7th heaven purchased by namaste rockridge
Seven is the sacred number of chakras, it is the number of years this studio has been open, and last, but not least, it is the number of the street where this studio is located. Seventh Heaven is the type of heaven with one-stop shopping for yogis and spiritual education seekers alike. It has classes all day long, everyday, from Yin yoga to heated Vinyasa Flow and from Kundalini to Community yoga, in four practice rooms. While the philosophy here is to aid each student to find their own individual path by offering a wide range of yoga styles, there is also a very active Ashtanga program that draws many already-decided practitioners to Seventh Heaven.
Michael Ziegler, owner and founder of this studio, granted me a few minutes to probe into the beginnings of the little east bay heaven. Having spent some time living in India in the early 70s while seeking to deepen his Buddhist meditation practice, Michael encountered Iyengar yoga, an introduction that would lead to one of the largest studios in the bay area thirty years later. He started Seventh Heaven with Jody Evans (a friend and avid Code Pink activist) as a “body awareness center” as opposed to a “yoga studio,” per se. He explains their vision as to “teach people to create a space to go inside the body,” and finding their own inner practice through this bodily space. Seventh Heaven has been in the area long enough for other, newer studios to use its template, aesthetically and structurally, and they do, he says.
The space itself is quite stunning. A sanctuary in the otherwise industrial neighborhood has been erected, first visible by a collection of potted trees and a bench just outside the front door. The studio is replete with different cultures and religions and the collection of artifacts at Seventh Heaven is as eclectic as the classes offered here, which include more than just yoga classes. Chiropractor Rueben Ziegler, Michael’s brother, and Sidney Walker, an acupuncturist, both have in-house practices at Seventh Heaven.
Furthermore, perhaps the most unique trait of this studio is the partnership that exists with the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). This partnership allows CIIS to host occasional classes throughout the studio’s building. It is indicative of the level of intellectual engagement Seventh Heaven has to offer. The current schedule includes an upcoming workshop on the Enneagram, a numerical system of classifying and understanding personalities, by one of its creators and original experts. October held an Ayurvedic cleanse workshop with Scott Blossom as well as an intensive Ashtanga workshop with Manju Jois, the only son of Sri K. Patthabi Jois, Misore Ashtanga guru. Big names such as these (both local and broader) frequent Seventh Heaven, but the studio does not seem to depend on them, the celebrities being more a result of the studio’s success than the cause of it.
Complimentary showers and tea are available to visitors and what’s more, at $13 for a single class, the prices are unbeatable, as is the rare abundance of free parking. This is a studio with a constant moving flow of people and energy. Perhaps not as cozy as some smaller studios in the area, Seventh Heaven loses none of the authenticity sought in one’s yoga practice.