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?
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.
“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.
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 an event management 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.
To be continued…