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Thursday, March 24,2011

Got yoga?

Joyful Yoga Community Co-op does things a little differently

By Katherine Creel

Like enlightenment, North Boulder’s newest yoga spot is a little hard to find. Neil Hirschowitz, founder and education director of Joyful Yoga Community Co-op, isn’t worried though. After all, you only have to unearth it once.

“It’s only hard to find the first time,” Hirschowitz. says. “After that, you don’t have that problem.”

Also like enlightenment, it might not look like what you expect  — though you’ll almost certainly recognize it when you see it. Tucked away on the far north end of Broadway, just behind Horse & Rider, Joyful Co-op’s unassuming exterior hides a two-story, ultra-creative work in progress.

“Evolving, as always,” Hirschowitz describes it.

Instead of floor-to-ceiling mirrors, subdued lighting and a tightly restrained aesthetic, the walls of Joyful Yoga are covered in art. South-facing windows let in plenty of sunlight, and each area has its own unique personality.

The space includes three rooms for massage, reiki, intuitive healing and other services, and Hirschowitz says each one has been designed and decorated with input from the specialists who will be working there. There’s also a communal kitchen area, a larger room for group activities, and a sitting area with a decidedly divisive mural (Hirschowitz tells how one prospective yoga instructor warned it would drive away customers, while a client found it so mesmerizing she couldn’t look away).

The art — much of it Hirschowitz’s — that covers almost every surface reflects the idea that everyone can make art, and that it can be a healing process.

The integration of the art and music, the massage and yoga, and the community-based focus of Joyful Yoga reflects one of Hirschowitz’s basic tenets: Yoga doesn’t just happen on a mat.

“I spent time in Singapore,” he says. “There’s very little difference there between what people do on the meditation cushion and off it. Here, it’s almost like a Clark Kent/Superman type of thing.”

The only way to grow spritually, he says, is by taking the lessons of yoga outside of the studio.

“As we get things going, we really want to institute a lot of service projects,” Hirschowitz says.

When it came to choosing a name for the co-op, Hirschowitz says he spent two weeks “playing with the words” before he came up with the just the right combination to describe this philosophy.

While the “community” in the name emphasizes the importance of doing good work for — and with —  those around you, the “co-op” part helps highlight the economical side.

“It’s loosely based on the food co-op model in that people pay a $50 annual fee … and they get unlimited massage services, healing services, other services for $35 an hour,” Hirschowitz says.

For Hirschowitz, these two sides of his business complement each other.
“There’s a big confusion in the West between spirituality and business, [that] the two have to be separate,” he says. “My business is actually promoting sprituality. In order to do that, I’ve got to do it by any means necessary to do more good in the world.”

For more on the Joyful Yoga Community Co-op, and upcoming events, check out www.joyfulyoga community.com.
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