“Mindfulness is the art of paying attention…when we pay attention with faith that we will be supported, then growth really is possible, our vision becomes clear, our path becomes unobstructed and we are able to see the Divine Good in every person and situation,” says Beth Farlow, a volunteer instructor at Asheville Community Yoga.
She reads this quote that she has written at the end of a yoga class while all the students are lying on their mats with the lights down low, about to return to their day. This art of seeing the good in everyone is practiced regularly at Asheville Community Yoga. It has become a mecca of uniting people of all backgrounds, empowering people to live healthier and active lives.
The roots of Asheville Community Yoga actually started in a warehouse on Merrimon Avenue, where a man named Michael placed a "free yoga" sign outside. The warehouse started filling up, and they moved to their current location in Studio A. They soon outgrew that studio and opened Studio B. Currently, they have expanded to a third large studio, Studio C; two healing arts studios; a pre-loved clothing store; and now, a café with continued plans for growth and expansion. The karma-based donation system, offering free yoga to those who are unable to pay, continues to be a vital part of their mission.
A new restaurant, karma café, opened in the fall of 2018 and is mostly vegan and gluten-free. Fresh baked focaccia bread with daily soup and avocado toast are just a few of the items on this menu. In keeping with its mission of Asheville Community Yoga to make healthy living accessible, every item on the menu is less than $10. It is their hope that the café will be a place for people of all backgrounds to gather together and enjoy a meal created with love and fresh, local ingredients.
Asheville Community Yoga is often described as a “haven” or a “mini-retreat.” When you enter even the smallest studio, the relaxing colors and white cloths draped from the ceiling, plus the energy of so many who have come to meditate together as a community, create this feeling of peacefulness that can only be experienced by visiting. It is truly a melting pot where people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, ages and cultures come to practice together.
“We see students, seniors, servers, bartenders, public servants, doctors, attorneys and accountants—among others—showing up and practicing next to each other," Beth says. "Asheville Community Yoga is not simply a yoga center but a comprehensive and tightly wedded community with a purpose.”
With state-of-the-art equipment lining the walls, including mats, bolsters, blocks, blankets and straps, the karma-based yoga center is accessible for all.
All classes, workshops and events are free for people who cannot afford to pay. A suggested “love offering” of $5 to $15 for classes and $15-plus for events allows everyone to have access to this healing practice. The center is funded through the generosity of the community’s donations. The teachers donate their time, and each teacher brings their own gifts to share with their classes. A 250-hour teacher training is offered to anyone who wants to dig deeper into the practice of yoga or begin their journey as an instructor.
Children are welcomed as part of the community at Asheville Community Yoga. To make yoga more accessible for parents, Asheville Community Yoga now offers donation-based childcare most days. There are toys and games for children, and the times coincide with yoga classes for convenience. A kids' yoga class is offered weekly as well!
Unlike some yoga studios where the focus is on quick and rapid movements to work a sweat by moving through yoga poses rapidly, the classes at Asheville Community Yoga are instructed with intention and purpose, with a focus on breathing and mindfulness. Perhaps you have tried yoga before and were not sure it was for you. There are so many types of yoga, each with a different style and pace. At Asheville Community Yoga, they offer Qigong and Tai Chi, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Vinyasa Flow, Gentle Flow, Yoga for Seniors, Bhakti Flow, Yoga for a Healthy Spine, Prenatal Yoga, Warm Vinyasa Flow, Meditation, Yoga Nidra, Align & Stretch, Chair Yoga, Anxiety-Releasing Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yoga for Women, Yoga for Men, Hot Flow, Yoga for Veterans, Slow Power Flow, Yoga en Espanol, Restorative Yoga with Digeridoo Meditation, Gentle Kundalini Yoga, Nia Dance and Healing Arts Classes.
Another recent addition to the healing modalities of Asheville Community Yoga is the Healing Arts Center. The center operates on a good karma pricing system, with tiered-level donations to make services accessible and affordable for all people, regardless of income level. The level system allows those who wish to “pay it forward” to contribute more for their service to allow those who cannot afford it to have access. The Healing Arts Center has ayurvedic wellness consultations, acupuncture, massage, cupping, herbal consultation, holistic health coaching, integrative physical therapy, reiki and reflexology.
“We have seen people come in with Crohn’s disease or chronic pain and after receiving therapy have seen their joy at actually beginning to feel well and without pain. It brings us joy to witness these transformations,” says a therapist in the Healing Arts Center.
Moving forward, Asheville Community Yoga intends to broaden its outreach program to the community in local schools and rehabilitation centers, providing low-cost childcare, cooking classes, healthy eating classes and support groups. They plan to continue to expand on their land to create a campus and institute for healing arts. Their focus on giving back to the community continues to grow due to the participation of so many volunteers and donors.
“The center strives to be a demonstration of what service is and encourages its members to get involved in any way they can.”
8 Brookdale Road, Asheville, 828.255.5575, AshevilleCommunityYoga.com