Yoga Shanti Tribeca Says Namaste
May 7, 2020
May 7, 2020
Dearest Yoga Shanti community,
Sometimes when you just blurt something out, or tear off the Band-Aid, or jump in ice-cold water really fast, the hurt is less. So I’m just going to say it: Yoga Shanti Tribeca will not re-open.
I’m sorry—2020 has seen enough grief. I’m not sorry about what went down in that gorgeous space. In my 60 years, it was one of my favorite rooms – and may actually be the room where I felt most at home. The love that you all brought into the space made it feel like we were in a safe womb. The community of teachers and students that built there was steadfast and growing and becoming more beautiful every day. I shouldn’t say was. It is beautiful, It is deep. It is powerful. It is strong. And for this, I’m grateful.
What happened? I’m grappling with how much history to divulge. But I’ve decided that, after 22 years, we’re family. So I’ll tell you.
Yoga Shanti Tribeca began one day after a call from a friend saying that she had the perfect space. I wasn’t looking for a space—I had sworn off opening yoga studios. Just for fun, though, we went to look at it, and Rod exclaimed in a sad voice, “It’s fu**ing perfect.” I fell in love, and didn’t even take a breath, except to call Joanna Sesny and ask her if she was in. Again with the f-bomb: “F**k yeah.”
In a month, we opened. It’s useful to have an amazing artist in the family that can do anything exquisitely from vision to completion—build, install, sculpt—you name it. Our son Evan took it on, and those of you who’ve ever been in there know it: it’s stunning! The teachers were thrilled to be under one roof again, and they re-arranged their lives to be able to accommodate the schedule. Then the students started trekking up those ugly green stairs.
I expected the classes to be filled to the brim right off the bat, but they weren’t.
Still, slowly it built. The teachers showed up, the students showed up and magic was happening. It was humble. It was like old school New York, which appealed to some, but not all. Tribeca seemed like a foreign land to many of our students, and at the end of a busy day, those that lived uptown weren’t so keen on making the journey. And then there were the green stairs—ugh. But we built, and each month the numbers were better than the month before.
But in New York City, organizations that sell “fitness” classes in bulk for a large discount makes it very difficult for the small studios to turn a profit. Still, we found other ways to profit—our teacher trainings were robust, and our tee shirts were coveted—both the tees and trainings will continue! By January 2020, our numbers had doubled and the studio appeared to be thriving. Our 300-hour teacher training had 36 students. The senior teachers were mentoring the young and curious teachers as they were starting to own the teachers seat and deliver stellar Yoga Shanti classes. Rodney and I are so proud. It is a beautiful team. After 2 years, Yoga Shanti Tribeca was becoming the buzzing beehive I’d dreamt it could be.
Then came Covid-19, and everything came to a dead stop. The losses were heavy. We went online to continue to connect. It’s amazing to have the community stay together like this.
Still, we’ve been yearning to get bodies back in that beautiful southern chakra space. Our lease is up in September, so I’d begun negotiations for that. The rent increase was sharp. I gulped, contemplated, then decided to re-open once we got the all-clear from health officials. I was hoping that the road-work that had been marring our entrance for two years would finally be completed, and the scaffolding from the building next door would finally be removed. And, yes, I was hoping that maybe we would even be allowed to paint the ugly green stairs.
Then, on Saturday, I got an email that said that we needed to be out by Tuesday, May 5th. Yup, not even three-days’ notice. And during a pandemic. I was outraged. I called lawyers. I called the landlord. But there was no recourse—I had to leave on Tuesday—no ifs, ands, or buts.
You see, we’re in a sublease. And unbeknownst to me, my landlord and the building owner had negotiated an arrangement where they agreed that the lease was terminated effective immediately. They had to leave, which meant the same was true for the subtenants, of which one was Yoga Shanti Tribeca.
To fight it would be costly and exhausting. So we’re moving out. I went from calling lawyers to calling Evan and our daughter, JoJo, to see if they could de-install the gorgeous cabinetry and the hand-carved Ganesh altar, pack up blankets, carry sandbags down three flights of stairs, etc. Lippy insisted on driving three hours from her farm to help. (She carried those damn sandbags up those three flights of green stairs when we opened, and she wanted to carry them down.)
Then came the task of telling the teachers. This was one of the things that I dreaded the most. I felt as though I had somehow let them down. I only wish that I could get all of you on a Zoom call and read to you the responses from each and every one of the teachers. It would be one big cry fest to see what the Yoga Shanti Teachers are made of. They were sad, but there was no blame. There was nothing but love, understanding, support, insight, caring and compassion. And, always ending with: “how can I help?”
I’m sick. I’m sad. I’m sorry. I like to think that everything happens for a reason—you know: if one door closes, another one opens? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a pause for Yoga Shanti in New York City, not an ending. The community will stay strong. We are in brainstorming sessions constantly, imagining what the next iteration will look like. With the paradigm shifting, we will pause and assess and then re-enter.
On the practical side, if you have class cards, you can use them for all of our online offerings, which will not be interrupted and will get more professional and robust. You can also use them in Sag Harbor.
When gatherings are allowed, temporarily, trainings and workshops will continue at the gorgeous Urban Zen studio on Greenwich St. Thank you Donna Karen!
Thank you to every single one of you that made it to 28 Warren St. over the past 2 years. A big shout out to Mia for being the calm in the storm. Both Rodney and I are here if any of you need us for any reason. I wish we could have a proper “grieving what’s temporarily over, and celebrating what happened” gathering. But for now, we will see you online.
You have our love,