Samadhi Celebrates 15 Years

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Entering Samadhi...

Samadhi Celebrates 15 Years!

Hi, Greg here.

Can you believe it?

Samadhi opened on 1st November 2005. I know we are in a lockdown right now, but come on… a birthday is a birthday!

I wonder, can you help me to celebrate 15 years of samadhi yoga studios. Have you a memory, or a photo? Would you share it in the comments below?

Now:

Would you like to hear a very short version of the story of Samadhi? Let me see what I can remember…

On the 1st of November 2005 I opened Samadhi. Before Samadhi I had run a studio called Prana Yoga Centre, for nearly 3 years. Prana was beside the Stags Head bar, a big venue on two floors. Prana was ambitious, it was Dublin City’s first yoga studio, but it was more than Dublin was ready for in 2003. Two of us opened it, and pretty quickly I realised that a yoga business would struggle to support two households. In fact it might struggle to even support itself. Looking back I can see now exactly where we went wrong. We agreed to an outrageously high rent, I think the landlords saw us coming. We hosted large events which were often loss leaders. We paid teachers really well, often more than they brought in. In the few years I co-ran Prana I dug myself deep into debt. But I really struggled to let it go. I loved running Prana, I felt that I could make it work, I just needed to work a little harder, teach a few more classes, promote more. I felt that if Prana failed then I also failed. Its a classic scenario isn’t it? Mistakenly equating what we do with who we are?

Eventually I met my good friend, accountant and financial wizard Yitsun, for advice. I showed him the figures and asked him: Has my ship sunk?

Yitsun’s answer has always stayed with me:

“Oh Greg! Your ship HAS sunk. In sinking it has broken to pieces. These pieces are all scattered over the deep sea floor. Your crew? They have all drowned. And their bodies have been entirely eaten by fishes.”

That day I put the wheels in motion to close Prana.

Later on the same day, I met another good friend, Judith, another accountant and financial wizard. I possibly had my head in my hands. I told her of Yitsun’s prognosis. She smiled and said that she had been trying to tell me the same for months. I asked her what I could do. She said I should do it again, but with eyes fully open this time. I said I had nothing, in fact I owed €40,000, and starting a new business cost money. Judith said that I had the students, I had the expertise now, I just needed a venue. I said again that it all cost money, and to say I had none was an understatement.

Judith said:

“How much do you really need? A month or two of rent? Some money for fit out? I will give it to you, give it back whenever you have it.”

I have always been lucky to be surrounded by wise and generous friends, and I am forever grateful.

Neil, my designer friend, designed all of the Samadhi graphics as a favour. I remember meeting him mid-morning in a cafe to discuss design of the branding. Having looked at my fruit bowl while I ate breakfast, I brought in a nectarine as my design inspiration. You will notice the Samadhi colours are pink and orange, now you know where they came from!

As regards naming the studio, I probably should have called it something simple like Dublin yoga studio, but I must admit, search engine optimisation was not on my mind. I love the sound and feel of Sanskrit, and I thought that Samadhi was a wonderful aspirational name.Getting  decent google ranking has been a constant source of consternation ever since!

I searched all over the city centre to find a small and affordable space for yoga. I wanted somewhere affordable, so that I could focus on teaching good yoga rather than worrying about paying the rent. I found a great space, and was let down, found another space and was refused, found a beautiful third space beside Stephens Green, and was gazumped. Eventually I found a tricky venue on upper Baggot Street, on the top floor, up a lot of stairs!It would fit just 8 yogis, but it was a beginning. It was too far out, but I rented it for two months to get Samadhi started from Halloween to Christmas of 2005. It was just me and a couple of other teachers. I was doing everything, from teaching the classes to answering the phone, taking all bookings, building the website, mopping the floor is, handing out flyers, sticking up posters. I did not mind for one second, it was fresh and exciting, but was really quite all consuming.

