Our friend James Sebastiano has been on a journey recently, not only with his deep dives in psychology and philosophy, but also with developing the Alchemy family. He recently launched the Alchemy Yoga and Meditation Center in Penestanan, Ubud. A beautiful collaboration with IBUKU Studio and Orin Hardy for permaculture garden design.
About the Center:
At the AYMC we are committed to sharing the radically life affirming practices of traditional tantra and hatha yoga in a way that is accessible and relevant to the modern practitioner. We believe that a spiritual life is balanced through study (adhyayana), practice (sādhanā) and community (kula). At the AYMC we humbly offer a place for people to study, practice and participate in community. At the AYMC we believe in the importance of living in harmony with nature through a balanced spiritual and social life, combined with healthy living and eating. We aim to work with nature by using sustainable building materials and through maintaining a permaculture food forest that helps to supply organic food to the nearby Alchemy Restaurant. In addition to managing our ecological footprint, through our work with the local community, we hope to positively impact the people and culture that inhabit this beautiful Island of the Gods.
Here’s what James has to say about the project:
We have really high hopes for the Yoga Center as it grows. I’ve never seen a Yoga Center like this anywhere in the world where we have as eco a structure as we possibly can. Everything is made from bamboo. We have high-energy copper roofs and permaculture gardens in between the yoga domes and the permaculture gardens. We’re going to be growing food, organically, that we’re going to be using at the Alchemy restaurant across the street. So I really hope that people will feel the love that we put into the center and the attention to detail and the care for the earth that we have. We could have just thrown up another concrete yoga Shala like there are everywhere around the world, but we did the best we could to minimize concrete and to minimize impact on the Earth, working with John and IBUKU, making it as beautiful and as accessible as possible. So we’re really proud. And we hope this is a model that can be adapted around the world and that people will come and feel something different when they’re doing yoga in a building without walls, than they would in a New York building going to yoga class. This should be a different experience, and we hope people will feel that.
What does treading lightly on the earth mean for you?
Treading lightly is a really good phrase. I think it means to kind of take as little as you need from the Earth as possible. You know, if we’re just raping and pillaging the planet, we’re obviously not treading lightly. So I think for me, treading lightly is to do everything in the most minimal way you can, with the least amount of impact on the Earth as you possibly can. And of course, we still built something, but the way we build it with organic farms And as little as concrete as we possibly could, I think we really did that.
What’s next for Alchemy?
The Alchemy restaurant is being globally franchised. We’re opening up locations in Tokyo and the UAE, and two more locations in Bali. And we have several other expressions of interest from people who want to get involved in the Alchemy brand. And for the Alchemy Yoga Center, we hope for the same. We’re going to be franchising the Alchemy Yoga Center globally with the hopes of finding eco-conscious people who feel what we’re doing and believe in what we’re doing. They may want to take this concept and spread it and spread what we’re trying to do by being as sustainable as we can. We’re not perfect, and no one is, but we’re trying our best. And I hope people come and have an experience that they never forget. John has been such an inspiration in this process. John and Cynthia both guided us through the process. They are incredible human beings with such care for the earth, like something I’ve never seen. I’m so grateful for John being a mentor and helping us bring this project to life.