Pop Up Yoga Venice community gathers at The Rose Room.
When I was a freshman in college, my parents announced they were selling the house I grew up in and moving 600 miles away. Upon hearing the news, I felt so abandoned; that home was supposed to always be there for me.
I had similar feelings when I heard exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice was closing. Sacred Movement was the place where I cultivated my own yoga practice through hours and hours of sweat, laughter, and tears. “Allow your feelings,” Micheline Berry would say in class. “Commit yourself to working towards a higher good,” said Christi Christensen.
So I did, and regularly. I went there, actually more like lived there, for weeks while completing my first teacher training. I went there to grieve and heal when my marriage died, my dog died, my mother died. And I know I was just one of the many yogis who were devoted to the communal healing experiences that happened in that space. Those rooms held an important place in the history of yoga in Los Angeles. Then the doors of the Venice location closed in December 2015. (Exhale as a community still operates studio and spa locations at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica and the Loews Hotel in Hollywood)
Fast forward to the first week of this New Year: I’m practicing in a spacious event venue called The Rose Room. (Where if the teacher says look at the sky, you actually can, through multiple skylights.) Christi and Micheline are teaching together seamlessly, accompanied by Joey Lugassy and DJ Sol Rising. And I am again sweating, dancing, laughing, and crying.
When exhale announced the closure of their Venice location, Micheline and Christi were determined to answer the collective plea from the community. Enter Thomas Elliott, the co-owner of The Rose Room and the adjacent organic restaurant and pub The Venice Ale House (among others). A longtime student at Sacred Movement, Thomas understood the imperative need of this tribe yearning for a new home.
So in the space of just a few weeks, Micheline and Christi created Pop Up Yoga Venice at the Rose Room. They brought in a number of other teachers including Samantha Mehra, Jenna Giles, Dearbhla Kelly, Denise Kaufman, Hala Khouri, Jenny Cho, Kate Duyn Cariati, and Blake Shields Abramovitz. Workshops are also planned with teachers Sienna Sherman, Shiva Rea, Annie Carpenter, and Seane Corn.
The vision is still percolating. Micheline and Christi, both longtime Westside residents, are committed to following the historical principles of Venice as a haven of radical inclusivity. They have plans to add more teachers and classes, as well as workshops, art showings, live music, and even doga (dog yoga—yeah, you read that right).
As a community, they’re on the path to doing what it takes to help increase the accessibility of yoga. While no one will be turned away for lack of funds, the team suggests what they call Justice Pricing to allow for greater inclusion. The community class rate is $15, $18 for a Sustainer, and $22 for a Supporter. They say, “If you can afford to be a Supporter or Sustainer, please consider paying it forward.”
For more information and class schedule visit: popupyogavenice.com. After class, be sure and stop in Venice Ale House (venicealehouse.com) next door for organic fare and a craft beer.
Julie Hale is a yogi and psychotherapist who supports individuals on their life’s path as well as leading workshops and retreats year round: juliehale.net.