“The teachings of The Buddha & Patanjali have been reunited!” joyfully proclaims the Three Jewels Outreach Center's website.
And it’s true: on May 21st, Go Yoga held its last class on North 6th St. in Williamsburg. And just ten days later, it gloriously returned in Manhattan as Go Yoga@ The Three Jewels.
It’s not easy for a closing studio to rise again in an era of skyrocketing rents and new studios seemingly opening every other week. But Lilia Mead, founder and guiding light of Go Yoga, has made it happen, realizing her dream of bringing yoga to the community as a nonprofit organization.
How did she do it? The series of events culminating in the new studio unfolded with serendipity. “It started with a phone call from our landlord, when I was on retreat in Puerto Rico,” remembered Mead. “And ironically it was on my birthday, February 4!”
Mead learned that the studio would not be getting their lease renewed, and they would have to leave their long-time home, in July, after 15 years.
She acted quickly. “I decided May 21 would be the last day. Memorial Day weekend seemed like a really good time to bookend, right before the summer.”
Just days after making that decision, the universe provided for her—rather dramatically. “I was at a fundraiser for the 108 Lives Project at the Fine & Raw chocolate factory, hosted by 108 Lives founder and Three Jewels director Hector Marcel and his boyfriend, Stephen McManus.
"I walked up to Hector and told him I was closing Go," said Mead. "He said, ‘we should talk.’ It happened very quickly. It was a beautiful, seamless logical transition to move Go Yoga to Three Jewels and join forces.”
Three Jewels is known for its offerings in Buddhist Dharma, meditation, yoga, and community outreach. But Go Yoga will provide their first full-time schedule of asana, directed by Mead. “They had a yoga program that wasn’t really drawing people, because no one was directing it,” explained Mead. “They have two studios, and the Asian Classics Institute classes, the Dharma program, and meditation classes were at night, so the rooms were basically empty all day.”
Now Go Yoga occupies those rooms, both spiritually and physically.
“We took the dark red curtains down, painted the room white, and I brought all the Go Yoga props over,” says Lilia. “It’s this sweet, dedicated space. You can feel the years of practice, of dedication. Three Jewels’ 19 years and my 15 years makes for over three decades of experience in New York City. And it feels like it has some gravity, some lineage behind it.”
And in the coming months, Three Jewels and Go Yoga will be moving into a brand new home together.
“It’s very exciting,” said Mead. “We have a sense that before we even move to the new space, something is happening. Michael Dunn, who just came out of a three-year retreat, is heading the meditation program, and Hector is heading the Dharma program. There’s a beautiful sense of a team effort.”
Though there are leaders and directors, Mead notes that there is no hierarchy, and everyone’s a volunteer. “Part of the beauty of the merge was stepping into a non-ownership role,” she explains. I’m not running Go Yoga out of the Three Jewels, it’s Go Yoga at the Three Jewels.”
Several Go Yoga teachers have made the move to the new space, including Mead and Mandee Matos. “Teachers that I personally trained through the Sarva Yoga TT program
In addition to the asana, meditation, and Dharma programs, the center will continue to be a strong presence for community outreach. “That’s where the nonprofit comes into play, we do all this work out in the community and in other countries.” (As part of the 108 Lives Project, volunteers will be headed to Nepal on a mission this October.)
The meditation program has grown as well. There’s now a morning meditation at 8am, and a lunch break meditation at 1:30pm, on a donation-based system. And Nancy Allen will bring her community acupuncture to the new digs as well, on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm.
Speaking of community, Mead is thrilled by the “all-in-this-together” vibe that continues to permeate the yoga world.
“I remember when Kula opened three blocks south of Go Yoga, basically in our backyard,” she said. “And it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Go had a Mysore Ashtanga program that we didn't want to die out, and we offered it to Kula. It’s the only full-on Mysore in Williamsburg. You wish that the yoga community is different from other businesses, and, in my experience, it actually is. People are really practicing what they preach. I really want to manifest all the things my teachers taught me—not being fearful or jealous or competitive, showing that there’s enough to go around. Being better for others, not better than others.”
To celebrate the union, new students can take their first yoga class for free, and take three classes in the first month for $30. The drop-in rate thereafter is just $15, and community classes are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10am. Learn all about it by clicking here.