Twin eighteenth-century teakwood pillars frame the entrance of True Nature Healing Arts like a row of sacred tree trunks. Resting across their tops is an oak beam that was constructed and patinated in the twenty-first century by Roaring Fork Valley craftspeople.
“What you’ll see,” says Eaden Shantay, describing the oak and teakwood veranda, as well as the rest of the True Nature building he co-owns with his wife, Deva, “is a real mingling of old and new.”
As they scouted a location for their healing sanctuary in 2011, what the Shantays first saw was mostly new. The structure that would become True Nature’s new home, then owned by an architecture firm, was contemporary, with a metal, corrugated exterior. “It was a cool-looking space,” Deva says, “but not for yoga.”
Her perspective changed when they ventured inside. “Once we were in the space,” Deva says, “we instantly knew this was it.” The building was in the right town: Carbondale, home to the Shantays’ previous True Nature studios. It sat adjacent to the Rio Grande bike path, just a block off Main Street, yet felt somehow secluded. “We wanted to be off the beaten path, like Avalon,” Eaden explains. “We’re harder to find, but when you find it, there’s a deep meaning to it.”
Once they purchased the building, the Shantays consulted with Michelle Pauline Design, channeled their inner Shiva Nataraja—“the Destroyer”—and gutted it. They brought in a feng shui expert, who recommended a new entrance. Stepping through it today is like entering another world.
In the center of the community room sits an antique water-stand table from Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, reimagined as a curio cabinet for crystals, mini-labyrinths, and jewelry. The far wall hosts a boutique with all things yogi: blankets, bolsters, scents, deities, books, and clothing. Textured fabrics on benches and chairs invite relaxation over a cup of tea.
Details intended to foster a healing atmosphere are everywhere. The sounds of soft music and trickling water emanate from unseen places, while aromatherapy oils determined by the season or by the day diffuse into circulating cleansed air. Hidden crystals, bagua mirrors, and rebar cut to specific lengths underneath the foundation are all positioned like acupuncture needles for the building, directing and redirecting energies.
To the visual senses, East meets Carbondale imperceptibly, especially in the interior doors. Many of the arches, framings, and screens throughout True Nature came from mosques, temples, and mansions in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, including Kashmir. During times of conflict, the pieces were sold, partially demolished, or removed—sometimes carried out on the backs of refugees. The Shantays sourced many of the artifacts from Roaring Forge in Carbondale and importers Ira Seret and La Puerta in Santa Fe.
Carved teakwood risers, salvaged from millennia past, are integrated into the newly built staircase, which leads past hand-cut glass chakras to the second-floor yoga studio. Silk saris frame the archway of its 500-pound door. Toward the back, an open tent of multicolored curtains adorned with antique Moroccan lanterns hangs beside ancient shelves of various murti, or sacred deities. Opposite the studio, the Shantays built a meditation room resplendent with crystals, plants, and a Shiva Nataraja altar for lessons and reflection.
None of these features are about religious dogma, says Eaden: “It’s an opportunity to see something like the Buddha outside and be inspired.”
That inspiration carries through to the Peace Garden, which was completed late last summer. The landscape architecture, created by Basalt Mountain Gardens and DHM Design, includes a sunken grass yoga spiral. At the spiral’s beginning, earthen cob couches surround a fire circle. Walkways lined with edible and medicinal plants used in True Nature’s kitchen and spa meander through the garden. A Five Element Reflexology stone path that targets acupressure points and a labyrinth rock maze encourage physical and meditative interaction. People tend to walk the paths slowly, as though they are testing the waters of introspection.
For some, True Nature Healing Arts is a destination to visit again and again. For others, it’s an unexpected discovery made as they are pedaling along the bike path. Either way, the experience—inside and out—is one that the Shantays intend for “people who want to look deeper within.”