Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Announcing: Iyengar Yoga Detroit Cooperative

Dear Beloved Community of Iyengar Yoga Detroit,

Michele and Gwi-Seok opened Iyengar Yoga Detroit in Fall 2013, expanding from Michele’s Yoga Suite, into a larger location, with more teachers and classes. We moved into our current site 2 years ago, eager for a more permanent space on the ground floor. Since 2013, we’ve grown from 1 teacher to 5 teachers, all certified or actively engaged in the certification process, and from 3 classes a week to 13+. We host workshops, an advanced studies program, and a rare and much-needed Special Concerns class.

As we celebrate our 3rd anniversary, we are facing some changes. Michele, after much contemplation and years of dedication and sacrifice, has decided to step down from her directorship and ownership of IYD. She will continue to teach, but will no longer be our director.

We sincerely appreciate all she has done to bring Iyengar Yoga to a broad community, directing the only Iyengar Yoga center in Detroit, and one of an extremely small handful owned by a black person nationwide. We are very proud of what she has accomplished and deeply grateful.

Now, we are in the process of transitioning to a cooperatively-run structure beginning in September. We look forward to becoming one of very few yoga co-ops in the nation, and the only one we know of in Michigan. From the student’s point of view, little will change. Our schedule, fees, and policies will remain largely the same. However, organizationally, we will operate in a more community-based fashion.

We will have several types of membership for you to choose from. In additional to the general membership we have now, we will also have a $100/year tax-deductible voting membership for community folks interested in attending bi-annual meetings to help steer the course of IYD, and $200+/year tax-deductible membership for owner-managers who will run IYD and meet monthly. The additional membership levels will also be eligible for profit-sharing in surplus years.

To be truthful, IYD has yet to profit financially. We profit in many other ways by sharing the study and practice of Iyengar Yoga, but our teachers are paid far less than they deserve (sometimes less than minimum wage or no wage at all) and the organization has stayed afloat through Michele’s generosity.

Instead of the industry standard of 200 and 500-hour certifications, Iyengar Yoga certification takes about 1000 hours. Intermediate Junior teachers have more like 3000-10,000 hours of on-going training under their belts. Why do we sacrifice so much time and energy for low pay? We see Iyengar Yoga as a sacred art, a spiritual path, and healing practice, necessary for our own well-being, and of benefit to the community. We offer this art freely, and turn no one away.

In order to take IYD to the next level and establish a firm economic foundation, we ask our community to actively support us with membership, and if possible, time and energy.

We will host a fundraising party on Friday, September 9, 5:30-9pm. Details will be forthcoming, but it will consist of the usual 2nd Friday Restorative Yoga class, followed by food, an open mic, and more. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend, and bring friends. We ask for a $20-$50 donation at the door, to set us on good footing for the changes ahead. We will also be encouraging folks to get a jump on 2017 memberships, and receive 3 months of bonus membership.

Meanwhile, please ponder what Iyengar Yoga Detroit means to you, and how you might want to participate in the coming year. Do you have a gift for bookkeeping, housekeeping, or carpentry? Are you good at administration, organization, communications? Do you love social media, photography, design? Maybe you don’t have time, but you have money to spare to support community health and well-being.

Whatever you’ve got, we’ll take it and put it to excellent use. We look forward to working more closely with you in coming months and years. Thank you for your heartfelt support!

IYD Faculty and Staff:
Hong Gwi-Seok
Michele Pearson
Erin Shawgo
Nicci Kushner
Meiko Krishok
Angela Abiodun



  1. I would be delighted to join and help out however I can!

  2. -I want to take an opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Iyengar Detroit yoga. To the instructors I would be remiss if I did not thank you for you wisdom and continued support through the process onto my journey of healing. After 4 years of chronic pain caused by 2 bulging discs in my spine. Becoming a member of Iyengar Detroit changed my life no more pain. It also helped with my sciatica. If you are in any type of pain please give it a try. Terri

  3. terri, we are thrilled to have you as part of our community. so glad you are pain-free! thanks for spreading the word.