Astrid McNellis, the co-owner of Evolation Yoga Santa Barbara, on purposely creating a blank canvas studio.
How did your yoga studio come about? What was your vision or mission? Evolation was founded by Zefea Samson and Mark Drost in 2009. While they are both deeply rooted in the Bikram Yoga tradition, their aim was to add more meditation, breathing and an open mind to this vigorous practice. Evolation stands for a happy combination of evolution and elation. When they moved to the “Big Yellow House” (what the studio is called) in Santa Barbara, with its rich history and views of the ocean, it felt like the perfect place to build their flagship studio.
In your opinion, what is one of the most interesting or unique features about the yoga studio’s design? When people walk into the studio, they immediately notice a few things besides the friendly staff. They notice the open, white and spacious feeling. We want the space to act as a blank canvas everyone can use to fill in as they see fit. Also, because of the uncluttered environment, the beautiful views of the ocean are seen through our giant windows, which are front and center. People who come to practice with Evolation say it feels calm and serene, so you feel refreshed and rejuvenated when you leave.
What is one key to your yoga studio’s success? We pride ourselves on creating a clean environment. As the flagship studio of a global teacher training organization, we are blessed with several resident and many visiting instructors. Finally, because of the “evolution” element to our practice, we are not afraid to do just that. Today we have a variety of hot, flow and yin classes, as well as kids programs both in the studio and at the local schools.
What is one piece of advice you could give to other studio owners? Studio ownership comes with ups and downs. You can get caught up in the finances, regulations, the day-to-day business, which is not the reason most of us open a studio. So, it is very important to stay connected to the source of your inspiration. This can mean keeping up with your own practice, continuing on the path of learning, traveling to get inspired, books, or anything that keeps you excited to continue to inspire others. In short, never stop nourishing your own soul.