It’s 11:30am on a Tuesday, and I’m lying on the wood floor in the dark. The heavy black curtains are drawn, and the sound of Tibetan crystal bowls fill the room. The vibrations are soothing and sound almost like a sweet, soft gong. A woman’s voice fills the room, harmonizing with the bowls as the notes hang in the air. Then, the melodic sounds slowly fade out, and the sound bath comes to an end.
Julie Greenberg, the bright, energetic studio owner of this space, jumps up and thanks the sound healer for auditioning. She’s filling the last few spots in her weekly schedule, and is winding down interviews, and I’m hanging out in the space until my next class so I was able to sit in on a few of the audition classes.
In a daze, I slowly roll up my yoga mat and open the blinds of the space and prepare for the lunchtime yoga for writers class I’m teaching at 12:15pm. When you experience something magical -- it stays with you throughout your day, and I can feel the physiological effects of such an incredible experience settle in my body.
That’s what Aunt Bessi’s is about, of course. When I first met Julie, I was taken by her vision for Aunt Bessi’s Creative Healing Center, which she runs with her husband, Justin Greenberg. Julie serves as the Creative Director, and the way her and Justin saw the bright, glittering space as a place for anyone age 2-102 to reconnect with their creative self -- well, that’s pretty special.
This is particularly unique in a city where every yoga or art space feels like they’re trying to be Soul Cycle 2.0. Those slick, commercial spaces are hip and modern, but I found myself preferring studios like Yogaraj and Aunt Bessi’s to the more corporate establishments.
In one of my many conversations with Julie about the studio, she was justifying why she wanted to make certain choices about how she markets Aunt Bessi. “I don’t want to do what everybody else is doing because it’s not magic,” she said. Every choice is intentional, to preserve what she finds special about the space and its offerings.
Even the name “Aunt Bessi” came to her as she was in negotiations to get the space. “I kept saying, c’mon Bessi… and then we got it! Justin and I both saw this image of this warm, friendly Aunt who invites everybody over to her home, creating a special community, and she became the face of this place. I want everyone to feel like they’re coming home here.”
The first event I attended was a paint night led by Michael from Heartbreak Studios. We painted, meditated, and Julie led us in a dance practice. The exercises and meditations were incredibly freeing, and I felt connected to the group of strangers I had just shared this art experience with.
Another night, I attended Karina’s incredible Restorative Yoga & Reiki Healing class, and left feeling completely peaceful and at ease.
Julie wasn’t kidding when she said the space was for all ages: one week, she’s hosting a summer camp for eight-year-old girls, and the next week she’s hosting a speaker on creativity who spoke to a group of 65+ retirees. Julie’s own adorable eight-year-old daughter Elsie often joins in on paint nights at Aunt Bessi’s, making the place truly feel like a big family gathering.
I teach yoga for writers and creatives as well as a candelit yin yang class at Aunt Bessi’s (and you can find my weekly schedule here!) and Kingdom of Pavement will be hosting our first Open Mic Night this Saturday at 7pm.
Aunt Bessi’s offers Los Angeles a space that we’ve been desperately lacking: somewhere friendly, filled with Julie’s endless positivity and magical offerings, and a place anyone of any age can call home.
If you stand for something or want something to stay in your community, it’s important to vote with your dollar and spread the word. Especially in the arts, where we’re in this for the joy of creation instead of a big paycheck.
So, I hope you’ll check out Aunt Bessi’s website which lists weekly class offerings, special events (like our open mic night on Saturday and another great concert happening at the space this evening!), the upcoming open house where you can try out different classes for free, or maybe just stop by and do some co-working and say hi to Julie to get your daily dose of inspiration.
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