I smile to think that ten years ago on Monday July 1st 2002 in a humble little former corner grocery store in Mid City where neighbors once walked to buy their groceries, Wild Lotus Yoga was born. To make ends meet, I moved into the rear grocer’s apartment, and taught classes with my three friends Beverly, Kellie, and Tricia. We taught a total of 7 classes a week. The average price of gas that year was $1.61. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had just been created. Reform candidate and political newcomer Ray Nagin was elected as mayor of New Orleans. Jim Haslett coached the Saints to a 9-7 record with Aaron Brooks at quarterback. There were four yoga studios in New Orleans at that time. It was a rare sight to see someone with a yoga mat on their back walking or biking down Magazine St. or St Claude Ave. Very few people knew what a downward facing dog was, the sound of Om raised more than a few eyebrows, and as were renovating the space, neighbors would stop by and curiously ask what the building was going to be. “Yoga studio,” we said happily. Oh, how elated they were to hear that a ‘yogurt’ studio was opening and curiously asked what flavors we’d be offering.
A lot has happened since that day. Who knew that Katrina would come and change us forever, tearing our lives apart so fiercely, and opening the opportunity to heal and reinvent what was. Who knew that 10 years later, an abundance of wonderful yoga studios would open their doors in neighborhoods citywide. Not quite as many studios as those other fabled local sources of spirit- bars and churches- but over five times as many as in 2002 and with a growing community of great teachers expanding the horizons of yoga in New Orleans. Could you have guessed that the 55,000 square foot, four story Universal Furniture warehouse would be transformed into the eclectic New Orleans Healing Center and that we’d be sharing and celebrating yoga on the 2nd floor. I couldn’t have dreamt that the sound of om and other mantras would echo across the fairgrounds at Jazz Fest. And, wow, who would have guessed Yoga Journal would name New Orleans one of the top 10 cities for yoga in the U.S?
We feel so grateful to have played a part in this transformation. It’s been an absolute joy to share yoga with so many of you over the years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, visiting teachers, desk staff, students, work study students, and teacher trainees we’ve had over the last decade. I want to thank my parents and family for their immense support, my partner and love Farah for her great dedication to the studio, my collaborators at The New Orleans Healing Center, our webmaster of many years Hans Gruenig, Soul School compadre Mitchel Bleier, art and design team Angela, Andra, and Beverly, all other supporters, and a giant thank you to our manager Nicole.
But mostly I want to thank you, our students, for your presence and inspiration over these years. You never cease to inspire us to keep practicing, fine-tuning and growing. Thank you for the opportunity to both partake of and share the food and nourishment of yoga, like in that first old grocery store.
To celebrate our birthday, we have launched a new website, print schedule and newsletter. Enjoy! We’ll also be having our offical 10th anniversary party on Saturday November 10th and you are invited! More details to come on that.
Thank you for an amazing 10 years! Here’s to the next decade!
With Love & Gratitude,