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Meet Claire Hartley of Rising Lotus Yoga in Sherman Oaks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Hartley.

Claire, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I began my journey and still remain a Yoga teacher. I had come to LA from New York in 2001. I completed two training programs in Yoga and was teaching classes all over town, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and in the Valley. I began to develop my own passion and style of teaching. I was and remain committed to bringing yogic philosophy into a vinyasa flow setting. It was the dharma or the reason of why we practice yoga, what we’re searching for as people and why it can be so difficult to find peace or ease on a regular basis that I wanted to study and impart as I taught. Large ideas I know, but it has driven me and kept me passionate about this practice and its potential for over 20 years.In my hopping from place to place I began to hone my teaching skills. One of my main teaching jobs was at a studio in North Hollywood where I helped build a strong community of students. When the owners announced they were closing their space I felt drawn to find a way to hold this community together. Before that, I hadn’t given much thought to opening my own Yoga studio. During this time I had met and formed a friendship with another teacher, Daniel Stewart and we had started to run yearly yoga retreats together to Ojai. We had a similar passion for how we were approaching the teachings and our styles fit nicely together.

In my hopping from place to place I began to hone my teaching skills. One of my main teaching jobs was at a studio in North Hollywood where I helped build a strong community of students. When the owners announced they were closing their space I felt drawn to find a way to hold this community together. Before that, I hadn’t given much thought to opening my own Yoga studio. During this time I had met and formed a friendship with another teacher, Daniel Stewart and we had started to run yearly yoga retreats together to Ojai. We had a similar passion for how we were approaching the teachings and our styles fit nicely together.Right after the announcement of the studio closing I was driving along Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks past a small Yoga studio and saw a ‘For Lease’ sign on the building. The studio was closing, the owner was giving up the lease and it all clicked into place without it being too much of a consciousness decision. The space already had wood floors, was open plan, it needed a makeover but not a total overhaul. Somehow this made the move to apply for the lease less scary. I called my friend Daniel and told him about the space, again, I don’t believe we ever had a conversation before this on opening a business together! Sometimes you just have to look at the signs and take a leap of faith. That was November 2005 and we opened Rising Lotus Yoga in April 2006. Because I already had students in the neighborhood we opened our doors and were lucky enough to have people waiting at the door!

Right after the announcement of the studio closing I was driving along Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks past a small Yoga studio and saw a ‘For Lease’ sign on the building. The studio was closing, the owner was giving up the lease and it all clicked into place without it being too much of a consciousness decision. The space already had wood floors, was open plan, it needed a makeover but not a total overhaul. Somehow this made the move to apply for the lease less scary. I called my friend Daniel and told him about the space, again, I don’t believe we ever had a conversation before this on opening a business together! Sometimes you just have to look at the signs and take a leap of faith. That was November 2005 and we opened Rising Lotus Yoga in April 2006. Because I already had students in the neighborhood we opened our doors and were lucky enough to have people waiting at the door!

That was over 10 years ago. Rising Lotus remained on Ventura Blvd. for 8 years until we outgrew the space and parking became a major issue, our once sleepy block on the boulevard became a booming restaurant destination. We currently occupy a beautiful floor of a building on Magnolia Blvd, in Sherman Oaks. We have 3 practice rooms, a boutique and an office, and perhaps the best light of any yoga studio I’ve been in!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Is the road ever smooth?! Moving the studio in 2014 was a huge challenge, many roadblocks and many days of wondering if it was all worth it. I persevered with my belief that what we offer is worth creating a beautiful home for and yes, it was worth it!

Rising Lotus Yoga. – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What sets us apart is smart alignment in our vinyasa yoga classes coupled with seeds of wisdom and philosophy that we impart as we teach, to give the student something to think about as they leave the studio. And co-owner Daniel Stewart brings in Kirtan, which is the traditional Indian form of heart-opening expression through song, but he does it with a rocking western sensibility that we can all relate to.

I’m most proud of our students, in a society where we hear a lot that people are becoming distracted and more superficial my experience at the studio is the opposite. The people that come through our door are thoughtful, kind and full of attention. They put their phones away, and they fully commit to being with themselves, the community and the teachings for the time they spend with us.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is that your work energizes you and inspires you to discover more about yourself and the world that we live in. And it is also to do with service, I feel successful mostly when I feel I’ve been in service in some way. If you can serve really well, in whatever talent, job or interest you have, then you are successful. When I get to the end of my life I want to be able to look back and feel that I somehow, in some way helped make someone’s day a little better.

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