Lotus Yoga is an oasis at the corner of Stockton and Myra Streets in the Riverside neighborhood. The second floor studio is a bright, open space with warm wooden floors and ceilings and exposed brick walls. Colorful mats are rolled out on the floor as yoga enthusiasts listen to the calming voice of studio co-owner, Bonnie Murdoch, as she moves the group through deep breathing exercises and strengthening and flexibility poses. But it wasn’t always an inviting, peaceful haven that yoga students see today. Back in 2008, her co-owner Bethany Crawley discovered a large, dilapidated space with dingy windows, holes in the walls and ceilings and insulation dangling from its rafters and then immediately contacted Bonnie. The duo saw past the unlikely spot’s “wrinkles” and “envisioned an open, inviting, and light-filled space.” After transforming the spot, they named their studio after the lotus flower to symbolize “growth and the emergence from the darkness into the light” and “to represent growth, light, purity and wisdom.”
As two busy attorneys at different Jacksonville law firms, they knew all too well the stresses of demanding careers and hectic personal lives. Yet each followed a different path to the study and practice of yoga before joining forces in September 2008 to establish Lotus Yoga. About ten years ago, a friend invited Bonnie, a former triathlete and long-distance runner, to attend a yoga class at the YMCA. After taking a few initial classes, Bonnie felt a sense of both energy and relaxation. “I had no idea how worn out I was…A seed was planted,” she notes. Soon she began attending classes regularly and knew “something began changing inside of me. I started to feel better; the seed was taking root.” Her business partner, Bethany had previously studied dance and gymnastics before training as a spring board and tower diver. About eight years ago, she started to practice yoga as a natural blend of “the strength of gymnastics, the grace of dance, the weightlessness of diving.” And like Bonnie, Bethany realized that her yoga practice was “most importantly, a path for transformation and spiritual growth.”
Lotus Yoga primarily offers vinyasa flow and modified ashtanga vinyasa classes. In vinyasa yoga, one posture flows into the next in harmony with the movement of the breath in and out of the body, creating a meditation in movement. The studio also offers restorative chair yoga classes for those students whose access to yoga may be restricted as a result of trauma, injury or natural aging. Private lessons are also available upon request. All studio instructors have a minimum of 200 hours of teacher training certifications and have attended a number of workshops and classes with experienced instructors. The studio also enjoys bringing in other well-respected national instructors for their students and their own practices of yoga. National teacher and author Rolf Gates offered a special two-hour Vinyasa class with on Tuesday, March 27. His visit will be followed by a weekend workshop with Kathryn Budig, a world-renowned yoga instructor and contributing writer to Om Yoga and Yoga Journal Magazine, from April 13-15. Ms. Budig is known for exuding an adventurous and playful spirit and inspiring others to explore their minds and bodies in creative ways.
If you’re looking for a way to restore and reenergize yourself, pull on that loose, comfortable clothing, grab that yoga mat and a bottle of water and stop by Lotus Yoga at 869 Stockton Street, Suite 7, across from The John Gorrie, or check them out on the Web at lotusyogajax.com.
–Bridges DelPonte, http://www.bridgesdelponte.com