Fact: Doing Yoga at Eastern State Penitentiary Should Be on Your Bucket List 

Last night’s Be Well Philly Underground event was one for the books. 

Be Well Philly Underground's Downward Dogs and Drinks at Easter State Penitentiary | Photo by Susan Nam

Be Well Philly Underground’s Downward Dogs and Drinks at Easter State Penitentiary | Photo by Susan Nam

Confession: I am not a Halloween person. The last time I put any ounce of effort into a costume was when I was a “pop star” — no pop star in particular, just a pop star — in seventh grade. Clearly, even then, I was not committed.

So when we were thinking about our Be Well Philly Underground event for October, I wanted it to be in the theme of October — and that theme is Halloween, duh — without being too pumpkin-y and costume-y and, well, Halloween-y. So when our lovely events coordinator Kaylie, who many of you Undergrounders have met, suggested Eastern State Penitentiary, the former prison in Fairmount, as the space for October Underground event, I was sold. It’s spooky. But not cheesy. Perfect.

We got to planning and luckily it all came together. And man, our October Be Well Philly Underground event, an outdoor yoga class in the prison yard space of Eastern State Penitentiary led by the lovely folks of Fairmount’s Yoga Habit, was even cooler (and MUCH spookier) than I’d imagined it would be.

Photo by Susan Nam

Photo by Susan Nam

Last night, about 90 yogis laid their mats down on the grass inside the walls of the penitentiary for an hourlong power vinyasa class led by Yoga Habit owner Jen Wendowski. Having the walls of the Penitentiary surrounding us and the sun setting overhead was truly a perfectly spooky experience and so far from any yoga experience — indoor or outdoor — I’ve ever had. (Was I the only one who, mid-savasana, couldn’t help thinking up imaginary conversations that went down on those grounds years before?) One thing we know is that doing yoga at Eastern State Penitentiary should be on your bucket list. Though when you’ll next be able to do it, we don’t know.


Photo by Susan Nam

After class, when all of our limbs were trembling just a bit (thanks, Jen), everyone headed indoors for a post-yoga happy hour complete with wine, beer and — drumroll, please! — cauilflower sushi courtesy of the lovely folks at Genji. Shutterbooth documented the night with spooky photo booth photos and everyone went home with a good workout under their belts, a full belly and maybe a tiny buzz. It was a great night.

I want to give a big thank you to our friends at Yoga Habit, Genji and Shutterbooth for bringing their magic to the event, and to Eastern State Penitentiary for letting us fulfill our kind-of-crazy wish of getting our downward dogs on within its walls.

If you don’t want to miss out on our next secret Be Well Philly Underground event, make sure to sign up (it’s free to be a member!) here. And psst: If you’re looking for yourself in the photos, note that we’ll be posting more of ‘em to our Facebook page here — go ahead and tag yourselves!

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