Tipsy at a wine-tasting event at a Colorado Springs golf course celebrating her 26th birthday in February 2014, Alia Sebben told her parents, grandparents and brothers that she was opening a yoga studio. They challenged her to write a business plan. She did.
That plan now lives as Amana Yoga Boulder, a 3-year-old yoga studio at 949 Walnut Street in downtown Boulder, which offers 35 classes each week ranging from yin yoga to prenatal yoga to vinyasa flow. It’s also offering its first yoga teacher training this fall.
Uncovering and then voicing a deep-seeded passion for teaching yoga to her employers at Lululemon — where she once envisioned a long career — at a developmental review just weeks before that wine-tasting event led to a surprise two-weeks notice, which left Sebben, then 26, staring her deepest passion in the face.
She decided to leap, opening shop in downtown Boulder in a space once occupied by former Boulder yoga staple Om Time in August 2014. Amana Yoga moved to its Walnut location in May 2016.
Sebben and Amana Yoga are part of the fabric of locally-owned Boulder downtown businesses, which sustain Boulder’s character.
As Boulder’s increasing commercial and residential demand pushes property values, taxes and rents ever higher, businesses such as Amana Yoga face new challenges, and opportunities.
Sebben says her per-square-foot downtown rent jumped 33 percent from 2014 (over both locations). The space’s drop-in rates will soon increase from the current $17 as it adapts to Boulder’s increasingly rarified climate.
Despite downtown’s clear upswing, its local character is holding steady, according to numbers from the Downtown Boulder Partnership, a nonprofit that oversees the Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District, which stretches from 9th Street to 20th Street west and east and Spruce Street to Canyon Boulevard north and south.
As of February, locally-owned businesses accounted for 115 of 141 downtown retail stores and 91 of 106 downtown restaurants, according to Terri Takata-Smith, a Downtown Boulder Partnership spokeswoman. Those ratios — which equate to 82 percent and 86 percent, respectively — have remained consistent over the past decade, she says.
Amana’s electronica roots
A focused yoga practice doesn’t stay on the mat for long.
As a CU student in the mid-aughts, Sebben’s party life jumped to a five-days-a-week routine, speckled with electronica shows at The Fox and Red Rocks.
By her junior year in 2009, she faced cratering grades, anxiety, and a life a bit in chaos. She went to a CU doctor who suggested Xanax — a friend’s recent bad experience with the drug helped set off alarm bells. She called her father, who suggested she try yoga or meditation instead.
She chose yoga and began attending classes at CorePower Yoga and 24 Hour Fitness everyday. Her life and grades began to turn around, and she graduated with a B.A. in Art History in 2011. She moved to Portland, Oregon, and began working for Lululemon.
She moved back to Boulder in late 2012 and began teaching yoga in 2013 after completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training. She opened her studio just a year later.
A yoga teacher at a class Sebben attended recalled a trip to Amana Colonies in Iowa, and the name resonated. She looked up Amana and found it means integrity, truth, and decided to make it her studio name.
Just as she faced her deepest passion and leapt in pursuit, her goal for Amana is to help others live their truth. “That’s my mission in life,” she says. “To help others learn how to become their own best teacher, to be in integrity with what they’re giving to the world.”
So often yoga carries an overly serious vibe, offering practitioners a gel of sincerity and earnestness to swim through.
Sebben recognizes this and, in addition to creating a balanced, peaceful space at Amana, kick-started Hustle & Flow, a one-hour yoga session set to hip-hop music on Saturday mornings at Boulder’s Rayback Collective.
The $15 ticket includes a kombucha, beer or other drink. The next Hustle & Flow event will be in September. Check Amana’s Facebook page for details.