History

Wild Lotus was founded by Sean Johnson, a proud native of New Orleans. This year we celebrate our 13th anniversary of sharing yoga and have been voted “Best Place To Take A Yoga Class In New Orleans” by Gambit readers each year since we opened. We love New Orleans and the way the spirit of yoga blends so sweetly with the soul of our beloved city. We experience yoga as one of many ways to savor and celebrate life here.

Beginnings

Sean moved back home to New Orleans in 1999 and began teaching at The New Orleans Yoga Center, The University of New Orleans, Loyola University, Delgado Community College, L.S.U. Medical School, and other regional yoga studios. Wild Lotus Yoga was born by serendipitous events in July 2002 when Sean joined three friends Beverly Morris, Kellie Panus, and Tricia Lea to teach together. There were only a few yoga studios in New Orleans at the time. The original location was in a historic former corner grocery in Mid-City. The classroom was a cozy space and Sean moved into the rear grocer’s apartment. The studio offered seven classes a week. Though the location was tucked away in a residential neighborhood, word spread, and soon classes were packed.

A year later the studio renovated and moved to its current location on Perrier Street which years ago was a neighborhood soul food stand. Wild Lotus was the first yoga studio in New Orleans to reopen after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and became a haven for returning residents as well as volunteers and emergency relief workers.

Wild Lotus Yoga Downtown at The New Orleans Healing Center

Following Hurricane Katrina, a group of concerned citizens, academics, engineers, writers, artists, community activists, developers, physicians, and architects came together to form a salon think tank. The members met to explore creative solutions to New Orleans’ vast recovery challenges. Out of that salon developed a plan for The New Orleans Healing Center, a community center designed to help heal and empower individuals and surrounding neighborhoods at the economic, social, environmental, physical/mental, and spiritual levels. Sean was invited to join the Salon and commit to opening Wild Lotus Yoga-Downtown as an integral part of the New Orleans Healing Center. In the years prior to The New Orleans Healing Center’s official opening our teachers volunteered to guide 5 donation-based yoga classes a week held at Holy Angels Chapel in the neighborhood.

After years of dreaming and planning The New Orleans Healing Center Wild Lotus Yoga-Downtown is now open at the corner of St Claude and St Roch Avenues. In addition to Wild Lotus, the 55,000 square foot building also houses The New Orleans Food Co-Op; Fatoush Mediterranean restaurant/coffeeshop/juicebar; Downtown Fitness Center; Cafe Istanbul performance hall; AHA affordable healing arts center; The Second Story Gallery; ASI Credit Union; Island Of Salvation Botanica;  The Street University; an interfaith space; Magnolia Physical Therapy;  The Building Block, an incubator project for businesses specializing in sustainability and green projects; NOPD sub-station; and more. The Healing Center is one of the most ambitious and progressive recovery projects in the city, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

Past To Present

We are proud to have helped introduce yoga to thousands of New Orleanians over the last decade and blaze the trail for the current yoga boom that is happening in New Orleans, recently named one of the top 10 cities for yoga in the U.S. by Yoga Journal. Sean has also helped to spread the unique New Orleans yoga flavor at workshops and conferences across the country with The Wild Lotus Band and as a presenter and writer for Yoga Journal. Wild Lotus has hosted countless workshops and events, bringing in visiting teachers and artists to share their wisdom and art. Today the studio offers over 60 diverse classes a week and has a team of over thirty skilled teachers and office staff. We have grown to meet the expanding appetite for yoga in New Orleans, and yet still think of ourselves as a kind of grocery and neighborhood soul food stand, offering food for the spirit through yoga.