For your many yoga moods, needs and goals, Yoga Brain is the answer.
Back in 2015, there was a quirky little art gallery on Conrad Street run where we’d help organize “First Friday” wine and cheese receptions. The thing never really took off but we met a ton of cool local people through these events, including Justine Bacon and her boyfriend Jeff Sabalski – his jazz trio “Visoon” played the gallery’s opening, and Justine held yoga classes here on weekends when it was closed for customers.
At the time, they’d just moved to East Falls from the Cheltenham area on the recommendation of a friend who tipped her off on the neighborhood. For Justine, East Falls was the perfect location to move freely around the city and into Manayunk – all the different places she was teaching yoga. When she was ready to invest in her own studio, the old art gallery space was available. For Justine, the signs couldn’t be clearer where she should build her dream business.
Of course, she’d need to totally revamp and personalize the space. Good thing Jeff’s a contractor by trade – together they gutted the gallery and rebuilt a warm yoga oasis. The process took months, and the transformation is stunning. Yoga Brain opened its doors in September 2018, bringing a new burst of energy to East Falls’ secondary business corridor. Justine and her team of 11 other instructors offer a wide variety of yoga styles, plus special events like retreats, solstice celebrations, and cat yoga.
Justine’s a lighthearted, empathetic yoga teacher, neighbor, and interview subject. She gamely entertained all the questions we emailed her, and provided a discount code, to boot.
- How’d you come up with the name Yoga Brain?
Yoga Brain is that feeling after practice when you feel at one with all that is, has been or will be. When you walk out of the studio and forgot your shoes! It’s what I wanted my students to feel after my classes. And even more than that, it is a way of viewing the world within and around you. Having love and compassion, living with intention and placing this mindset in all areas of your life.
- Will I get smarter if I do your yoga?
I can not “say” yes or no, but I can say from my personal experience that I definitely did. My awareness of myself and others grew. My ability to read situations sharpened because I learned introspection & observation. I got to know and love myself more completely. I would say I am smarter all the way around because of my practice.
- How’s the neighborhood working out for you?
I adore it here and am so pumped to plant more roots through my business. EF is full of amazing people- artists, musicians, artisans, chefs, entrepreneurs and so many more people. It’s very family-centered, too, which feels nice.
- What’s your favorite thing about living here?
I love the neighborhood vibe we have even though we are in the city. We are right along the river with lots of trees, everyone has a dog. We have fun local bars, delicious food and we are close to everywhere else we would want to go!
- What would make East Falls even better?
I would LOVE a small organic market like a MOM’s, some more great BYOB restaurants perhaps sushi, Thai, or Ethiopian!
- Where do you order your pizza from?
Carolyn, you are trying to get me in trouble with all of my pizza joints! We love to bounce around but if I can only choose just 1, Slices has always been there for us. 🙂
- Most fun you’ve ever had in a yoga class?
These are tough questions!! I believe in fun. It keeps us all young, light & open. Plato said “You can discover more about a person during an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” There, of course, is time and space for introspection, but enjoy your life! I have a lot of fun in all my classes but I LOVE teaching and practicing yoga on my paddleboard. It’s just FUN and freeing. I also love to combine fun things with yoga- beer & yoga, awesome music & yoga, glow sticks and body paint with yoga! Because why not?
- Weirdest place you’ve ever done yoga?
Hmmm…. That’s a tough one.. I’ve practiced & taught EVERYWHERE: rooftops, breweries, other countries, boats, paddleboards, flashmob style in the middle of the street, gyms, rec centers, studios, the woods, festivals.. “I will do yoga on a boat, I will do yoga as I float, I will do yoga everywhere..!” But I suppose a cemetery!
- Three things readers probably don’t know about yoga?
First — Yoga IS for everyone. EVERYONE. It is never too late, you can never have too many injuries. If you can breathe, you can practice. There are also many styles & methods to customize your practice to suit your needs. And that is what I’m here for and what Yoga Brain is here for! Second — Yoga is eclectic and diverse. I like to think about it like music or food: so many styles, so many methods, and all so fantastic in its own right. And third — Yoga CAN change the shit out of your life. And for the better! You are still you, you just know & love yourself more completely. Confusion becomes clarity. Walls become doors. Weaknesses become strengths. All that you enjoy you can enjoy more deeply. It’s fantastic! But it is a process and requires you to be present. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said “Practice and all is coming.”
- Anything else?
Even if you never take a single yoga class, you can add yoga to your life. Yoga can be as simple as breathing and being fully present in your body. Add a few poses to your daily routine, and see what happens.
BONUS YOGA: 3 Poses Anyone Can Do Anywhere
- Supine Twist: Lay down, hug both knees into your chest & with an exhale lower both knees to one side. Enjoy a few good long breaths and switch sides. Great before bed or first thing before getting out of bed!
- Seated Pigeon: In an upright seat, cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Breathe here & to add more depth, slowly fold forward. Enjoy a few good long breaths here & when you’re ready switch sides. Great for offices!
- Deep breathing: We can do this anywhere, anytime, in any shape! We often forget that this is what yoga is all about! All you really need to do is focus on your breath. Tune into the qualities of your breath first: is it long or short? Are inhales or exhales easier? Where do you feel your breath in your body when you breathe? Then focus your attention on lengthening your breath, smoothing it out and deepening it as much as you can. Find equality in your inhales and exhales. Truly, you are taking an automatic function of your body & not only bringing awareness to it, but honing it intentionally. This is your practice!
Justine Bacon | E-RYT 200, YACEP
Owner & Yoga Teacher, Yoga Brain | SUP Yoga | Reiki 1
JadeYoga Pro- Ambassador
Yoga Brain East Falls
A fusion studio with a deep community feel. Offering an array of yoga styles and holistic practices for every student at any stage in their journey. View schedule.
3426 Conrad Street
**JUST FOR LOCALS** – Mention this article when you bring a friend, and your friend can enjoy a drop-in class for just $10 (reg price $15).