying to stay really fun and with the pulse and desire of what’s going on downtown,” said Kandert.
Lotus &Lettuce runs special event classes that incorporate local businesses.
The first one was Bend &Brew and was a 75-minute yoga class held at Marten Brew Pub. Following the class, participants recieved a flight of craft beer, appetizers and a talk on the beer making process.
Lotus &Lettuce offers six classes a day during the week and three classes each day on Saturday and Sunday with classes such as 75-minute Hatha, 55-minute Nourish at Noon, 90-minute Freedom to Fly, 60-minute Beginners Co-Ed, and the studio is starting a beginners program for men only called Yoga for Dudes.
“To us yoga is community, so that is our intention, to build community on and off the mat,” said Kandert.
“The heart-to-heart connection, that’s what is about.”