I was honored to join sisters Dhyana and Syama Masla last month when they launched their first Ayurveda Supper Club at their Lower East Side yoga studio Stanton Street Yoga. From the moment I walked in the door the warmth and energy wrapped you up like a hug. Students had traveled as far away as two hours to participate in this celebratory yoga class followed by an ayurvedic dinner. This being my first time in the studio, I was intrigued and had to learn more. The sisters sat down with me to talk about yoga, ayurveda and their mom.
What lead you to create Stanton Street Yoga in NYC?
We were in Costa Rica doing our annual yoga retreat in 2011 and it was brought to our attention that a couple in New York City had a hotel and were looking to open a yoga studio to be on the ground floor - and they asked us to do it! At the time Boulder, CO was our home base as we traveled all around for workshops and retreats. We never ever thought we would live in such a big city. As much as we resisted, it was clear that we were pushing against the inevitable. It seemed clear that this was our next step in life and our careers. We moved to the city at the end of '11 and the studio held its grand opening in April of 2012.
As sisters do you share all roles at the studio or are you each responsible for certain aspects?
Initially we shared everything! Originally there were 24 classes on the schedule and we each taught 12. We have an amazing, complimentary sister dynamic in which somehow, with so much to do, when we do it together it feels effortless. In the beginning we would attend each other's classes every day just in case no one else showed up. (So sweet in retrospect!) Since January this year, Syama has taken a back seat with SSY to dive more into studying and teaching Ayurvedic nutrition and cooking. We now have an amazing manager, Lisa Bermudez, who rocks all the responsibilities with me - and an epic crew of 12 teachers!
You've lived a life surrounded by yoga & ayurveda so it seems natural to offer these supper club events. How was the response from your community for the first dinner?
These events perfectly combine both of our passions and purposes in this life.
Dhyana: I love sharing yoga. I believe that there is absolutely nothing more important than connecting to something ETERNAL in this world of constant change and evolution. I love how yoga, particularly Bhakti Yoga, is a path and a practice that can lead us to that connection. And once we have that connection we have the opportunity to connect with what is divine - God.
Syama: I have always had a strong affinity towards animals, acknowledging that just as we (humans) have souls, all sentient beings on this planet have the same spark of divinity within them. Through my Ayurvedic cooking classes I articulate the reality of how everything we eat transforms into who we are. Ayurvedic cooking has been an incredible way to first inspire people with incredibly nourishing and love filled food, and also to show people how we can be vibrant, satisfied and healthy on a plant based, cruelty free, vegetarian diet.
The community was thrilled! We received so many beautiful emails from attendees~ so heart-warming and encouraging. It is events like these that really build community. That is what we all are seeking!
What did you make and how did you decide to make these dishes?
Ayurveda is a very personal science acknowledging that no two bodies are the same. We simply cook with the cycles of nature. We look to see what is happening outside and balance it by the foods that we put inside. We chose the first menu as the summer season shifts to fall. Summer is hot and we usually go for lighter foods like salads and smoothies, as the cooler weather arrives we want more warm and grounding foods so the menu is a nice mixture of light yet grounding. Here's what we ate:
- Baked seasonal vegetables with Paneer
- Spelt bread (many gluten-free people claim spelt is ok on their system)
- Cilantro Chutney
- Vegetable Dal with red lentils, squash, carrots and broccoli
- Apple cobbler with baked apples, cinnamon and crunchy oats
- Limeade with cumin to drink
Your mom was also at that first dinner. How did that play a role in the event?
Our mom is our most incredible inspiration and so incredibly supportive in everything that we do. She is the epitome of selfless service and unconditional love. The day of the dinner was a super busy day (Dhyana taught 5 yoga classes before hand). Mom was there to make sure everything got done and to step in wherever needed... and she made the cobbler!
When's the next supper club dinner and how do people attend?
Friday, September 27th at 6pm we'll host an hour yoga class with the dinner to follow. You can call: (352) 328 8152 or email the studio to sign up. Yoga is $20/class & the dinner is $25 - cash please! We look forward to seeing people there. - Linden Schaffer