Writer and Photographer
Audrey Love Bean and Florencia “Flo” Fridman first crossed paths this January on a Cacao farm in Guatemala, as together they deepened their knowledge on the sacred medicine used by the Mayans and the Aztecs to connect with higher energies.
Fast forward to September in Bushwick, and the duo’s pop-up venture, The Cacao Studio, not only provides weekly yoga sessions and Cacao-curated experiences, but enlightens the Bushwick community about this superfood’s ability to heal and connect—one cup at a time.
“Cacao basically saved my life,” co-founder and Australian native Audrey Love Bean tells Bushwick Daily. “When I left Australia, I was suffering from chronic anxiety. I needed to get back to zero and figure out why.” Bean first traveled to San Marcos, Guatemala and began attending Cacao ceremonies, which are essentially guided meditation sessions, centered around receiving the benefits from the pure chocolate. “I was getting to the roots of my anxiety. Very much working (through) behavioral patterns and emotional blockages,” Bean explains. “I feel very connected and I want to share that with others.”
Audrey and Flo’s Cacao Studio offers a variety of physical and spiritual classes, all centered around drinking Cacao and witnessing its many nutritional and energetic benefits. Packed with magnesium, calcium and zinc, Cacao is known for relaxing the nervous system and inviting more oxygen in the brain, which increases focus and enhances creativity. It is sometimes compared to caffeine for its uplifting feeling, due to an alkaloid of the Cacao plant called theobromine. Anandamide, serotonin and phenylethylamine are also released, boosting endorphins and overall providing a “blissful” state.
So how does one actually feel when they drink Cacao? “It depends,” Audrey says. “It’s a subtle medicine. The general feelings that occur … there’s a sense of contentment, a lightheartedness that can have a very playful energy. But if you’re going through a shadow time, it softens. It has this ability to move out of our heads, and into our hearts. It makes things more manageable.”
“Cacao is a good alternative for those who self-medicate through pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol,” Audrey adds. “Instead of masking pain, Cacao allows you to look into things, and acts as a good middle ground. You can drink it every day. It has a lot of potential for people to heal and to connect with themselves.”
Bushwick Daily recently visited The Cacao Studio, and as newcomers we tried “Cacao Flow,” which is a 2 hour class led by co-owner Flo, connecting participants with Cacao, sound, breath and yoga. The class began in a circle, as Flo poured each of us a generous cup of a ceremonial-grade Cacao blend, which was said to have an uplifting, yet grounding energy to it. She gave us a brief overview of Cacao’s importance in ancient times and its medicinal properties, as we comfortably sat on blankets sipping.
“Cacao is a supporting medicine,” Flo explained to the class. “It takes you to the door and it holds your hand. It helps us connect deeply with ourselves, so we can connect deeply with others.”
We then did a type of breathwork called rebirthing, and soon after the class transitioned into a full-fledged yoga class. Flo guided the class, reminding us to smile every so often, with a coolness in her voice and support that held the entire room. Each sequence progressed in a fluid nature, matching the ambient music playing overhead (on a truly fantastic sound system), and eventually we worked our way down to a final relaxation, where Flo played singing bowls.
It’s safe to say we left the studio feeling centered, relaxed and definitely more connected with the other individuals in the room who shared the same uplifting experience. It wasn’t surprising then to hear Audrey’s favorite part of running the studio: “It’s ultimately sharing the Cacao with people and the community around it. Coming to know Bushwick, it’s like a little village. The people I’ve met through Cacao have become family.”
Want to experience Cacao for yourself? Stay connected with The Cacao Studio as Audrey and Flo approach their final month as a pop-up. View their class schedule here and look out for their Full Moon Cacao Ceremony event on Wednesday, Oct. 4. To purchase your own Cacao sourced directly from Guatemalan and Ecuadorian farmers, visit Cacao Lab.
UPDATE: On October 4th, The Cacao Studio informed Bushwick Daily due to unforeseen circumstances, they will not be hosting classes any longer at 209 Evergreen Avenue, effective immediately after the Full Moon Cacao Ceremony this evening. However, stay in touch as Audrey and Flo will continue to host Synergy Partner Yoga and pop-up events at other Bushwick locations.