The Oak + Lotus story begins on December 12th, 2014, in the heart of DC's Capitol Hill neighborhood. That was the day our founder, Alia, first walked into the space that would eventually become her very first yoga studio. At the time, she was juggling multiple jobs: Realtor, managing her then-boyfriend's construction business, Dining Editor for Bisnow Media, and of course, yoga teacher. It had been two years since she'd quit her job as a corporate attorney, and she was deep in the thick of her soul-searching journey to find her true purpose in life. Funnily enough, of all the options she had explored, "yoga studio owner" wasn't one that had ever crossed her mind.
Until that fateful winter's day. She was out searching for office space for a real estate client when she happened upon the strangest listing she had ever seen. It had one blurry photo of the front of what appeared to be an auto repair shop, and claimed to offer 1600 square feet in the middle of a residential block where the homes averaged only 800 square feet. While she knew this wasn't what her client was looking for, her curiosity got the better of her and she had to take a look.
The moment she set foot in that space, she knew she had to open a yoga studio in there. She felt like she had been hit by lightning. As she stood in the middle of this large, nondescript space that for decades housed DC's only professional boxing gym, she felt all of the pieces falling into place in her mind. Every job she had worked up until that point, no matter how seemingly random, somehow lent itself to the pool of knowledge she would need to launch this business. She had never felt more sure of anything before in her life. This was what she was supposed to do.
And so, by Christmas Eve (yes, just 12 days later), she had negotiated and signed the lease, obtained all of the necessary permits and licenses from the city, and created her design for the space. She cancelled her Christmas travel plans and got to work on building her new studio. And on February 16th, 2015 (yes, just 2 months later), East Side Yoga opened its doors for the very first time. In the middle of a snowstorm. And yet, the studio was filled with neighbors eager to practice with us.
And by the time that first class ended, Alia knew that she had, at last, found her calling.
Over the next five years, East Side Yoga flourished into an beautifully tight-knit community built around a new approach to yoga: one focused on healing and connection rather than fancy poses and expensive pants. We established one of the best Pre/Postnatal yoga programs in town, and pioneered a new approach to the flow yoga style: Relaxed Flow. We welcomed hundreds of people into our space and onto the mat, and developed a reputation as the best studio in the area for beginners. We also raised thousands of dollars for local refugee assistance with the help of our loving, generous neighbors. We built something truly incredible in that funky little space above 10th Street Auto, and we are so grateful for every single person who walked through our doors.
But as much as Alia loved her East Side Yoga family, she had left her heart in Texas. Her hometown was calling to her, and in the spring of 2019, she moved back to Austin to begin work on her second studio.
She opened her second studio, Oak + Lotus Yoga, in south Austin's up-and-coming St. Elmo District in December of 2019. Yup, that's right - a mere 3 months before COVID lockdown began. At the time, she had still maintained ownership of East Side Yoga in DC. But after a few months passed and it was clear that this pandemic wasn't ending any time soon, she was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to permanently close her first baby.
However, thanks to the magic of the internet, this did not mean the end of the East Side Yoga community. For a year and a half, both DC and Austin communities were able to practice together online via Zoom. We brought everyone together under the Oak + Lotus brand, and offered a full schedule of classes online so that we could all practice together from the safety of our homes while the pandemic raged on around us. And, thankfully, we were able to find subletters to use the Austin studio as office space while we were closed so that we didn't lose our lease.
And finally, on August 16th, 2021, we were able to reopen the doors of our Austin studio. We livestream all of our in-studio classes so that members of our community from anywhere in the world can practice with us, and immediately brought back beloved offerings from our DC Studio like Live Cello + Yin and Prenatal Yoga.
We are so thrilled to bring our unique and loving approach to yoga to Austin, and we can't wait to share it with you.
Welcome to your yoga home.