Happiness is who we are. Yoga simply helps us to find it.
BYS is a school for Classical Yoga founded in March 2010. All classes at BYS are offered solely by donation. It is our mission to make these practices totally accessible to everyone. We feel that money shouldn’t be an obstacle to happiness.
Through postures, breathing, meditation, relaxation, chanting and the philosophy of yoga, anyone can heal and open the body, settle the mind, and learn how to walk through life with an easeful heart. Happiness is who we are. Yoga simply helps us to find it inside ourselves.
The idea of offering classes by donation came to me during the time I was managing the Dharma Yoga Center in NYC. At that time I was meeting many people who were very interested in trying out yoga, but simply couldn't afford to come to a class. It was so striking to me the sheer number of people who wanted to find a way to health and well being, but who had such a barrier to making that happen. My initial response to this was to offer some classes by donation, and while I was brainstorming about places I could approach, the larger idea came to me: to open a donation studio. This idea seemed pretty crazy, especially since I didn't have any money for such an endeavor, let alone the ambition to run my own business, but the thought of a full schedule of classes being available by donation was pretty magical. I spoke with my husband, Jeremy, and he agreed that it was a crazy idea, but if I wanted to do it, he was on board. The more I considered the possibility, I decided that if we could rummage up the starting funds, that we should give it a shot! All at once the pieces began to come together. I walked past that beautiful building on the corner of 6th Ave and St. Marks where the windows had been covered in paper for the past year. Although the space wasn't up for rent, somehow in a week's time we had a meeting with the owner who was interested in turning the lease over to us. We reached out to friends and colleagues in the yoga community, and donations started arriving as well as friends donating their time and expertise. In January we began construction on the space, transforming a very unkempt, rotted out room into a beautiful sanctuary. Looking back now, I don't know how it all happened. Within a few month's time, the idea had sprouted into a beautiful studio! Of course it took tremendous care and generosity from many people, all of whom didn't actually know if the larger model of sustaining the space through donations would even work, since it was so unprecedented. It was a very literal leap of faith for many of us. On March 8th we held our first class, with barely enough time for the paint on the walls to dry! Those first months, I taught almost every class and most of the students thought I lived at BYS because I was there so much! Four years later, there are still students coming who I remember from that first week of class. It's remarkable to see what has grown into a true community of friends and students. I attribute much of that to the honesty of the donation model - how it keeps everything at BYS very real and very clear. Last year was the first time since opening that we came up short with funds needed for our operational costs. Once we got the word out to the community, in less than a month's time, contributions of over $12,000 (more than we needed) had arrived to cover our costs. In this way, the running of a donation studio is such a blessing, as it is so deeply connected to all the people who offer their generosity to make BYS possible: our teachers, the students, friends and family. This framework is a part of why BYS is such a magical place to come learn and explore yoga, because at its very root is a movement of kindness that is a breath of fresh air in all our lives.
April , 2014