Yoga poses for a comeback

| June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

CENTER FOR YOGA on Larchmont Boulevard.

The Center for Yoga — one of the oldest yoga studios in Los Angeles, maybe the oldest — is poised for a comeback at 230 N. Larchmont Blvd.

Since the 1960s, students have lifted their arms in sun salutes and have breathed and stretched into other ancient poses in the multi-storied building with views of the street below.

Many walked a few blocks from home and up the studio’s steep wooden stairs, carrying rolled yoga mats. Others drove, as the ancient practice took on a modern-day zeal.

When COVID-19 hit, as did many shops and businesses on Larchmont and throughout the country, the yoga center saw its last down dog and shuttered its doors.

But it’s a new day in the decades of twists and turns at the Larchmont yoga studio, founded in 1967 by yoga pioneer Ganga White.

Community support

“A group of neighbors in the Larchmont Village, Windsor Square and Hancock Park neighborhoods are forming a corporation to re-open the Center for Yoga on Larchmont,” Vincent Cox, vice president of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, wrote in a letter.

“The yoga studio drew hundreds of students each week. We support the effort to return this community asset to our neighborhood,” he added.

In 2004, White’s Larchmont yoga studio had been taken over by a national chain, Yoga Works. Plans are to return it to its familial roots, Cox writes.

The studio would best be owned and operated by members of the community “remote from the whims and fancies of a franchise operated by a national company. …

“Now that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic, a return of this yoga studio… would be a welcome rebirth,” Cox concluded in the April 30 letter.

A similar letter of support was sent by the Windsor Square Association May 14.

According to an email chain among the Center for Yoga’s former teachers, managers, owners and the studio’s business start-up expert, the studio is expected to open September 1.

The lease is still being finalized, and some improvements, — including replacing the HVAC system and painting —  are planned.

The studio’s resurrection is thanks to a substantial initial investment that has been received, according to the email chain. The Chronicle was not able to reach anyone on the email by press time.

A bit of legend, history

White’s studio gained a following and recognition from its 1967 founding and throughout the ensuing decades for its training school and offering of multiple branches of yoga.

Before coming to Larchmont, White, who is now based in Santa Barbara, had opened a yoga studio on Sunset Blvd. He relocated first to a space at 115 N. Larchmont that was being used as a John Birch Society book warehouse. (Today it is A Silver Lining, the picture framing store.)

Continuing on the website “The Larchmont Blvd. owner [of 230 N. Larchmont] didn’t want to rent it ‘to a group of Hindu hippies,’ but after a favorable front-page article in the “Los Angeles Times” on the Center, he relented. …

“They found that the facility had once been a dance hall and uncovered wonderful hardwood floors! They set about knocking out walls and refinishing the floors. A Yoga deck was built on the roof and classes boomed with standing room only.

“The Center was the first stopping place of visiting Yoga dignitaries. This was the turbulent sixties! Yoga was exploding and taking root in America. Ganga gave demonstrations at the Human Be-In and the first Love-Ins. He also flew in Swami Vishnu’s peace plane over the War Moratorium demonstration in San Francisco, dropping flowers and peace leaflets. Times were exciting.”

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