Inside Bay Ridge’s Expanding Yoga Scene

Yoga in the Park
Yoga in the Park. Photo by the author for Hey Ridge

By April Boland

You may have seen a meme come across your Facebook newsfeed recently: “I Can’t Keep Calm… I’m From Brooklyn.”

And it’s true—we don’t live in a borough well known for equability. But Yoga in Bay Ridge (9016 Fourth Avenue) is trying to change that. For the past five years, the studio has offered yoga classes for all ages and experience levels. Owner and instructor Bobby Boles began offering classes in his home, a studio apartment with room for only four students, after practicing at studios in Manhattan and wondering why we didn’t have something similar in Bay Ridge. He opened the studio in 2010. At the time, the only competition in the neighborhood was Bikram Yoga, where classes take place in a 105-degree room with 40 percent humidity, to help you sweat. Now there are three studios, plus private sessions and classes at many local gyms, such as Harbor Fitness.

General interest in yoga has grown significantly over the years, particularly as mainstream celebrities like Oprah promote its benefits. The Bay Ridge yoga scene is smaller than those in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Williamsburg, but it’s steadily growing. Yoga in the Park, a summer series that offers free yoga classes at Shore Road Park, started last summer and proved popular enough to become an annual tradition. On June 5, more than 60 people joined Bobby for a basic one-hour session on the grass, overlooking the bay.

In addition to improving flexibility, strength and mindfulness, yoga has been shown to be linked to all kinds of health benefits, including reduced stress. Bobby hopes that students will get more than just a workout in his classes. “I hope they get the exercise they want, but also to calm down and relax a little,” he says. “I really like the physical aspect of yoga, but the first time I did a long relaxation in a yoga class, I floated out the door.” And he’s right—this is what sets Yoga in Bay Ridge apart from your typical class at Crunch or NYSC. It’s what hooked me in my very first class more than two years ago. Each class ends with a 10-minute relaxation, during which students lie in “corpse pose” with the lights low to release tension from every part of their body. It’s basically dessert.

Yoga in the Park continues with Bobby Boles at 7pm on June 24, August 11 and September 14, at the 79th Street ballfields. On July 18 and August 29, Nancy Cummings from Bikram Yoga Bay Ridge will lead it. 

April Boland reads, writes, blogs and tweets from her nerd-cave in Bay Ridge. You can find her on Twitter at @aprilbd.

Follow Hey Ridge on Twitter @heyridgebk

Yoga in Bay Ridge
Photo by the author for Hey Ridge