One night I was persuaded to take the evening off, which felt so decadent to me. I went to a gig, I remember it, it was Gavin Bryars with Gavin Friday and the Crash Ensemble. I got my classes covered for the evening by a great teacher friend of mine. I met them in reception, and got them set up. The reception was a separate room which we had to lock while classes were on, so I gave them keys to open reception after class, and to let them selves out and lock up. The teacher forgot to take the keys, instead left them reception, which I locked up. I was at the gig, with my phone turned off. When I turned it back during the interval on I received a torrent of texts and missed calls. When the class ended the teacher realised that they were all locked out of reception, and aside from not being able to get their shoes and valuables, without keys they were locked into the building! They tried to the get the attention of passers-by on Baggot Street to no avail. Instead of waiting for my gig to end, they decided to take extreme action.

The final message I got was:

“All is ok, we just kicked the door in and got our stuff. All’s well that ends well!”

Well, I could not enjoy the end of the gig as you can imagine, so I left and went back to Samadhi, to see our 150 year old victorian reception door in pieces. What did I do? I glued it back together, and said nothing!

While we were in that space I kept looking, and eventually found a room on North Lotts just beside the halfpenny bridge. It could take 12 yogis, it was no-frills, but perfect for our needs.

Samadhi stayed on North Lotts for almost 2 years. We had such good times. It was just me and a couple of other teachers and the classes were for the most part booked out. It had bars on the windows and had just one toilet as a dressing area. But it was warm and cosy, and it had a ledge at hip height all around the walls so we could do great leg stretches! I had closed Prana thousands, and it allowed me the space to pay back a lot of those debts. 

There were two pubs opposite us on North Lotts. And I am sure that they had us sussed. Why? Because they always did their bottle recycling right when we lay down for Savasana. TWICE A NIGHT! Yes, we had 2 classes most evenings, and they would manage to soundtrack our Savasana with smashing class for each class!

After the summer of 2007, I decided it was time to look for somewhere a little larger, and a little bit snazzier. My friend Cathy Pearson and come across a quickie location at the far end of Temple Bar, chucked away in a lovely green courtyard. It had been a crash for seven years, but that business had wound up and it was sitting idle. I must admit when I went in to see it, I was a little disappointed. I had hoped it would be bigger. It really was not much bigger in floorplan to North Lotts, but it had space around the studio. It had two toilets. It even had a kitchen. Southside glamour! It was a two story building, there was no way I could afford the whole building, so I connected with a media company who took the ground floor, and Samadhi moved into the first floor. Some of you long timers will remember this. Where we now store props used to be a little room with a glass wall. That was actually reception for our first two years! But I get ahead of myself. Before we could move in the premises needed a lot of work. It has been empty for a while and felt quite rundown, and as a creche it had some child friendly features which needed to be changed. The toilets for example, they were all tiny, designed for five-year-olds legs! All of the windows had wooden bars on them, so that the little people would not fall out. What is now our reception was originally the baby room, and our cloakroom was the nappy changing area. The downstairs yoga studio was the toddler room, and the upstairs studio was for older children!

We settled into our new space nicely. We could take 16 yogis at a squeeze, and usually ran two classes per evening back to back. We ran workshops and lovely events, revelling in our newfound swankiness.At this time I was also doing a lot of Iyengar yoga training, I did my intermediate junior levels 1&2. I was pushing myself really hard, and I remember one day walking by Pen Corner off Dame Street, and my knee gave way. The short version of a long story was I tore my knee meniscus, and ended up having surgery. Recovery was long, and I remember having to teach sitting down for 2 months. The Samadhi students are a really caring and patient bunch, and did not complain.

In 2008 the economic crash crept over Dublin line a slow dark cloud. At first we felt that people recognised that yoga was essential for their health, but the truth of it was that the crash took its time sinking its teeth into the Irish yoga scene. I remember having some meetings with other studio owners. We tried to set up an association, I would say in 2008. The meetings could have been really fruitful, I had thought that we might be able to get preferential insurance rates as a group etc. But it ended up being more of a talking shop, discussing the best kind of meditation cushions etc. A year later many of those studios were closed.

the media company needed to move out of our building, and so I decided to take over the two floors. We had many full classes in our one room, so it seemed like a logical expansion. I must admit looking back that one larger room would have been better than two rooms, but I did not want to leave our cozy space, so we doubled our timetable, took on more teachers, more classes, more variety. 

