The separation of ownership at Thrive Yoga has altered my yoga routine, as I mentioned two months ago, in unexpected way. I studied under both owners and maintain the studio website, which gives me no-costs yoga sessions at Thrive. I have just gotten through working with the site designer to purge the site of pictures of Kim Groark (at her request) and bring the graphic design into alignment with the current status at the studio. So much work that I missed two class this week, and I probably missed a few the previous week.
Over the past couple of months, Susan Bowen has brought in several new teachers, which required me to adjust to different voices, paces and sequencing. And there’s been a swell of new people taking classes, many of them just getting their feet wet with yoga. Combined with my frequent travels, I seem to be practicing in a different environment even though the physical facilities remain the same.
Kim Groark, the renegade owner, as she likes to call herself, has started teaching elsewhere, and uses the facilities at the American Dance Institute for three classes a week. Her schedule has not fit mine so I have yet to take one of her classes, and not because I am taking sides in the split. She has a newsletter (PDF and a whopping 2.6 mb) that conveys her love for yoga and unique approach to the practice. She does not have website yet, but I would probably offer her the same deal as I have with Thrive — hosting for classes.
My first reaction was that yoga and meditation should have prevented this breakup that was due to bad vibs between two friends. If yoga is going to bring harmony to the world, why can’t it heal a business partnership? But then, I realized that yoga does not keep people from being human. I am sure that both Kim and Susan struggled with this contradiction and decided that the split was the best way to restore their own personal and separate balances. All these changes have meant I have become more detached from my instructors and listen more to my inner teacher about how and where my practice should be headed. They can lead me skillfully in a vinyasa, but they are not going to give me wisdom necessarily.
Rodney Yee used to have a blog at Yahoo Health. I checked it out a couple of times a while back, and then forgot about it. Yee has moved up in the online world. His new on-line home is at Lime.com’s Yoga section [MLS: Lime.com has apparently gone bust and disappeared from the web, and Yee moved on to Gaiam Yoga Club]. He has a TV show, as part of Lime’s ambitious project to bring healthy living to the big time, and has been doing short video blogs [no longer available].
Of course, Yee has been in the news a lot recently because of his marriage to NYC yoga studio owner, Colleen Saidman, which got covered in the NY Times (sorry, but the story has already been archived). But you can get a bitchier version of it at New York Magazine. Souljerky has another take on the mess. Yee divorced his wife of 24 years. A few years ago, he had an affair with a student, which became an example of how to betray the student-teacher relationship.
I bought Yee’s most recent book, Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga, because it’s beautifully illustrated and laid out. And I still take classes at Thrive Yoga.
In my own home yoga studio, Thrive Yoga, we’ve gone through a stretch that calls into question of incarnating the yogic ideal : the two owners of Thrive Yoga have parted ways. Kim Groark was the more advanced teacher while Susan Bowen had the good business mind. Over the past two years, they lost their shared vision of what they wanted to make of the studio. I don’t know any of the details, just that at the end the tension hung like incense in the air of the studio. Susan bought out Kim’s share of the business, and Kim “decided to leave Thrive Yoga to pursue a different path,” as the announcement stated. More experienced yoga entrepreneurs have told me that studio partnerships rarely work out. Yoga teachers who strike out on their own, setting up their own shops, want to have full control over their business and practice so there’s going to be an innate contradiction in a joint venture.
I felt disconcerted by the whole shift: I had gone to Kim’s classes more frequently because I was drawn to her flair for teaching (influences of Kundalini, Shiva Rea) and the classes fit my schedule in the evenings. I was also concerned about the long-term viability of the studio because I get classes (2-5 times a week) at no charge, in exchange for hosting, maintaining and updating the website. I would find it had to pay for a year unlimited pass, which is what I would need for the same privilege. The split took me out of my comfort zone on the mat.