Four Corners Yoga studio wants to be seen as a ‘place of refuge’

Christine Rose, owner and operator of 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness, is shown helping a client during an outdoor even last summer. Photos courtesy 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness

Since 2017, 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness has worked to bring access to yoga, meditation, massage, and other wellness services to the Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester.

Incorporated in 2016 by founders Christine Rose and Karuna O’Donnell, the studio currently employs 14 people and offers more than 15 classes a week. Rose and O’Donnell met at a massage and yoga studio in Jamaica Plain, where they shared space, before deciding to open a business together.

O’Donnell originally ran the yoga program at the 4 Corners facility, while Rose ran the meditation and massage offerings. After O’Donnell stepped aside over the summer to focus on her family, Rose became the sole owner.

According to her, the studio is “a place that people know can be their place of refuge. They can come in for the variety of workshops that we have.” Stressing the breadth of services offered, Rose pointed to its reiki, pranic healing, meditation, yoga, massage, and reflexology programming.

“We definitely try and collaborate with our Four Corners neighborhood,” said Rose. “We were fortunate to be named business of the year in our second year of business by Four Corners Main Street.”

Past collaborations have included chair massages and yoga at the Codman Square and Ashmont farmers’ markets. Additionally, Rose has rented out the studio for birthday parties, fitness trainers, book signings, drum circles, and the Survivor Theater Project.

And before the pandemic, the facility hosted a holiday party open to anybody who had attended an event at the studio.
“We just like to be in the community,” Rose said. “To show up and introduce people to our business. It’s a diverse community and we’re an all-inclusive space. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Can men come? Can kids come?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, everybody is welcome here!’” She added that the studio is LGBTQ-friendly and handicap-accessible.

Part of the business’s mission is to expand access to wellness services in Dorchester. Its yoga school plays a key role in that goal, with its teaching program set to start up again in January.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re going to be having this yoga school again and bringing forth a new cohort of teachers who want to teach in the community,” Rose said, adding that the five cohorts of yoga teachers whom O’Donnell trained are now “very much established, doing the sort of work that we do, working in places to make yoga accessible. Some of them have their own businesses. Some of them are working in places like the YMCA.”

Although 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness is a for-profit business, Rose says they have sometimes been mistaken for a nonprofit because the prices are so low.

“I’m a very spiritual person, and faith without action is dead. So, we offer community classes for $5,” she said.
The regular cost for other classes is $17, a price that Rose said was increased to cover pandemic-related costs. Although she doesn’t take insurance, Rose claims she offers “affordable” pricing for massages, the intent being to “meet people where they’re at.”

Despite her affordable rates, Rose claims that the studio has weathered the pandemic “well.”

“We’ve been well supported by our members and given the grants that we received and the Cares Act money that we received, we’re fortunate that we’re not in any danger of closing,” she said.

For Four Corners native and yoga teacher Tiffany Hogan, the establishment of 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness represents a positive change for the neighborhood.

“I recently moved back to my childhood home in the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s great to see how the area has changed and how there are so many more businesses, especially this one, which really helps people. It’s so nice to be in a place that feels like a community. Christine has really exposed yoga and wellness and massage and other things to the community that they weren’t exposed to before.”

John Christopher, also a Four Corner resident, was one such passerby. The 70-year-old retiree heard that he should try yoga for health reasons.

“I had a friend who was teaching at 4 Corners,” he said. “I walked by the studio one day, and went in. When I walked in, there was an aura of comfortability. When I met the co-owners, they were so welcoming and peaceful and happy. Their mission was to bring yoga and massage therapy to the community. The yoga that I know is predominantly white.”

“I appreciated that, and I wanted to be part of that. And that’s how I began. I’m a very physical, athletic person. I started to really understand the practice, and I just wanted more. I also enjoyed how it was being taught in a gentle, compassionate way. The teachers were there to help. I was in.”

Christopher went on to complete the yoga teacher course and now runs classes of his own. Currently, he is participating in a book group on race offered by the studio. He credits his success in large part to Rose and O’Donnell.

“You can’t fake passion,” he said. “That was their mission—that was what they wanted to do. You understood that by how they lived. That aura got me and everyone else there to be part of that mission. Karuna and Christine were a great team. They just gelled. It was great to go there and just be in that peaceful, cooperative setting. Christine has a passion that is so infectious and powerful that it’s unreal. I have not been up on something like this in my lifetime, and I’m 70.”

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