Founder of the cozy yoga studio at 12 Irma Ave. Gail Grossman decided it was time for a new focus in life at the same time Port residents Roopali Gupta and Rachel Golder realized they wanted to make their dream of owning a yoga studio a reality. While Gupta and Golder recently became co-owners of Om Sweet Om, the two hope to keep up the home-like feel of the yoga studio’s community.
“When I started the yoga studio I didn’t really have an end time in mind,” said Grossman, who maintains her teaching role at the studio. “You have no idea what that really means when you start a business. You just hope that it takes off and it did so that was great, but at a certain point things shift and life changes. I started to realize there were other things I wanted to focus on. I couldn’t really do that running the yoga studio. It wasn’t like I was actively seeking somebody to buy the studio, but I definitely felt like, ‘okay universe, please if the right person comes along, send them my way.’”
And the universe sent someone her way. Gupta and Golder had been friends and co-chairs of the finance committee at St. Stephen’s Church. The two constantly joked about Gupta’s dream to retire and own a yoga studio in Spain to which Golder, a 35-year yoga practitioner, joked she would back her. Gupta and Golder decided to carry out their dream, so Gupta approached Grossman, explaining she was serious about taking over the studio if Grossman ever wanted to sell.
“She put it out there and I really thought about it,” said Grossman. “I felt really comfortable with Roopali and Rachel taking over. That is a really big thing when you create a community. You have a responsibility because you know this community is relying on this place to be there because it’s become so ingrained in their life, so you want to shepherd it off to somebody you know is going to care about it as much as you.”
While Gupta’s initial exposure to yoga was not a positive experience as she practiced as part of her Sunday school class, Gupta later experienced a different type of yoga that soon became her passion.
“In Sunday school you don’t want to do [yoga],” explained Gupta. “You’re forced to do it. When I was no longer forced to do yoga, I just gravitated back to it.”
Gupta, who grew up in a Vedic household, also explained that the yoga she was practicing in Sunday school was different from the yoga she practiced in college.
“Yoga in India is a very challenging practice,” Gupta said. “It’s a daily practice—something that’s in your living, how you work, who you communicate with—so it’s much more a complete change of lifestyle while here we have woven it into our own culture. We made room in our life for yoga. We didn’t change our life for yoga. It’s a little bit freeing because there’s no strict dogma.”
After discovering her love for yoga while at University of California Berkeley and during a trip to India, Gupta took her BA in economics and worked at a top-tier investment bank for 10 years, rarely practicing yoga on a regular basis. It was Gupta’s son that brought her back to yoga, and she soon took Om Sweet Om’s 200-hour teacher training in 2014, earning her RYT-200 certification. In 2015, Gupta completed YogaKids Foundations and became certified in Restorative Yoga. Later, she trained under Sonia Sumar, founder and director of Yoga for the Special Child to enable her to work with students with special needs including Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, downs syndrome and cerebral palsy.
“The change you see is so immediate,” said Gupta of her Yoga for the Special Child class. “Just something so simple as finding their breath can be an amazing thing. Some of them have never really taken a full breath. Especially children who have CP or down syndrome where there’s a disconnect between the brain and the body. It’s not that they don’t have the ability to do it, they just haven’t made that connection yet. That’s what we facilitate.”
As Gupta and Golder embark on their first year of owning the community yoga studio, they hope to keep Om Sweet Om the same with its homey feel and relaxed vibe.
“I think we’re hoping to get a newer variety of teachers,” said Gupta. “We’re hoping to bring in people from different parts of the country to do workshops. We’re hoping to do what we can to keep growing and expanding as much as we can. I’m excited to own it and make little changes where I feel like people will enjoy the space more and enjoy the classes more. Rachel and I have really made it a point to just take care of something that’s already there. It’s good to know that our input is being well-received and that the space will continue to grow and invite more people in.”