Community is at the core of Golden Buddha Yoga
THREE main ingredients make up Golden Buddha at 841 Central Avenue, the yoga studio, the café and the gift shop. Which element is the most important?
The community, said Courtney Lloyd, a yoga teacher who manages the business.
“I think the community is the most important part,” she said. She’s worked at the studio for about a year and described feeling that sense of connection from the start, from the first time she walked in. She described it as an all- encompassing experience.
“There’s no Buddha Bar without the studio, but there’s no studio without the community. The community is what pulls it all together. We have an amazing community here,” she said.
She’s crouched on a comfy couch in a set-aside section of the business called the Peacock Room. There are no shelves with products, just a spot where people can gather after class, chat and enjoy their beverages.
Entering the shop, a variety of clothing hangs to the left, seating and shelves of products and books to the right, and a wide bar where a variety of specialty drinks are served up at the back of the space.
On the shelves are a variety of books, along with honey, dried mushrooms, gifts and crystals, as well as a brown ukulele at the ready. Down a hallway is the yoga studio, with polished dark wood floors and a red brick wall.
The studio is the beating heart of the business, offering a regular schedule of classes in a variety of styles and at a variety of levels. Cailin Callahan, the owner of the business, started it teaching yoga on the beach, building a loyal following and nurturing a community.
Cailin grew up in Cape May County, surfing the local breaks on her longboard and working as a singer and yoga teacher. She said Golden Buddha grew organically, describing herself as an accidental yoga studio owner.
“Everything has been accidental like that. I never forced anything,” she said in a phone interview. Cailin was out of the area when the interview took place. The yoga studio started out at a different location on Asbury Avenue, at first as just a logical next step for the beach yoga classes. Since the start, there have been two Asbury locations before Golden Buddha found its current home.
“I thought I’ll rent a place for the summer and just go traveling again,” she said. She signed a lease on a building that she said was nowhere close to ready.
“I did not sleep for three straight days,” she said. There was room to teach classes and a small section up front for some merchandise. But when she was set to hit the road, the studio had taken on a life of its own.
“When it came time for me to leave in September, the teachers and the community still wanted a studio. We already had our community,” she said. “When I came back a month later, the building had sold, and my community had already moved me to a new building. It’s kind of always just run itself.”
She had not seen the building when the business purchased it. Today, she said, many of the people coming to Golden Buddha classes don’t even know her. She expects to spend even less time on site as she works on a Golden Buddha project in western Mexico.
“I’ll be popping in from time to time, but mostly spending time in Baja at the Peace Sanctuary,” she said.
The retreat has several buildings, “luxury safari tents” and a yoga studio, along with views of the surrounding mountains and of the Pacific. Information on the retreat center on the Golden Buddha website uses the name in Spanish, El Sanctuario de Paz.
“That’s a pretty spectacular project that really needs my attention,” she said.
According to Courtney, the Ocean City location remains suffused with Cailin’s spirit, with items she picked up on her travels, including Moroccan jewelry and Mala beads (a type of prayer beads) she dipped in a sacred river in India.
“She has her own clothing line, which supports her community in Baja,” said Courtney. She said Cailin looks to small businesses, especially those owned by women, with an emphasis on fair trade and sustainability.
“She cares about where she buys from,” Courtney said. “Our CBD oil, she knows where that comes from. She knows the people that run the farm. She’s very particular about that.”
CBD products are available for sale, and the hemp-derived ingredient, which is not psychoactive, can
be added to specialty drinks at the bar. Many of the ingredients used have healing properties, Courtney said, including some derived from mushrooms like reishi and lion’s mane.
“Our owner, Cailin, is really knowledgeable about all of that and she’s taught us well,” Courtney said. On a recent weekend, Amanda Shockley was behind the bar, mixing up coffee drinks, herbal beverages, and caffeine free beverages with a base of coconut milk made at the store.
“She’s a magician behind the bar. She really is,” said Courtney of Amanda. Amanda said it is the love that goes into the preparation that makes it magic.
“I’m a big foodie. I have never had food like I’ve had here. I’m not just saying that because I make it now. This food is unique and authentic and different. It makes you feel like you’re somewhere else,” Amanda said. It includes using organic and homemade ingredients.
The seasonal menu also features small plates like hummus and a mushroom and vegan pesto on sourdough for the fall. They do not offer single-use containers.
The drinks are something special, Amanda said.
“I don’t know, they’re, like, innocent. They’re just so pure and light. They make you happy,” she said. “We put a lot of love into all of our food. There’s intention behind it.”
In the yoga studio, Courtney sits behind her tall white bowls, which each resonate to a different note. Think of a finger along the edge of a crystal wineglass, but with a sound that vibrates the room as she combines notes.
Courtney is one of several yoga teachers at Golden Buddha. They each have their own styles she said, describing them all as amazing. She tries to keep her yoga practice connected to its origins, using the Sanskrit names and including elements beyond what would be seen as an exercise class. Yoga is not just squats and stretches, she said.
“I got into yoga because of health reasons,” she said. “I realized that the physical part was just a small portion of it. I ended up diving way deep into it. There’s mind, there’s the body and then there is the soul part of it.”
For a complete list of classes and teachers, as well as the café menu and more
information, see www.goldenbuddhayoga.com