Y.A.M.: So a yogi, an artist and a musician walk into a studio…

By Marissa Alvarado | LakeHighlands ADVOCATE

Visitors enter the venue with blankets, wine and food as if it’s Coachella.

They sit and wait for the musical performance, having only found out hours before that the secret setting is Y.A.M. Studio in Lakeridge Village.

Sofar sounds is hosting the event where guests and artists come together, featuring local artists Matthew And The Arrogant Sea, Noa Jordan and LeTrainiump.

This is just the beginning of Y.A.M.’s venture into live performances. Yoga studio by day, the space was created with a stage and an acoustic-friendly environment meant for live music. Did we mention that the studio is also right behind the owners’ backyard fence?


Photo credit: Danny Fulgencio

Jen Johnson was on a plane just after celebrating her 30th birthday on 9/11. The national tragedy inspired her to reach out to her brother, who was her yoga buddy back when they used VHS tapes to practice.

“My brother and I connected again and said, ‘Let’s quit our jobs and go open a yoga studio.’”

They opened a studio, Whole Life, at Greenville and Lovers with reiki, acupuncture, massage and 40 yoga classes a week.

“We were maybe the third or fourth studio in Dallas at that time,” Jen says. “Our slogan was ‘We’re nice.’ We were trying to make yoga very unintimidating, especially in 2001. People are like, ‘What the heck is that? Is it religious? Do you have to be vegetarian?’”

Jen and her brother soon created American Power Yoga and certified the program through the Yoga Alliance. Yoga teachers could go through a 200-hour training program, and to this day, there are American Power Yoga teachers teaching throughout Dallas.

Then in 2006, Jen started to shift away from yoga.

“I had a child that was about a year and a half. I was teaching finance at night, yoga in the morning, doing the books during the day, and I was just kind of getting burnt out, so I took a corporate job,” she says.


Photo credit: Danny Fulgencio

Jen and Trey Johnson met in high school and attended the University of North Texas together. They always had a love for art but visiting galleries in college increased their interest as a couple.

Currently at Y.A.M., artists’ works line the walls so that yogis can view the pieces while holding downward dog with the chance to purchase them.

“The art that’s in there right now, it’s pretty notable. If you walk in and looked at the art and aren’t moved, you might not be that into art,” Trey says.

The most recent featured artist is Abebe Zelelew. An artist born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with works hanging in several private collections around the world as well as at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa and the Chateau de la Court d’Aron Saint-Cyr en Talmondais in France. In 1996, some of his works were selected to represent Ethiopian art in the “Aethiopia” exhibit that traveled across Europe.

“It’s pretty powerful stuff, and I love when a piece of art can generate a visceral response from somebody,” Trey says.


Photo credit: Danny Fulgencio

Having studied music in college, Trey is the M in Y.A.M.

His band Sorta received praise from the Dallas Observer, Rolling Stone and was even featured on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” After the band, he went on to teach music at Zounds Sounds and soon began his own label, State Fair Records.

“That was my first time I’d ever taught music before, and that was pretty interesting and eye-opening on lots of different levels and I think that’s what kind of led me to the record label thing,” Trey says. “Some people are very ambitious musicians, and some people just kind of want to play music because it’s fun, and some people don’t even want to play music and they’re being forced to.”

His record label has spawned stars like Joshua Ray Walker, the Vandoliers and Ottoman Turks. State Fair Records was also approached by the State Fair of Texas to curate the live music at the 2019 event.

“They contacted us because we’ve been pretty active as an artist development label and that means also in tune with what’s happening in the music scene,” Trey says. “[They] came to us because we had our finger on the pulse, really, if you get right down to it. And once we sat down it was pretty clear that we were compatible.”

While the duo focused on this project, they say Y.A.M. will return with live performances including music and stand-up comedy.

Voyage Dallas: Q & A with Jen & Trey

Published June 5, 2019

Meet Jen and Trey Johnson of Yoga Art Music in Lake Highlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen and Trey Johnson.

Jen and Trey, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

On our 19th wedding anniversary, Valentines Day 2018, we had the idea of combining a yoga studio with an art gallery, and music venue. We thoughts this would be a cool way to add to our community while bringing three things we both love together.

I had opened one of the first yoga studios in Dallas in 2001, and Trey has always had a passion for music. Art was just something we both had been enjoying together for 30 years, locally and across the states. We bonded over art at the Kimball art museum in Fort Worth, and the DMA.

In addition to feeling like Lake Highlands needed a community-based space, we both wanted to help yoga teachers, artists, and musicians in Dallas. What also added to the decision to start this business was that our kids are growing up. We thought a family-based business such as this would provide countless opportunities for our family to hang out and grow.

Has it been a smooth road?

It’s been a very smooth road, the fact that our life has allowed us to do this is amazing. Although, the redevelopment of the Lakeridge Village has taken much longer than anyone expected, so that’s been rough, We worked hard to stay patient. And I am so thankful that all of our yoga teachers stuck with us through the delays!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Yoga Art Music – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.

Bringing yoga, art, and music together in Lake Highlands sets us apart. Having a community feel and has been one of the first to sign a lease in the Lakeridge redevelopment also adds to this unique journey.

We offer 27 accessible yoga classes each week starting as early as 5:30 am and late as 8 pm.

I have been all around Dallas taking classes, and this is a beautiful community for yoga, so many amazing teachers. I was looking for a certain vibe and comfort from teachers prior to asking if they wanted to be a part of YAM. Every teacher we have is easy going and positive, great with beginners, as well as seasoned yogis. I also think our message that we truly wanted this to be a “happy place” resonated with each of them, I believe and hope clients will feel this when they walk into the space.

As it relates to the music, we hope to create an environment for music lovers. A place where people can interact with the musicians in an intimate setting, and enjoy a studio designed by the distinguished studio designer, Bob Suffolk.

Our art will be locally sourced, and include artists who have shown around the world. It is curated by both of us and will reflect pieces we both love, We will also make sure the pieces work well together, and in a yoga studio environment.

We are also able to accommodate workshops, special events, and parties. The space includes a 98-inch high definition television for screenings, presentations and watching parties.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?

Both born and raised here, we love the people and the pace.

We would love more local businesses, I think all change starts locally.

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