- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One can practice yoga anywhere. At Dupont Circle’s Tranquil Space Yoga, people are practicing a lifestyle.

With yoga rooms on three floors, a tea lounge, a spa and custom-made clothing and other items for sale in a boutique, Tranquil Space (www.tran quilspace.com) has come a long way from its location a decade ago in the living room of creative director Kimberly Wilson.

“I really wanted to approach yoga as a lifestyle,” says Ms. Wilson, 35. “I wanted people to know about the whole aspect of making yoga a bigger part of your life. If someone just wants to do yoga, that is fine, too, but I want people to realize that yoga can be so much more.”

Apparently, there is a need for that lifestyle. More than 700 students a week come through the doors of the studio at 1632 17th St. NW, which opened in May 2008. At the Dupont location (Tranquil Space also has smaller studios in Bethesda and Arlington), people take classes in the earth, bamboo and sky studios; shop the boutique; drink tea and eat cookies. There are yoga retreats, charity events and a monthly book club.

“Washingtonians can really use a place like this,” Ms. Wilson says. “It is so interesting to see people come in all stressed out from all sorts of jobs. They might start out on the mat with their BlackBerries, but they leave feeling so much lighter. It is critical to have a place to go to feel grounded.”

Spa manager Brooke Hafner started out as a yoga student at Tranquil Space. She says she was attracted to the lifestyle aspects of the studio. Now she’s happily employed there.

“It is definitely not just a yoga studio,” she says. “There are all kinds of community activities going on here.”

Tranquil Space has a number of special events scheduled for the summer, leading up to the studio’s 10-year birthday bash on Oct. 30. Saturday featured a summer solstice soiree as well as a yoga class, with proceeds from the class benefiting the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security guard who was killed at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum earlier this month.

Upcoming July events include workshops on achieving balance and finding creativity.

Ms. Wilson says she tried to put her personal values into every aspect of Tranquil Space. Even when the classes were being held in her tiny living room, she would make sure there were scented candles, inspirational quotes and a warm fire in the space.

After conducting classes in a nearby church for a few years, Ms. Wilson had the opportunity to move the studio to its current location, which she says was in horrible shape at first.

“Pigeons were living in it,” Ms. Wilson says. “It was really just a big concrete slab. It has been fun to see the transformation.”

Now there are skylights and eco-friendly materials. Old floor joists have been reclaimed as boutique shelving, and old barn siding lines some of the walls. Studio flooring is made from recycled materials (wood from an old Virginia barn) or sustainable materials (cork and bamboo). Linens at the spa are made of bamboo, and the pillows that line the seating in the tea lounge are stuffed with kapok, an all-natural fiber from the seed pods of the kapok tree. The studio also plants a tree for every class pass sold.

On the third floor, the spa features everything from psychotherapy to hot stone massage to green-tea face treatments.

Because Tranquil Space is a community, it is important to support others, Ms. Wilson says. For example, class fees in the studio’s karma yoga program benefit a variety of charities. The studio also promotes volunteer opportunities at many local organizations, including animal welfare groups and groups that help women.

“Social consciousness is a huge portion of Tranquil Space values,” Ms. Wilson says. “We strive to make a difference daily through our contributions to the causes close to our hearts. We believe in helping create a tranquil space in our society.”

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