New weekly yoga sessions at the KDD Theatre will grant neighbors more access to the practice at a low cost

Nicole Pollard sitting cross-legged. (Nicole Pollard)

The name Nicole Pollard may ring a bell, as she is the curating mind behind the former Supine Horizons exhibit, centering rest as art, that ran from November 2022 to December 2022 at the KDD Theatre. This past Monday, the West Philly resident returned to Germantown and the KDD Theatre with a different way for Germantown neighbors to slow down — yoga – and at a low cost.

According to The Good Body, 10% of the United States population practices yoga. Its popularity has jumped 63.8% between 2010 and 2021. The brand also reported that some possible benefits of yoga include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, which Pollard reveals is why she started practicing yoga.

She admits she’s never been into sports but recognized that moving her body could help reduce some mental distress. She says, “I really don’t know how it came to me, but I guess I recognized that yoga would be something that could give me an opportunity to move my body but ultimately also care for my mind.”

In December 2021, Pollard got her yoga teaching certification. With a background in art education, she was naturally attracted to teaching. She also says that she knew the training to be a yoga instructor would help her deepen her practice, so she was grateful for the experience whether she used the certification to teach or not.

For her, yoga is “all about really just understanding ourselves” and human connection to the mind and body. 

She explores the broad idea of yoga just being about body contortion, saying, “that’s an aspect of yoga, but it’s not all of it. I think so much of it is just our mental awareness of ourselves, our physical body in the space we take up, how we’re feeling from day to day and knowing those changes, but also how we’re feeling in any given moment because that really allows us to best take care of ourselves.”

Pollard answers the question of who yoga is for when presented with points from recent cultural conversations around the practice being exclusionary to people of color and fat bodies.

“I might actually look like maybe the people that people that you associate with who ‘should practice yoga,” she says, acknowledging her thinner physique. “But I don’t think that’s true whatsoever. I like to remind folks at the beginning of all my classes that we all have different bodies. And because we have different bodies, we all are going to experience yoga in entirely different ways.”

She elaborates further, clarifying that yoga isn’t about people forcing themselves into positions that don’t feel good. “We are the knowledge bearers of what is best for our bodies,” she states. “And so I may be telling you to do this pose and then this pose, but if at any point you’re like, nah, that’s not for me, you can do something else. This is really all about listening to yourself. So if you end up coming into the class and you’re in a resting pose the entire time, but you’re there, and you’re breathing in community, I think that’s still yoga.”

Yoga was one of the various “rest shops,” or extra activities, planned with Supine Horizons. Nicole planted the seed for this series while planning the exhibition at its host site, not expecting she’d be the teacher. She says the KDD Theatre owner Kristen Clark contacted her after the exhibition, and “the rest was history.”

Pollard hopes these will be one step in bringing a more significant yoga offering to Germantown with the possibility of introducing folks that may have yet to be able to access the practice to what it offers. She said two of the eight people who attended Monday’s class had never practiced yoga, which was exciting for her.

Price points and location serve as possible barriers to Germantown neighbors accessing yoga. While there are yoga schools in the neighborhood, no studios are within the borders. Other studios around the Northwest Philly region offer single drop-in classes from $20-22 dollars, five classes from $80-100, and 10 classes from $150-190. Some studios even require a five-class minimum purchase.

The KDD’s yoga offering starts at $15 per drop-in and includes bundles like buy four get one free, making five sessions total $60.

The sessions are scheduled to run through June 20th, with a possible chance of extension, every Monday at 6 p.m. at the KDD Theatre at 5427 Germantown Avenue. Attendees can anticipate music and playlists infused into the sessions, which creates a slightly different feel than what people may be used to. 

Pollard welcomes all to join, saying, “I hope that more people that maybe might feel nervous about starting will feel like this is an option or an opportunity for them to give it a try and to find another space maybe within their neighborhood to connect with a new community and form community in that space.”