Inhabiting an eclectic space at Huntington Harbour Mall, Harmony HB Arts & Wellness Center helps Huntington Beach find love, balance and unity through yoga, dance, massage and meditation. At the helm of the healing studio stands 62-year-old Jan Palmer, a jewelry designer and sculptor from Los Angeles. Her story is truly inspiring.
Palmer has been practicing yoga since before the yoga mat, and her jewelry crafting began back in 1969. Her livelihood progressed into fashion jewelry design, often taking her cross-country to New York City. It was there her life changed forever. She was struck by a pickup truck while crossing the street—an accident that flipped her small frame into the air and severely injured her right shoulder. In the wake of the incident, Palmer found herself struggling with two frozen shoulders and soul-searching in her mid-50s.
The second test for Palmer came when her mother fell ill. She stayed in Huntington Beach to care for her mom, and after her mother passed away, Palmer once again found herself seeking a life change and questioning her existence. The pace, people and weather of HB appealed to her, and with inherited funds and her relentless work ethic, Palmer opened Harmony HB on April 1, 2012.
Doubling as a wellness center and gift shop, Harmony HB's mission is to help people find balance by stretching and moving their bodies using a variety of methods. "My intention is for people to come and help themselves," says Palmer. The nurturing all-ages, all-levels studio provides a safe environment where people can find and build their own practice without competing with others or intensely pushing themselves. Reaching back to a time where yoga focused on stretch and breath, Harmony HB's classes instruct guests to honor and listen to their bodies, practice pace, to live in the present and to simply breathe. At the center, mirrors only exist on the upstairs dance floor. Letter blocks spelling "harmony" are the only motivation yogis need here.
What also makes the studio so unique is the level of care provided by the instructors and staffers. "Our goal is to spread the love, help people find balance and unite because part of wellness is community," says Palmer. During our Yoga I class, the instructor explained the benefits of each position, offered advanced options for each pose, gently made adjustments to students and reminded the class to be mindful of their bodies. Additionally, each teacher comes equipped with a specialty, such as yoga therapy training or foundational training.
The charming wellness boutique and gallery showcasing Palmer's jewelry and sculpture creations adds another level of zen to the studio, existing as the perfect place to shop for healing gifts. Earrings, necklaces and rings of all styles and colors by Palmer are for sale, as are some of her mother's vintage accessory pieces. Vials of locally made chakra oils, tins of ayurvedic teas, boxes of incense and wellness books line the shelves, and a tea station for guests is in the works. Soon for sale will be Palmer's Spinealine mat, which provides a visual grid to achieve total symmetry. A bit alignment-obsessed, Palmer explains that health "really starts with the spine."
Classes offered are as follows: Intro to Yoga, Intro to Kundalini Yoga, Gentle Yoga/Meditation, Gentle Yoga, Yoga I, Yoga I/Meditation, Yoga II, Deep Stretch, Mat Pilates, Harmony Barre and Zumba. Sessions are slated between two and six times daily, and the schedule changes every three months. A single class costs $17, but package deals are available. First-timers can score two weeks of unlimited harmony for $25.
Other tools for finding balance include five different massage options and ayurvedic health consultations with Ayurvedic Health Practitioner Zita Resnais-Dattilo.
Palmer credits yoga as the practice that helped her lose weight and pain as well as overcome depression over the years. "I've learned how to relax more," the former exercise-aholic and "high-strung city girl" tells us. "I've got more of a balance going."
While you may catch Palmer teaching an Intro to Yoga class, she describes herself as more of a behind-the-scenes person. "I like being the fly on the wall with a smile on my face seeing everybody happy, not the person onstage taking the bow," she says. Harmony HB is her gift to the community.
Harmony HB Arts & Wellness Center is located at 16907 Algonquin Street in Huntington Beach, 714-840-2446.