by: Kelsey Norten
Yoga and meditation are more than just an individual practice. It’s an opportunity to connect with your community near and far, and we at Gaiam do our best to embody this with everything that we do. So when it came time to find a location for an upcoming photoshoot for our line of mediation seating, we looked no further than our own backyard.
The Dushanbe Tea House, located right in the heart of downtown Boulder, CO seemed like the perfect place for a meditation-inspired photoshoot. A staple for tourists and Boulder residents alike, this ornate and eye-catching building that sits only 20 minutes away from our Colorado office has a unique story that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of community.
In 1987, Mayor Maksud Ikramov of Dushanbe, Tajikistan visited Boulder, CO in honor of their establishment as Sister Cities. As a gift to further celebrate the connection of the two cities, Boulder was presented with the plans to establish a teahouse, which was to be designed and created by over 40 Tajikistani artisans to resemble that of an Asian teahouse. In Asia, teahouses serve as the ultimate gathering place for the community, a place for people to come together to talk and break bread. Boulder now gets to enjoy that same environment, within the walls of a building unlike one they had ever seen before. The teahouse features hand-painted and carved ceilings, individually carved cedar wood columns sent directly from Dushanbe, and carefully crafted ceramic tiles that frame the outside of the building. In exchange for providing this one-of-a-kind establishment, the city of Boulder presented Dushanbe with a state-of-the-art cyber café, providing technology and resources to this area of the world that at the time was struggling with the pending collapse of the Soviet Union.
In addition to seeking out unique and meaningful locations for our photoshoots, we love to feature local yoga teachers and wellness professionals that share the gifts of yoga and meditation in their communities as well. For this particular shoot, our model was Alia Sebben, owner of Amana Yoga in downtown Boulder. Alia is a teacher, studio owner, new mama and yoga advocate. We asked her a few questions about how she came to discover the practice of yoga, and what she hopes to bring to her students and community. Check out the interview below!
I took my first class via a Rodney Yee DVD when I was 16 in my friend’s parent's work-out room. I’ve then started practicing consistently at 19, so for 11 years now!
This is such a ”yogi” answer, but yoga and meditation helped me connect to my power. Before discovering the tools yoga taught me, my emotions used to rule my world. I am now able to simply observe whatever chaos is happening around me without reaction, and create my own response and experience from there. It’s also taught me to be more gentle with myself, which has led me to feeling more joyful overall.
Meditation specifically helped me in a major time of transition this past year. I became a single mama in January, to a tiny baby that was on oxygen the first 4 months of her life. The practice helped me not to entirely lose my mind in the midst of a crazy few months that featured a lot of “firsts” and some major sleep deprivation.
I practice Vedic Meditation, which is a Bija mantra-based practice, for 20 minutes twice a day.
I opened Amana Yoga so I could do yoga all day! Haha - just kidding, but it’s a perk! I did it because I felt like the only yoga being offered around me was Heated Power Vinyasa. Don’t get me wrong, this a wonderful style and option, and Boulder has some of the highest-quality sweaty Vinyasa classes with truly incredible teachers. But I missed the emphasis on Yin/Restorative/Yoga Nidra/Meditation. Our society so often puts emphasis on what you're doing/achieving/building, and the yin side of yoga presents an opportunity for us to learn how to simply be. The practice is all about how we can quiet our minds in the midst of chaos and practice stillness. Since this side of yoga is less glamorous and often overlooked, I devote all of my time and energy into providing a space for likeminded teachers and practitioners who share the same passion.
The community of teachers and practitioners. It’s a safe space where I am consistently learning and humbled by those around me. Hearing stories from our members about how they've reconnected to their joy, how they’ve seen their practice showing up for them off the mat, and how they've released old patterns in their lives that caused suffering, that’s the real deal.
Stay tuned for more fun behind the scenes of another recent yoga photoshoot at a historic Denver landmark!