Today is Eastside Yoga’s eight anniversary so much has happened since 2009 we took some time to chat with ESY founders Elsa and Steven
What was it like when you first opened Eastside Yoga?
We had moved to Austin just a year before opening and Elsa immediately saw the potential and charm of the east side, I still remember her telling me that we needed to live and open the yoga studio east, its going to be the coolest part of town. Back in 2009 there wasn’t much going on east 11th st other than Blue Dahlia it was kind of quiet and you hardly saw anyone on the street, these days I can’t get across the street! The suite we are in lay empty for about 3 years, the moment I walked in I just knew in my heart this was the place for Eastside Yoga. Its curious we later discovered several people told me they would walk by long before we came along, look into the window and imagine a yoga studio there, in a way they helped manifest with us. On the day we got the keys, we will never forget driving up feeling nervous and excited and there was a lady with her face up to the glass looking in the window. Anita was her name, she wanted to know if we were open, then wanted to but a monthly unlimited it was a good omen.
What is one of your favorite memories from the past eight years that the center has been open?
About five years ago we held a Kickstarter fundraiser that some of the teachers organized for us to help complete some much needed projects at ESY, one of them being building the beautiful front desk we have. Steven is someone that doesn’t like asking for help so he was resistant to the whole fundraiser concept but when it came to the night of the event we was literally stunned by the generosity of our students, people were writing checks and handing them to me expecting nothing in return, it was overwhelming. the teachers were giving their hearts into the whole thing, offering services and yoga for free. I was lost for words. That kind of memory never leaves your heart. Over the years we have strived to honor the Yoga tradition and offer programs that allow sincere seekers to participate and experience the full spectrum of what Yoga has offer, recently we hosted a highly esteemed Swami that is steeped in the tradition, he stated that it was commendable what we are doing at ESY, hearing that from him was most gratifying.
What is your favorite part of managing and taking care of the center?
When you see the positive effects Yoga has on people’s health and well being, Yoga is such a wonderful system and has the potential to heal and transform our World. Its humbling to witness and know that we (the teachers and staff) made a small contribution to our community. Over the years we have come to understand that through the collective intention/energy of people Elsa and I are holding space and in a way caretakers of that intention, if we sit quietly and tune in I can literally feel that energy and try to act from that place, we don’t always get it right but its a guiding light for how I manage and make decisions.
What has been the most challenging aspect of managing caretaking the center for you?
We don’t have enough time to sit quietly and tune in! Its been a huge challenge trying to balance my time, workload and teach to the best of my abilities, especially the last two years with the wee one. With 25 teachers and 15 barter staff, there are a lot of moving parts. 🙂
When you hear from people about ESY how do they describe their experiences here?
In the first couple of years we were open, several of the locals used to refer to us as the Yoga Shop which I kind of liked, then that name morphed into the Mom n Pop Yoga Shop, which is how we liked the neighborhood to describe us. Over the years there have been so many students that have commented their love for ESY, for their yoga teachers and the space we hold, we seem to have developed a reputation for sincerity and teaching to all types of people, this makes me feel kind of proud.
You recently changed the name from “Eastside Yoga Studio” to “Eastside Yoga Center,” can you say more about why you made that change? What does “Center” mean to the vision of Eastside Yoga?
About three years ago a visiting Yogic scholar with a big personality made a suggestion that we change the name to a Yoga Center which would better describe our vision of ESY being a sanctuary and a place of healing, the term yoga studio is a western invention and has a more of a fitness ring to it. For about two years I tentatively began to mention center and only recently after Jenn Coats encouragement we made the change. Center feels right to me.
What are your visions for the future and ESY’s offering?
For me the modern Yoga phenomenon has kind of lost its roots and is getting consumed by the fitness industry, a big part of the ESY mission is to teach Yoga as our teachers taught us and their teachers and Gurus taught them. Its time to bring back yoga classes that serve body, mind and spirit, its time to show people what Yoga is really about, what its goals are and the rich and beautiful tradition has to offer. The more we can teach, hold space and school students and teachers the more we serve the great Yoga Masters that brought us these teachings to begin with. This alongside finding ways to build a supportive yoga community is key, when you have fellowship in yoga sangha then the practices become a lot more accessible, together we can be the change.