When Cheryl first ventured into a yoga studio about twenty-five years ago, believe it or not there were only three or four yoga studios in Los Angeles. She was a psychotherapist who had been searching and studying spiritual pathways for a long time, so when a friend asked her to class at the first YogaWorks studio with Erich Schiffmann, she gladly went along, not knowing how dramatically that class would change her life.
“I was hooked right away,” she says. “I wasn’t in my body, I was disconnected with parts of myself that I had disowned for a long time. Yoga asana brought me home to myself, physically, mentally and essentially. And I wanted more.”
Delving deeper into her practice with Ana Forrest, Cheryl began noticing how yoga started to shift her life.
“The practice began taking me places that I hadn’t gone in my own psychotherapy, and began unlocking what I had held in my body for a long time.”
When Ana launched her first teacher training at the end of 1999, she asked if Cheryl wanted to join.
“At the time, I didn’t have a burning desire to become a teacher and really only considered it because Ana was asking,” she says. “But through the teacher training, my love of yoga expanded.”
After the training ended, Cheryl began teaching yoga privately, but was still seeing patients through her psychotherapy practice most days. Knowing the changes yoga brought to her own life, she was itching to expand her teaching.
“The talk therapy wasn’t getting people where yoga was getting me,” she says, “and so I decided to open a yoga studio. I had no idea what an amazing journey it would take me on; I just wanted to help create a community that would hopefully begin to mend people’s sense of separation.”
Opening GODA Yoga in 2001 was a gamble.
“At the time, downtown Culver didn’t look anything like it does today and there were still only a handful of yoga studios throughout Los Angeles. When we were building out the space, we put a sign in the window and just hoped people would come.”
GODA Yoga officially opened its doors on September 12th, 2001, a moment when people needed a healing community more than ever before.
Over the next fifteen years, Cheryl saw her dream realized as she grew the studio into the incredibly warm and accepting community which would eventually become SoulPlay Yoga in 2016, where she still teaches.
“I'm grateful I was able to pass my life’s work onto our new owner, Nathania, and I’ve been happy to be a part of the team through the transition. I feel incredibly proud of the community I helped build, and I love Nathania’s energy and am excited to see where she takes the studio next!"