Anthony Tomasi opened a yoga studio at the “The Mansion” in Peabody back in February, and manager April Lyn Graffeo has been helping to make it part of a holistic experience. Perched on the bank of Suntaug Lake, PLAY Yoga is quickly becoming a local retreat destination. Much of its appeal is owed to its unique setting—a historic mansion and estate grounds owned by Puritan Lawn Memorial Park. The stately mansion stands surrounded by picturesque natural environs that include a park-like cemetery. It is pretty, peaceful, and perfectly suited for practicing yoga.
Prior to opening PLAY Yoga, Tomasi and Graffeo had visualized every detail of their “imaginary studio.” They had filled a binder with marketing materials and studio specifications; they had even designed the logo. “We had no idea that we would stumble into a mansion with a spa attached,” says Graffeo. “It was kind of cool—just when we couldn’t have put one more thing in that book, we found this space.”
A client of Graffeo’s (she is also a hair stylist) brought the place to their attention. “As soon as we came to see it and pulled into the parking lot we thought, ‘This is amazing,’” recalls Tomasi, adding, “I didn’t want to get too excited.” It was still a men’s salon at the time, and they were told it was going to be rented for use as a gym. “So we couldn’t get overly excited,” agrees Graffeo. Ultimately, however, they convinced the owner that a yoga studio was a better fit.
Tomasi points to the natural light flooding the space, the warmth of the wood rafters, the brick fireplace, and the sun-soaked floor. “I gravitate toward a rustic style,” he says, noting that the studio enjoys a sunset view over the lake. “I love the way the light changes—it’s been beautiful in here when it’s snowing. When it’s raining, during shavasana, you can hear the rain.” Similarly, Graffeo was drawn to the wood, the fireplace, and the collaborative vibe of the whole place. “I feel like I am part of something different from the usual yoga studio. And once I got in here and started practicing, I could not put a price on the windows.”
Ways in which the two are differentiating the studio include “Girls’ Day In,” held once a month. The pampering sessions accommodate 14 women (men are welcome) and include valet parking, mock Bloody Marys, customized yoga classes and spa treatments, and a healthy lunch—made from recipes found in Stacy Stowers’s Eat Raw—which attendees share while seated on bolsters at a custom-made table. After the meal, a group of seven heads to the studio for a yoga class while the other group enjoys a Spalenza Spa treatment—then, they switch.
On Tuesdays, they offer a free class for the community, themed “Every body deserves to do yoga.” They promote it through the spa to encourage people to try yoga. “It’s been a nice collaboration so far,” notes Tomasi, describing how people will take a yoga class, and then go upstairs to the spa or cross the hall to visit the salon. On Thursdays, they hold an “Infinite Play” class, which is minimally structured; it runs from noon until 3 p.m., and people can come and go as they please. “It’s not traditionally led,” says Tomasi. “Not everyone in the room is doing the same thing…. They can follow me or do their own flow. I might assist and adjust.” It’s an ideal class for people whose schedules require flexibility.
Aside from the space itself, Graffeo is sure to credit Tomasi and the other instructors with making PLAY Yoga an exceptional studio. “I think Anthony’s instruction is one of the biggest draws,” she says, adding there is “something different about each instructor that makes you want to do yoga three times a day…. You could be in a box with these people and still enjoy what’s [happening].”
Asked what he wants people to know about his new space, Tomasi responds: “I think once they walk in the door, not much needs to be said.” It’s true. PLAY Yoga is the essence of a hidden gem—a lake-side diamond in the Route 1 rough.