Studio Yogi owner and instructor Julia Perkins holds a sign reading "Everyone Is Welcome Here" as she discusses her plans for the yoga studio with a visitor from South Chicago during Thursday's "sneak peek" of the studio, 1840 E. 71st St. in South Shore. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

SOUTH SHORE — A South Side yoga studio will open next month after several years of planning and renovations, aiming to bring inclusive yoga classes to 71st Street and get neighbors more engaged with the timeless practice.

Studio Yogi plans to open in mid-February at 1840 E. 71st St. in South Shore, offering a regular schedule of classes like Hot Vinyasa, Yin Chill, Candlelight Sound Journey, Morning Flow and more.

Regular monthly memberships are $79 with unlimited access to all classes, while drop-in classes are $12 each. The studio will be cashless.

A $129 “founding membership” is offered for the studio’s first month, from which all money will go toward a community fund to pay for free and discounted classes for people who need them, owner and instructor Julia Perkins said.

Studio Yogi is an inclusive space for people of all body types, genders, ethnicities and skill levels — “it’s really about yoga for all,” Perkins said.

“A good portion of my instructors are of color,” she said. “I think it’s important that students see themselves. Sometimes there’s a stigma that you have to be a very thin, Caucasian-like individual to engage in yoga, and that’s not the face of yoga.”

Perkins debuted the space with a series of “sneak peek” days this week. More preview events will be held 4-6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Studio Yogi’s main studio, where classes will be held starting as soon as next month, pending final city inspections. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
A figurine sits next to a rack of dumbbells in Studio Yogi’s main studio. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

Ten instructors and nine courses are on Studio Yogi’s initial roster, with a focus on vinyasa yoga. Classes are offered seven days a week, mostly in the early mornings and evenings.

Perkins, Dylan Dixon and John Reddington teach the Hot Vinyasa class, which focuses on alignment and breath in a humid, 90-degree room.

Camille Levi leads Body Positive Flow, a class accessible to beginners that moves different muscle groups in each session. ZenFrankie runs the Ambisonic Sound Cleanse course, which uses sound bowls and other forms of sound healing for a calming, stabilizing effect.

As Studio Yogi evolves, “there will be more parity and representation” of styles like kemetic and hatha yoga, Perkins said.

The diversity of styles is intended to reach as wide a base as possible — “any individuals who are willing to try to experience yoga,” she said.

Black women in particular are an important segment to bring into the space, as “we need a place to go to feel comfortable and to not feel that we are judged,” Perkins said. Studio Yogi also embraces LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming people, she said.

Weights, padded yoga equipment, showers and a reception area are among the studio’s amenities.

Perkins, a longtime consultant for nonprofits, owns the building that houses the studio. It was formerly home to the Black-owned Acme Orthotics and Prosthetics company.

South Shore Works is renting a space in the building and Perkins is in talks with another potential tenant, she said.

The project is supported by a city Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant, a We Rise Together grant from the Chicago Community Trust and a loan from the Community Reinvestment Fund.

The mural “Face Forward,” painted by Rahmaan Statik and featuring two vaccinated Chicago youth at 1834 E. 71st St. in South Shore, as seen in January 2022. The building is owned by South Shore resident Julia Perkins, whose Studio Yogi yoga practice will open there in early 2023. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

Throughout the renovation, Perkins has focused on creating a welcoming studio for South Shore residents on their main business strip, she said.

Neighbors like Give Me Some Sugah Bakery owner Lenore Lindsey, who visited Studio Yogi during Thursday’s sneak peek, have offered guidance along the way, Perkins said.

“That’s what small businesses need to do: get advice from those who have gone through the same things,” Perkins said. “Why re-experience it when [others] have already done it?”

Building a buzz around Studio Yogi through word-of-mouth will be the main measure of success for the center’s first year, Perkins said. She set an “attainable goal” of signing up 200 members in 2023.

“Success is people saying Studio Yogi is the place to be,” Perkins said.

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