IYI building, c.1970
IYI building, c.1990
IYI New York
The Integral Yoga Institute was founded in New York City in a large apartment on the Upper West Side on October 7, 1966, after Sri Swami Satchidananda, a spiritual teacher from India, came to America at the invitation of artist Peter Max. The guru’s wise and practical teachings inspired many New Yorkers, mostly hippies and flower children, to take hatha yoga classes and attend weekly discussions on attaining peace and love without the use of psychedelic drugs. The apartment also became an ashram where students lived the principles of yoga as taught by Sri Gurudev, as he was affectionately called by his disciples.
On October 15, 1970, a beautiful brownstone building on West 13th Street in historic Greenwich Village was dedicated as the New York IYI. Both an ashram and a teaching center, it became a beacon for spiritual seekers from all over New York City and is the place where thousands of people experienced yoga for the first time. Many New Yorkers also discovered the joys and benefits of a vegetarian diet when the Integral Yoga Natural Foods store opened in the West 13th Street building in March of 1972. For a long time, it was the only place in the city to purchase exclusively vegetarian products consistent with the principles of purity and nonviolence that are at the heart of yoga.
Over the years, the New York IYI has grown into one of the most respected and beloved yoga centers in the city, an oasis for busy New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors. Seven yoga rooms, each a different color and each displaying a symbol honoring all faiths to reflect Swami Satchidananda’s credo that “Truth is One, Paths are Many,” are environments of peace and serenity. More than 6,000 students each month attend 125 weekly Hatha Yoga classes at all levels, including Prenatal, Postpartum and Extra Gentle classes. The IYI offers special classes for those with HIV and AIDS. Classes are taught as Karma Yoga, meaning as an unpaid offering, by nearly 200 active teachers.
Courses and workshops in meditation and breathing practices, health and nutrition, and other related teachings create a unique and rewarding atmosphere of learning and sharing. Students gather each Tuesday evening for Scripture Study to read and discuss such fundamental works as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita. Kirtans (devotional chanting) and Satsangs (spiritual discussions) draw people from all over the city. Over the years, the IYI’s renowned Teacher Training program has certified hundreds of teachers in Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Hatha Yoga, Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga, Meditation and Gentle Yoga.
The IYI is also known for its many classes and workshops on using yoga to deal with a wide variety of life-threatening and chronic health conditions. It has pioneered programs called Yoga at Work® and Yoga at School™ to promote its message that Yoga is for everyone in every setting.
The staff of the New York IYI consists of two swamis (monks who’ve taken vows of poverty, chastity and service), a few full-time staff members, and many part-time workers. The Work Exchange and Karma Yoga programs help keep the Institute running smoothly and attract people from all walks of life to enrich the community that is the institute’s greatest asset. The Integral Yoga Bookstore is known throughout the city for its carefully-selected books and beautiful yoga products. Integral Yoga Natural Foods has twice been named New York’s best health food store by Zagat’s. Integral Yoga Natural Apothecary, also on 13th Street, is considered a key component by many New Yorkers in their holistic approach to health and well being.
The New York IYI is the living embodiment of Sri Swami Satchidananda’s teachings, a community where the goal for all people is an easeful body, a peaceful mind and a useful life.