Around this time I was living in Drogheda, and a friend up there had Drogheda’s only yoga studio. After a few years she wanted to leave the town, and asked me if I would take it over. So in June 2007 Samadhi Drogheda was born! 

 

 

To be continued…

Greg Walsh

Greg has been teaching yoga since 1999, and is still passionate about the practice and subject, over 20 years later.  He has a particular interest in the anatomy & physiology of yoga, and how it can guide yoga practice. Greg is owner and director of Samadhi Yoga Studios. When he is not teaching yoga, he is usually traveling abroad to teach yoga!

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Patricia

    Greg congratulations on your 15 year anniversary. Here is my samadhi story. I first came to Samadhi Yoga in Drogheda in 2007. My lovely friend Helen (RIP 2017) was the first Iyengar teacher in Ireland and told me that there was a ‘fella’ in Drogheda who practiced Iyengar yoga and whom she would recommend. Yes Greg that was you. When I started off in Drogheda there were probably three regulars on Tuesday nights. One stormy cold night I was the only person there. Greg was kind enough to offer me a one to one session. I can still remember how mortified I was that I was being such a ‘stifffie’. I had a break in 2008 due to various health issues culminating in .. a frozen shoulder!! When I was able to return to yoga Samadhi had blossomed with lots more teachers and students. Over the years Greg and colleagues have helped me not only with my shoulder but with my emotional wellbeing and fitness. Being an avid hiker, yoga helps with my strength and balance. After 10 years I’m still a stiffie but I keep trying !!!! thank you Greg and all your colleagues at Samadhi Drogheda. Patricia

    1. Greg Walsh

      Patricia, thank you for your lovely message! 13 years! You have been one of the pillars on which our Drogheda studio has been built. Your consistency and commitment to Tuesday nights is exceptional. I salute you!

  2. Michelle

    Greg,
    Massive congratulations on Samadhi turning 15!! I came to Samadhi as a result of my good bud Mary finding your class after extensive googling. In January 2016 we turned up to try a class and at the end of it we booked into a block of classes straight away. Since then I’ve not looked back. When another great friend Jessica moved home and was looking for a good yoga class there was only one choice! Yoga has become such a part of my life and strangely the experience of the last few months has made me feel more a part of the yoga community than ever before. Your easy-going manner and good humour unite people Greg, even Zoom can’t take that from you! So Happy Birthday Samadhi and thanks for everything 🧘‍♂️🙌🏼🧘‍♀️

    1. Greg Walsh

      Thank you for your lovely message Michelle! I remember that first class, we hit it off right away. That is nearly 5 years ago now OMG. I look forward to the next five!

  3. Gwen

    Congrats Greg, an amazing achievement. I don’t know where 15 years went. It’s not that long ago you were torturing us, I mean adjusting us in Parnell Square. May the next 15 years be good to you. Gwen x

    1. Greg Walsh

      Ah Gwen, the cold and dirty old Matt Talbot Hall! Its apartments now. But it was ours for a time. I remember all your pals used to come. Before yoga was cool!

  4. Brigitte Berg

    How nice to hear some more details of the last 15 years Greg! I looked forward to the next part of the story. You/Samadhi have added so much to my life in these last 15 years- what a gift, thank you. I have loved all the locations from Lott Lane all the way to Temple Bar. Lott Lane was a cool period- so small and cosy ! I am cringing somewhat at the memory of that Baggot Street class where we all got locked in and were hanging out the window afterwards trying to shout at passers-by to help us get out. What a stress it must have been for you! Huge congratulations to you and thanks for all the memories in all the studios, on the Aran Islands, up at the spa I can’t remember the name of, in Norway, and last but not least now on Zoom xxxxx

    1. Greg Walsh

      And thank YOU Brigitte. you have opened so many doors for me, with all of our lovely Norwegian yoga trips. And I remember your first class in Prana, I reckon your hips have never been the same again…!

