On a dark, snowy Tuesday, Boston is barren and cold. At POP Allston, however, the warmth from the candlelight makes the walls glow. This is a candlelight yoga class, one of the three yoga classes offered in this mixed-use space in the heart of Allston, and the brainchild of yoga teacher Ali Singer.
Created in partnership by Allston Village Main Streets, Orchard Skate Shop, Commonwheels Bicycle Co-Op, Vivant Vintage, and Eden Properties, POP Allston is space that hosts a multitude of various activities. Part indoor skating rink, part bike shop, POP Allston is the last place you would expect to find the tranquility of a yoga class.
“Yoga makes you appreciate life—well, appreciate isn’t the right word: Yoga makes you present,” Singer, founder of Yoga Hub, Boston’s vibrant network for teachers and practitioners, said.
After seeing a post on Twitter advertising an available space in POP Allston, Singer jumped at the opportunity to create what she thought was an accessible, fun way for the community to get involved in yoga, without pricey memberships or strict schedules. For a donation, individuals of all ages have the opportunity to participate in a unique and invigorating class, open to all levels of experience.
“Competing with the other ‘legitimate’ studios in the neighborhood has definitely been a challenge,” Singer said. “But in reality, keeping my classes donation-based is an opportunity … it’s part of my mission with Yoga Hub to make yoga practice accessible to the community.”
Drawing from the vibrant population of Boston itself, Singer has designed three themed classes to accommodate many kinds of participants: reggae on Sunday, candlelight on Tuesday, and glow on Thursday. Each class draws a different crowd, and inspires a different energy, but is focused on one end goal—creating unity within the community.
“At candlelight yoga, we light our candles from a singular candle in the room, which promotes a feeling of connectedness,” Singer said. “Reggae is definitely more mellow, and glow is catered towards a younger person, like myself, who enjoy electronic music and something a little more fast-paced … Each class its own personality.”
Newcomers, however, should not be intimidated or self-conscious In fact, Singer encourages beginners to embrace the insecurities they have about the practice. In order to be aligned with the true philosophy of yoga, one must focus on the process of improving, rather than only the end goal. Singer recognizes that many people are discouraged by their practice, and feel as if there is a certain standard to uphold when participating in her classes.
“You don’t have to be ‘good’ at yoga, because there is no ‘good,’” Singer said. “Yoga is definitely depicted in the media as this sexy, sport where you can lose weight and be totally enlightened. It’s definitely not that at all, and every person who comes to yoga has their own challenges.”
Looking toward the future, Singer realizes that in order to take Yoga Hub to the next level, she must overcome the two biggest barriers that prevent people from attending classes: lack of time and lack of a convenience location.
To combat this, Singer has begun reaching out to various companies and schools to bring yoga to their own spaces. Ultimately, she hopes to create a more accessible option for the community, and believes that bringing the practice to workplaces and classrooms will inspire a new attitude about yoga that will benefit participants in all aspects of their life.
“Yoga is good for every person,” Singer said. “A lot of misconceptions stem from an image that they things Yoga is supposed to look like, and that they don’t fit that mold—in reality, you make your own mold for how Yoga works for you.”
Featured Image by Pop Allston