Photo Credits: Health Yoga Life: Mae Hogan; Sleepbox: Peter Chambers
Mindfulness is the wellness watchword of the day, but that wasn’t the case when the four Bielkus sisters were growing up. “We were raised by a mom who meditated before it was very popular,” Vyda Bielkus recalls. “It was not something most people had heard of. I remember very specifically, my friends would be over, and I’d be like: “Shhh, my mom’s meditating!” Mom Ryma taught Vyda and her sisters Aida, Siga and Zara to meditate as teens, and today the five women continue to rely on their meditation practice as the founders of five-year-old Beacon Hill yoga studio Health Yoga Life. “As we started to have more busy lives, we really used meditation as an anchor to help us manage stress,” Vyda explains. “We see it as such a valuable tool.” So when their second studio opens this month inside the new Novartis building near MIT, it will offer not only a fleet of yoga classes, but also drop-in meditation classes catering to the area’s biotech researchers and innovation-minded entrepreneurs. “When you have a very high-stress career—and in this area of the city, people are really moving and shaking and working in this high-tech innovative space, working tons of hours—you need a way to reduce your stress levels,” Vyda says. “Instead of taking a coffee break, you can take a meditation break.” It’s an idea that’s gained traction in LA and New York, where meditation studios like Unplug and MNDFL have popped up. The Bielkus crew, who plan to offer one or two half-hour meditation classes a day to start, are excited to offer an accessible entry point in this busy corner of Cambridge. “It’s a great way to start a meditation practice, to be in a class where you can be with a teacher who can give you some guidance about any questions that come up before or after and to really have a sense of ‘OK, I’m taking this time and making this commitment to have a meditation practice in my life.’ ”
Meanwhile, the techies at CIC Boston and Somerville’s Canopy Workspace will also soon have a new spot to take a meditation break—or even catch a catnap. The co-working spaces are slated to be the first in the U.S. to welcome Sleepbox, a 45-square-foot soundproof “napping cabin.” The units have been used for several capsule hotels in Europe, but in moving to the American market, the startup is setting its sights on offices. “We’ve seen that with more open workspaces, people lose the opportunity to step away from the desk to rest or recharge, have some time to themselves so they can focus and get some work done or just block out some of the other distractions,” says Sleepbox co-founder Peter Chambers, who hopes Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution and research on the important of rest to productivity may lead some employers to see an upside to sleeping on the job.