February 6, 2014
Instead of complaining that “yoga is still a hushed word in Oslo,” Tonje and Kelsi decided to do something about it. After initially meeting on Twitter, they soon came up with a plan to open their own studio and café in the middle of Grünerløkka.
Fall was approaching fast and I had just arrived to Oslo. After 3 years in the tropics I was slowly getting used to the frosty mornings and the darker evenings, but I longed for a community to warm me up. As a half Norwegian, yet somehow an expat, I began – like anyone would – meeting up with anyone and everyone.
A strange string of coincidences happened and Tonje and I were introduced on Twitter. As the odd one and forward person that I am, I took the step and invited her out to grab hot chocolate. We sat there sharing our desires to start something with Yoga, infusing what we had learned overseas with something new in Oslo to form a community of like-minded individuals. The next few months were filled with different yoga classes, enjoying meals around the city and finding that community we missed. While Tonje was away for Teacher Training we started to play around with the idea that we would start something when she came back. A loose wish and hope that could have easily been forgotten had actually now been embedded in us, a seed of determination and ambition. On April 3rd on a cool morning we sat down on the pink sofa at Café Fedora, with a big pot of tea, and things began to become clearer. What did we want out of this experience, and how did we want our students and community to feel when they were with us in our classes? This was a vital point for us. This was our foundation. A mixture between goals and desires, and wrapped up with what we felt others longed for. A place to call home, a place of joy and bliss, a community and a place of yoga. What was expected to take a year to complete and fulfill, took merely 8 months.
Yoga is still a hushed word in Oslo. Perhaps a word attributed with a stigma of having to be vegan or hippy or a stay at home mother who can afford the luxury of yoga around noon. We wanted to break this concept, we wanted yoga to be accessible to those who had never tried it yet had the curiosity, and to those who loved it and wanted more. A fine balance between being marveled at our own bodies capacity and tuning into a balanced self.
We wished for Leela Yoga to reflect Grünerløkka, a mirror image of the young and ambitious generation that walks the streets, and the fresh inspiration that is hidden on every corner. This little nook of Oslo has changed considerably in the last decade, and we wanted to be apart of this evolving culture. The customers and students that walk through our doors are the perfect mix of Oslo: eclectic, adventurous and motivated. For us the decision to open up a studio, and whether we would have a café or not was difficult, but we didn’t think twice about having it located in Grünerløkka, we knew we wanted to be surrounded by entrepreneurs, artists and a young crowd of business professionals. What we didn’t expect was that people would travel from all corners of Oslo to visit us. And for that we are grateful. And being grateful is what we feel fuels this adventure of ours. Grateful for the neighbors who grab their morning coffee with us, grateful for the new yoga students who tries their first headstand, and grateful for the community and friendships that are formed here everyday.