“It’s all about the energy,” says Kim Alexandrescu as she opens the front door to Sacred Space Astoria.
Come with her into the calmness. Lose yourself in the tranquillity of the snow-white walls, the silky smooth crystals and the velvety purple phalaenopsis.
“When you come into Sacred Space, I want you to feel like you’re being held,” she says placidly as she welcomes people to the day’s first yoga class.
Sacred Space is new – it and the year 2020 commenced together – but the idea for the yoga/reiki/meditation sanctuary/studio had been peacefully floating around in Kim’s head for years.
There were, however, other things that had to be taken care of before all the energy points aligned and placed her in a prime present-moment position to do so.
Kim, who is a yoga teacher, a reiki master and an urban zen integrative therapist, has long been fascinated with the mind-body equation.
She grew up in three suburbs of Detroit, shifting her time between her mother and father, who were only 18 when she arrived.
“They never married,” she says. “I lived with my mother and my grandparents. My mother married when I was eight, and my father married when I was 10.”
Kim, who is cool, collected and comely, always figured she would be a teacher like her mother.
“But I didn’t want to deal with principals,” she says. “I didn’t realize there was another kind of teaching outside of the classroom, the kind I do now.”
She filled her time with gymnastics, basketball and diving. (Although she worked out with a yoga video at 16, she didn’t try yoga classes until college.)
By the time she was in 10th grade, Kim had decided upon a very ambitious career.
“We learned about DNA,” she says. “And I said, ‘That’s what I want to study.’”
At Cedar Crest College, a small private liberal arts women’s school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Kim studied genetic engineering then took a job in clinical genetics research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“It was the hardest year of my life because I didn’t know anyone,” she says. “I started visiting Astoria because I had college friends here.”
She had no intention of staying in New York City – “I had had a college internship here, and I cried because I was terrified of living here” – but the universe had other plans for her.
Her friends happened to introduce her to the man who became her husband.
“We met right away,” she says. “We went dancing, and we connected.”
So she married him and moved to Astoria and began working for a series of biotech companies.
“But I missed working with patients and hearing their stories,” she says.
Three years later, she landed at Columbia University, where she earned her master’s degree in biotechnology while collecting clinical data for hepatitis C research as part of her full-time job at the school’s medical center.
“I was pregnant while doing all of this,” she says. “My first child, Luka, was born three weeks after I got my master’s. While I was working on my thesis, he used to kick me when I was writing at the kitchen table.”
In 2012, shortly after Luka’s arrival, Kim quit her full-time job and took yoga teacher-training classes.
“Yoga gave me the same feeling and movements as diving and gymnastics without the risk of injures, including broken bones, that I suffered doing them,” she says.
Her daughter, Carina, who is now 6, entered the picture in 2013, around the time Kim started subbing as a yoga teacher and trying to help her mother-in-law, who was dying of cancer, feel more relaxed.
“I started doing what we called massages, but it really was some energy work in the small chakras of the body to ease her pain,” Kim says. “It was reiki, and I felt a calling to do it, which answered everything for me.”
In 2016, Kim became an urban zen integrative therapist, using her holistic skills to help nursing-home patients who were seriously ill or dying become comfortable.
About a year ago, she decided to concentrate on setting up Sacred Space. After searching for six months, she found a storefront on 21st Avenue at 29th Street.
“Since 1996, the owner had used it as storage,” she says, “so it was nothing more than a concrete block.”
She filled it with positive energy and second-hand furniture – the wooden pew is from a Connecticut church, the elaborate front desk is from New Jersey, the wall of windows in the front is from a historic manion, and the plants are from a neighbor’s house.
During construction, Kim got some energy she never expected: She was pleasantly surprised to discover that she’s pregnant. Marco will make his debut in June.
“My other two children were from in vitro fertilization,” she says. “This feels totally different physically.”
She says it’s important for people in the city to have a place like Sacred Space to relax.
“The yoga we do is spiritual; it’s deep healing work, and the practice is more about the restorative than the physical,” she says. “And the teachers are empowered to create classes that are important to them.”
Sacred Space is very much a work in progress. Kim will be adding classes, including ones for seniors, and workshops for beginners.
“I get to bring in whatever it is I want to learn,” she says, adding that vocal toning was something new for her.
Although Kim teaches some of the classes and works privately with reiki clients, she says that Sacred Space isn’t about her.
“You can feel my presence, my energy,” she says. “But I’m a student, too. I’ll be taking classes.”
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at Nruhling@gmail.com; @nancyruhling; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com.
Copyright 2020 by Nancy A. Ruhling