Photo: © 2010, lil omm
Yoga and The Business of Life
Clear-eyed commitment to practice is prized by a Washington DC community and its families
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
lil omm yoga: 4830 v street, nw washington, dc 20007 (behind blacksalt)
lil omm on the web
Yesterday The Magazine reviewed Yvon Chouinard who began his work in the world by making the tools he needed, tools that didn’t exist before he made them. Since that time, his company Patagonia has itself become a tool for change, and an education in successful business that is both sustainable and ethical.
Today we’re speaking with another inspired business innovator and community leader. Pleasance Lowengard Silicki is the founder and owner of a family based yoga studio in Washington DC.
lil omm came into being because like Chouinard, Pleasance couldn’t find what she needed. She didn’t default to thinking she was wrong about what she wanted or what was possible. Instead of conforming to limited options, she accepted the challenge of vocation and took her practice to the next level. Pleasance invented the kind of studio she – and, it turns out, many other families – really needed and wanted.
The Magazine of Yoga So you have classes for people of all ages?
Pleasance Lowengard Silicki That’s right. We have students from age 6 weeks old to a 96 year old who comes to the senior class.
At this stage in our lives, with young families, our class style allows us to remain in our practice at all times since many of us aren’t able to have a typical 90 minute practice anymore!
TMOY Where did you get the idea for your business? Was it lifelong dream, did it morph out of something else you were doing, or arrive like an inspiration?
Pleasance I saw a void in community.
Once I was pregnant, I didn’t really fit in to the DC yoga scene anymore. I was having a really special pregnancy experience and wanted a community to relate to about the changes.
I loved prenatal yoga at each studio I went to but it was never the focus – and since we have no family here, I really needed to connect.
I researched didn’t find anything that really felt right. That’s when I decided to open my own prenatal yoga center. Then of course I had my baby and started teaching mom and baby classes. Now she’s a toddler so we have toddler classes!
I realized that all families need a home to practice at whatever stage they are at. At this point we have many adult students with grown children.
TMOY Did everything just fall together?
Pleasance It took me over a year to find a space. I taught at the local Lululemon for a year or so before the studio opened. I started teaching prenatal and mom/baby and itsy bitsy to other moms who were interested. That was about all I could handle.
We started getting more requests but I couldn’t teach more classes. I had little childcare myself.
Then I had trouble registering people and the air conditioning at the place we used didn’t work well – clear signs to me that we had outgrown our spot and needed a new one. Then the hunt began for a home for lil omm!
TMOY How did it come to be “mostly moms”?
Pleasance I wanted to work with and learn from other moms who were also trying to find balance. We wanted to create a community where we would be comfy leaving our kids with our like-minded moms, trying to lead an intentional life.
It made the most sense for this community that we work together to cut down costs of childcare. I want to work and raise my daughter, so how do you do that? Open a yoga studio where your children are welcome and we swap for each other.
Also, I have had teachers drop their kids at my house and I have dropped my daughter at their houses when we have needed childcare, some of us will gather our kids up and go to local library or take walks with double strollers with our kids.
The amount you get paid and have to pay for childcare when you teach yoga doesn’t always make sense.
Photo: Pleasance and Saylor
TMOY Shiva Rea often had her son with her when I took her trainings at Kripalu. Are there any unusual details for you to think about as a teacher with your baby in class?
Pleasance It’s important to check in with the stage your child is in. For example, if they are super clingy then it’s hard for them to hear your voice when you are teaching. We honor that and support each other by helping take the children out of the studio when they’re in that stage.
TMOY Any favorite anecdotes about lil omm?
Pleasance First mom and baby class I ever taught Saylor cried almost the whole time and finally I just had to sit down and nurse her while teaching. She, of course, was the only baby crying that first day!
Tomorrow, part two of our interview with Pleasance Lowengard Silicki, the founder of lil omm. We’ll find out how Pleasance keeps her energy up!
TMOY I know you have a huge joy in the community of people who share this dream with you. Any shout outs?
Pleasance With deep, deep heartfelt gratitude and love, I want to thank the TEAM of friends, family and lil omm teachers who helped opened the doors to this community based studio where all people are welcome to practice yoga in and inclusive way.
There is no way that lil omm would have opened without the commitment of Mel Silicki (Georgetown Development Corporation) who did the interior renovations and worked with Primed For Design on creating a warm and cozy space for us to play!
And also, co- director of lil omm yoga, Kristin Maresca who is brilliant, kind, loving and generous with all of her teachings and in her love and passion for yoga, motherhood, and life.
A special, special thank you for all that you do and all that you are.
Don’t miss today’s Profile companion post A Small Slice of the Universe – a love letter from a mother who found a real life line and a lot of love at lil omm.
We may publish any content, comments or ideas sent to us.
Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.