  5. Lorna

    I came to yoga later in life, in a way, to better manage my stress. Better late than never! I cannot recommend Iyengar style practice enough, particularly for beginners. Thank you Greg because there is no ego associated with your skill level and all are welcome to your studios. I’ve been fortunate to get my foundation practice at the institute in New York. You could not believe my delight when I would travel home to little ol’ Drogheda and find an excellent yoga class and teacher. Not only that, I found that it was an old acquaintance. Ohhhh….…how you have aged well, Greg 🙂
    So happy to have found you & Samadhi. You have established a beautiful community. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I’m so grateful to have Samadhi in my life.
    P.S. I think you have handled this whole covid business and the online practice magnificently!!!

    1. Greg Walsh

      Lorna, thank you for your kind words. It has been great to reconnect after so many years. Our Drogheda yogis rock.

  6. Jessie

    Greg, finding your classes (I remember North Lotts!) was nothing less than life-changing. For so many meandering, kinda directionless years, Samadhi drew me back again and again with the real warmth and kindness of a home, a family, the best of friends, the most wonderful teachers. Your description this morning of ‘samadhi’ as a joyful stillness was perfect…although in your classes you always manage to combine blissful stillness with just the right amount of joyous chatter! Doing teacher training with you in 2011 was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done, ditto all the retreats on Aran, Farmleigh, Croatia…. I feel so lucky to have been with you for all of those times. Words can’t do justice to you Greg! So thank you – and happy birthday Samadhi – the original and the best XXXXX

    1. Greg Walsh

      Ah Jessie, I think I have something in my eye, I need a tissue! So many good memories.

  7. Ruth Creighton

    Greg it was lovely to have joined the class this morning, a positive of Samadhi’s virtual world is that I get to join your classes again! A trip down memory lane that started in Sougia & has taken me through Prana & all of Samadhi’s locations! (with plenty of gaps in practice) Wise words this morning – I hope I think on them often 🙏

    1. Greg Walsh

      We are old-timer-yogis it seems Ruth! The Sougia years, such good times. The Lotos breakfasts.
      Thanks for coming back again and again!

  8. Mary

    Great story Greg. You have created a beautiful space and great studio. congratulations on making the studio a success. Enjoy your big birthday and wishing you everything you desire for the future. Mary.

  9. Mary Harris

    Hi Greg, Thanks for the lovely classes today to celebrate 15 years and for adapting and embracing this new way of teaching class. I too have been around since Dame Lane, Baggott St (what I remember about that location is the lovely twinkling lights you had strung up around) and now that oasis of calm in Temple Bar. Hope I’ll be still be around for the next 15 year celebration! Thanks for the yoga,
    Mary Harris
    P.S. have a photo which I’ll post when I find it of Melanie taking maybe the first outdoor yoga class in Temple Bar.

    1. Greg Walsh

      Mary, I forgot that you came onboard during the Prana years! I have always enjoyed our chats. I look forward to another 15 years of them!

  10. Lotta

    I was living in Dublin 2003-2005 and found Prana Yoga Center probably through Google. I’ve done some gymnastics earlier so really liked all the headstands and different balance positions. I went to your classes in the big venue beside the Stags Head bar and the smaller place on Baggot Street – there was a nice cappuccino place close to it too. 😊 Your classes were a bit different every time, so it was interesting to see what was coming up on each class. I realized that I slept so much better after doing yoga and felt that it was easier to manage stress and it all definitely supported well-being. You put people in the good mood and smile on their face even if the positions are difficult and one cannot do them that well first. Seems that you care for everyone. So I really missed your yoga classes after moving back to Finland and tried ashtanga yoga in Helsinki some time, but didn’t like it that much. That’s why I was really glad when I saw Samadhi was going online and I booked the first class right away of course! At least something good about coronavirus I thought.. Hope Samadhi keeps providing online classes in the coming years too. It’s a pity I don’t have a picture of the yoga studios but I still have this T-shirt saying Without Prana there is no life so I post it here with the picture of me in Dublin in 2005. Thank you so much Greg and Happy Birthday Samadhi! <3

    1. Greg Walsh

      Lotta, it is so great to be able to reconnect with you. I cannot believe you still have the Prana t-shirt I will have to dig mine out and we can have a Prana fashion show in class! thank you for your kind words, it means so much.

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