This entrepreneur has used grassroots innovation—and a dose of creative shenanigans—to cultivate community in her native Vancouver.
Anita Cheung has never been afraid to take creative matters into her own hands. Relying on her experience as a yoga teacher, a passion for communities, and a dream of making yoga more accessible (and fun!) for all, she decided to build a place where we can all continue to stay curious, hungry, and interesting together.
The Social Yoga is the original nomadic studio, providing an alternative to a typical yoga class experience. The group hosts month-long courses that run once a week for four weeks. From their signature Straight Social series (yoga, conversation, journaling, good times) to Yoga & Brunch, Storytelling/ Speaker Series, and Breakfast Crawls, Anita and her team capture the essence of yoga (connection, time for yourself, reflection, reconnecting with yourself) without losing the fun.
We spoke with Anita about how she creates memorable experiences and delights her community inside inspiring spaces. Here's what she had to say:
You’ve hosted yoga classes at MELU, Tin Can, Milano’s Juice Truck, etc - what are some of your favorite memories?
So many great memories! Doing our Meditation In Tight Spaces in Tin Can's streamline trailer was definitely one for the books. It was so incredible to meditate to the sound of rain on a tin roof.
The Juice Truck is one of our fav go-to spots as that's where we had our first public Social Yoga class (although that wasn't what it was called back then). We're incredibly thankful for Zach, Ryan, Meghan & the gang for creating the space for that to happen.
Why did you start with a pop-up strategy?
To be perfectly honest, it happened organically! I didn't think I was ready to open my own studio yet (it was one of those "10-year goals") and originally wanted to pilot progressive classes in a friend's studio space but that space fell through. Nicole from Lynnsteven (who I met through another job) offered up her space for my pilot private class and the rest, as they say, is history. I started to see a possibility with this nomadic concept and kept charging forwards from there.
What advice would you give to others looking to find a space of their own?
Always be on the lookout and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. I've held yoga classes in woodwork studios and meditation classes in Soap Dispensaries. Every time I walk into a space, I think "how many yoga mats can we fit in here/ can we do yoga here?". Luckily for me, I have some really great friends who are also always on the lookout for me for fun partnerships and they keep me posted on what's new.
Any plans for future expansion? Do you have any upcoming events our community should know about?
Yes! Social Yoga's biggest goal is to be running in cities across Canada & The US as the leading alternative to a typical yoga class experience. This fall we're popping up in Toronto (and you can bet we'll be using thisopenspace to find some fun partnerships!) for a month and hosting a "Cheapest Yoga Retreat Ever" with our pals Surf the Greats to wrap up summer.
Locally, we will be running "The Cheapest Yoga Retreats Ever" in June, July, and August. These are yoga x hiking x camping trips. Think: hike (or paddle!) into a secret spot, set up a tent, do some yoga to stretch it out, beers around a campfire, and a starlit meditation before bed. Be on the lookout via our newsletter on our site or Instagram as spots fill up fast.
We also have one more month of regular series (some rad partnerships including a Calligraphy x Meditation series as well as another Breakfast Crawl, Book Club, and a High Tea series with The Capilano) before we roll into summer. This summer, we are considering doing something different so stay tuned!
When you’re not at your desk (or doing Yoga!) what can you be found doing?
Either working out (@thedistrikt, @tightclub or @allcityathletics) or in my car listening to podcasts (current favs: Modern Love & Hidden Brain), driving around town to teach or to meet with people about future projects. On the off chance that I'm not doing any of those- I'm out at a restaurant catching up with my buds who work 9-5, or napping. I love naps.