On the surface Buddha Jams Yoga in Glen Cove appears to be just a yoga studio. But on the inside of the 5,000-square-foot space, owner Jason Samel hopes people will see it as a place where a lot more can be accomplished than just yoga sessions.
“We’re trying to bring as much of the community together as possible under the idea of being better people and being kinder,” Samel said. “And being loving towards one another.”
Buddha Jams celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, June 18, at 192 Glen Street with group yoga, meditation and family-friendly activities.
Musical performances were held by The Oddysy featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recipient DJ Johnny Juice of Public Enemy and Space Force featuring the musical stylings of Dave Berg and a freestyle performance by Cut Monitor Milo, previously of Leaders of the New School.
The name itself, Buddha Jams, combines the setting Samel said he wants to create as well as his own personal background.
The Smithtown native and current Brookville resident owns a record label and music production company. A decade ago, while living in Great Neck, Samel’s compilation record “Occupy This Album,” which he produced, won the 2012 Independent Music Awards Vox Pop poll for best compilation album.
“From all walks of life, we can come and ‘jam’ together,” Samel said. “And we can make beautiful music and memories together doing it.”
Samel said his newest venture comes from wanting to help others the same way yoga has helped and even saved himself.
He described himself as someone who had been overweight and angry, among other things. He said that trauma suffered during his time at boarding school resurfaced during COVID-19 and he turned to yoga for a way out.
“I was really depressed and anxious and life sucked,” Samel said. “Despite any success I may have had I was really unhappy because of the trauma from when I was a kid and because of the way I was looking, feeling and COVID-19 at the time.”
Samel has long spoken against the trauma he endured while in boarding school, and has been calling for other alumni to share their stories as well. He said his last memory of attending the school was going to the emergency room after getting hit in the head with a telephone by a supervisor.
“One day, sort of miraculously, I started doing yoga down at the beach on my own,” Samel said. “I was in a really deep depression, I was done with life. Then all of a sudden I started deep breathing on the beach and that turned into me doing yoga on the beach every single day.”
Samel said if people can get help the same way he did, making yoga accessible is the best way to do it.
Group “jams” for one hour are $20 and anyone with Medicare or Medicaid gets 50% off. Every day from 5:45 to 6:15 there are free outdoor classes. Buddha Jams also offers Zumba, acupuncture, physical therapy and other services.
“I cannot wait until the day that someone who has been walking by and seen us outside grabs a yoga mat and joins us,” Samel said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s about everybody coming together and practicing to be better people in one community—that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”