Walking into the spacious loft-like atmosphere of The Mindful Body in San Francisco, the sounds and shuffle of California Street fade away. I feel instantly transported into a realm of tranquility, safety and love. The heavy, dark beams of wood framing the entrance offer me a grounding comfort, the delicate white orchid at the front desk soothes my eyes, and the warm smiles of greeting open my heart. Ficus trees, rubber plants, Bonsais”¦these touches of greenery throughout the space link me to the natural world, automatically slowing my pace and my breath.
Flooded with a canopy of sunshine from the many skylights that punctuate the 20-foot high ceilings, The Mindful Body is a sanctuary for personal healing via yoga and bodywork. They offer a full roster of yoga classes in their two studios; styles include Ashtanga, Hatha Flow, Yin, Beginning, Pranayama and Meditation, Prenatal, Restorative and Community classes. Rates are extremely reasonable””a drop in class is $14””and you can purchase a membership that offers further discounts on classes and bodywork. A wide range of bodywork (Trigger Point Therapy, Reiki, Tui Na, Shiatsu, Sports Massage and Pregnancy Massage) and Acupuncture are offered in their nine massage rooms with names like Om and Harmony.
In 1994, founder and owner Roy Bergmann decided to open a yoga center that embraced complementary healing modalities in order to fully free the body, mind and emotions. A former investment banker and New Yorker, Bergmann was burned out from stress and back pain, and also struggling with the challenges of divorce. An avid lifelong athlete, Bergmann found yoga in the ”˜80s as a natural evolution of his spiritual and healing quest. He studied at Esalen, becoming a massage therapist, then studied Bikram Yoga and became a teacher.
Five years ago, his daughter Hillary Bergmann stepped up to the challenge of learning the family business. She greets me with a wide smile, her sleek strawberry blonde hair swinging around her face, her bright blue eyes full of warmth. She shares her father’s motivation for opening The Mindful Body. “He saw how yoga and bodywork changed his life and decided he should do it for a living,” she says. “His mission has been self-responsible health, the creation of a space of warm, welcoming energy and laughter. He feels that life should be enjoyed.”
Though today Hillary is the picture of glowing health, that wasn’t always so. She was sixteen when her father opened the studio and even though she grew up learning about health, receiving bodywork from her dad and learning about yoga, she became anorexic. She went through her own healing journey at The Mindful Body. Through the gradual integration of yoga into her life, she became more in touch with her body. “Yoga has been nurturing, strengthening and healing for me””all at the same time””I am loving it!”
Speaking to the dovetailing of yoga and bodywork, Hillary offers The Mindful Body belief that “it’s about letting the tension release fully. Sometimes you need to have someone help you do it””you can’t just do it on your own. We hold a lot of emotions in our body, so when you’re getting bodywork, it not only releases your muscles, but your emotions.” She laughs, eyes crinkling, “It’s wonderful to see someone floating out of a massage!”
The reception area is welcoming; tastefully stocked with nearly 100% organic and eco-friendly retail items such as Jade mats, locally-made Strega Dia chakra oils, and Von Natur bodycare products. A selection of books, T-shirts (one of my favorites was a tank emblazoned with “Emotionally Available”) and yoga props are also available for purchase.
Today, at the age of 65, Roy Bergmann still teaches regularly, though he’s given up his bodywork practice. A member of the Dolphin Club, Bergmann swims in the San Francisco Bay sans wetsuit, and practices yoga every day. His back pain from twenty years ago? It never returned.
Although the senior Bergmann still oversees the big picture of The Mindful Body, Bergmann junior helps run the day-to-day operation of the studio (along with yoga manager Maile Sivert, massage manager Ron Nestor and front desk managers Dustin Toshiyuki and Kate Lumsden). Hillary’s voice, sweet and musical, hums with gratitude: “I have a dream partnership with so many great people. I feel so lucky to be working with all these great energies”¦one of our goals is to be a place where teachers and therapists can grow and have a place where they can spread their wings.”