The Peace Love Art Yoga Studio Goes Well Beyond Eastern Exercises and into the Arts

The Peace Love Art Yoga studio on Salzedo Street goes by the acronym PLAY, and it is an appropriate handle. Owner Lotus Baker opened the multifaceted studio in January of this year in hopes of offering a safe space where the community could create. And by offering art, singing and dancing classes in addition to yoga, she has attracted people of all ages and abilities.

A Haitian native, Baker moved to Coral Gables seven years ago after relocating from South Africa with her husband and three girls. Of her three girls, the middle child, Thalya, has multiple disabilities, including autism. Once Lotus introduced her daughter to the arts, everything changed for the better. So she sought to offer art as a therapy at the studio in addition to instruction in yoga.

The art instructor at PLAY is none other than Gables artist, Aurora Molina, who was highlighted in our June issue. Through painting, Thalya is able to communicate despite her disabilities. “These kids have a lot to say, and just because they don’t talk, doesn’t mean that they don’t understand,” Lotus says. Thalya’s work is the main decor of the studio – with paintings from her “Goddess” series lining the wall of the entrance. “She’s a little factory with Aurora,” says Lotus, referring to her output as an artist under the direction of Molina, who is known for her fiber art and soft sculpture, often with cultural commentary. People have even bought some of Thalya’s works.

Lotus Baker, owner of PLAY, in front of two paintings from the “Goddess” series

Just as art saved Thalya’s life, yoga saved Lotus’, she says, providing the yoga devotee with focus and emotional healing. Now Lotus is one of the many yoga instructors at the studio, offering everything from “Kids Yoga, Crawlers to Walkers” to chair yoga for the elderly. So far, the most popular class is Kids Yoga Flow, which is held on Saturday mornings. They even offer yoga classes for parents while their children are taking an art class, for $15 per person. There is also an Autism and Special Needs Social Skills Yoga class that helps children “cultivate positive attitudes” as well as learn relaxation techniques and how to understand emotions.

These kids have a lot to say, and just because they don’t talk, doesn’t mean they don’t understand…

Lotus Baker

Lotus wanted to open a studio that offered classes in the arts to people with disabilities because of the lack of them in the community. At the same time, she didn’t want the space to be open only to the disabled, as she has two daughters without special needs. The oldest girl is a sophomore at the University of Miami, the youngest attends Riviera Day School. And, keeping family close, her husband’s office is right above the studio (which is how they found the studio space).

“I get my kids around, we create together, I have lunch with my husband almost every day,” the matriarch says.

Through Peace Love Art Yoga, Lotus brings not only her family together, but also a like-minded community of people looking for new avenues of healthy self-expression. “At the end of the day, we all slay the same dragon,” she says.

Thalya Baker has found self expression through painting