Jyll's Urban Asanas
Whether walking through the doors of Urban Asanas at 843 Sterling Place or scoping her out through a neighborhood haunt, you can feel Jyll Hubbard-Salk’s presence and strength right away. Her boldness can be almost intimidating. She’ll tell you herself that whether fortunately or unfortunately, she has no filter, no chaser, but when I reached out to her to write this article and sat down with her, I discovered something else.
The story behind Jyll and her establishment comes from a place of genuine authenticity. Combined with Jyll’s bold spirit, that is what makes makes Urban Asanas such a cornerstone for the community.
After eight years of running her yoga studio, Jyll knows her neighbors. She knows her neighborhood. She partners regularly with local businesses. She goes out and shakes hands, and she knows it takes a village, and that is exactly what she has built. Urban Asanas is not just a yoga studio, it is a hub of culture, spirit, light, and wellness.
A Crown Heights resident for over 18 years, Jyll Hubbard- Salk encourages the diversity of the neighborhood. When she first moved to Brooklyn, it was because her growing family didn’t fit into her apartment in Manhattan, and despite her mother-in-law's suggestion, she didn’t want to keep her newborn baby in a dresser. When she first moved, it was because Brooklyn was cheaper. It was for the simple life, to raise her family. It was for the community.
Nowadays, the rise in rents seems to reflect an increase in gentrification, and she notices.
Urban Asanas from the start catered to artists and freelancers. Many of her original students are being priced out. Her hope for the neighborhood, “Don’t keep extracting the culture – that's where the richness is.”
“I never set out to be a yoga teacher, and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to be one.” Kind of strange advice from someone that has been doing yoga for 30 years, and has been teaching for 20. She started her practice when working nights in clubs. She saw the benefits right away, and went from being a hot head New Yorker and a gypsy to having a sense of maturity, which meant picking her battles in a healthy way, and that is when the teaching and studio fell in her lap. It was never her intention to become a yoga teacher -- nor did she want to own a yoga studio. Jyll didn’t need to be that famous yoga teacher. Hard to believe, since that is exactly where she is now as she gets called out on the street regularly and featured in the press.
So what’s Jyll’s advice for new business owners, “Don’t have a plan B. Just have a plan A, and make it work. I knew in my heart what I wanted and what I needed to do; I know I wanted to bring this goodness to people. I’m a big mediator and a big prayer. I’m like ‘hey spirit, help a girl out,’ and it came. There will always be bumps in the road, but you have to be open and take several slices of humble pie. And you have to be humble.”
Awareness of what she’s putting out comes from her core. How she projects, markets, and sells herself and the business has always been according to a higher standard. She’s known from the beginning not to settle for mediocrity. The bar was set higher as a woman of color; eyes would be on her, and everything she projects is succinct and describes that same bold and authentic spirit.
When Jyll stands in front of a packed class, she looks around and sees her students; she notes: “..All these people. They’re trusting me. They’re trusting me with their body. Their trusting me with their spirit, so I have to be so grateful. Sometimes I look and I tear up, because it’s so fucking awesome. The way that I teach, I can’t teach people to teach that because it’s a gift and it’s a blessing from my gods. How it happened, I don’t know, but I work on it. I work to keep my hands clean. To keep sharing this gift because maybe I’ll touch you, and tag you’re it, and tag you’re it.”
Want to be tagged, and feel this presence? Sign up for a class. There is no curriculum, there is only showing up, rolling out your mat, placing your feet down and breathing, and then you are there. The key is to keep showing up. Consistency and authenticity. There are so many other elements, there is so much chatter and there are so many excuses, but just show up.
Don’t come to yoga with expectations, just show up and let the mystery unfold. Let the light in.
So what’s next? In February, Urban Asanas will be opening a wellness studio that will have acupuncture, massage, an infrared sauna, and showers. The construction has already begun.
Five years from now, her hope is that the studio can run and function on its own. As for Jyll, she wants to go back to her gypsy roots and travel and take Urban Asanas on the road -- go to different places that don’t have accessibility to yoga and wellness.
“That's what we need, especially now. People are stressed. Everyone’s got no hope. I’m coming with the light and the love. We got hope and we can still turn this motherfucker around. “
– Carla McAlary