I am an old soul.
Brittany Blum explained in the first five minutes of our interview. Four words have rarely been so true. At age 27, Brittany is the co-founder and co-owner of two businesses and is on a mission to revolutionize the practice of yoga and the entire yoga industry. Her inspiring personal story, powerful sense of drive and beautiful partnership with co-founder and close friend Lindsey Kaalberg are the soul behind Ritual Hot Yoga. This, combined with a unique view on the definition of the modern yogi, produces a truly unique experience in the Ritual studio that is changing the way Generation Y views and practices yoga.
Brittany is a self-proclaimed Type-A over-achiever and confesses to always having been very active and passionate about working-out.
I find it ironic that I’m in the yoga industry.
Brittany laughed. She explains that her energetic, high-pace personality is at odds with the typical vision of the leisurely minded yogi. She stumbled upon yoga in college by complete accident. Brittany mistakenly found herself in a yoga class one day when attempting to attend a kickboxing class. The sense of peace she found laying in final savasana motivated her to pursue yoga practice. During a turbulent time in Brittany’s life, yoga empowered her to re-connect with her emotions, gain a sense of wellness and heal on all levels. The desire to share the transformative, healing power of yoga with others and lead people to accept and worship their bodies and selves is a driving factor behind the practice taught at Ritual.
The idea for Ritual Hot Yoga was born while founders Brittany and Lindsey were working at Lululemon in San Francisco. Prior to working at Lululemon, Lindsey was working full-time as a yoga instructor, teaching classes at studios around the Chicago area. Even with a physically taxing class schedule and multiple jobs, the low pay and limited benefits offered in the yoga industry left Lindsey barely able to make ends meet. This experience inspired a core principle of Ritual’s business model: revolutionizing the yoga industry by making the life of a yoga teacher a viable and rewarding career path. At Ritual teachers are given extensive training, a reasonable salary and benefits and are encouraged to contribute to the business side of the studio.
In addition, while working at Lululemon, Brittany and Lindsey saw high-end workout experiences such as Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCylce making waves in San Francisco. They questioned why an equivalent, luxury yoga experience didn’t exist. They were dissatisfied with the yoga offerings in San Francisco, finding no single studio offered consistently excellent teachers and appealing facilities. In Ritual Hot Yoga, Brittany and Lindsey designed a studio that provides a consistently high-end experience, dependably excellent teachers and top-notch amenities. Brittany asserts their “goal is to be the SoulCylce of yoga.” From my experience at the studio, I can safely say they are well on their way.
Walking into the Ritual studio, the sense of elevated energy, focus and intensity is tangible. You enter the studio through the waiting room, an immaculate space with an upbeat, punchy vibe. A sign above a candle-filled fireplace reads “Breathe to the Beat”, the guiding principle of all Ritual classes. Next, a hallway leads through the locker area and finally to the closed studio at the back of the space. Prior to class, I line-up along a brick hallway with my classmates, waiting to enter the studio. The door to the studio finally opens and reveals a dark room lit only by candles. The studio has a dreamy, sacred ambiance, immediately transporting my mind from the busy life outside into the intriguing, mysterious space. All equipment is pre-set in the room, so my only task is to select a mat, clip on my towel and breathe.
The session opens with a guided meditation, helping me withdraw from the hustle of the world outside and begin to find peace in the bigger picture. Then, the heat rises, the music begins and the class starts to move through positions and flows. The instructor helps the class synchronize breath and movement with the beat. I fall into an invigorated, deeply hypnotic state, dripping sweat and gliding through yoga poses. My movements, breath and thoughts merge with the intoxicating rhythm of the soulful music, ranging among pop, house and R&B. This is not a classic yoga class; this is a practice created for the type-A yogi. The intensity is high and the flow through the poses is fast, leaving no time for your mind wander to the world outside. The cutting edge music is central to the practice and very intentional; linking your breath to the beat is crucial, allowing you to turn-off your thoughts, be present and access yourself.
The music begins to slow, the movements slow and finally we all lay in savasana. I can see the candlelight flickering through my closed eyelids. An assistant places a cool, damp eucalyptus towel over my eyes and I emerge from the reverie of the class. Feelings of physical exhaustion, mental clarity and deep, spiritual peace flow through me. Laying in savasana, the instructor leads a closing mediation, bringing the class full circle.
From start to finish, the entire Ritual experience is a unique physical and spiritual luxury. The studio space itself is pristine and the experience is entirely inclusive; mats, towels, mat snaps, water, toiletries and all other yoga equipment are provided. All you need to bring is yourself. In addition, during the class two instructors are always present to lead the session and provide individual attention. This is key to helping each yogi improve and deepen his or her practice.
This is “yoga for Millennials” Brittany declares. “Millennials are a different breed and require a different type of practice.” In today’s world, there are so many distractions and so many different ways in which the mind is constantly pulled; a Ritual class has the ability to trick people into meeting themselves. There are so many elements to the class you need to be fully in your body to keep-up. Brittany contends that Ritual is a gateway; it allows you to transform your body and create a practice that reminds you everyday and every moment is sacred.
This inspiring message and intoxicating practice is catching on quickly in San Francisco, and Brittany and Lindsey have plans to expand in the near future. Their near-term goal is to expand into major metropolitan areas such as: Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago; however, their ultimate goal is to have studios in countries across the globe. This expansion also includes plans to extend the Ritual experience beyond the studio in the form of food and yoga paraphernalia lines. In addition, as music is a quintessential component of any Ritual class, Ritual will be going on tour in a concert series. I recommend following the Facebook page to see if a concert is coming to your town!
These days, it seems yoga studios are dime-a-dozen. In a world saturated with status-quo yoga experiences, Ritual is a powerful disruptor. Its unique practice acknowledges and speaks to the fast paced character of Millennial life, while simultaneously allowing you to break free from the most spiritually and physically taxing elements of this existence. Anyone looking for a unique way to find clarity, peace, rejuvenation and a great workout will find exactly what they are looking for by indulging in a dose of Ritual.