70.2 F
San Fernando
Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

Healing Business

Just before Lunar New Year in late January, 50 people gathered as the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting at Harmony Family Yoga in Thousand Oaks, where Dennis Garcia, a man of Native American heritage, blessed the new business with a Chumash song. Two weeks later, FOY Life celebrated its grand opening in Agoura Hills, packing an equivalent number of attendees into its soothing, earth-toned space, adorned with statues of Thai buddhas and a medicinal tea bar serving 63 different flavors. Harmony Family Yoga and FOY Life join a clutch of new wellness-related businesses in Conejo Valley — including brand-new NU Med Spa in Thousand Oaks and OrangeTwist in Westlake Village. Also newly minted: Spa Relais at Westlake Village Inn Hotel. The hotel spa, which features 16 rooms offering such treatments as Vinoperfect radiance facial, Himalayan salt stone massage and Mediterranean seaweed wraps, opened March 16. “As the owner of the Westlake Village Inn, John Notter and his team continue to be visionaries for the business community of Westlake Village and the new addition of the Spa Relais to the hotel property is the newest chapter of that distinct vision,” Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Danielle Borja told the Business Journal. “Cannabis is the fastest-growing business, wellness is the second,” said FOY Life co-founder Deanna Farnell. Seemingly, yoga studios and spas have opened in Conejo Valley at a time when the market itself has been going through a healing process after a succession of stressful events. In the aftermath of the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties-sparked Thomas Fire in late 2017 came the November 2018 back-to-back Borderline Bar & Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and the Woolsey and Hill fires, which tore through Thousand Oaks and Calabasas. The Jan. 26 helicopter-crash death of sports icon Kobe Bryant, along with eight others, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianni, has also weighed heavily on locals, as the tragedy happened in neighboring Calabasas as the former Los Angeles Laker was en route to Newbury Park-based Mamba Sports Academy. Greater Conejo Chamber’s Borja said that, given the ordeals the area has endured in recent years, such wellness enterprises appear most welcome. “I can’t wait for our community to experience their teas, therapies, education and the community they are building,” Borja said. Growing yoga Yoga — a nexus of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines with roots in ancient India — has become big business in the United States. According to Statista, yoga-related revenue in the U.S. is projected to amount to around $11.6 billion by 2020, a significant increase from the 2012 figure, when it generated $7 billion in revenue. As of 2015, yoga classes make up the majority of the industry’s revenue. Market data from IBISWorld estimates that there are 34,687 yoga studios in the U.S., an increase of 5.4 percent across the past five years. The latest Yoga in America Survey, conducted by Yoga Journal, found that yogis spend $16.8 billion dollars on yoga classes, clothing, equipment and accessories every year, an increase of $6.1 billion since 2012. According to the study, 36.7 million Americans participated in yoga in 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. An estimated 80 million Americans are expected to try yoga in the coming years, the survey said. With yoga businesses proliferating, studios try to differentiate themselves from other yoga experiences by offering something distinctive, such as Harmony Family Yoga’s familial angle and FOY Life’s multi-pronged programming, which ranges from acupuncture to the medicinal tea house. In the Conejo Valley, there are roughly 30 different yoga and Pilates studios. Occupying 2,500 square feet at Thousand Oaks Plaza at 1655 E Thousand Oaks Blvd., Harmony Family Yoga supports programming for participants of all ages, including children and seniors. At Harmony’s Jan. 23 opening, owner Cici Bo delivered an impassioned speech about the community coming together and healing in the aftermath of the horrors which Thousand Oaks had recently endured. Bo later told the Business Journal that it was important for her to have Chumash representative Garcia at her opening ceremony. “This is where they used to live,” Bo said. “It meant something for me to invite him to come back and bless the space.” Formerly in television development in Los Angeles, the Thousand Oaks resident explained that