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New Jamaica Plain yoga studio aims to be 'community space'

Posted by Emily Files  October 5, 2012 04:13 PM

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Amid the sounds of hammers and power drills securing the last of the light fixtures to the walls and ceilings, Daniel Max and Dr. Sejal Shah sit blissfully relaxed on a black leather couch, in what will soon be the lobby of their new yoga studio, JP Centre Yoga.

But the two entrepreneurs aren't looking to open just an ordinary yoga studio at 670 Centre Street, above City Feed and Supply; they say they want to create a community space, where people from Jamaica Plain can exercise and mingle in a unique environment.

“Sometimes, you need some space to interact. . . in a fun, healthy way," said Shah, a radiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who is co-owner of JP Centre Yoga. Both she and Max are Jamaica Plain residents.

In addition to offering heated and unheated yoga classes on an extended schedule -- from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm -- the studio also will offer nutrition and wellness consultations, free morning meditation sessions, and movie nights and dance gatherings with local DJs.

“We’re looking to offer people a place where they can hang out…outside of bars and cafes,” said Max, who has been a yoga instructor in the Boston area for the past seven years.

“We want to stay connected to what’s local.”

Of course, at the heart of JP Centre Yoga is yoga. Max and Shah are looking forward to filling the increasing yoga demand that Jamaica Plain has experienced, noting that while the area has several other studios, they fill up quickly, and none of the others offers heated yoga. In terms of amenities, the studio includes two expansive yoga rooms, one of them complete with video projection to add a visual element to classes.

Max and Shah are hoping to attract an age-, race- and gender-diverse clientele to experience an array of yoga practices. Instructors, who come from myriad backgrounds, will be free to be creative with their own classes, so that “each class will be a little different,” Max said.

JP Centre plans to host yoga fundraisers and charity classes, donating proceeds to local non-profits and causes. To help lower-income people enjoy yoga, the studio will offer 'work-study' programs, where residents can take yoga classes in exchange for helping out around the studio.

“We want to make sure that everyone who’s interested in doing yoga, can,” said Max.
Shah confessed that she is not a die-hard “yoga person," but in the past year, as she has been strictly practicing, she has seen substantial benefits. “When I discovered yoga, I thought, ‘This is really amazing’,” said Shah. “It structures my day.”

As a doctor, Shah said, she is interested in the full extent of benefits that yoga can offer, particularly for people who suffer from chronic ailments, such as headaches or insomnia. “Yoga is infiltrating modern medicine,” she said. “The awareness is growing, and the benefits are becoming more evident."

Max, an Israeli native who has lived in JP for six years, has been an avid yogi for over a decade. “It never surprises me: I’ve seen lives transformed again and again and again," he said.

Max and Shah began toying with the idea of opening a studio last February. Neither had tried a business venture before. “A lot of ideas go through my head, but this one just felt right,” said Shah, who added that opening a small business has not exactly been relaxing.

But the idea already is bearing fruit, with dozens of people signing up for a pre-opening special, which offers a package of 10 classes for $49, or a year unlimited for $800. The studio's Facebook page is getting more and more “likes” by the day. “We're getting a lot of positive reinforcement,” said Max.

As they prepare to open the studio by mid-October, Max and Shah say they look forward to attracting new and old practitioners.

“Yoga’s changed my life completely in the last 10 years," Max said. "I’m happy to be able to offer that to a community that we both love so much.”

This article was reported and written by Northeastern University journalism student Sarah Blanchette, under the supervision of journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.

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