The Prettiest Yoga Studio in the World is in Sweden
A former entertainment journalist trades People magazine for yoga poses.
Published Apr 12, 2017 5:00 AM
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After years of writing celebrity profiles for People magazine, Swedish-born Ulrica Wihlborg and her husband picked up their three kids, left California, and decamped to a house in a coastal town in Sweden. Karlshamn, population 20,000 people, is a two-hour drive east from Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the 1600s, so the town has beautiful cobblestone streets and well-preserved historical buildings throughout. It’s very pretty, and it’s located right on the water with a large archipelago reachable by private boat or ferry. The family moved here four and a half years ago. “It was a big transition to give up a career I loved, all my colleagues and friends, and all that sunshine, and move across the world,” says Wihlborg. “And moving from busy Los Angeles to a small town—with winters!—was also a big change.”
What really helped her with the transition? Yoga. Wihlborg had been a devoted yogi for a long time in L.A., and got her teacher training with Mark Blanchard (whose clients include Jennifer Lopez and Drew Barrymore). “The first week at my kids’ new school in Sweden, one of the parents came up to me and asked me about teaching yoga,” Wihlborg explains of the experience. “So I began teaching a vinyasa flow class at the local yoga studio, and when the studio closed, I decided to open my own studio in late 2016. In a way, yoga helped me find my own tribe in this new place, and it’s been a great source of happiness.”
The yogi found a former salon space and transformed it into the town’s only yoga studio, Pure Yoga. “I really felt that it was important to have a yoga studio here,” says the entrepreneur. “I wanted to create a studio that was accessible to everyone, no matter age, body type, or fitness level. It was also important for me to create a studio that felt like home—peaceful and harmonious the moment you step inside.” The 1920s building in the middle of town had big storefront windows and original details; it just needed new floors and updated lighting. “I wanted the space to feel peaceful, but at the same time I wanted it to be pretty.”
“It makes me so grateful, being able to share this space that I love with so many others,” says Wihlborg. “Opening this studio is one of the best things I’ve done, and at the end of class, I almost feel like hugging that floor out of pure gratitude.”
The walls throughout are painted Benjamin Moore White Dove with Benjamin Moore Simply White trim. The curtains on the large front windows, which we close during class, are Pottery Barn’s Emory Linen/Cotton drapes and the gold lanterns and wall art are from Swedish brand Affari.
“I wanted the yoga room to feel clean and simple,” says Wihlborg, “without anything distracting, so I kept it really simple with whitewashed floors, white walls, gold lanterns, and two simple pieces of decor on the wall.”
The floors are painted Farrow & Ball Old White. The handmade wooden couch is an 1800s Swedish antique from a local antique store. The pillows and matching floor pillows and the metal coffee table are from Affari. The large wooden frame on the wall was picked up at the Santa Monica Antiques Market. The photograph inside is by Elizabeth Messina. The jute rug is from IKEA, and the bookshelf is a local vintage find painted in Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray. “I wanted this room to have a soothing, relaxing and soft feel with an easy mix of old and new,” says Wihlborg. “I designed the room inspired by the colors in the photograph on the wall.”
“This is the room where we hang out before and after class, and there’s always tea, water, and a little vegan treat available. On Saturday mornings we have organic coffee and Cookie & Kate’s Banana Bread!”
The cabinet in the equipment room is an old fruit cabinet from the 1920s she found in her basement in Sweden. It now holds yoga blocks and blankets. “I love Pinterest, and I find a lot of inspiration in quotes and little pieces of wisdom. So I created a Pinterest inspiration board in this room, with quotes and sayings that I love,” she explains.