Today we’d like to introduce you to Jodie Smith.
Hi Jodie, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am a 500 + HR Yoga Teacher and Owner of The Zen Den L.A. a brand new Black owned Yoga Studio in Pasadena. Every experience I’ve had through my life journey has led me to truly manifesting my dreams and living my best life even if it isn’t always easy or uncomfortable. To be quite honest, the development of my story & who I am today is still in progress, I’m human, I make mistakes, I’m unorganized and most times I’m scared. That transparency is my whole story and how I came to be who I am today. In a previous version of my life story, I was a “successful” product development corporate robot, complete with a fabulous salary, celebrity elbow-rubbing, a toxic young marriage, 60 extra lbs of unhealthy weight, and the crumbling mental health to match. After what seems like a lifetime, I began to center my happiness, my self -worth & my health and through the process I found yoga. Not only did I find yoga but I found the pure spiritual experience of finding the God within me. As I began my internal journey, my entire external world was changing and being rebuilt around me. I found the God within me through the movement of my instrument, my body, my breath & my words. Yoga teacher training only accelerated this and before I knew it, I had divorced my ex-husband, left my Corporate career, started losing weight, a vegan sabbatical, and so on and so forth. When I started teaching, I noticed that all of the spaces I was teaching in were very caucasian, every single class was a mono-toned reflection of the zip codes the beautiful studios were located in. So in 2017 I decided to start working at my first yoga studio and created my first ever class intended for black people without necessarily say as much, I called it Soul Flow and only played Neo Soul, RnB, Oldies and the like A.K.A. Black music to open up a safe space for my melanated yogis of color and others who support. At the time funny enough, the studio was owned by a white woman named Karen (so you already know what time it was) but regardless of the usual demographic of the studio, I began seeing Black and Brown people from all over the valley flock to class often times completely filling up the room. Over time I eventually moved on from that studio for the exact reasons you can probably imagine and began teaching children and adults from 15 months to 99 years old with a focus on groups of Color.
Today I am the proud owner of my own Black a$$ yoga studio that runs above a Black owned Cafe, The Zen Den L.A. holds space for all people of color and the allies who support us as well. Every experience I faced in the past has led me to my present and every experience in my present is nurturing my future.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I believe and have always believed that everything happens for a reason, every experience I’ve had has molded me into the being that I am now. Through mental health issues, job loss, divorce, financial struggle, imposter syndrome, a pandemic, a pandemic baby, etc. etc. etc. there are three questions I always ask myself and those are “How is this teaching me to do better? How will this help me in the future? and lastly “Is it something I can even control?” Often times those questions help me to reframe the true nature of the struggle because even within struggle a choice has to be made; Do I continue to strive for what I want? or Do I stop and go the safe route? The more I strive through the struggle the more worth it the WORK is in the end. Obstacles and struggles can only stop us if we allow them to have the power to do so.
As you know, we’re big fans of The Zen Den L.A. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
In 2022 I opened up The Zen Den L.A. an intimate Black Owned boutique yoga studio & healing space located in Pasadena, CA (adjacent to L.A.) created to allow ‘Being real while you heal’. Curated with the preservation of Black Mental Health in mind, our yoga classes are designed to keep you grounded, included and perfect in the form of self you currently exist in. Making healing & yoga accessible to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with the practice is a very important part of welcoming people into the world of yoga. We combine intentional neo-soul, RnB & Black music to reach an out of body level of peace & release. We are different because to put it quite simply, I prioritize space in class for Black people, people of color & our non-melanated ALLIES. This is not a space to judge those who are new to the practice due to lack of experience or exposure. The Zen Den L.A. provides the experience and the exposure. With a plethora of offerings The Zen Den L.A. Offers Private Yoga Sessions, Brand Collaboration, Corporate Yoga Events and Classes, Kids Yoga, Retreat teaching and More!
The Zen Den L.A. is a love letter to my people, to heal, to be free and to explore the depths of who you are. Even if it’s different than who you’ve ever been.
We are currently looking for Donors to raise capital to rent our space for the entire year! For more information or to donate, please visit www.TheZenDenLA.com.
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Honestly growing up, I was a pretty awesome kid. I went through a lot of shit but it thickened my skin to the point of being able to socially skate through my entire school career from Kindergarten to College. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum and had a damn good time doing it. Not a teacher nor a parent was able to waiver my determination of self to figure things out the exact way I wanted to even if it was the hard way. I was independent, loved being out of the house and even as a young kid, found myself at the center of several friend groups comprised of different types of people. As I do now, I loved nature then, always finding myself wandering away from wherever I was supposed to be to get lost in some bushes. I like to think of myself now as a more wise and developed version of my inner child. While I’ve always been self-sufficient growing up, I was going THROUGH IT emotionally eventually leading to a pattern of self-harm up until my teenage years. Yoga, Breathwork and allowing myself to be vulnerable have been the amazing tools I’ve used through the years to become the person I am today. Through everything no matter what age you are, know that you can change your story by deciding to pour into yourself and allowing yourself to be completely authentic to what you FEEL is real for you.
- Yoga Class Drop-In $22
- Private Yoga $80/Hr
- Corporate/Event Yoga $500/Hr and UP
- Private Home Yoga Session $120
- Kids 1:1 Yoga Session $65
- Email: TheZenDenLA@gmail.com
- Website: https://www.thezendenla.com
- Instagram: @MagicMelaninMama @TheZenDenLA
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=the%20zen%20den%20l.a.
- Twitter: @TheZenDenLA
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEL3anj322hMPhu7hsvdXbQ
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-zen-den-l-a-pasadena?osq=the+zen+den+la