After teaching yoga to friends out of her home for several years, Clarisa Ru realized that there was a growing need for a yoga studio in San Marino, so in 2017 she opened Greenheart Yoga & Meditation Center. She was inspired to practice yoga through her friend Gloria Holden, who was 40 years older and had incredible energy and posture. Ru took her first yoga class when she was five months pregnant and instantly fell in love.
“I felt energized yet rested after my first class,” Ru said. “I have a dance and ballet background, but what I loved about yoga was that it was so much more than just physical movement. The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’ and it’s about being able to unify your body with your mind, spirit and breath. I started doing yoga whenever it was convenient for me, then for my 40th birthday I signed up for a yoga teacher training to see what would happen if I took it more seriously. At first I wanted to quit but then it became nourishment for me. I’ve been practicing yoga for 21 years, teaching for 10, and still loving it. Now if I don’t practice yoga, my body and mind feel it right away.”
After completing her first 200 hours of yoga certification, Ru sent an email out to her friends, letting them know when she would be practicing yoga at her house and invited them to join her. Things grew from there, and eventually Ru opened Greenheart Yoga & Meditation Center, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary.
“I named Greenheart after the heart chakra,” said Ru. “Chakras are energy centers and our primary chakras run along the spine. The heart chakra is associated with the qualities of compassion, forgiveness, kindness, joy and love, and when we are all of those things with ourselves, then we can be all of those things with others. There are different colors associated with the various chakras—the heart chakra happens to be green.”
In one corner of the yoga studio are the same white couches that Ru used to have in her living room when she taught out of her home.
“People loved that they could just come in, remove their shoes and sit on the couches before or after sessions,” she said. “I decided to bring the couches into the studio to create a little lounge area—it feels like home.”
Beneath the floorboards in the spacious studio, Ru lined the floors with crushed amethyst, rose petals, Neroli oil, rose oil and sandalwood oil to bless and energize the space. There is a garden out back where Ru grows fennel, tomatoes, basil, mint and sage, a room upstairs where she offers private lessons, as well as a rooftop deck where she hosts various events. In the reception area there is a retail section, where Ru sells all kinds of items including essential oils, candles, books, earth-friendly bags, clothing, and products made by women in Nepal.
Greenheart Yoga & Meditation Center is open seven days a week and offers a wide variety of classes that include guided meditation, beginner’s yoga, Vinyasa and chair yoga, among others. Classes start as early as 6 a.m. and go as late as 9:15 p.m., depending on the day. In addition to group classes, private sessions are available for individuals and couples that are either starting out or want one-on-one time to enhance their practice. The studio also has an introductory “All-Four-One” Special for new students, which offers four weeks of unlimited yoga and meditation classes for $41.
“If students want to take a morning and afternoon class in the same day, they are more than welcome to,” said Ru. “The package enables them to sample our different offerings, see what works with their schedules, what classes they gravitate towards, and which instructors they take a liking to. There’s something for everyone.”
Ru teaches a handful of classes and has a large group of instructors for the rest. Julie Howard is one of the studio’s newest instructors, and she previously worked as a physician before deciding to teach yoga.
“I’d been practicing yoga for 15 years and was always suggesting that my patients try something like yoga,” said Howard. “Finally, I decided to quit my job and practice what I preached, so I started teaching yoga. This is a way that I can give back and it offers a much more holistic look at ourselves, starting with the physical and emotional self. I love this space and atmosphere—the students are awesome. The beauty of this place is that depending on how you feel on any given day, you can always find something that fits you here.”
Attendees can conveniently register for upcoming classes at the touch of a button via the website or the MindBody app. Greenheart Yoga & Meditation also works with various groups from corporate to charitable, offering special events and classes to help with fundraising and other causes. In October, the studio hosted a goat yoga class with live goats to help Leela Anvekar from Troop 15121 raise funds for a wellness program that she wanted to create at Union Station Homeless Services for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
“Being a yoga instructor is one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet, I often can’t believe that’s what I get paid to do,” said Ru. “Every single day someone says ‘thank you’ to me for opening this business. People tell me that they feel safe and relaxed here, their bodies feel so much better, they feel that they can live longer, and lead more peaceful, happy and mindful lives. For those that have never tried yoga, my advice is to not be intimidated by it. Take advantage of what our space and studio offers in terms of variety and come here to grow emotionally, spiritually and physically. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where the growth happens.”
Greenheart Yoga & Meditation Center is located at 2260 Huntington Dr. in San Marino. It is open Monday from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 9:15 p.m., Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8:15 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 8:15 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (626) 234-2059 or visit thegreenheartlife.com
Greenheart Yoga & Meditation Center Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 8.9.19. Support Local Business.