In a world of noise and distraction, Sunshine Café & Yoga brings together food, yoga and meditation to nourish much more than the body alone.
Words by Rosie Cattrell
As I sit with my legs crossed, feet tucked beneath me with squishy bolsters to rest my knees and a cushion on two yoga blocks to raise me up off the floor, a bewildering feeling of perfect calm finds its home in my mind. Having made a life around meeting deadlines and filling empty spaces with activity and restless movement, to immerse myself in a quiet moment and let stillness find its form around me is a new territory. The hazy glow of the warm studio light readies me for Andrew’s meditation session, and after finding comfort in the position of my body, with fingers relaxed and palms turned up, I close my eyes and we begin.
There is a welcoming atmosphere at Sunshine that seems to draw curious minds from all around, and I’m certainly one of them. Washed in white from the outside, with charming murals imprinted onto the walls as you walk up to the door of the café, it’s hard to believe that this beautiful building was once an old stone barn, rundown and abandoned in the heart of Penryn. Nevertheless, Owner and Founder Ella Kite saw a magic in these stone walls that would weave its way into the beautiful space that is now known as Sunshine Café & Yoga, and our conversation takes me down a route that led to this remarkable venture.
“I grew up with travel-loving parents that carted me off all around the world from a young age,” explains Ella in fond reflection, “which inspired in me an intrepid heart. I have always loved travelling to new places and absorbing rich cultures and aesthetics from around the world. So much of the interior of Sunshine is inspired by these travels and my mother’s love of travel in particular – she would always collect bits and pieces of handmade woven textiles, wooden sculptures, paintings.” This is certainly reflected in the rich earth-tone textiles of the cushions around the café that invite a seat at the table, mixed with a space simply decorated with framed art and woven wall hangings.
“Sunshine is a place to come to reset, find balance and recharge,” Ella continues. “I really want people to make this a part of their daily or weekly routines, to weave it into their lifestyle, become a part of our community and just watch how it benefits their life! It’s a great opportunity to meet new, like-minded people and have inspiring chats with someone over a coffee that was practising next to you in your morning yoga class. We just want to help show you ways to live your life in a healthier, more thoughtful and nourishing way.
“My love of café culture had eventually become woven intrinsically with my love of yoga, meditation and wellbeing, and I realised how well these two went together. I dreamt of bringing this combination to Cornwall (where I always returned to in-between my travels) and creating an inclusive community here around mental and physical wellness, and healthy eating and living!”
Ella’s relationship with Yoga began when she was just 16 in a welcome moment of rest and release from a tricky few years at home after her mum had become unwell with early-onset Alzheimers, which she kindly shares with me: “Yoga was always there for me when I needed it. I was originally drawn to that deep peace and alignment that I felt after class, but then I started to notice this ripple out into other aspects of my life and that was what really got me hooked. When I started to deepen my practice and explore meditation, I realised just how much it helped me understand myself and the world around me. It allowed me to work on my own self-development and grow into the person I really wanted to be, and react to life in the best way I could. It was an amazing support for the mental health issues that I suffered with around my Mum’s illness and then her passing, and I feel truly grateful to have been introduced to it at such an early age. Now, I love to be able to share it with my students at Sunshine and watch as they deepen their practices and reap the benefits of yoga in their lives.”
With a range of yoga classes on offer, from more energising Vinyasa classes, which are good to start your morning or help find a boost later on in the day, to slower Restorative and Yin classes that help to ground your body and calm your nervous system, allowing you deep rest and release; these slower practices are great to balance out our busy Western lives and introduce a harmony. “I have a particular personal passion for Yin,” Ella reflects, “as it has helped me a lot in my life through intense periods of burn out, anxiety and fatigue, to heal my body and bring my nervous system back into balance. Similarly, there more energising practices have been amazing to help me build up my energy levels again in a healthy and nourishing way.”
Sunshine is also a space where people can get an insight into meditation and how this is such an integral part of a yoga practice, with free sessions held every Sunday. “For me,” Ella continues, “meditation has probably been the biggest support in my life and has really led me to grow as a person, to understand myself, my patterns, my reactions and has dramatically affected the choices I make now and the habits I create in my daily in life. We try to make this slice of magic as accessible to people as possible, and we love to be able to offer this as a free class every week.”
For those looking to go a step further, Sunshine holds regular events that explore yoga in slightly deeper ways, allowing explorers to delve into a specific practice for two to three hours and really learn, while other wellness style events, like Sound Baths, Energy Healing, Women’s Circles, Movement Workshops and Kirtans, bring people together in a way that encourages real connections and a true sense of community, as Ella explains: “When people come to our yoga and meditation classes, they realise just how much more there is to being a yogi.
It really is a way to live your life in the best way possible and make the best choices that impact you and the world around you. It’s an amazing way to understand the inner workings of your mind and a way to develop yourself into the ultimate version of you, to align yourself to your true life’s purpose and ultimately find joy and happiness in all areas of your life. The physical practise of yoga has a whole heap of amazing physical health benefits too, but really it’s that mental state and awareness that is the goal of your practise.”
I admit to Ella that Sunshine has been a favourite hideout of mine for some time now, and in fact I often frequent the café with a book or a friend in tow to sample the incredible food (that is yet to disappoint) and enjoy the calm atmosphere of the space. While, until now, I had never explored the yoga or meditation side of Sunshine, there is an aura that finds its way into the café through the doors of the adjoining studio, adorned with the phases of the lunar cycle. However, now that I have taken my first steps through those doors into a quiet world of peaceful contemplation and internal exploration, I don’t imagine they will be my last.