“We were raised by a woman totally ahead of her time,” says Vyda Bielkus, one of the founders of Health Yoga Life (HYL).
Her mother, Ryma Bielkus, relied on meditation to help balance raising four daughters and running her own business. While meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are popular today, back in the ’80s they were much more niche.
“We saw our mom stressed. She’d come home from work, and she would say, ‘I’m going to go meditate,’ and she would meditate, and we would be like, ‘Shh, mom’s meditating, everybody quiet down,'” Vyda says. “And then she would come out, and she was totally present with us.”
As the girls grew up, they found yoga, and it served a similar purpose in their lives. In 2011, the four daughters and Ryma opened HYL in Boston, and added a Cambridge studio in 2017.
The studios aim to help people access the mental benefits of yoga and meditation, according to Vyda. In addition to the two yoga studios, which cater to all levels of experience, the HYL umbrella offers life coaching, coaching training, and corporate wellness.
“The physical returns I had from yoga—say, the building of strength, or the building of flexibility—was not why I was staying with the practice,” Vyda says. “I was staying because I was less stressed, I was able to make healthier decisions for my life at the time. I think that’s really what people gain from yoga and meditation: those powerful ways to be able to separate from mind overwhelm, to a state of mind clarity.”
Vyda has heavily relied on her practice this summer after the sudden passing of one of her sisters, Aida.
“We practice what we preach, so we’re really doing self inquiry and turning to these tools that we have available to us and as a community to heal,” she says, noting the outpouring of support from the yoga community. “There’s been so much learning already, it’s quite profound, actually. For us, Health Yoga Life was obviously not just Aida and not just our family. It’s all of our teachers, all of our staff that are amazing, and all of the students that come.”
Health Yoga Life studios are located at 181 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge and 12 Temple St. in Boston.