Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Right Here, Right Now: Meet Mimi Moncier of Giggling Lotus Yoga

Mimi Moncier of Giggling Lotus Yoga in front of the full-length curtains.
We thought the tagline of Right Here, Right Now on the sandwich sign announcing that Giggling Lotus Yoga studio was open was not only catchy, but also brilliant.  Brilliant because some long ago memory of the song by the 90's band Jesus Jones supplied the next line:  "right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be..."

Well, that might just only be in our memories but once you meet Mimi Moncier, owner and teacher of Giggling Lotus, you will also feel there is no other place you wanna be.

Although a ground floor location is typical of most exercise studios, the studio's third floor location in the American Industrial Building gives the studio the benefit of the foot traffic of busy Third Street without the noise.

Colorful signs point the way like a trail of breadcrumbs to the orange painted doorway of the studio. A wall of windows flood the studio with light but multi-hued Indian sarees are at the ready when the light becomes too intense or a more intimate environment is desired.
The resulting effect is one of calmness yet energizing at the same time.

Sort of like Moncier herself who is not only a certified yoga instructor, but also an accomplished commercial architect, painter, and teacher.  She was trained at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, a local studio located in the Mission District.  In March 2012 she focused her considerable energy and talent into opening Giggling Lotus.

Why do you do what you do?

I love connecting with people to help them become embodied -- to help them become present and more aware in all of their human experience whether good or bad.  I feel that most people tend to live outside of themselves.  We practice Vinyasa yoga, at this studio.  Vinyasa yoga is breath-synchronized movement to a series of poses -- it's very dance-like in its movement.  We feel it helps to unite both mind and body and we want you to sustain that connection on and off the mat.

So it is a physical workout because you are working hard but it is a mental workout because the breathing relaxes your mind and helps to release the chakras system, or energy flow, throughout your body.  We practice a form of Vinyasa Yoga that is called Lotus Flow -- a type of yoga created at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center where I was trained.

I grew up in the South and lived in New Orleans for many years.  I started my career as a commercial architect and have worked on many many projects including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  I also lived in Boston where I left architecture to go back to school to study painting.  When my husband and I moved to San Francisco in 2007 I enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute and received a masters in painting.  I later taught students at the Academy of Art.  Opening this studio brought all those interests together -- movement, color and space.

Eventually I plan for the studio to be a type of hybrid space where we offer not only yoga, but also other artists can stage performances whether it is dance, video or some other type of art installation.
Light streams into the studio at Giggling Lotus Yoga.

Why Dogpatch?

When we first moved to this area we kept hearing that Dogpatch/Potrero Hill neighborhoods were the sunniest in the city.  Since we are from the South we need our sunshine!  So we live just a few blocks away from the studio.

We fell in love with the eclectic nature of the neighborhood and the mix of residential and light industrial buildings appealed to us as architects. 

When I started looking for studio space I didn't look anywhere else but Dogpatch.  Although this studio had a former life as a pilates studio, it didn't quite fit our needs.  The owner of the  American Industrial Center, Greg Markoulis, really worked with us to make it fit our needs and the type of yoga we want to teach. 

Who is another fascinating person you have met in Dogpatch?

There is a couple that we first were introduced to when we lived in New Orleans.  Unknown to us, they also live in Dogpatch as well as New Orleans!  When we moved here we didn't think we knew anyone, then we find out that they are here as well.  The reason this is interesting to me is that San Francisco lets you honor your roots -- you can live here and still be from the South or wherever you are from -- you don't have to give up that part of your identity to fit in.  I have lived other places where that wasn't always the case. 

What is an interesting story that has happened to you since you moved to Dogpatch?

This happened on one of our very first walks around Dogpatch.  It was a very quiet Saturday morning and the neighborhood seemed really empty.  Then, strangely, we saw this really gorgeous fashion model cross the street.  She seemed really out of place in this quasi-industrial part of town.  Then we saw another model and then it seemed like everywhere we looked there was another.  We couldn't figure out what was going on.

Then we turned the corner and saw the Dogpatch Studios sign with lots of sleek, hip folks going in and out of their building.  We realized it must be a photo shoot or some sort of event.  Later at the original location of Piccino Cafe we had a good laugh about how confused we were!

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

I've never been happier than I am right now.  But if I hadn't opened this studio I would be in my other studio, my art studio making art everyday. 

Ok, so what is with the unusual name of your studio?

The name is a bow to our teachers at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center.  But it is also a fun name and we wanted people to relax and laugh.

After all, yoga is an act of kindness toward oneself!


  1. Great story. Mimi and her husband Alan are wonderful people! So glad to know them. A true asset to the neighborhood.

  2. Great article.Thanks for sharing this with us.