Lucky Lotus in Fort Green has changed locations, but nothing has changed about its quirkiness. This is not your average studio. Not only can you get your yogic groove on in class, you can also book a session with an ayurvedic doctor, get a deep tissue massage, or take a shamanic breathing workshop, which just may take you on your own personal vision quest.
There is a lovely, rather quaint, cafe right in front, so before or after class, or even when you’re just passing by, you can relax and refresh with everything from a matcha green tea smoothie, a pineapple turmeric ginger juice, and bullet-proof coffee, to homemade vegan muffins and chia-seed pudding. That said, my favorite was the almond butter cup, with raw almond butter, raw cacao, and coconut oil—it was so delicious it made its way into my dreams.
Over a decade ago, Lucky Lotus was one of the first studios in the area was what you may call a not-so-hidden treasure in Fort Greene. Before the move to their new home on Myrtle Avenue, there was only a wooden chalkboard outside on the sidewalk on Dekalb Avenue letting people passing by know that they could come up to the 2nd floor for a class. When you made it up there, you found
Ava Gerber, the founder, teaching classes described as vinyasa flow with Tibetan Buddhism influences, as well as leading shamanic journeys. (She recently passed her Maroke and is now initiated as a Tantric Priestess.) Back then, as well as now, you could count on finding a roster of great teachers, including Aaron Dias, John Son,
The forty-something Amazon-esque Gerber is dynamic, intuitive, and passionate about yoga—so much so that, all those years ago, she decided to open a studio before she took teacher training. Why? “It was the first time anything made sense to me,” she says. She has an affinity for African dance and came to yoga through it. “I took yoga so I could dance until I was a ripe old age, and I loved it.” At the same time, she also took to the teachings of the Venerable Sumati Marut—and everything clicked, bringing balance to her life.
Once the decision was made, she took a teacher training in Texas with a friend, headed back to Fort Greene, and started the task of building a studio right where she lived. Taking over the second floor, she tore down some walls, renovated, and painted to make it all happen. “I wanted to make a beautiful offering to the neighborhood. There weren't any yoga studios here back then, and I had no idea it would take off.” And that's exactly what happened, mostly through word of mouth. Since then, Gerber has completed eight Tibetan Heart yoga trainings—which are part of the Shivanada linage—while also earning an Ayurvedic Consultation Certification, and studying shamanic breathe work with Star Wolf.
While the studio thrived, times are a changing in Fort Greene. For Gerber, it was time to move the studio out of her home and give it a space of its own. She chose a space at 334 Myrtle Avenue, that had been a numbers parlor back in the day. When all the small rooms were gone, she was left with a huge space, complete with a window looking out to the street. Gerber knew it would be the perfect space for a cafe, but that was not part of her plan. At first, she reached out to some cafes and juice bars to see if they wanted to take the space over—and no one did. “It became clear that the universe was going to force me to open a cafe, so I decided to go with the flow,” she said.
When you walk into the Lucky Lotus Cafe, you feel like you've stepped back in time. It is warmly retro, with green and white paint-stressed wood, and a few small tables by the window. Lots of tasty, yet healthy, treats perch on the counter—everything from fresh “made this morning” vegan muffins, to those delicious homemade peanut butter cups, which just happen to be good for you, but definitely don't taste like it. And then there are the smoothies, teas, fresh juices, and yes, there is coffee—fair trade and bullet proof.
Gerber is quick to point out that they make their own almond milk, and bake their muffins in non-aluminum pans. Why? “I love to eat clean and there weren't too many places in the neighborhood where I would eat, so I decided that our focus would be on serving delicious, clean food.”
With the opening of the new Lucky Lotus location, the neighborhood gets lots of extras, and if you want to see for yourself, head over and check out the café. Or step though the old-school doors, complete with a lotus etching, in the back of the café to take a class or a workshop.