interior yoga studio

Inside Blue Lotus Yoga studio 

Named after the lotus flower, a symbol of spiritual enlightenment and rebirth, Blue Lotus Yoga is a community-based yoga studio whose mission is to promote health, wellness, and community in a warm, trauma-informed, and stress-free environment.

Located in Woodlawn Station, 816 E. 63rd St., Blue Lotus offers a robust selection of classes, workshops, and events to those of various skill levels. 

“So really, all of our classes are open to beginners, to people who've been doing yoga a long time. But we do have different types of yoga,” said Blue Lotus owner Beth Albrecht, who was inspired to open her own studio after teaching yoga to clients as a social worker. 

Classes at Blue Lotus range from those that focus on breathing and movement flowing to building mindfulness and strength. Prenatal, restorative, and vinyasa yoga are offered, and the studio also hosts special events which include a New Year’s session and other workshops. 

“I started teaching in 2013 and then started integrating yoga into my work as a social worker with young teens and families. At the time, I was working at a residential treatment home,” said Albrecht.

Albrecht said she noticed how yoga helped her to get through things and wanted to start teaching so that others could use its healing properties.

"So I was doing a lot of yoga with my kids there and just saw the benefits of how much it helped them reconnect with their body," said Albrecht.

"A lot of times you have a pretty messed-up relationship with your body, after you've experienced trauma. So I just saw the way that yoga helped heal, and help them like reconnect and rediscover their bodies and build a better relationship with their bodies, and therefore a better relationship with themselves."

Albrecht got into yoga after moving to Chicago from Iowa for graduate school in 2006. She attended the University of Chicago where she has resided in Hyde Park and Woodlawn ever since. 

Beginning as just a side hobby and soon blossoming into its own space, Blue Lotus has been operating in the Woodlawn Station since July 2019. 

“What my vision for Blue Lotus is, is to create a space in the community to promote health, wellness, healing, in a space that everyone feels welcome, and that is accessible to everyone. All of our teachers, myself included, have at least some sort of experience in trauma-informed spaces,” said Albrecht.

“I wanted to create a space that would hold the integrity of the community and create a space where everyone feels welcome, (where) people who've never done yoga before felt comfortable coming to any class and feeling like they succeeded and got something out of the class.”

All of the staff at Blue Lotus have experience in trauma-informed spaces and live in the neighborhood or surrounding communities. Albrecht notes that accessibility and building community are two really important factors for her. 

Finding a location for Blue Lotus was a bit of a hassle, said Albrecht, who mentioned that lots of the spaces that were within her price range were fixer-uppers — a project she was not really up for. She was lucky to connect with a real estate agent who was renting out the space in Woodlawn Station, owned by affordable housing developer Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), and learned that they were interested in working with a local business.

“They were really wanting to focus on like neighborhood entrepreneurs instead of bringing in like big box places. Which, honestly, I think was probably the only reason that someone gave us the time of day.”

Albrecht says there was an application process that included doing a letter of intent through the Council of Accreditation (COA) and having a meeting with them to discuss the business plan. The overall process took about a year.

“They were just really putting this importance on our vision and what I wanted for the space, and that I lived in the neighborhood and was willing to bring this and do all of these things for myself and the community.”

Albrecht says the start of the pandemic in 2020 was difficult for Blue Lotus. With big brand yoga studios offering free online classes during the quarantine, it was a hard pivot for the business.

“So we had a really rough time during the shutdown and during COVID keeping going. Luckily, POAH, who owns the building, was very flexible with us and wants us to succeed. So they were very flexible with us during 2020.”

Albrecht says that the studio has been able to maintain its staff, avoiding lay-offs with the help of a small PPP loan and tax returns. They did have to cut down the size of classes to six people.

Blue Lotus also offers baby-sitting services for children from six weeks of age to 12-year-olds. The services are also free for parents while attending classes at the studio.

Another unique component of Blue Lotus is the yoga for trade program. Those who are interested can trade 2 hours a week of their time to receive unlimited monthly classes and discounts off yoga services. 

Albrecht, who specializes in prenatal and restorative yoga, is also certified in kids yoga. 

Blue Lotus is open 30 minutes before the start of each scheduled class, and Albrecht says she can usually be found in the studio Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to noon. 

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