The ‘Good’ of Ocean Beach: New Yoga Studio ‘reUnify’ Already a Fixture of the Neighborhood

by on September 25, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

All photos from reUnify

Nikki Rae Bose: “OB has a rawness to it.  There’s a specific, open-hearted free culture here where anything goes.

By Brett Warnke

The first thing you notice when you meet Nikki Rae Bose, besides her shower of golden hair, is that you’re possibly talking to Jessica Rabbit.  The voice is Nikki:  intense, deep, a charming whisper that invites you in like a flower.

It’s fitting then that a “Flower of Life” orb sits atop her new yoga studio on Bacon and Voltaire, reUnify.  That laser engraved piece was part of a collaboration with Justin Warchol of Warchol Woodworking because Nikki seems to know everybody.

Nikki Rae Bose

That beguiling voice of Nikki’s has brought packs of new yogis to reUnify since her April launch.  She went from Point Loma’s best kept secret, teaching crowded classes around the neighborhood, to opening her own studio.  Her husband calls her the “Mayor of Ocean Beach.” She does seem to know everyone.

Nikki is as social as one of our parrots.  You’ll see her walking down Bacon Street greeting, grinning, and doing something very at odds with our age—listening.  Her presence, so intensely personal and authentic, is almost mysterious, as if she were an old friend you’d just met.

When you’re with her, for five minutes or an hour long practice, she speaks but almost forcefully listens to the words you’re saying.  Marrying a Midwestern unsentimental courtesy to OB’s aggressively open lifestyle, Nikki has become a fixture of the neighborhood, living here nearly a decade after growing up in Chicago.  She attended a city school near Wrigleyville and was admitted to UCSD where she studied Molecular Biology.

But working with prenatal genetic testing, likely the goal of so many parents for their kids today, didn’t cut it as a career for her.   Sequencing genomes to see if there were any deficiencies in pregnancies may have been a solid Sorrento Valley gig, but after five years she left it all.

“I’d come home from a good paying job absolutely exhausted.  But when I did yoga, teaching or practice, I just felt uplifted.  I think you should be uplifted by what you do each day. I found what I was supposed to do,” she said.

Working through 500 hours of training, Nikki has been teaching yoga since 2012.  After a trip through Asia, she discovered her calling as a teacher.

The energy she has put into reUnify has brought others along.  Her retired neighbor, Robert, believed in her so much he volunteered to paint her new studio for free.

“I bought him sandwiches and I just watched youtube how-to’s on how to build, how to piece this place together.  People here, the community, they just offered to help. People were stoked to help me grow. I worked on the marketing and the business end—not my strong points, to be sure, but it came together,” she said.

The site had at least two yoga studios previously and had been vacant from December until Nikki spoke with the landlord in February about her vision for reUnify.  Her husband ran the numbers and with a green light from his calculator, she felt confident enough to take the risk.

Preparing through March, Nikki hired Warchol to laser-engrave the “Flower of Life.”  As she prepared her future clients for the move, Warchol built her desk, created the cubbies, and a piece for the sign.  Adorning reUnify’s building is local landscaper Sam Deluna’s creation, a succulent garden with a built-in irrigation system.  The plants are flourishing.

On the March 30 at reUnify’s opening day party Nikki couldn’t fit her future customers inside the building.  Live local musicians played as food and chai waited for those who came to buy packages or just see what Nikki had put together.  After five hours she was ready for opening day.

April 1 her classes were small, but steady, some only 3-5 people.  They grew.

“We have these fears as business starters.  We all have the terrific moment of ego: Is it going to work?  Are people going to show up?”

I saw her in those days, teaching four classes a day, slowly walking through the streets wearing that broad smile.  She endured teaching 18 classes a week as she played the long-game, taught her new teachers her expectations, and prepared for a slow release of responsibility.

“I had so much stoke because this had become my life’s dream; I had all the energy for it.  The build was over. The teaching is my natural inclination so when membership numbers grew, I hired more teachers. I teach 11 classes a week now with 10 teachers.”

She cultivates talent like her succulents. She’s patient, attends their classes, and talks to them.  What does she look for?

“They had better know anatomy!  And they need to be authentic. They can be who they are and own it, resent it to the class.  For me, authenticity will make yoga teachers more relatable and not put us on some impossible pedestal.  We can all learn things from one another in my studio,” she said.

For Nikki, Yoga is a way of living, not simply the famous poses.  The word itself means “union,” which is why the studio is named “reUnify.”  Patrons enjoy the exercise and the effect of yoga poses on the asana or limbs she speaks about in her classes.  But it’s part of a larger practice including breath-work, meditation, styles of living, and ways of treating others.

“Yes, I think it is important to get people in the space, but every class we offer has a little breath work involved so that people understand that yoga is more than a downward facing dog,” she said.

Ocean Beach is a place for such a disposition.  Point Loma was a playground for the Theosophist idealists who modeled their buildings on Indian structures and worked towards ideals shattered by two-world wars and a Depression before selling off the property to the Christians.

San Diego became an early retreat for the ill, the tubercular, the health-crazed. The mild climes, tolerance, and meditative calm also turned the Point’s sheer cliffs into an artistic haven, busy with painters and writers trying to capture the steady beauty of the place and the Romantic wildness of the West.

“OB has a rawness to it.  There’s a specific, open-hearted free culture here where anything goes.  Self-expression is highly valued in this place. It’s important to feel free to express yourself.  In my studio, I’m going to cry, laugh, snot all over myself. It doesn’t matter here. You walk down the street:  That guy has no shoes. That guy has rainbow hair. We are good here.”

If you sign up, Nikki has a package where $3 of your package can go towards non-profits like Groundswell Community Project’s surf therapy for women in need.  Also, there is Sharda Yoga Center which offers yoga therapy to children at orphanages in Tijuana. Some of her own teachers sacrifice personal pay for this charitable projects.

For more information on $35 for 35 days go here .

(The OB Rag will be following up on these efforts with more information on how to get involved.)

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