Business of the Month: Integral Yoga Institute, 227 West 13th Street

The welcoming outside of Integral Yoga Institute.

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Where can you get everything you need for body, mind and soul, all on one city block? This year the Integral Yoga Institute celebrates 50 years  in our community, with their Integral Yoga Natural Foods Store, Apothecary, workshops and classes, and more.

As their name implies, Integral Yoga is dedicated to offering classic Yoga practices to all people, in all bodies, of all abilities and at every stage of life. They have  more than one-hundred Yoga classes each week, including those for special populations and circumstances (for example, at the height of the AIDS crisis, when ignorance and discrimination were sadly rampant, IYI started a free yoga class for people with HIV and AIDS).  Home to a world-renowned teacher training program, Integral Yoga Institute seeks to bring peace and health to the individual and to the world.

Some of Peter Max's work at the book store section.

Some of Peter Max’s work at the book store section.

It was artist Peter Max who invited Yoga Master Swami Satchidananda, whose teachings IYI follows, to the U.S. in 1966. Founded in an Upper West Side apartment in 1966, Integral Yoga moved to its current location in Greenwich Village on West 13th Street between 7th and Greenwich Avenues in 1970, at a time when the Village was considered a bohemian outpost, and a quieter part of town close to public transportation.  James Rado, the author of Hair, lived at 227 West 13th Street before it became the home of the Integral Yoga Institute.

IYI are proud to be on this beautiful block, and consider it their mission to serve local residents, all New Yorkers, and visitors from around the world.

When early students at the Institute were learning about the benefits of a healthier diet and where they could get such food, they were encouraged to open their own shop.  That’s how the Integral Yoga Natural Foods Store and Apothecary was born, located in the ground floor of their West 13th Street building — New York’s only 100% vegetarian food and supplements market.  When they opened, they were one of the first and very few

Some of the organic produce.

Customer Mr. Godfrey Holder, vegetarian for 29 years and former employee said he stills gets his organic produce here.

“health food” stores anywhere in the city.  Now, thankfully, such healthy food options abound.

Some people come to Integral Yoga just for the organic food and don’t even take a yoga class.  But if you mention this GVSHP article and their 50th anniversary celebration, you can get one FREE class.  Just speak to any of the friendly receptionists that work at IYI, all of whom have completed their rigorous Teacher Training certification.

When asked about how people of different faiths, no particular religion, or even atheists are welcomed, IYI’s delightful manager Chandra/Jo Sgammato said “May I present the Yantra.”  Their Yantra, or diagram, is a 12 petaled flower representing all of the wold’s faiths.  At the bottom the three stars are the lesser known faiths, not of lesser importance Chandra emphasized. While at the top, the empty circle represents the faiths not yet created, or for

Integral Yoga 50 year logo and Yantra.

Integral Yoga 50 year logo, and Yantra.

those that do not adhere to any religion.  Health and wellness are for everybody, regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation.  Their interfaith teaching is Truth Is One, Paths Are Many.

Although they would never share their names, Integral Yoga has welcomed many world-class celebrities into the Institute and Store, from Broadway actors to film stars, including several very well-known neighborhood residents who grace the silver screens. Some have been pregnant, attending their prenatal classes. Some were seeking meditation instruction. Many turned to the Food Store and Apothecary for advice on herbs and supplements. But they will never reveal their names!

Now celebrating fifty years in the Village, IYI was the leading edge of a movement which seems to grow every day.  Here’s to another fifty years!

Welcoming reception area.

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Harry Bubbins