Jenny Luna
Special to the Sun

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April 21, 2014
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Meet Your Merchant | Cooperative yoga studio brings wellness, community to Donner Lake

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A group of women — yoginis and massage therapists, healers and teachers — recently joined forces to create a space for their community on Donner Lake.

Headed by yoga instructor and massage therapist Katherine Albers, The Yoga Co-op on is a space for activities and yoga classes. The idea behind the co-op is to allow each instructor to pay rent and share ownership of the space. This model, said Katherine, allows the studio to offer a lower price for classes and teachers to keep their earnings from each student.

“We’re trying to bring yoga to the community in an affordable way,” Katherine said.

An unlimited month of yoga is offered at $55 until June 1 and five and 10-class passes are available as well. The Yoga Co-op has no sign ups or contracts for its students.

“We have enough contracts and things we have to sign our lives away on,” Katherine said. “We want people to be able to come and go — there’s enough to go around.”

This attitude of abundance is what the women hope to bring to the Co-op. The space is also offered to community members interested in hosting any kind of wellness activity.

“We’re communal creatures,” said Kundalini yoga instructor Suzie Gilliam. “Humans thrive in community. It’s time for the idea of having to do everything also to all away.”

Apart from yoga class, the Co-op offers a Women’s Wellness class, sound healing and a Dancing Shiva flow class.

“It’s nice to have a mixture of teachers here,” Katherine said. “Their skills are pretty incredible.”

By posting flyers around Truckee, Katherine found teachers and healers, and a team of 10 yoga teachers quickly assembled.

“Katherine had this vision, she built it and we came,” said Suzie.

Upon seeing the flyer that called for “creative, beautiful like-minded individuals,” Suzie said she responded immediately. The former corporate employee “fired her executive life” one year previous and she was ready to find a studio to teach her practice. Suzie joined Kathy last month when the Co-op officially opened. She is the only Kundalini Research Institute certified instructor in the area.

PEACE

The yoga classes offered at The Yoga Co-op range from Candlelit Vinyasa to Yoga Basics and Mother and Baby Yoga. The Co-op isn’t necessarily a place for a high intensity workout, Katherine said, but one for peace and restoration.

“I’m not just a fixer,” Katherine said. “I want people to take part in their own healing. Since I started teaching yoga that has been my mission.”

When Katherine built the space (in the short span of one month) she intentionally left it without mirrors. Her goal is to have students reflect on their inner selves and not get caught up with outward appearances.

“There is a lot of pressure … to succeed in athletics and in life,” Katherine said. “We let you just be — you can choose what you want to do.”

HEALTH AND HEALING

Katherine’s vision for a place of health and healing will be complete when she operates Donner Lake Bike and Board in the space next door. The previous owner will take the summer off and Katherine will rent bikes, paddleboards and kayaks June through late fall.

“It’s outdoor sports blended with the indoor healing part of it,” she said. “You can get a massage while you’re waiting for your bike to be tuned.”

Opening her own venture isn’t new for Katherine. She and her husband started their own coffee shop, Provin’ Grounds Coffee and Bakery, in Leadville, Colo. The couple also co-owned a cycling store.

Katherine compares selling her Colorado businesses as “ending a relationship” or “sending the kid off to college.” She knew Truckee and Donner Lake would be the perfect place to invest her business sense.

“Being in a mountain community, you’re going to find people who are like minded and seek solace in nature,” she said.

“There is something feminine about the lake,” Katherine said. The colder climate and the mountains may seem masculine, but “the water brings a sense of softness,” she said.

Tahoe Yoga Co-Op offers hourly rentals of the space when classes are not in session. The Co-Op also offers wellness workshops and weekend events. On April 26, the Co-op will host a Transformational Breath Workshop by certified facilitator Melesa Black.

Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at jluna0928@gmail.com.

“Kathy had this vision, she built it and we came.”
Suzie Gilliam, kundalini yoga teacher at The Yoga Co-op


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 25, 2014 10:28AM Published Apr 21, 2014 04:40PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.