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Meet Bethany Eanes of The Yoga Harbor in Torrance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bethany Eanes.

Bethany, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2009, I was working at a financial services firm that was due to close. I would be jobless in a few months. The thing is: I didn’t want to ever have another job. I started freelance marketing work for a handful of small businesses, one of which was a local yoga studio. That studio became my home.

There is no greater feeling than walking into the doors of your local yoga studio and knowing your day is about to get better. I knew 6 years ago that someday I wanted to create that feeling in a community that needs it. My husband and I have toured dozens of properties. I’ve drawn countless logos. I’ve gone to sleep dreaming and planning this space that would someday come to be, maybe, if we could grow the courage to do it. I taught yoga, walked my dog, and, all along, The Yoga Harbor (though it didn’t have that name yet) lived in my brain and in my heart.

This November, I was recovering from a dose of radioactive iodine to treat my thyroid disease. I was quarantined for four days; neither my pets nor people could come within six feet of me. Shut in a bedroom, storing my radioactive clothing and trash in safety bins, I spent a lot of time wrapping my arms around what would be next in my life. A few days later, we walked into the doors of 1616 Gramercy, and we said, “YES!” The unit was terrifyingly ugly, with concrete floors, fluorescent lights and, I kid you not, empty Jello shot containers in the front planters. I make a habit of choosing the ugliest homes and most pathetic rescue animals to devote attention to. This was no different – it was the one.

I love Vinyasa Flow yoga and wanted to create a Vinyasa studio. However, since living with an unpredictable illness, I’ve departed from the idea that flow yoga has to kick your butt in order to deliver benefits. We offer a lot of chill with a side of sweat; essentially, I created this schedule and hired these teachers so I would want to practice here. It is our hope you leave our classes feeling like, yea, you worked hard, but you also got a massage at the same time.

Has it been a smooth road?
On a very special date to see Rogue One opening weekend, about 15 minutes from the end of the movie – right when it was getting so good for two Wars Nerds like my husband and me – I got a phone call from a neighbor at the studio that contractors had left the doors open and unlocked. There wasn’t a lot to steal, but all of our seed money for this business was represented in what was inside. We painstakingly left the movie and showed up to a bit of a scary scene. Was someone robbing us? Was it safe to enter?

It was fine, but it was our first dose of, “Yea, being a business owner means leaving the movie just as Darth Vader shows up.” We’ve had so many moments like that since. The roof leaked. A sprinkler cap busted during our open house. The City wanted to limit the size of our business tremendously in order to permit us. We came back from holiday travel to find contractors had removed an old heater and left a giant hole in the ceiling, pouring sludge and water onto our newly purchased yoga props.

This is the beginning, and it’s a reminder that nothing will go as planned. The great news, though, is we feel really good about all of it! I’m learning there is always a solution if you just keep going and don’t panic. I’m learning to communicate firmly about what we need while still being kind. This “poor me” mentality has crept in a number of times, leaving me feeling like I just want to call my mom and have someone fix it. Then I remember I chose this – all of this – and I’m so lucky to be able to do it. So I go take care of business.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
There is a big push for us to be everything to everybody. Part of this comes from the notion that Yoga is for everybody, and it truly is. However, not every yoga class is for everybody. We stand firm in our belief that the right people will be attracted to what we’re doing: namely, we are totally okay if your abs aren’t sore when you leave, even if a lot of people will think it means Yoga isn’t “working.” We are totally okay if people find us boring, uncool and unsexy. We still think we’re pretty awesome.

I’m an athlete by training, and I spend time running half marathons and lifting heavy shit. But, when I’m in the Yoga studio, I’m here seeking balance. I’m here to fill my cup. Even when I work hard and sweat at The Yoga Harbor, it’s in a way that builds me up rather than breaks me down.

Years ago, I came to the realization that most people sitting across from me at the start of class come to Yoga because they are hurting. They have physical injury, illness, or limitations, they have stress or pain, they are overcommitted and not sleeping well. Even if they want to lose weight or get a cuter butt, there’s usually this deeper sense of longing. I love that I get to meet people right here, in a place of need. I love that I get to make their day just a little better.

Mother Teresa famously said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” I’m not here to change the world. But, I hope when you leave, you feel a little better than when you came. That’s what makes us shine.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles has no shortage of yoga studios and no shortage of high rent. It’s critical to ask, “Why am I doing this?” and “Why am I doing this here?” There are pockets of LA where studios are as common as Starbucks, and then there are studio deserts. There are also a growing number of larger corporations that have all-out Yoga oases, with classes every 10 minutes and saunas in the restroom.

For me, the answers were simple: I’m doing this because communities need local yoga studios, and I’m doing it here because there isn’t one.

If I could improve one thing in the process it would be a friendlier welcome from a regulatory standpoint. The paperwork and expense required to simply open a legal business in California is bordering on prohibitive for smaller operations. I’m grateful to the Torrance Chamber of Commerce for their advice, for the few friendly faces I found at city planning, for the attorneys at my husband’s office who picked through our lease and advised us on insurance, and for the fact that both my Father-in-Law and best friend are my accountants. I’m not naive when it comes to running a business, but I don’t know how I would do it without the support and advice I’ve received from my network.

Pricing:

  • $20 for 3 classes New Student Special
  • $16 Single Class
  • $125 Ten Class Pass (pay ahead, no expiration)
  • $114 Monthly Unlimited Pass (single month)
  • $99 Monthly Unlimited Membership (auto-renew)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tai Kerbs Photography

1 Comment

  1. Marge

    March 12, 2017 at 00:37

    I am so happy for you Bethany and proud of you that you are so strong, emotionally and physically.

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