In truth, I think the title “Kate Foo’s Place for Un-Pretentious Cool Cats Who Enjoy Aesthetics to Come Together and Downward-Dog” would be more appropriate, but the DIY spirit and the roll off the tongue factor are just as important.
When I was 12 years old, my mom came home from Wal-Mart toting a bargain bin DVD titled “Yoga for Complete Beginners.” It featured a man with a truly sad-pony tail and lots of steel drums. But pony-tail or no, that DVD was the marker of an important change in my life: Since that fateful day falling on my face while trying to figure out what a Sun Salutation was, yoga has become a completely integral part of my physical/mental routine. And judging by the ever-increasing popularity of the practice, it seems like everyone else’s mom went to Wal-Mart that day, too.
Though yoga may be one of the most popular forms of physical activity, especially in the United States, I still feel that the community itself remains highly segregated. Traditionalists and purists frown upon the idea of yoga as a means to become physically fit, people in their 20s attend a free class offered by their college every now and then as an excuse to say they worked out that day, and stay-at-home moms spend all morning clogging the entryway of the studio blah-blah-ing about the latest shipment at Lululemon.
In my experience, there exists no middle ground for those who are dedicated to training their mind and body, but also retain a sense of humor and a lack of pride. It seems that the scale is tipped either way, no matter where you go. But I feel like there are many many others like myself out there, who are hiding in the last row of a class or using Youtube to train in their bedroom. But with the advent of Kate Foo’s Punk Rock Yoga Studio…we shall fear no more!
The feel of the studio is earthy and intellectual. The sitting room features worn-in leather chairs and jewel-tone tapestries. A bubbly guy named Aaron signs you into your classes and asks you if you watched last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. Off to the side, behind a beaded curtain, is the public library. Books and yoga resources are available to all students and passersby. If you need any recommendations, just ask Sylvia, our librarian. She’s 83, but can still do a back bend. Every now and then she makes cookies for anyone who pops in to read.
The studio features two classrooms, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor classroom is a calming room with wood paneling on the floor and walls, reminiscent of traditional Japanese decor. Outside, our garden-turned classroom is brimming with succulents and bonsai trees. In the winter, we still hold classes outside at least once a week. I knit extra-warm yoga socks for people to wear in case they forgot theirs.
Our mission and ultimate goal is to be neither purist nor pretentious. Our classes are varied in content and each instructor brings his or her own flavor to the class. Andrea is known for cracking jokes and trying out inventive variations on poses that sometimes don’t make much sense. Josephine takes a deeply emotional approach that leaves one feeling emotionally refreshed. David hosts a class just for dads who are trying to get in shape, but don’t fancy being in a room with people who can wrap their leg around their neck.
We encourage each student to bring his or her own aesthetic to their practice in whatever sense they choose to interpret that. Brittany, who does a morning meditation class, seems like she is always wearing a cutoff Buzzcocks shirt. Sam has a really cool Bart Simpson tattoo she is always having to explain to people. Bryan designs custom mats with superheros or old paintings on them. And while these things may seem trivial, it’s the idea that the people who come here don’t feel the need to cover up or tone down parts of themselves for fear of being frowned upon as the type who wouldn’t take their physical and mental well-being just as seriously.
Someday, this studio will exist. Even if it’s 20…30 years down the road. Though it will be difficult finding all of these people with these exact names…Nevertheless, I remain determined to carve out a yoga community that finally embraces equality and a do it yourself attitude! Now who is with me?