Street Serenity: YogaPalooza Invites Community Members to Free Practice on Pearl Street


ALBANY—Last September, right before the aptly named PearlPalooza launched into an afternoon of free music on Pearl Street in Albany, the asphalt was covered in yoga mats, and people of all ages moving together through a sun salutation. Breathing in unison, a few hundred participants moved from pose to pose, smiling in the bright sunshine as an eagle flew overhead.

I know because I was there, blissed out by the vibe of movement, breath, and presence with the large group of strangers. I’ve attended many yoga classes in studios and parks throughout my life, but I had never practiced in a street-wide event and was shocked at how the synergy of the large crowd lifted my heart with each breath.

Jessica Fuller of The Hot Yoga Spot and Dora Philip of The Hollow Bar + Kitchen. Photo Provided.

Jessica Fuller, founder of The Hot Yoga Spot and fellow yogi, agrees with me. “Breathing as a community is so powerful. Practicing with a large group feels so powerful and so motivating. Being surrounded by others with a like-mind and similar goals for themselves can be encouraging and help you feel even more immersed in the classing experience,” she noted. “Plus, doing yoga in this setting is so unique. How often can someone put a yoga mat down and flow in the middle of Pearl Street?”

The answer to her question is, of course, once a year: every September before PearlPalooza, you can unfurl your mat and enjoy the practice as part of YogaPalooza. Now, in year seven, the wellness celebration is the brainchild of Dora Philip, a co-organizer of the music festival and avid yoga student. She hatched the idea seven years ago and brought it to The Hot Yoga Spot in Clifton Park, where she practices, hopeful they’d want to participate.

“When I fell in love with yoga and the community that Jessica Fuller of The Hot Yoga Spot built, I started to offer a monthly event called ‘Pints & Poses’ in my music venue on Saturday afternoons. Over time, it caught the attention of the Downtown Albany BID, and they asked me if I would be interested in creating a similar event before our annual music festival, PearlPalooza,” Philip explained.

While other larger cities and music festivals have offered free community yoga practice events, YogaPalooza was the first of its kind in the Albany area.

Yogapalooza. Photo provided.

“The City of Albany has taken notice of the success of YogaPalooza over the years and now incorporates free yoga sessions with Jess and her team within Tulip Fest!” Philip beamed. “So validating and special to see what we began has morphed and grown into more opportunities to improve people’s physical and mental health. In this ‘post’ Covid world, we need it more than ever.”

Yoga is widely accessible to people of varying abilities and has become a new tradition for many who attend the music festival. “Yoga is great because all you need is your mat—no fancy or expensive equipment, no special sound system or set up,” Fuller reflected. “Yoga is also perfect for all levels, and we can easily lead a class for hundreds of people at once. Those that take class at The Hot Yoga Spot every day and others who have never tried a class before,” she encouraged.

Folks interested in participating should plan to sign up and arrive a few minutes early to check in at the registration desk. You only need a mat (I brought two for extra cushion), a towel, and water. The class is free and starts Saturday, September 16th, at 11 a.m. on Pearl Street in front of the stage.

“The Hot Yoga Spot team will lead everyone through a yoga class that is a celebration of movement, breath, and one another,” Fuller promised. Participants are encouraged to preregister at and come prepared for an hour of community connection. Namaste!

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