Studies show that millennials are less religious than previous generations. However, this doesn’t mean that they are less spiritual. Walk into one of Stephanie Snyder’s classes at her recently opened Mission district studio, Love Story Yoga, and you’ll witness a moving collective devotion. Over 100 people have packed into the hot room, mats almost touching, to partake in an experience that feels church-like. Snyder chants in Sanskrit and the yogis follow her lead. As she guides the group through a series of meditative movements, Snyder asks them to come up with an intention—a prayer—to focus on for the next 90 minutes. She calls out to Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity who removes obstacles and provides prosperity. It’s a yoga class unlike any other—maybe the best one you’ll ever take—and it’s easy to understand why Snyder has such a huge following. Love Story Yoga is the vatican of SF yoga studios and Snyder is the new pope.
For the past 20 years, Snyder has taught yoga all over the world. She’s a Lululemon global yoga ambassador (there are only eight), the creator of the Yoga Journal DVD, and a leading figure in the yoga industry—she even has a Ted Talk. Her teaching style is inspirational, inclusive, and illuminating. She has a warm charisma that makes her naturally inviting. “Yoga has been the greatest love story of my life,” Snyder says, “I believe it can be that for everyone.” To encourage the masses to practice yoga, she’s finally opened her own studio where she will serve as instructor and cheerleader. “I think my main message is that you can be seen and loved for who you are and that stepping into that with enthusiasm is the greatest motivator. I’m always cheering for them, I’m always in their corner,” she told Haute Living.
The Valencia Street space is clean and bright. There is a small stage a the center of the studio, an airy lobby with low seating and cubbies for storing personal belongings, and a bar-like check-in counter. Downstairs are two stylish locker rooms, for men and women, with showers. Complimentary stamped postcards—for sending love notes—are neatly stacked next to the front desk. Classes, of varying length, are offered throughout the day at 9 a.m., 12, 4:30, 6:15, and 8 p.m. Love Story also holds a series of workshops and teacher training programs. Students should bring their own yoga mats and an open mind. They should expect to sweat, connect with their spirit, be supported by the yoga-embracing community, and learn to love their whole story. As Snyder says it’s “an experience that helps them release stress and fatigue, heal the body while nourishing them spiritually—that’s our thing here at Love Story Yoga.”