Josh Pane spends his days trying to improve the business
climate for clients like the Morongo Band of Mission
Indians. But he also has a new business interest of
his own: a yoga studio, hatched on a legislative trip that
included a visit to a Shaolin temple, and housed in
a New Deal-era building renovated with a public grant.
Yoga Shala opened on July 6 in the old YWCA building on 17th Street. Blocks from the Capitol, the studio has
already drawn in several legislative staffers.
Pane's partner is yoga instructor Tyler Langdale.Langdale
was also one of the instructors who travelled to Washington
D.C. with his now former employers, Zuda Yoga in Midtown,
to teach yoga classes on the White House lawn as part
of the annual Easter Egg Roll last year. The enthusiasm
that Michelle Obama and other members of the First
Family have for
yoga has certainly contributed to its growing mainstream
Pane said he knows lots of people around the Capitol
who do it, including Republicans like Sen. Mimi Walters,
R-Laguna Niguel, and former Assemblyman Guy Houston.
He started practicing a decade ago, and said the practice
transcends mere exercise and helps him unwind from
his daily political battles.
“Yoga seeks to purify the body, and then one can purify
one’s mind,” Pane said. “It is a wonderful moving meditation.”
His association with Langdale, 27 — a former All-American college swimmer at Principia College in Illinois,
and later a swim coach — started four years ago, when he became one of the
clients of Langdale’s massage therapy business. When Langdale started teaching
at Zuda, Pane came over to the new studio.
“He’s been a big supporter of mine forever,” Langdale said. “He took my second yoga class ever, and he was the only
Early last year, Pane decided he wanted to take teacher-training classes.
“He wanted to go to the source for training,” Langdale said. “I was like, India? I’ll go to India!”
About that same time, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, brought a group of Shaolin monks from
China. Pane arranged for them to do a martial arts
and acrobatics show at the Masonic Temple, which also
houses the offices of Pane & Pane, the lobbying firm he started with his wife,
Donna Pane, in 1993.
Yee was planning a legislative trip to China at the
time. Pane suggested to Langdale that they tag along,
then head to India afterwards. While Langdale has been
specializing in teaching a style of power yoga known
as Vinyasa flow, for months the pair studied a related
but more traditional Ashtanga style.
This culminated in a month-long adventure in November, which included 12 days in China and another 16 in India. One of the nights was spent in a Shaolin
Temple, high in the sacred Shao Shan Mountains.
“It was freezing cold,” Langdale said. “No one spoke English. It was so much fun looking back
on it. The next day we got the private tour from the
They later headed off to several spots in India, including
the famed Mysore Mandala Yoga Shala, in the ancient
city of Mysore, near the equator. They studied with
a yogi there, who, in sweltering conditions, put “these two big American guys” in positions so awkward that Pane said “you could barely do anything.” Then he had them concentrate on their breathing for
long periods. Concentrating on breathing in and out
of your nose for 90 minutes, Pane said, really helps in learning balance.
It was while sitting on a beach in Goa that the pair
started to talk more seriously about Langdale opening
his own studio. But it was several months before things
really got going and they decided on the YWCA space.
“When we came back, he put a little money together,
I put a little money together, and started searching,” Pane said. “We were very fortunate to get that space after we looked
at 20 spaces.”
The midtown YWCA building was built in 1934. It was recently renovated with a $2.8 million grant from the Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency and the Federal Home Loan Bank
of San Francisco. It reopened in late June. Yoga Shala
is the only business they are renting to, Langdale
said. The classes are taught in a large open room with
an exposed beam wooden ceiling.
“It’s been an absolutely beautiful place to open up,” Langdale said. “It provides that sense of simplicity.”
This back-to-basics ethic can also be seen in the name Yoga Shala,
which essentially just means “yoga school.” The teacher line-up includes some other ex-Zuda instructors, including Rachel Miller, who is also
a recognized local artist.
The studio seems to be catching on with at least a
few Capitol staffers. Stephanie Hineline, scheduler
for Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, was part of a group of staffers who had
been meeting for the last couple of years after another
studio on the K St. Mall was closed by an eminent domain
dispute. For a while, she said, they were doing yoga
in Capitol Park.
“It was hard,” she said. “You had to balance on the grass.”
For her, the proximity and lunchtime classes make a
huge difference. Because she’s a parent and lives out in Elk Grove, she said, evening
classes weren’t really a possibility. Another student is Ryan Ojakian,
also in Simitian’s office. They noted that while there were at least
three Republicans in the group of 10 or more Capitol staffers who go to Yoga Shala, so
far he’s the only guy. With the legislative session now at
an end, he’s planning on being there a lot more.
“The last month has been brutal,” he said of the long hours that come with the bill
Erica Martinez, a consultant with the office of Speaker
John Perez, D-Los Angeles, agrees. A runner, she said that the last
few months she found herself “problem solving” in her head while she hit the pavement.
She had never done yoga before a few months ago. But
she said that yoga allows her to clear her mind in
a way that running doesn’t.
“It sounds corny, but I feel like I can find kindness
and solace there,” Martinez said. She added, “It is more frustrating in the last two to three years
than it has been in the past. The budget situation
is so horrible. The dynamics in the Legislature can
be challenging. It’s very stressful to be in the building.”
These days, Pane and Langdale still meet once a week
for a private yoga class together. They also talk regularly
about possibilities for the business. One idea they’ve been working on is going to a donation-based system, where students pay what they can and
what they think is fair.
But in the meantime, they’re mainly hoping that their passion catches on with
others around the Capitol.
“I’ve joked with Tyler that we have to do a ‘yoga for lobbyists’ class,” Pane said. He added, “I think it helps in dealing with the pressure cooker