Union Square is a mecca for big name studios with almost cult-like followings. Within a two-block radius you can downdog at Jivamukti, Ishta, the Shala and even pop into Lululemon to pick up some expensive yoga duds.Amidst all this, one space, The Center for Remembering and Sharing (CRS) is quietly making its profound mark on the students who have been lucky enough to pick up their mats and go exploring.
CRS was founded as a collaboration between Yasuko Kasaki and Christopher Pelham. It functions as a private community center that offers yoga and meditation, energy healing and individual spiritual counseling. They also host lectures like the currently ongoing “Miracles in Manhattan” series, which breaks down to workshops on everything from learning “Natural Wellness with Essential Oils” to a Rei Gong (combination of Reiki and Chi Gong) healing circles, film screenings, dance performances and even display artwork from up and coming artist- everything from calligraphy to seascapes.
So why is it called the Center for Remembering and Sharing? Kasaki explained the name simply, “in order to remember who you are, you have to share it with others.” CRS’s mission is based on the, “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM) program by Dr. Helen Schucman. ACIM is a spiritual self-study that focuses on the healing of relationships and teaches that the way to universal love and peace is by undoing guilt through forgiving others.
The language of the course is based in Christianity, but focuses on non-secular spirituality. While initially hearing about CRS, one might be tempted to feel excluded if they aren’t religious or interested in the teachings of ACIM, Kasaki finds a way to blend the best of this western religion-based program with the eastern philosophy of her native Japan to create an environment of acceptance, support and love. She even says you don’t have to have any knowledge of ACIM to attend the classes because you will bring something you’re working on spiritually into them and therefore get something out of it.
Marvin Rosenberg, who teaches the Gentle Yoga class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30, says that feeling of “all encompassing support and love is what makes CRS “such a rare jewel.” There are other yoga classes in Flow, Iyengar and Vinyasa on the schedule.
In this frantic city where yoga is often defined by how many calories you burned or what arm balance you’re currently perfecting, the fact that CRS even has gentle yoga classes shows you that they’re working from a slightly different model. Many seniors attend Rosenberg’s class including a 76-year old woman he’s taught for 20 years (and followed him to CRS from Dharma Mittra).
Kasaki believes in “yoga as work in, not work out” and all the classes on the CRS schedule are based in this idea of healing. In addition, they offer a unique sampling of healing modalities such as the dance/martial arts based Nia class and the posture balancing Makiko Method. They also host free mediation classes several days each week and many classes are taught bilingual in English and Japanese.
The other side of the chameleon-like coin of CRS, is the role they play as a private community center. Supporting the healing arts is incredibly important to both Kasaki and Pelham, the latter whom is trained as a professional dancer.
The two studio spaces are sparsely decorated to transform effortlessly from a yoga studio to hosting a local dance performance to screening the latest documentary. CRS recently paired with downstairs neighbor Think Coffee to help them raise money for their Ethiopia Library project, by screening “Black and Gold” a documentary investigating the true price of fair trade coffee.
CRS is quietly situated just south of Union Square at 123 4th Ave behind the brown door located next to Think Coffee. Step inside, even if just for a few moments, and experience an immediate sensation of true openness, love and support.