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Get Moving, Bed-Stuy

Personal Fitness is Part of Community Sustainability

Sustainability is a community effort, but it starts with healthy individuals.

Last week, I wrote about the importance of in our neighborhood. But the flip side of a nutritious diet is physical exercise – these two go in tandem; they are the core of a healthy community that can sustain its own happiness.

There are numerous resources in Bed-Stuy for getting and staying physically fit. Some of them are obvious: playing basketball outside with your friends or kids; taking walks in the early evening when the sun has gone down; riding a bicycle instead of taking the bus or subway a few stops over.

But exercise can go much deeper than the physical. Many people consider yoga to be a truly sustainable form of exercise because it develops the mind, body and spirit all at once.

Dara Cole, owner of Bed-Stuy’s recently-opened yoga studio Sacred Brooklyn, located at 197 Clifton Place, shares her views on fitness and community sustainability.

BSP: What are the benefits of doing yoga?

Dara: On a physical level, yoga is both preventative – against arthritis, tendonitis, heart disease – and also healing. It puts you in touch with your body so you can better know what foods you need, have greater self-control, and make good choices for yourself. People think our biology predicts what diseases we’ll develop – but we can change those patterns.

But why not just go to the gym and lift weights or go jogging?

Within yoga asanas – the poses – there are healing benefits. The movement we do here is about healing from the inside-out. The intention is not to get a six-pack, it’s to feel good in yourself. And, we have other kinds of movement here, besides yoga, like pole dancing.

What made you want to open the studio here, in Bed-Stuy?

I’ve been living one and a half blocks away for thirteen years. I wanted to practice close to home, with my neighbors and community. I believe in this community’s ability to sustain this studio. We shouldn’t have to go to other neighborhoods to practice.

Some people might find classes here to be a bit pricey, though.

It’s all relative; classes here are half what they cost in Manhattan. We have a free class once a week. It’s every Saturday at noon, for one hour, followed by a 30-minute meditation. People come who’ve never done yoga and they love the experience and want to come back. We also have work-study positions.

What are the benefits of meditation?

It’s important to take time to be still and go inside. We do that through breath. You can come with any belief system and have that experience.

Other low-cost resources for physical fitness in Bed-Stuy and around Brooklyn:

The Bedford YMCA, at 1121 Bedford Avenue, has been around for decades and it has much to offer – including an indoor swimming pool and exercise classes. They also have a free Personal Fitness program that will help people who are new to exercise develop and stick to a routine, or help people who already exercise become more dedicated.

A great resource for citywide places to exercise for free is the BeFitNYC website. Check out the Shape Up NYC classes happening all over Brooklyn this summer. 

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