The clock read 6:15 a.m. and the temperature gauge read 7 degrees as I pulled out of my driveway on a recent weekday morning. Exhausted and freezing, I headed to downtown Detroit.
But when I opened the door to Citizen Yoga at 1224 Library St., a sense of warmth immediately came over me. Some of that can be attributed to the studio (which is heated at 90 degrees), but that feeling of “warmth” had a lot more to do with the strong sense of community and “citizenship” the 2,300-square-foot studio creates. I was greeted by an upbeat employee who called me by name.
“Our entire culture is based on connection,” owner Kacee Must said. “That’s where the name Citizen Yoga comes from. We are all citizens; you identify not with just who you are or who your family is, but something that is greater.”
The sense of community is purposeful and deeply rooted, and Must’s story is a powerful one.
A passion for yoga runs in the family. Kacee’s late sister, Miya, owned a yoga studio herself, before she passed away in 2007. Kacee moved to India in 2009, where she studied Vedic philosophy: a philosophy that emphasizes alignment and purpose. Each posture and movement has a meaning; you aren’t just going through the motions.
When Must opened the first Citizen Yoga location in Royal Oak in 2013, she focused on bringing purpose to the studio, not only through the physical practice, but through the greater community as well. The studio’s purpose is to bring awareness to mental health issues and suicide prevention and foster a strong sense of acceptance. From monthly mental health events and giving back to charity to fun “yoga field trips” and strong teacher-student relationships, it’s clear that Citizen Yoga puts the community first – which is exactly why it’s perfect for downtown Detroit.
As a dabbling yogi and a new Detroit (weekday) citizen, Citizen Yoga filled a niche I had been looking for. I was worried I wouldn’t have the time to continue the regular practice I established in college once I started working, or that I wouldn’t find a studio that was a good fit. But Citizen Yoga stepped in to save the day. Catering to the working population with 45-minute classes (and no classes exceeding an hour), along with showers, generously sized cubbies, outlets to charge your smart phone or computer and a wide variety of class times and packages to fit every schedule, it truly is the working yogi’s ultimate studio.
The dynamic space has an urban, cutting-edge flavor and feels open, yet cozy at the same time. There’s a retail section that features local yoga-inspired snacks, accessories and original Citizen Yoga apparel. Every detail, from the wooden doors reclaimed from renovated buildings (including a door from the First National Building on Woodward Avenue) to the custom made wooden benches, has a unique Detroit story. The large central lounge piece emphasizes community. I could hang out there all day!
I tried out the 7 a.m. Vinyasa class with Melanie, and I’m glad I did. The studio was set up to face a large window overlooking Library Street. I loved looking out at Detroit and watching the sun rise as I practiced. Melanie was a fantastic instructor, and there was just the right balance of hands-on instruction and freedom. The class was perfectly paced with the right blend of challenge and relaxation. The 45 minutes flew by!
My watch read 8:12 a.m. as I walked out of Citizen Yoga into the crisp Detroit morning air. It was still freezing, but I felt awakened, energized and warmed from the inside out – a perfect way to start the day! I’m already looking forward to my next class and all of the future classes to come. Namaste.