“The truth is, yoga feels unapproachable and intimidating to most people, especially a new student,” Stephanie Kazanjian told Mayor Joseph Polisena Saturday morning inside her Zen Mafia studio at 300 Morgan Ave. in Johnston. “We wanted to change this; the idea for yoga events and Zen Mafia was born.”
Polisena, who was accompanied by District 1 Johnston Town Council member Linda Folcarelli, was all smiles and quipped: “I’ve never done yoga, but I am here to welcome you, your partner and business to town.”
With that, Polisena asked, as Kazanjian and her business partner, Kelly Cambio, listened and smiled: “How did the name Zen Mafia come about?”
To which Kazanjian, who met Cambio at yoga teacher training and immediately formed a friendship, replied: “Mayor Polisena, the name Zen Mafia came about as a way of describing a family or community of people, working together to be calm. Zen Mafia – organized calm.”
Polisena simply smiled then said, as he held a special folder containing an official town commendation he later presented to Kazanjian and Cambio: “There’s not always a lot of calm on my side of the job.”
But the mayor and Folcarelli, who were impressed with the co-owners and their facility, watched, listened and learned from “The Little Mafia.” That’s the affectionate name Kazanjian has for a half-dozen young children who were blowing bubbles and doing various exercises designed with nothing less than fun in mind.
“Our Little Mafia Yoga meets Saturday morning at 9:15,” Kazanjian offered. “This class and the children are so adorable.”
Cambio said the business provides “yoga paired with services and products that people already love from local businesses, while making classes feel safe and welcoming in a family-like community.”
“We are happy to say we now have a space where yoga feels welcoming to all students,” she said.
Their services also include yoga for bridges and grooms.
“We love our brides and grooms,” Kazanjian went on. “The stressed-out couple and their family are so much in need of yoga. Our wedding offerings range from bachelorette yoga with bubbles and a tailored playlist from our DJ, Drummer Timmy J, to surprise yoga the morning of the wedding with the whole family that traveled here for the event.”
Zen Mafia also offers regular weekly themed studio classes and often joins local partners all around Rhode Island for facials and yoga, yoga in salt room, brunch, axe-throwing yoga, cupping yoga and aura reading yoga, just to name a few.
“Each of our studio classes is called a studio event class because they all have a theme,” Kazanjian said. “This gives each class a focus and helps students to pick a class that best suits their type of practice and keeps thing fresh and interesting.”
Soon thereafter, Polisena – with Folcarelli looking on and smiling – presented Kazanjian and Cambio with the commendation that read in part: “Representing all of the citizens of the Town of Johnston, I am honored to extend sincere congratulations to you upon the opening of your business. I would like to express the hope for success and best wishes, now and in the years to come.”
Kazanjian then informed the mayor: “We also have yoga with donuts, yoga with protein shakes and even yoga in the vineyard; whatever our Mafia of yoga requests, we make happen. Some events are only done once, but most events resurface in a different way.”
For more information about Zen Mafia, call Kazanjian at 451-2925 or visit thezenmafia.com.