ELLSWORTH — Come next spring, area residents will have a new place to sweat, shake and snack wholesomely when the Steamy Buddha Cafe and Yoga Studio opens on Church Street.
The nearly 3,000-square-foot space will have a heated yoga studio upstairs and a roughly 400-square-foot “mini cafe” below, as well as a changing room and showers, said Natasha Sidhu, who directs the nonprofit Sanctuary on Church Street along with her husband, Stephen Curtin, the organization’s founder and owner.
For the past year, the couple have been running healing practices out of the stately blue-and-yellow Victorian at 50 Church St. Curtin is a physician and Sidhu runs an Ayurvedic wellness, massage therapy and counseling practice. Sidhu also taught Bikram yoga classes out of a studio at Acadia Wellness last year, something she said she may return to this winter, depending on scheduling.
But Bikram requires intense heat, humidity and air flow systems, which are difficult to come by in a non-dedicated space. Rooms for the classes are often heated to around 100 degrees, with high humidity.
“It feels like a womb when you go in,” Sidhu said. “That has been a challenge to make sure we get it right.”
Sidhu plans to hold morning and evening Bikram classes as well as other yoga classes in between. There will be a weekly Shake Your Soul dance class, which Sidhu describes as “very community and very tribal. You don’t need to know how to dance,” adding “you’ll find your rhythm in your hips and knees quite easily.”
Food in the cafe will be light and healthy, with offerings based on the principles of Ayurveda, a holistic medical system that arose in India thousands of years ago.
“I want to have really healthy delicious food,” Sidhu said. There will also be an outdoor space with picnic tables and possibly a working garden.
Sidhu came to Ellsworth after meeting Curtin in a dance class in New York. Before New York, she spent time in Bali and Thailand and worked as a “regional strategist” for companies in Asia. Then, said Sidhu, she had a “midlife crisis that changed everything.”
Sidhu has been practicing Bikram yoga for nearly a decade and teaching for three years. The heat and postures detoxify the body inside and out, she said.
But the nonprofit Sanctuary on Church Street is more than a yoga studio or doctor’s office, Sidhu said.
“We want to devise programs that bring in a more multidimensional and impactful healing process to people.”
“We want to grow. We want to have more insight into ourselves. We want to be able to manage stress and anxiety and bring the best of ourselves.”
Ayurvedic medicine runs in her family, said Sidhu, who described herself as “half Indian, a quarter Japanese and a quarter Chinese.” The system is based on two guiding principles: that the mind and body are connected and that the mind has the ability to heal the body. Everyone has one of three predominant mind-body types, or doshas: pitta, vata and kapha. In Ayurveda, dosha influences all aspects of life, from skin type to personality and character, and imbalances in one’s dosha are thought to cause illness.
Sidhu said she hopes to open the studio, which has been in process for over three years, in early May of 2019.
“It was a very long affair,” said Sidhu, getting together permits and “making sure everything was right.” The group has relied in part on donations for funding. Concrete was laid for the building on Nov. 28. There will be guest yoga teachers from the area, including Jim Ballard Thompson of Belfast and others from New York and beyond, Sidhu said.
“We just wanted a space that would help bring in interesting practitioners and to center them there.”
Information: sanctuaryonchurch.org or 667-3300.