When Vanda Ciceryova visited Highland Park last spring, she found that York Boulevard offered almost everything she was looking for in a community.
"We used to live in Echo Park and we wanted to be in a place that was a little bit quieter and safer than Echo Park," the Slovakian native said. "Highland Park is so great, it has this sense of community. Everybody knows everyone. In Brentwood, you don't know anyone. It's like, you live in these high rises. Here, you know the name of the neighbor's dog."
However, after one trip to the neighborhood, where she had coffee at Café de Leche and breakfast at HPK, she noticed there was one thing missing from York Boulevard--a yoga studio.
So, she decided to open one herself.
After searching the strip, she eventually found a handwritten sign advertising the space at 5118 York Boulevard. Last weekend, during NELAart's Second Saturday Gallery Night, Namaste Highland Park introduced itself to the community with an exhibit of Chinese-American artist Xu DaRocha's recent drawings and paintings.
Ciceryova said she has recruited instructors from her years as a Yoga practitioner, and has put together a roster of experienced teachers with "really sunny personalities."
"You just really want to hug them," she said.
Currently, Namaste is offering Yoga classes that can be paid for through donation. A full schedule of classes will launch when Namaste officially opens on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
Ciceryova said Namaste Highland Park will be a creative space, which will host art exhibits and adult education classes on "all things DIY."
She's also planning to plant ivy along the building's facade to brighten the atmosphere, "so it doesn't look like a prison."
Behind Namaste's spacious studio is a backyard area where Ciceryova hopes to install raised garden beds, and eventually host urban gardening classes.
"Anything that's related to anything cool," she added.