Harmony, her first solo business venture, is an extension of her own personal yoga journey after giving birth to her children. As the name implies, Harmony Family Yoga concentrates on meditation and exercises that parents and their kids can do together. Weekly programming includes Gentle Flow and Lunch Flow classes, chair yoga, Family Yoga, Little Yogi and Toddler and Me. There is also Sound Healing class, which involves chakra techniques and crystal balls. Bo emphasized that yoga is not necessarily an elitist, luxury activity for the affluent. She pitches her 45-minute to 2-hour sessions at accessible prices of $20 per adult, $15 per child and $25 per adult with child. The goal is to allow for people seeking for an emotional release, exercise or relief from depression and PTSD to find a soothing environment that encourages healing. “Since we moved here, things have not stopped,” Bo said regarding her family’s relocation to Thousand Oaks from Studio City several years ago. “All of a sudden, we had the fire, the shooting, one after the other.” “We definitely want to increase awareness (of what yoga is),” Bo continued. “A lot people have this impression of a physical exercise. Most people get yoga from the gym. We’re trying to build a community to support you with meditation.” In terms of expanding her studio’s scope, Bo intends to cast a wider net. “We want to reach out to the senior communities, too,” she said. “They may not feel comfortable at the gym. Our space is creative for all ages.” Borja at the chamber noted that Bo is also co-chair of the Vitality, a health and wellness group that the chamber will launch this spring to connect and educate industry leaders. Dealing to healing At Agoura Hills’ FOY Life, the name stands for “fountain of youth.” As with Harmony, it represents a business born from a personal journey. Farnell was a successful businesswoman working for mid-sized property equity firm Gelt Inc. in Tarzana, winning industry awards, including one from the Business Journal. But just after her 50th birthday, she was diagnosed with auto immune hepatitis. The post-diagnosis journey led Farnell to seek out “about 50 different Western and Eastern healers” while still working full time and supporting three daughters. She also attended tea conventions. “I quit my job last year and FOY was born,” she said of her studio, which hosts 28 classes a week. The 3,462 -square-foot FOY Life is owned with partner Jeff McGinley, a former stock trader and wine connoisseur for Gelson’s and Whole Foods supermarkets. Both Farnell and McGinley left behind corporate jobs to start their all-in-one, one-stop shop for meditation in Agoura Hills Town Center at 30125 Agoura Road. “Deanna has created an environment that offers a full-service holistic approach with a wide array of services from acupuncture, light therapy and energy healing to more traditional experiences including facials and massages,” the chamber’s Borja said of Farnell. “We wanted to create a space a sense of relief. We do rejuvenation plans that are inclusive of everything we feel, even if they want to come in and drink a tea and read a book,” Farnell said. Each separate yoga chamber has a mood-setting blessing word hand-painted over its portal; words such as “Nirvana,” “Gratitude,” “Splendor,” “Believe.” The interior decoration comes largely courtesy of Farnell herself. “I’m a real estate girl,” she said. “I’ve spent 25 years managing big real estate projects.” To market the business, Farnell does cross branding, working on school programs with Las Virgenes Unified School District to partnerships with L.A. Fitness. At Westlake Village Inn, Spa Relais skews more European than East Asian in its therapeutic treatments. “I based it on my travels to Europe,” owner Notter told the Business Journal. “It took me seven years to develop this concept.” “The spa will immerse guests in a European lifestyle from the second they step through the doors where they will experience custom treatments, beautiful indoor and outdoor relaxation spaces and a private pool desk,” the chamber’s Borja said. With the coronavirus outbreak now affecting the Conejo Valley as well as the rest of the country, wellness studios are primed to help ease the psychological stresses of the new normal lifestyle. “With all these changes and interruptions to everyday life, it’s especially important to keep our bodies active and minds calm in order to maintain good health, joy, peace and harmony,” Bo said. “Let’s work through the stress and anxiety with yoga and meditation to help let go of fear and find peace within.”

Featured Articles

Related Articles