Yoga Sanctuary Rises in Palo Alto

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banquette

Yoga, after all, is the Sanskrit word for “union,” and Samyama means “binding.”

BCCI and its subcontractors built plenty of detailed, custom work into the building. “It was a very intricate design,” said BCCI Vice President Brad Gates. “There was a lot happening in that small space.”

Walls and doors had to come down to create a single-tenant use. Rooms are designed to flow from one to the next, tied together by common elements such as lighting, colors and bamboo. Walking through the center is supposed to feel like the inner odyssey that yoga practitioners experience. “There’s a real progression toward introspection once you enter the front door,” said Rob Zirkle, Brick principal in charge of the project and a Brick founder.

A two-story atrium lobby gives way to the retail section with wall-mounted shelving to the left and a curved, bamboo-veneer reception desk and display case to the right. Overhead, a graphic wall depicts the face of a meditating Patanjali, the sage credited with compiling words of wisdom in the Yoga Sutras centuries ago. The wall can give off a Las Vegas-style light show of shifting colors, a kind of calling card to passersby outside.

The curve of the reception desk and display case guides visitors toward the lounge, which one commenter on Samyama’s Facebook page described as “like the foyer to the Pearly Gates.” It features pods encircled with sheer drapes for individuals or small groups. The drapes can be retracted to open the room for workshops, presentations and other congregative uses. “This balance between the individual and the collective is a major theme throughout the center,” Zirkle said.

Upstairs, the collective approach fades and self-awareness eases in. A banquette’s upholstery runs along the wall and up the ceiling. The area “is intended to be a soft and enveloping, calm experience to help put students in the right frame of mind before a class,” Zirkle said.

The bright whiteness of the main studio can be momentarily blinding until the eye is drawn to a drip-pattern wall. The room has been soundproofed. Even the ventilation is silent. “We increased the amount of ducts feeding air into the area to reduce the air velocity and eliminate any noise,” BCCI project manager Mike Wall said. “It feels like you’re in the clouds.”

Yoga and Pilates studios are a fast-growing market in United States. From 2007 to 2012, revenue rose at an estimated average of 7.7 percent a year to $6.9 billion, according to industry-research firm IBISWorld. Berg’s business plan projects revenue from the retail shop, teacher training and other sources. “Not only can we pay the rent, pay the bills and pay everybody, but we can turn a profit,” he said.

Since almost the time he first immersed himself in yoga, Berg wanted his own studio. “I had 10 years to dream this place up in my head,” he said. His father, Paul, who won the 1980 Nobel prize in chemistry, joined him in forming an LLC called Dream in Light, of which the center is a part. Nearly finished, the Samyama Yoga Center already has “an energy of love,” Berg said. “That’s the whole reason I built this place. I was lucky to survive, and this is my way of giving back.”

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