Photo Credit: Rachel Gomez
While hiking high in the Himalayas of Nepal, Elise Fabricant and Jared David Paul dreamed of opening Half Moon Studios. As their website explains, the mountain-people’s spirituality and tight-knit community inspired them to create their own “spiritually aware and socially active environment centering around two of the most ancient practices available to the modern world: yoga and art.” Upon their return, the couple settled in the Art District on Santa Fe and united these two philosophies in their live/work studio space located at 901 West 7th Ave, Denver, CO 80204. Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Elise Fabricant over a cup of tea and learning more about this hidden gem of a studio.
1. How long have you been in business and what sets Half Moon Studios apart from other yoga centers and chains?
We opened in August of 2011 and our intention for Half Moon Studios was to set ourselves apart from corporate chains by offering smaller, more intimate and family-style classes. We also live here in the studio so students come in, use our bathroom and play with our dog. We want to keep class price low—so living/working in this studio helps keep the yoga accessible in these times of economic hardship when people can’t afford expensive yoga and classes seem like more of a luxury. If anything, it’s more of a necessity to stay active and balance those stresses by practicing yoga. I’ve also noticed that when people challenge themselves on their mat, it equips them with better coping mechanisms when they meet challenges outside of class.
2. What inspired you to open shop in the Art District on Santa Fe?
Jared was one of the founders of the Art District a long time ago and moved to Telluride and Los Angeles for a few years before he decided to return. For me, this particular location on 7th and Santa Fe Drive seemed like the most accessible between two major commuting streets, Kalamath and Santa Fe. Approximately 65,000 cars pass by everyday- those commuters should come over and do some yoga!
3. Half Moon Studios is quite the eclectic little studio – kind of half art exhibit, half yoga space. You also offer a variety of wellness workshops, yoga classes for all levels and massage therapy sessions (Elise is trained in Swedish, Deep Tissue and Neuromuscular massage). Who runs the art, who runs the yoga and how do select which instructors/workshop visionaries you collaborate with?
Jared is mostly in charge of the art, new exhibits and arranging First Friday events but he also runs a art-installation business called JDP ART which keeps him pretty busy. I handle the yoga and hire the instructors, workshops, etc. People approach me about doing workshops and I just coordinate with them. The Denver Yoga Teachers Facebook page has been a great resource for networking too. For the most part, we’re still running through a lot of the workshops/themes I originally envisioned.
4. Jared - as the creative wheel behind the artwork and changing exhibits featured on the walls at Half Moon Studios, describe your process to me. How often do the exhibits rotate and how do you select which artists to feature?
Well, I’ve featured a lot of my own work, as well as the work of my friends and other local artists. Things happen very organically and spontaneously here, and we like it that way. The art rotates about every two months and many of our buyers have been yoga students.
5. What do you say to people who are hesitant about yoga? I’m talking about people who claim they’ve never been to a class because they’re not flexible or don’t believe its exercise.
If you’re not flexible—that’s all the more reason you need to do it! Yoga is a great compliment to other sports and helps balance out more intense activities people do. Also, not all bodies are the same; different classes and teaching styles suit different body types and personalities. I like to remind students that everyone had their first class. We offer a free beginner’s class the First Friday of every month at 5pm for those interested in trying it out.
6. Can you quickly list the benefits of yoga? The health advantages are extensive and it’s important to remind people of the tangible and intangible rewards of yoga.
Sure. I encourage people to start with a slower, more alignment based yoga classes so they reap the full benefits of yoga. Increased flexibility, strength, joint flexibility and bone density—which is especially important for women. Lowered cortisol levels - which helps strengthen your immune system, the release of serotonin in your brain - to help fight depression, weight loss, calming of the nervous system and softening of overused muscles, reduced chronic pain and regulated digestion, improved circulation, sleep quality, memory and IQ scores.
7. What is the most rewarding part about teaching and guiding people through their practice?
There are so many! I love beginners who just discover a new pleasure. I enjoy witnessing the change and shift in people’s attitudes after class too—they’re so much more peaceful afterwards. And, of course, the shared sense of community that yoga classes create.
Do yourself a favor and drop-in to Half Moon Studios sometime for an affordable yoga class, massage session or artistic stroll. Keep the intimate venue in mind for your next rental venue. I guarantee you’ll want to come back to the welcoming space.