Self Respecting Yoga
Yoga to the People, founded in 2006 by Greg Gumucio, a yoga enthusiast who found his roots in California, offers yoga to yogies and to the masses alike. To many, this concept does not really seem plausible, yoga classes are usually assigned by difficulty level. However, Yoga to the People has reinvented the way many have viewed the idea of Yoga and its purpose. At Yoga to the People, it has been described that some kind of positive and invigorating energy enters the room once instruction has started. Yogies from the beginner level to those who have been practising for their entire life congregate in one studio and share their experience. This is something never before seen in yoga, as many studios mostly focus on getting each patron to the best level of yoga practice possible. However, yoga to the people believes in making sure that each patron finds the positions that not only benefit their body, but celebrate it as well, yoga to the people believes in the care of the body versus trying to test its limits. The mats are placed closely together, and during the session it is as if an individual can sense the effort of the person next to them, creating a domino effect of every person trying their personal best to achieve a position that brings personal well being into focus.
Yoga to the People’s mission revolves around making Yoga accessible. Often times gyms, especially in a place like New York City, charge hefty membership fees up to 90 dollars per month. High prices incite a sense of exclusivity and a price range that is often out of the typical student budget. Yoga to the People has completely revolutionized the idea of Yoga in that for them, there is no set price; students, professors, business people, and families alike can all come to Yoga and pay whatever it is they would like to contribute. By taking away such an exclusive element like high prices, Yoga to the People has still maintained a place in esteem amongst other rival yoga studios that charge such exorbitant prices. Price aside, Yoga to the People maintains its popularity because classes at the studio are not meant to make its patrons feel that they need to be a yoga expert upon walking through the door, Yoga to the People helps each and every single patron find positions that work best for their bodies. The idea is that by learning what is best for your every individual in a Yoga sense instead of training to be the best, and then applying that mindset to everyday life, once can find a sense of balance in other aspects of their lives.
In an interview with Carl Danielsen, an instructor from Yoga to The People’s flagship studio at St. Marks, NYU’s Journalistic Inquiry class was able to observe that this organization has achieved such a high level of success.
NYUJI: When did you start doing yoga?
Danielsen: I started yoga very late, because when I was younger, it was not very accessible. I find that Yoga to the People makes yoga accessible to everyone.
NYUJI: What is Yoga to the People’s mission?
Danielsen: There is a Yoga to the People poem and it is on all the websites, it lists the reasons yoga is so accessible, the creators had a set vision on how this can effect the world. As yoga has gotten more popular, it has gotten more expensive, so Yoga to the People is usually put near schools.
NYUJI: What is the general age group for patrons at Yoga to the People?
Danielsen: In Brooklyn compared to our St. Marks location, it’s a slightly older crowd, still young adults in their mid-twenties, who are working, and up at the 38th street studio, the ages really vary, yoga touches a lot of people.
NYUJI: How do you run a studio with people who are at all different levels when it comes to Yoga difficulty?
Danielsen: We want people who are first timers, who enjoy their experience, and then they tell their friends.
NYUJI: How does Yoga to the People receive its funding?
Danielsen: It all started with one studio on St. Marks, Greg, the creator used to teach the classes himself, and the classes are not focused on creating a yoga guru, but being able to teach yourself, and being able to teach others how to teach themselves. For Yoga to the People, its not about getting into the deepest pose, but what pose is most beneficial for your body.
NYUJI: Did you receive training from Yoga to the People?
Danielsen: I did, and at the training sight, I watched master yoga teachers come to our training program and be utterly confused. They had never experienced a type of yoga that focuses on personal growth rather than just aiming to be the best at yoga in general. Beside the people who come to these training programs, the people who work at Yoga to the people are just plain cool.
Danielsen presenting one of the more difficult yoga positions.
Yoga to the People locations and mission poem can be found on its website: http://yogatothepeople.com