22 OCT - 2023
SALA is so much more than a studio
At the heart of the vibrant Auckland suburb that is Ponsonby, a captivating oasis of fitness and mindfulness known as SALA has taken root, with Sarah Lindsay serving as the driving force behind its cult-like status. The undeniable allure of SALA lies not only in its instantly recognisable 'eclipse' wall, the expansive windows, or the serene atmosphere that stands in contrast to the bustling urban backdrop, but also in the remarkable vision and dedication of Sarah Lindsay, the visionary who has woven an extraordinary narrative of wellness, connection, and empowerment. In this interview, we uncover the inspirations, aspirations, and distinctive essence that define Sarah Lindsay and the phenomenon she has cultivated at SALA.
Could you tell us about your personal journey that led you to establish SALA?
I’m from a tiny little town — one of those towns where no one really leaves. I spent most of my young years reading beat gen poetry and daydreaming of road trips and adventures.
I moved to London to study sociology and philosophy at Goldsmiths. Sociology is the study of human behaviour, interaction, and organisation, so that’s definitely unconsciously set the backdrop of how I approach building a business. I’ve always been really passionate about connection and intimacy, so teaching yoga and opening a studio both feel like direct extensions of my desire to develop relationships with purpose. I love meeting people and getting to know their stories and who they are. I’m the last person to leave a party, I’m the girl in the kitchen asking your trauma stories.
How does SALA differentiate itself from other yoga studios?
I am really not someone who forecasts the future in a linear way. I just surrender to the mystery of life, and trust the right doors will open when they need to. SALA has unravelled in a deeply organic way. Each time I expand, the opportunity for another is offered and I think, well, what would be fun here? What would the community like me to do? There really isn’t a master plan. No exit strategy or forecasting. Just me making decisions as they come. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. I think because SALA is an extension of me as a person, rather than a business plan per se, it’s got a genuine community, an intimate feeling to it.
Let's chat about the role of SALA Studio within the local community. SALA fosters a sense of belonging, encourages wellness, and promotes holistic growth. Are there any community events, workshops, or initiatives that enhance the studio's impact?
We have introduced koha coffee. There’s a terminal you can tap to donate $3, in which every quarter goes to a different charity (this quarter is Women’s Refuge). We hope this is a way for us to transform our movement practices into social action. So many of us want to do more but feel overwhelmed or disempowered. We don’t know how to help. I hope these small opportunities to connect and donate can remind us even the smallest pebbles can cast ripples in the pond.
Tell us about the broader concept of wellness that SALA promotes. How does the studio help individuals achieve a balanced and harmonious lifestyle?
I think it’s our approach to wellness that makes SALA different. I truly believe that everything is an impulse of your innate creativity; whether you’re doodling in a notepad, moving your body in a class or weaving words in a text message to a loved one, these are all just fractions of your experiencing and expressing yourself as a mysterious, amazing, alive thing. In this way, everything is just play.
I think that’s the core message of SALA, and it’s what makes the space feel safe and healing.
Are there any new and exciting offerings on their way?
We are currently building a sauna and contrast room, launching in September. I hope these offerings will act as just another way to experience and express yourself. I would love to see this grow to larger contract therapy rooms, designed to be enjoyed with friends and self-care socialising! I also often sit with this image of a therapist room, so getting cbt (cognitive behavioural therapy) or counselling would be as mainstream and easy to book as a fitness class. I love the idea of taking care of your mind and body in a very free and undogmatic way. Book a barre class. Easy. Book a therapist. Easy. Book an ice bath. Easy. Hang out with friends in the sauna. Easy. All the rivers of your life flow into one larger ocean of consciousness. Just you as a free and integrated being!
From my conversation with Sarah, it was abundantly clear to me that SALA transcends the boundaries of a traditional yoga centre. It is a living embodiment of a holistic philosophy that embraces not only the physical aspects of yoga but also the nuances of connection, community, and personal growth. Through the lens of SALA, we witness the profound impact that can be achieved when passion converges with purpose and when a space is crafted not merely as a business endeavour but as a vessel for genuine transformation.