The tale of the Yogi Tree, a candle- and wicker-filled sanctuary away from the hail of commitments and torrent of responsibilities, is as much a story about love as it is about finding one’s mental and physical salvation.
And like most love stories, it begins with two people meeting under somewhat benign circumstances.
Jennifer Kelly, a set designer, and Todd Jensen, a magazine writer and youth baseball coach, met a couple of years ago when Jensen began coaching her son. Before they knew it, the pair were on an airplane headed to Hawaii on a 48-hour time-share giveaway.
“I knew I wanted to propose, but I wasn’t sure what to do,” said Jensen, 38, of Burbank.
He arraigned for a flight attendant to play Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” on the ukulele, and there, in the crowded aisle of the airline, Jensen dropped to one knee.
“The entire event was totally unexpected,” said Kelly, 37. “People were standing up and looking over their seat to see what was happening.”
Even Jensen could not have expected what happened next.
A minister riding in first class, after hearing all the commotion, agreed to marry the couple on the spot.
“We were engaged and married within 45 minutes,” Jensen said. “When I tell guys the story, I get a lot of, ‘You jerk.’”
Perhaps the couple’s strongest bond, aside from the one with their children — three from Jensen, one from Kelly and a handful of foster kids she has cared for over the years — is yoga.
“People have an image that yoga is for guys with hard bodies and cool cats,” he said. “It took me a while to get beyond that.”
Kelly began her yogic journey a decade ago, and for years has worked as a postpartum doula, teaching pre- and post-natal, baby-and-me classes and Kundalini yoga, a combination of movement, sound current, breath and meditation that promotes relaxation and healing.
When Kelly’s friend announced that she was surrendering her prized yoga studio, a top-floor loft in the Howard Colonial Building, at the corner of Riverside Drive and Vineland Avenue, it should come as no surprise that the couple with a spontaneous streak wanted in.
The result is the Yogi Tree, a yoga and wellness center with 13 rotating teachers and 28 classes that had its grand opening Saturday.
The center offers classes in a mix of styles, from Hatha to Vinyasa to Kundalini, and boasts a healing room in which internationally recognized practitioners offer private services and one-on-one classes in a variety of spiritual and healing modalities, Jensen said.
The owners plan to host special events, such as live music, including Wade Morissette, Girish, Greg Ellis and Daniel Lanois, as well as a film screening by Oscar-nominee Leslie Iwerks.
It is all part of the larger goal of bringing people into yoga who otherwise may shy away.
“Instead of come sweat, it’s ‘come catch a film screening,’ or, ‘come see a band and hang out,’” Jensen said.
Kelly will teach a seminar Saturday called “Essential Oils: The missing link in modern medicine.” The three-hour lesson begins at 1 p.m. and provides an up-close look at how therapeutic-grade essential oils cross the blood barrier to help release pent-up emotions.
At 7 p.m., the center will host a screening of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie,” followed by a discussion.
“Yoga is just about bringing it to the center,” Jensen said, “and being really grateful for the things that you do have rather than the things that you don’t.”