By Ginger DeShaney
The new yoga studio at 249 E Street is an inviting spot for the community to feel comfortable and connected.
“We just kind of wanted to make a space that felt like a playground; where people could just walk in and connect with others and not feel the pressure of having to perform anything,” said Emily Arlauskas, one of the three young owners of the Yoga Playground. “Like a little kid on a playground, you take chances and try things and don’t worry too much if it’s going to be right.”
Emily, 25, her sister, Hannah Arlauskas, 23, and Emily’s roommate, Natalie Wannamaker, 24 — all graduates of Northeastern and all Southie residents — opened the studio on Aug. 15, 2021.“Anyone is welcome. All levels,” Emily said. “I really want to get people in here moving and breathing. We really love beginners. Just make it a community space for people from all backgrounds to feel welcome.”
Emily and Hannah started going to South Boston Yoga when they were 14 and 12 years old. Their mom, Deborah, would bring them to classes and the owners never said no. “We started going to classes there. Eventually we got into supervising and being part of their work study team. And then we eventually started doing teacher training with them,” said Emily.
“South Boston Yoga was such a supportive place that we both felt really at home there. We just fell in love with [yoga] and really fell in love with the community.”
Emily, Hannah, and Natalie did their yoga teacher training with South Boston Yoga’s Todd Skoglund and David Vendetti. Emily and Hannah are also certified in pilates after training with Antonio Aniello.
During the pandemic, South Boston Yoga shut down. “That was our homebase for a really long time,” Emily said.
In February, after missing their friends, the Yoga Playground virtual studio was created to offer donation-based Zoom classes to bring people together. The Playground continues to offer virtual classes.
But as people got vaccinated and things started opening up, the trio toyed with the idea of a physical space. One night, when she couldn’t sleep, Emily was on Craig’s List at 4 in the morning and found the space on E Street, an affordable, fully renovated spot in the heart of the neighborhood. After discussions about if they should actually do it, they decided to go for it.
“None of us had any idea how to run a business. We’ve been going by the seat of our pants,” Emily laughed. “We have been pooling together everything that we have.”
The beautiful space, which used to be a corner store that Emily and Hannah visited on the way to the Boys & Girls Club back in the day, is about 700 square feet. “We only have like 10 people per class,” Emily said. “The space is so small but it’s been so much fun.”
The trio could have up to 19 people at a time, but right now, attendees like to have extra space and the owners respect that.
Emily is an eighth-grade math teacher at Boston Collegiate Charter School, her and Hannah’s alma mater; Hannah is a site acquisition analyst for BlueWave Solar; and Natalie worked at Boston Microgreens and will be attending massage school.
How do they juggle everything? “It’s just a lot of teamwork and communication,” Emily said. “It’s really easy for my sister and I; we’ve always been a supernatural team. We’re very in sync. It’s easy for us to say, ‘I can do this and you can do this.’ And we bring Natalie in. It’s a lot of communication and trying to stay on top of schedules and what’s coming up.”
The Yoga Playground, which offers yoga and pilates, schedules two classes on weekday nights, at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. and a 10:30 a.m. class on Saturday and Sunday. The trio will look to add more classes after they get settled.
They charge $17 for a drop-in class; $80 for a five-class card (that’s good for one year); and $150 for a 10-class card (also good for a year).
“We wanted to keep it affordable,” said Emily, noting mats can be rented for $2.
To sign up for classes, head to Yogaplayground.org or use the Mindbody app.
The Yoga Playground will have a table at the South Boston Street Festival on Sept. 18. “We’re very excited to be a part of it.”
- Website: https://www.yogaplayground.org/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/playground.yoga/