When you think East L.A., you think cruising on Whittier Boulevard, bomb Mexican food, and decades of Chicano culture and activism.
You don't necessarily think "downward dog," deep breathing and yoga pants.
But there they are, on the real Eastside. A pair of yoga instructors who have been taking their show on the road around East L.A. and Boyle Heights is now opening a new, permanent studio caled People's Yoga on Pomona Boulevard:
Co-founder Leah Gallegos tells us it's one of the first spaces in the community dedicated solely to yoga. (Nearby, Tonalli Studio features yoga, dance and poetry and book signings). But the two have also acknowledged a rich Eastside history of yoga going back to the countercultural 1970s.
"It's about giving back to the communities that we come from and building the type of community we want to live in," Gallegos said.
The studio at 5161 Pomona Blvd. Suite 209, opens Sunday and will offer free classes the next week, from Monday through Sunday, she said. Classes will be offered in English and Spanish.
Before finding a home, Gallegos and yoga partner Lauren Quan Madrid took their yoga classes all around the Eastside, sometimes for free, for about two years. "The majority of our clients are practicing yoga for the very first time," she said.
The Eastside events were so popular ("A lot of peole were calling and wanted more and more," Gallegos said) that the two decided to open a studio.
But then the issue of money came up. So they went to crowdfunding site Indiegogo and raised $10,000 in 60 days, Gallegos told us.
Yoga carries with it a taste of gentrification, especially in Los Angeles, and that can be a hot topic for an Eastside region that can behostile to house flippers
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Gallegos says she and her co-founder are fully aware of the issue:
We're from these communities. We're being very intentional in making sure the people, the current residents, have access to this. We're just focusing on the people who are already in these communities. The whole idea is to make it relevant to the people who live and work on the Eastside.
Classes will range from $5 to $14, and there will be memberships, she said. It'll be open 7 days. Info.