This Spooky Fitness Class Lets You Do Yoga in a Cemetery

Mark your calendars for Emily Tara Sabalbaro's hatha class in Laurel Hill Cemetery on May 4th.

yoga cemetery

Emily Tara Sabalbaro teaches an all-levels hatha yoga class in Laurel Hill Cemetery. / Photograph by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

In a way, we feel bad for Philly fitness instructors. (Hear us out.) Because we live in a city where there are endless ways to stay in shape, the leaders in the field are under constant pressure to get creative and keep us fitness fanatics alert and interested. Emily Tara Sabalbaro, though, may have everyone else beat: She teaches a yoga class in Laurel Hill Cemetery that we’re just, uh, dying to try. (Sorry, but we HAD to.)

Before she ever helped folks find inner tranquility and balance among the tombstones of Millionaire’s Row, Sabalbaro had a fascination with cemeteries and the spirituality surrounding them. She even worked for the Philadelphia Science Festival, which took place in the very cemetery where she now leads yoga. Sabalbaro acted on her intuition, inquired about starting a yoga class, and discovered that the Laurel Hill managers were on her same spiritual wavelength: They’d been thinking about holding yoga classes in the graveyard, too. The program is now in its seventh year and will kick off again on May 4th.

As you can expect, the crowd for Yoga in the Cemetery ($15) typically consists of cemetery enthusiasts. During the hour-long, all-levels hatha class, which is held at 11 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month from May to October, you can enjoy views of the Schuylkill River and Kelly Drive. Or you can concentrate on seeing whether you can develop a stronger connection to a loved one who’s passed away. (Like a séance, only more active!). Sabalbaro believes that further exploring that feeling will give you a more meaningful and powerful class. “We’re doing this out of respect for the people there and the family of those people,” she says, “and as a way to preserve a beautiful space.”

If downward dog among the gravestones feels like a little too much of a downer for you, Sabalbaro also teaches regularly at OpenBox Athletics, Philly Dance Fitness, and Lumos Yoga & Barre.

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