No matter what feelings you are experiencing after the election, Loom Yoga wants it to be known that they are here for you; in their original Bushwick location, and the recently opened Williamsburg studio at 783 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn.
“Whichever part of the political spectrum you belong to, we have a space where people can come together, despite it all,” said Founder Zalmen Labin.
In an unassuming building, the new studio’s design is minimal, yet inviting with batches of bamboo creating an oasis around the restrooms and changing area. There’s a zen-like
greenery present that studio manager and instructor, Amy Kalaczynski was intent on creating to give a nod to Costa Rica where she did her teacher training.
“We wanted to keep this a neutral space, a place where people can come that’s non-intimidating.” she said, and then adds with a smile, “but also give a little bit of jungle in the city to provide an escape.”
And while the sirens of police and fire engines sound off outside, a group of yogis gather on the bench getting ready for the upcoming class.
“Part of the yoga practice is the communal aspect - people coming off the stressful streets of NYC, and feeling comfortable and being able to connect with other people.” said Zalmen. “In the Bushwick studio, there is a carpet in the waiting area, and people would sometimes take a bolster and just lie down. That's what we are going for here.”
To enhance this communal aspect, the lobby is currently in construction to hold more seating areas along with a store that will offer organic and sustainable products in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Uncommon Goods.
“The vision is for it to be a no waste store,” Amy said. “So instead of selling individual soap containers, you bring your own container and we will have refill stations. There are no bags, no additional packaging.”
The store will also sell yoga apparel along with other yoga friendly merchandise.
In the waiting area, there is complimentary tea, and free filtered water available from a filling station located amidst the bamboo.
And when it's time for class, the yoga room also provides a nice refuge. With clean walls, earthy green mats (complimentary with class), and cork and green blocks, the natural vibe continues.
There are just under 40 classes a week, mostly vinyasa, on the schedule. But rather than teaching a uniform style, the instructors each bring their unique flavor.
“I always wanted it to be a variety of different styles,” said Zalmen, “so the teachers can have their own voice, and the students can find the voice they like through each teacher.” For a power flow, there is Nicky Dawda. Nicole Lynne Hooley teaches reiki and restore while Tracy Michael teaches vinyasa basics. Also on the schedule is Gab Casper, Margherita Tisato, and Shanna Honkomp.
Currently, the schedule offers a 7:30am, 10am, 12pm, 6pm, 7:10pm and 8:35pm weekdays. On the weekends, it is reduced by a few classes.
“We are going to play it by ear to see what the neighborhood is in need of. Our schedule could change depending on the students, the teachers, and the time,” Amy said.
The classes teach to a mixed level group. In a recent 10am open vinyasa, Tracy Michael suggested modifications within each posture to accommodate both a beginner and more advanced practitioner. She also gave options for the beginning and closing Om.
“Chant if you like, or just listen,” she said.
There was no wrong way to do her class. Each transition had the instruction to find your own way back to downward dog. While some students did chaturanga, others preferred knees, chest and chin, and others rested in child’s pose -- all seemed to be appropriate actions.
Keeping the studio a safe space that serves everyone has garnered a loyal following for their Bushwick location.
“Yoga is very local, and some of our students who live in Williamsburg were commuting to our studio in Bushwick, and kept asking when are you going to open a studio here, in Williamsburg,” Zalmen said.
So when the opportunity to take over the previous space of Greenhouse Holistic, he went for it.
But there was another reason aside from better serving his students that he took the opportunity.
“I grew up around here, and I used to be afraid to come to this area. It was dilapidated with old, abandoned factories. It's nice now to be a part of the rebirth,” he said then added, “even if I can’t afford to live around here anymore.”
Removing the gates covering the front entrance, a remnant of sketchier days in the hood, was top priority. The remaining gates will also come down.
“We are hoping people will see us as they walk by, and want to come in and have fun with us,” said Amy.
And there will be plenty of opportunities to join the community aside from taking class. In addition to workshops, they will host community gatherings. The next one will be to celebrate the holidays on December 19th.
“Some of our instructors are musicians, so on this night they will play and we will come together to sing, eat, hang out and have fun.”