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Business Spotlight:

Couple branch out into yoga

Set designer and magazine writer combine to create the Yogi Tree, a new business that they’re passionate about.

April 22, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

The tale of the Yogi Tree, a candle- and wicker-filled sanctuary away from the hail of commitments and torrent of responsibilities, is as much a story about love as it is about finding one’s mental and physical salvation.

And like most love stories, it begins with two people meeting under somewhat benign circumstances.

Jennifer Kelly, a set designer, and Todd Jensen, a magazine writer and youth baseball coach, met a couple of years ago when Jensen began coaching her son. Before they knew it, the pair were on an airplane headed to Hawaii on a 48-hour time-share giveaway.

“I knew I wanted to propose, but I wasn’t sure what to do,” said Jensen, 38, of Burbank.

He arraigned for a flight attendant to play Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” on the ukulele, and there, in the crowded aisle of the airline, Jensen dropped to one knee.

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“The entire event was totally unexpected,” said Kelly, 37. “People were standing up and looking over their seat to see what was happening.”

Even Jensen could not have expected what happened next.

A minister riding in first class, after hearing all the commotion, agreed to marry the couple on the spot.

“We were engaged and married within 45 minutes,” Jensen said. “When I tell guys the story, I get a lot of, ‘You jerk.’”

Perhaps the couple’s strongest bond, aside from the one with their children — three from Jensen, one from Kelly and a handful of foster kids she has cared for over the years — is yoga.

“People have an image that yoga is for guys with hard bodies and cool cats,” he said. “It took me a while to get beyond that.”

Kelly began her yogic journey a decade ago, and for years has worked as a postpartum doula, teaching pre- and post-natal, baby-and-me classes and Kundalini yoga, a combination of movement, sound current, breath and meditation that promotes relaxation and healing.

When Kelly’s friend announced that she was surrendering her prized yoga studio, a top-floor loft in the Howard Colonial Building, at the corner of Riverside Drive and Vineland Avenue, it should come as no surprise that the couple with a spontaneous streak wanted in.

The result is the Yogi Tree, a yoga and wellness center with 13 rotating teachers and 28 classes that had its grand opening Saturday.

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