Om Yoga to Close in June: a Q&a With Cyndi Lee

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Cyndi Lee: "The fruition of meditative practice is strength, stability, and clarity, and I feel like that’s really helpful when things are unexpected."

When Cyndi Lee announced Monday that her studio, Om Yoga, would be closing its doors on June 27, yogis around New York collectively gasped.

It turns out that even after 15 years, Om, an institution of the city’s yoga scene, was not immune to the crazy twists and turns of New York real estate.

We spoke with Lee to find out how she and her teachers are coping with the abrupt closing, and for news about the future of Om.

We were so shocked and saddened to hear the news. What, exactly, happened? Well, we just lost our lease [at 826 Broadway]. We were close to the end, and about three weeks ago, the landlord didn’t give us the option to renew. She gave us 90 days notice and rented it to someone else. She just didn’t want a yoga studio there anymore.

What has the reaction been from the teachers and the rest of the community? I announced it to the teachers Monday before the main announcement went out. And before that, I had a private meeting with the senior teachers. I took them out to dinner, and we had dirty martinis. In general, people are shocked and sad, and I’ve told all of the teachers that I’ll do anything I can to help them, and I will.

And what about you? How are you holding up? I’m a little bit further along in the process, because I got the notice a few weeks ago. So I’ve already processed that shock and I’m looking forward to the future. I’m at a place right now where, honestly, I feel fine. I think this is what we practice for. The fruition of meditative practice is strength, stability, and clarity, and I feel like that’s really helpful when things are unexpected. It’s like a vinyasa, and we’re in the space between poses.

Also, it sounds cheesy but I’m just super grateful that the causes and conditions arose for me to build that yoga studio and that the community grew and developed, and it’s been beautiful. I feel really proud because there has been no badness, only goodness, and I think it’s time to celebrate that.

So what’s next for Om Yoga? We’re really excited about our online presence expanding. We’re excited about putting classes and trainings online and developing an app, which we were already doing. We’re going to go full speed ahead on that and develop our teachers network. We still have teacher trainings all over the world, and I’m still traveling all over the place. I also have a new book coming out in January, which I just finished and sent to my editor yesterday.

Congrats! And where do you expect your teachers will go to teach? It’s too soon to answer that question. My senior teachers—Edward Jones, Frank Mauro, Joe Miller, and Brian Liem—have all committed to staying with Om till the very last day. And we’re going to do our summer teacher training in New York, and we’ll be filming them for online classes. Om isn’t really going away, it’s just not going to have the same house, and you’ll still be able to take classes with our teachers, and me, in real life and online.

Would you consider teaching at other studios or opening a new location at some point? Maybe. At this point, I’m just sitting with it, to tell you the truth. As far as forward motion, I’m doing it with care and mindfulness, as we do with all of our practices. I want to be fully present for the studio's last few months.

You know, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails in the past 24 hours, and every single one is a love letter. And I’m sitting there crying. The things that people are saying and sharing…I’m just really feeling the love. —Lisa Elaine Held 

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