Q&A: An interview with Yoga to the People instructor, Carl Danielsen

Carl Danielsen performing some Yoga poses

With nine studios across the United States,Yoga to the People has accomplished its goal of making yoga accessible. Greg Gumucio opened up his first Yoga to the People studio in 2005 at St. Mark’s Pl. and has grown to include several studios in New York, California, Arizona and Seattle. In comparison to several more expensive yoga studios, Yoga to the People offers classes on a suggested donation base of $5 or $10, relatively cheaper than other studios.

One of the yoga instructors at Yoga to the People, Carl Danielsen, was able to give an interview to a journalistic inquiry class regarding his experiences at the studio on Sep.29 in Tomkins Square Park in New York City. Danielsen aside from teaching yoga classes, is a professor at New York Film Academy,an actor and owns his own coaching practice.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY: How did you start practicing at yoga to the people?

DANIELSEN: There were articles in the paper and what I would do to make a living in between acting jobs was to coach actors…So I read this article and I would tell all my clients, you have to go to yoga to the people, its donation based, its affordable. It sounded hell to me, all those people going up those stairs and all those people in the mats…I was out in California and I tried out all the yoga studios and I tried the one [Yoga to the People studio] in Berkeley and it was great. I got back in New York and I braved it. The crowd sounds intimidating but its actually part of the beauty of it. The energy in those rooms with all those people working their stuff out, sweating, working hard, taking a break it is kind of magical and I have never experienced that anywhere else.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY: Did you get your training from yoga to the people?

DANIELSEN: I did get my training from yoga to the people…I’m an actor and for 20 years I travelled around the country, I studied yoga at incredible places all over the country and then I found Yoga to the People.I watched people come to the studio kind of lost and in a couple of cases addiction problems and other reasons. I watched them become yogis and I watched them do the teacher training and then I watched them become master teachers. Some people blossom under this whole thing. I have seen other teacher programs in other places and they are excellent but its less about the personal growth. I didn’t do it because I wanted to become a yoga teacher, I wanted whatever that transformation was.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY: Why has Yoga to the People gotten more and more popular?

DANIELSEN: It makes people feel good and people tell their friends. They go in and have an experience that it is fun.We play music and do different things than your normal yoga studio..We want people to feel comfortable and not alienated or intimated. People leave feeling good and they leave and tell their friends.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY:How does it do financially?

DANIELSEN: I don’t think a lot of people are sitting around and making money. They are expanding. If there is an overflow it goes out to expanding.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY: What are the donations like in class?

DANIELSEN: I don’t look in the box. We are instructed to just scoop it out…Some people don’t pay, and that’s cool, because that’s what we want because it is available to everybody… I don’t know how the miracle works, but it does.

NYU’s JOURNALISTIC INQUIRY: What is your favorite position?

DANIELSEN: It depends on the day. There is a thing you do called wheels. My shoulder and hips are tight so that is hard for me. I like dancer pose. It depends on the day and how your body feels on that specific day and feels good.

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