There’s a line of “superyachts” where one of the features is a yoga studio. Most people will never be on a yacht, let alone a superyacht, but yoga – with its health benefits and general mantras that focus on equity – is supposed to be much more accessible.
“We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and as happens, the socioeconomic divides, the rising cost of living, the capitalization of ‘yoga,’ leaves us with a half a dozen yoga studios in a square mile with a one-hour class costing $27, and almost no studios or consistent public classes elsewhere,” Stovall said in an interview via email early this week. “I do not fault many of these studios—it is not an easy business and the overhead in places like Grove Street is daunting. But these classes and spaces are inherently exclusive. We can be doing more.”
The Tuesday evenings yoga sessions are in addition to the classes Stovall leads at Snapdragon Coffee & Social, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. the first and third Saturdays of the month – offered due to the support of Snapdragon host/owner Buzz Pasdar and Art House Productions in that capacity as well as at their Art House Gallery.
Stovall hopes to offer more classes in more neighborhoods. The finite period of sessions advertised at the Art House Gallery have been extended another five weeks, through April 14.
“We will continue with this pattern for the foreseeable future,” Stovall said.
“My intention with this project has been to create a community yoga program in Jersey City by providing affordable, accessible and inclusive yoga classes for all ages in safe neutral spaces throughout the city, seeking collaboration with established and growing community centers,” Stovall continued. “It has been an important aspect of the project to provide these classes on a regular basis. All classes are offered for ‘pay-what-you-can’ donations. Future classes will be offered as ‘pay-what-you-can’ on a sliding scale $5-25, with the lower end of the scale suggested for those underrepresented in yoga settings and the higher end for those able.”
“It is important to note that this is a borrowed practice—the history is long and nuanced and in some ways complicated but ultimately to practice you need only you and your body and your breath,” Stovall said. “The practice is ultimately independent but has an incredible social and communal aspect that I hope to cultivate in our own way.”
Creating the conditions for “repeated personal inquiry and growth” to take place in, as Stovall put it, is the key challenge beyond just getting people into a yoga class.
The environments people return to at home are also a factor in the way someone may be able to embrace yoga.
But Stovall said that that—“repeated personal inquiry and growth"—is what yoga can be. “I know that we do not need $4000 to access that. I don’t know, yet, how we bring this practice to the people who need it—or just who, precisely these people are. I hope I can hear from them and continue to learn from them. I know that I have benefited from it. I know that others can.
Yoga sessions at Snapdragon, 190 Monticello Ave., have a limit of about 10 to 12 students. Art House Gallery sessions have a limit of around 25. Email Stovall at firstname.lastname@example.org for the most up to date information.