Early this year, Alicia Ferguson and Paris Alexandra decided to live in the moment and open up an inclusive, body positive yoga studio and event space, called BK Yoga Club. One month ago, they moved their studio from one DUMBO warehouse-turned-office space to another one across the street, where they use yoga as a tool to promote creativity and inclusivity.
The studio smelled of Palo Santo and the soulful, R&B music was unlike anything I’d expect to hear during a yoga session, but it worked. As I wobbled on one leg and had two arms reaching for the ceiling, I pictured myself falling and felt a little ridiculous. Alexandra, who taught the Morning Beats class, turned around and looked at me with a wide smile. “You got it!” she said. That encouragement instantly made me feel better about my yoga performance.
Making people feel accepted, welcome and at ease is part of the studio’s DNA. Alexandra and Ferguson have practiced yoga for years and, as women of color, did not feel like they were represented in the yoga world.
“As a black woman, there is not a lot of representation in yoga,” said Alexandra. “I would legit go to yoga studios and be the only black girl or woman of color there. Practicing with other black people and to see yourself represented is refreshing.”
Ferguson adds: “I believe there are only five black-owned [yoga] businesses in Brooklyn. Why is that still a thing?”
It’s not just women of color who are underrepresented in the yoga industry, curvy women are often left out of the picture, too. “We come in all shapes and sizes, and, structurally, our bodies are all different,” said Ferguson. “We should focus on athleticism and moving our bodies from a non-judgmental standpoint. Yoga helps me with that.”
When people walk through the doors of BK Yoga Club, they should feel like they entered their home away from home. In a city as hectic as New York, it is easy to feel overwhelmed—sometimes even at home if you share an apartment with several roommates. They want people to unwind and feel part of a community. Successfully, because people commute from all over the city to experience it.
“A lot of our teachers and community come from the Bed-Stuy area. They are interested in what’s going on here. There is a new energy of yoga,” said Ferguson.
To enhance the community feeling, they organize music events, art shows and wine-downs after some classes. Tea and snacks are available in the lounge area, and people are encouraged to come early to chat.
The pair believes they were meant to meet. They weren’t supposed to be, but ended up in the same yoga teacher training program. Both of them had toyed with the idea of opening a studio or event space to some degree—Alexandra vaguely, Ferguson had her moodboards ready to go. When Ferguson showed Alexandra her moodboard, Alexandra gasped and thought “I want that.” So, despite several people telling them that they were insane to add “running a yoga studio” to their already-long to-do lists, they decided to follow their instinct and open a studio.
It turned out to be a perfect situation. Both of them are able to bring their past experience, passions and talents to the studio. Alexandra is a singer-songwriter who helps kids realize their dreams, and Ferguson is a marketing director with a background in fashion and photography and loves interior design and making candles. All of these things come in handy when you want to organize music events, bring people together, create a cozy atmosphere, and design a nice website.
Yoga for them is the perfect platform for all these creative escapades. During practice, they are in tune with their bodies and minds, which makes room for creativity. They want others, no matter their background, expertise or body type, to experience that too.
If being part of a chill, creative, yoga community doesn’t sound great on its own, at $20 per class, the studio’s price point is another reason to put on some leggings and take a trip to DUMBO.
Find them at 247 Water Street, Suite #305, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Images courtesy of Sean Munro.
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