True Self Yoga has opened in west Olympia, a new yoga and meditation studio that is infused with the spirit of a loved one and the two personal journeys of its founders, Vajra Romano and Christina Lagdameo.
For Vajra Romano, who some might better know as Eric Romano, his journey to opening True Self Yoga started in September 1999 when he spent six days lost in Olympic National Park near Port Angeles. A solo, overnight hike turned into much more than the Capital High School student had bargained for, but after some emotional days and nights, he discovered something about himself — a peace and tranquility that needed to be further explored.
“Through the experience of being lost in the Olympic National Park, I found my life's calling to teach yoga and meditation to others,” he said.
That led him to travel though Nepal and India for two months and eventually attend Naropa University in Colorado where he studied yoga and took the name Vajra.
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Meanwhile, Christina Lagdameo was working in the rough-and-tumble world of U.S. politics in Washington, D.C. She served in the budget office for the Clinton and Bush administrations and later was appointed deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by President Barack Obama. For her, yoga offered escape from the political atmosphere of D.C., which could be toxic and draining, she said.
“It feels like nobody gets along,” Lagdameo said about D.C. “Olympia is just the opposite.”
Vajra and Christina met at a yoga class, later married — they honeymooned in India by teaching yoga to survivors of human trafficking — and then spent two years in Kauai, Hawaii, on an organic farm. Tragedy brought them back to the Northwest.
Vajra’s cousin, Trevor, had taken his own life — Christina had lost a sibling to suicide as well — so they channeled that grief into something positive and opened True Self Yoga.
“We really miss him,” said Vajra about Trevor, recalling a personality that could light up a room.
Through a crowdfunding site, they raised $10,000 to transform their 3,700-square-foot space into the yoga studio, including showers in the men’s and women’s bathrooms.
Both Vajra and Christina teach a variety of yoga classes, including gentle and hot yoga. Most classes are 75 minutes. They offer a drop-in class rate of $15, a $30 introduction to True Self for two weeks, or the most popular so far: $99 per month for unlimited yoga, Vajra said.
And in a nod to his cousin, Trevor, who was fond of saying, “I’m on a quest for truth,” they have created the Quest for Truth scholarship program, awarding it to people ages 16 to 24.
“Yoga has proven to help with self-awareness, balance, and resilience — all skills that young adults could use to help navigate the transition into adulthood,” Vajra said.
Vincent Rideout and Jade Land are two twentysomethings in the program. Rideout, a friend of Trevor’s, said he was interested in yoga. Land joined him and said she has already noticed the benefits of yoga, feeling better after each class.
True Self Yoga
Owners: Vajra Romano, Christina Lagdameo
Location: 2727 Westmoor Court SW, Olympia
Years in business: New. Business opened Feb. 6
Type of business: Yoga and meditation studio
Employees: In addition to the two owners, the business has one part-time instructor. They have plans to hire.
Online: trueself.yoga or find them on Facebook
Hours: True Self Yoga is open seven days a week, offering five to six classes a day. Class times range from as early as 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Did you know? Before Vajra Romano took the name Vajra, he was known as Eric Romano. Eric studied yoga at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and eventually took a Buddhist refuge vow and chose the name Vajra, which means “indestructible.” At 5:30 p.m. Fridays, True Self Yoga has a community yoga class where they ask participants to donate what they can afford. Money raised from the weekly donation class helps fund the Quest for Truth scholarships.