October is Room of One’s Own month at Leap Little Frog. For this week’s installment, Emilie of Borealis Yoga Studio in Medford Square considers what a dedicated sacred space means for her and the community she serves.
I live in Medford, and I wanted Borealis Community Yoga to be a part of our city’s center of life. For over a hundred years, Medford Square has been at the junction between Boston and the surrounding suburbs. There is so much history in Medford, and I love that our yoga studio is a part of that.
The space I found is quite magical. In 1915, the building went up as the Medford Theatre, and our studio on the second floor was used as its function hall. Sometimes I imagine 1920s women attending plays in fancy dress.
Later, the building was transformed into a movie theatre. Many of my yoga students remember coming to see films back in their school days. For a time after the theatre closed, a woman ran a wedding dress shop on the second floor. We still find pearly pin-heads between the old floorboards.
When I found the space, it had been converted into office space. We broke down the cubicles and ripped up the carpet to reveal the old wood floor (it took a week to sand and refinish it). With a fresh coat of paint and racks of shelves for shoes and mats, we opened our doors in February 2014.
We’ve built up a vibrant practice, and students of all walks of life are drawn to practice at Borealis to help ease physical tension or heal the stress of daily life. And the space allows that from the moment they walk in.
Borealis reminds me of a cathedral without any pews, with sunlight streaming through majestic windows to form patterns on the shiny wood floor and the exposed brick walls. It is a beautiful surprise in the heart of Medford Square. I see delight on faces when people arrive for the first class. Some describe it as a sanctuary, a place they feel they can relax.
For me, the studio is a place I can be and express myself. Where I can nurture my own learning and that of my fellow students and teachers. I love that other teachers stay and practice on their own after class because they feel at home in the studio. It belongs to all of us. And this is really what I set out to create. A sacred space, a home-away-from-home, where we can find some balance amidst the incredible demands and desires of our lives.
The rows of movie theatre seats are long gone. And the dress pins are all nestled safely and deeply between floorboards. But Borealis remains an oasis for community and inspiration. A place to meet and be together, and to design our own unique creations. My deep thanks to Emilie for sharing the studio’s story this week!
After spending much of her life traveling the globe, Emilie has made a home–and a thriving yoga studio–in Medford, MA. She is passionate about making yoga available to every body, to what’s available today, and what might open up tomorrow. She encourages a compassionate approach both on and off the mat. With a foundation in Kripalu yoga, Emilie also weaves in teachings from Thai Yoga, Meridian Yoga, and Yin Yoga. She is also a certified ChildLight teacher and enjoys sharing yoga with children. Her greatest influences are her teachers, Daniel Orlansky, Kate Greer, Priti Robyn Ross and Devarshi Steven Hartman. Visit Emile’s personal site to learn more.