What began as a small morning class for employees of a fledgling popsicle-pusher has blossomed into a local phenomenon, with scores of people frequently sprawled out on yoga mats under the evening sky.
King of Pops’s free weekly yoga classes, typically hosted around suppertime at Historic Fourth Ward Park off the Beltline’s Eastside Trail, are nothing short of a sensation—events that are emblematic of intown’s resurgence in how they transform a former postindustrial wasteland into a showcase of Atlanta humanity.
The idea was crafted around 2013, when budding yogi Charlie Baxter Graham was working a popsicle stand to earn some extra scratch.
King of Pops, back then, was a relatively small outfit, and founder Steven Carse tells Curbed Atlanta he wanted to offer some pre-work relaxation and meditation to his crew.
“We started a pretty small company, trying to be thoughtful, and we created some employee benefits,” he said. “Eventually, people are planning their morning around coming out to yoga. We did that for most of a year, and more people just started showing up.”
Carse said he thinks the biggest crowd the event has ever drawn was around 800 strong. Others might beg to differ, but attendance has nonetheless surged from when a few dozen would show up for the morning sessions.
“I think the first year, about 40 or 50 people [would attend] without any discussion about it,” he said. “When we started to promote it, it quickly grew to 300 to 500 people. Then, in year three, it really took off and has hit those much bigger numbers.”
Graham has estimated that crowds have swelled into the thousands, and the lead image above appears to show at least 1,000 people, according to Gather Good ATL. (Before sessions, Atlantans can be spotted from miles around, walking, biking, even skateboarding yoga mats toward the O4W green space).
In recent weeks, King of Pops’s has had to host the event at Piedmont Park, since Historic Fourth Ward Park had already been booked; it’s a race to snag a permit each week, although Carse and his colleagues are pretty quick and usually succeed at securing the space.
Even with the location shift, between 200 and 500 people are still coming together to pose like trees among the trees—or do the Downward Dog among the dogs.
Carse prides King of Pops’s weekly yoga gathering on being a place where anyone—“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing jeans, don’t have a mat, and have never done yoga”—can participate.
“We have really good teachers who are passionate about yoga, but I think the really special part of the event is being next to a lot of people in a non-pretentious—a non-‘if you don’t know how to do this pose’—kind of place,” he says.
King of Pops’s yoga extravaganzas are hosted (roughly) every Tuesday evening for nine months of the year, stopping only when it starts to get cold outside.
Carse said he foresees launching more weekly yoga operations at other spots along the Beltline.
But, for now, King of Pop’s Tuesday event is not the only free outdoor yoga option in metro Atlanta—although it’s most certainly the biggest. Places such as Avalon in Alpharetta, Colony Square in Midtown, and Roswell Park also offer cost-free community yoga.
Intown yoga fans can meet up with the King of Pops crowd this coming Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Piedmont Park, at The Promenade.
- King of Pops Yoga Queen Shares Power of Asana & Social Activism [Gather Good ATL]
- 4 of Atlanta’s Favorite Free, Outdoor Yoga Classes [WhereTraveler]