Black Light Yoga - A New Kind of Nightclub for Boston’s Athletes

Text by Gretchen Kuhsel
Illustration by Pim Phongsirivech 

Besides the email that informed me I had been accepted into Emerson, the most thrilling message in my inbox has been the “Congratulations! You’ve made it off of the wait list and into the 7:30pm Black Light Yoga class at Back Bay Yoga.” After signing up online a full 28 hours in advance and getting a notification that I was placed on the wait list, I wasn’t sure I would make it in. I was already dreading going down to the gym and mindlessly running on the treadmill for an hour. After class, I scoured my closet for neon work out gear and headed down Boylston St.

After about 10 minutes in line, the black-lit room opens up and the neon-clad yogis light up the pitch black room, dispersing around the studio. The walls and wooden floors are already perspired like a dance club at 2am and the excited energy in the room is enough to get people started on their practice. I’m doing some basic stretches as I chat with my two neighbors, others are already upside down in handstands, or laying peacefully in Savasana, also known as Dead Man’s Pose.

Erica Borenstein, a young, but seasoned teacher, enters the studio and puts on her Madonna-like headset. She educates the newbies, of which there are about 7, on what to expect.

Unlike a regular vinyasa flow class at Back Bay, there isn’t a peak pose that the instructor breaks down. There’s a lot of repetition in the sequences, which start off pretty basic, but then heat up with variations. The class feels like a mix between a modern dance class and a deep vinyasa flow. We’re twisting, flipping, planking, rolling on to our neighbor’s mat (which, by the way, is the best way to determine which mat to purchase next). The most unique part of the class is probably the playlist. Borenstein mixes it up with eclectic house and electronic jams—a far cry from Enya and Om Hari Om chants.  

Whenever I describe BLY, people find it hard to believe it’s considered yoga. Yoga is what you make of it and it’s an independent practice that is enhanced by the energy of other yogis around you, and this class certainly fits the bill.

While we’re warming up in side body stretches and Sun Salutations, Borenstein shares a story with the class about a group of private clients. They’re Cross Fit junkies who she nicknamed “The Bros.” During a session, they questioned why it’s called a yoga “practice.” They like to call it their yoga “workout,” which Borenstein assures the class is fine, but she challenges us to make it more than that. It’s about using the music and lack of sight to allow more focus on breathing and flowing the way that your body wants.


Black Light Yoga: Wednesdays (7:30) and Saturdays (6:30)

To find out more info you can like Erica's facebook page or follow her on Spotify and check out her BLY playlists.