San Francisco’s Laughing Lotus Yoga Center (LL), born from proud parents and San Francisco natives Jasmine Tarkeshi and Dana Flynn, adds more color to the Bay Area yoga palette. Surrounded by churches, art schools, hipster hangouts and just two blocks from Dolores Park, the space has indeed been reborn—this time as a colorful one-storied Lotus Temple. For the past thirty-five years, 3271 16th Street (rebuilt after the fires of the 1906 earthquake) has housed a plumbing garage, French laundry, paint shop, dance studio and church. Its present green incarnation boasts filtered water (no plastic water bottles sold here), recycled paper products, skylights for infusing natural light and, of course, plenty of places to lock up your bike.
Atnearly 3,000 square feet, the Lotus Temple, conceived by Dana and Jasmine and implemented by artist and Lotus teacher Betsy Davis, graces the neighborhood as sacred art. Greeted by a brightly colored exterior, visitors enter beneath the stenciled Sanskrit blessing Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu, which bestows freedom and happiness to all. Once inside the walls adorned in burnt orange, rosy terracotta and saffron yellow, one imbibes further blessings from the six ornate murals of Hindu deities that encircle the studio like a garland. For pre- and post-mat hang out time, yogis can relax in the reception lounge, garden or boutique, enjoying tantalizing treats like Jasmine’s organic vegan truffles and the celebrated handmade Laughing Lotus T-shirts.
All of the classes are in Vinyasa tradition, celebrating freedom through movement by linking the physical poses with the rhythm of the breath. LL’s ten teachers, many of whom are enthusiastic migrants from New York (and all of whom are graduates of the LL’s own teacher training program), infuse the forty-six weekly classes with inspirational music, poetry and singing. Even Jasmine’s mom, Alice, a longtime Shambhala Buddhist practitioner and teacher, has a slot on the schedule.
With class offerings similar to those of her sister in NYC, LL comes to life daily at 7 a.m. with Sun Celebrations. Other regular highlights include Level 1/Basics, Lotus Flow 2 and 2/3 (taught by Dana, Jasmine and senior teacher Keith); prenatal “MAMAsutra,” lunchtime Happy Hour, and a daily donation-based community class. For even more selection, enjoy Lounging Lotus (for restorative poses), Midnight Yoga, an ongoing four-week Absolute Beginner Series and weekend kirtans and workshops. Community-minded and bottomlessly creative, Dana and Jasmine also offer their hallmark class, “Love Saves the Day,” donating proceeds to a new charity every month.
Forits dedicated students, LL will offer their Yoga Alliance-certified 200-hour teacher training—affectionately nicknamed “The Love School” by its graduates—from Feb. 3 to May 18, 2008, with an informational meeting on Saturday, December 1 at 3 p.m.
The dynamic duo of Dana and Jasmine are enthusiastic about bringing their gifts back to their home soil. They aspire to offer the community a space where peace, joy, friendship and creativity can be celebrated and cultivated as a way of life, rather than something that you can only find on your yoga mat. Playfulness for the purpose of tasting one’s own free and true nature reigns as the highest priority.
A visit to this temple no doubt encourages fun, self-expression and, of course, laughter—which is no surprise considering that its name was inspired by a line in a Hafiz poem that reads, “Laughter is the glorious sound of the soul waking up.”“We come to all of our classes at Laughing Lotus with so much love, so much excitement,” Dana says. “We celebrate everyone that’s there…all that we want is their happiness.”