Swan River Yoga in Arabi celebrates anniversary

Jan 24th, 2014 | By | Category: Community
Swan River Community Center Co-founder Haiyan Khan performs an "upward-facing dog" pose at the Arabi yoga studio.

Swan River Community Center Co-founder Haiyan Khan performs an “upward-facing dog” pose at the Arabi yoga studio.

The Swan River Community Center celebrated its third anniversary Thursday night in their studio at 7011 St. Claude, #213.

Co-founder Haiyan Khan has been using the space to teach yoga classes on a donation-only basis since he and fellow co-founder Keith Porteous opened it in 2011. The studio was founded on the premise that teachers should teach for the sake of teaching and that students should not feel obliged to fork up a certain amount of money every time they use the studio. As such, the studio does not even have a suggested donation.

Swan River in Arabi began as a small community service project at the St. Bernard Community Center. When the project gained sustained interest from St. Bernard residents, Khan and Porteous decided to find a more permanent space. With the help of an interior design-savvy friend and a few micro-loans from France, they opened the new facility on St. Claude Ave.

Unlike Swan River’s other two locations in New Orleans, the population that comes to the Arabi studio is generally new to yoga. So instead of finding ways to differentiate themselves from competing studios, their marketing efforts are “about raising awareness about yoga itself, which fits right into our vision,” according to Khan.

In addition to passing out flyers and relying on word of mouth to draw students, the Swan River Community Center has recently launched its “3×3 Challenge.” The goal of the challenge is to get yoga newcomers to practice three times a week for three months. Whereas coming to the studio for a one-time trial cannot guarantee that a student will immediately feel the gratification that comes with sustained practice, the “3×3 Challenge” implores them to build habits and notice their improved mental and physical wellness.

As the center continues to grow in the coming years, Khan sees himself playing less of a role in its day-to-day operations.

“My vision is to make this a community place [that is] run by the students,” said Khan, who hopes his students will take a more active role in everything from maintenance to marketing. He said the community will ultimately have to decide, “is this of value to us?”

To complement their daily yoga classes, Swan River also regularly hosts community events giving interactive lessons on such topics as improv acting and belly dancing.

Thursday’s celebration began with a silent auction and an all-levels yoga class followed by a “delicious dinner.”

The Swan River Community Center has classes Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m. and Friday through Sunday at 10 a.m.

For more information on the Swan River Community Center, visit www.Arabi.swanriveryoga.com.

For more information on Yoga Lagniappe, visit www.yogalagniappe.com.

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