Sun and Moon Yoga, Gotanda

By Kelly Wetherille
November 19, 2013
Health & Beauty

Since it opened in 2003, Sun and Moon Yoga has been a go-to studio for yogis from around the world, with its bilingual classes attracting Japanese, expats and visitors alike. A decade later, the popular destination had to close due to the demolition of the building it called home for so long. But not to worry, fellow Tokyo yoga enthusiasts: Sun and Moon has reopened in a new space in Gotanda, and it’s just as inviting as ever.

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Leza Lowitz opened Sun and Moon when she moved to Tokyo for the second time with her Japanese husband. “Prior to my move to Tokyo in 2003, I had been teaching at Asana Yoga Studio in Sonoma County, California, and I was running a studio out of my home in coastal Marin,” Leza said. “I run the Tokyo studio very much the way I ran that—as a home open to everyone. We are very relaxed, very ‘Californian,’ people say.”

The Gotanda studio opened last month, and while some may miss the Meguro space they had come to know and love, Leza says the new location is a good fit for Sun and Moon. “The Meguro building was due to be demolished and rebuilt as a mega-apartment complex three years from now. Meguro will change a great deal,” she said. “We’d been searching in Meguro for years, but never found the right spot. I live near Gotanda, and when this former clothing shop above a boutique restaurant came open on a back street, we snatched it up. It feels very neighborhood-y. Many of the nearby shops have been there over 40 years.”

When Sun and Moon first opened 10 years ago, it introduced a variety of yoga classes that had previously been unheard of in Japan. These included vinyasa yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, acro yoga, partner yoga, and charity yoga. “A lot of people told us we were crazy to offer these things here,” Leza said. “They felt that culturally, many Japanese would find things like touching a stranger too much out of their comfort zone.”

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But Leza and her team didn’t listen to the naysayers, and these days Tokyoites can find many of these types of yoga at studios and gyms across the city. Plus, “More and more yoga studios are becoming involved in charity work to take our practice off the mat and help others. That is the real meaning of yoga—connection.”

Japan’s “yoga boom” started shortly after Sun and Moon first opened, and now it’s become a very common fitness practice in Tokyo, with literally thousands of studios across the city. While this certainly has its benefits—it has made yoga very accessible, and we no longer have to travel out of our way to get to a class if we don’t want to—it also means that the task of choosing the right class or studio has become far more daunting.

“Each studio has its own approach, feeling, and vibe,” Leza said. “Once you get the principles of alignment down, then what? Then you get to go into creativity, magic, and joy. It’s been so incredible to watch people transform themselves through this practice. That’s what we live for. Our studio is like an open living room. You can come as you are and be welcomed—loved—just as you are.”

From its new space in Gotanda, Sun and Moon continues to provide the Tokyo yoga community with a warm and friendly place in which to go about their practice, while also offering a variety of special workshops, teacher trainings, retreats and one-off classes. Its annual Abundance Flow workshop is scheduled for January 13, and through January 15 first-timers to Sun and Moon or the Gotanda studio can take a drop-in class for just ¥2,000. For more information on regular classes and upcoming workshops, see Sun and Moon’s official website.

The Deets

Address: 201 Gotanda Yamakatsu Building, 3-16-44 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-3280-6383

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