How It All Began
We are operating in our eleventh year as a nonprofit, donation-based yoga center located in Asheville, NC.
Asheville Community Yoga first opened under the name of “Free Yoga” in 2009. Michael Greenfield, Asheville Community Yoga’s Executive Director, was the only teacher at that time. He offered free early morning men’s yoga classes and general public classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings in a warehouse located on Merrimon Avenue in downtown Asheville. The cold concrete of the warehouse and the raw condition of the space didn’t seem to matter to anyone, and these free evening classes were soon packed with mats spanning wall to wall. Students requested more classes, Michael expanded the schedule, and more people came.
It soon became apparent that a larger, better-equipped space with a community of teachers to support the demand was needed. The center moved to its current location at 8 Brookdale Road in North Asheville in March of 2010, and created the name of Asheville Community Yoga Center, to reflect that the space was inclusive of everyone and truly a “community” of people gathering to practice. Michael called on a few close friends and family to help out financially and took out loans to renovate and create a beautiful new state-of-the-art center that many today consider a second home. The center took $30,000 in loans and was able to pay those back within three-and-a-half years.
As soon as the space was completed, local teachers began offering their wisdom and energy in the spirit of Karma Yoga, teaching entirely free of charge. Teachers teach for free and students give what they can, when they can. Five to fifteen dollars is the suggested amount per class. This model has turned out to be not only a beautiful example of cooperation and love, but also a financially viable enterprise.
On August 9th, 2011 Asheville Community Yoga became a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization complete with a Board of Directors and full-time staff members. In 2012, we added a second studio and an additional bathroom, nearly doubling the center’s capacity from 1800 square feet to 3600 square feet. In spring of 2016, Asheville Community Yoga opened Zen & Now Preloved Clothing, a resale and thrift shop, across the street from the center. The shop takes donations of gently used clothing, shoes and accessories. All proceeds of the shop benefit Asheville Community Yoga.
By the end of 2016, Asheville Community Yoga had raised enough funding through loans and donations to secure a loan from Wells Fargo and moved forward with purchasing the entire building at 8 Brookdale Road and the land surrounding the building for parking, growing from 3600 square feet to 7200 square feet. Throughout 2017, a tremendous amount of time and energy went into renovating the building to create a third studio space, seven additional bathrooms, a healing arts space with two rooms. We also officially moved Zen & Now into our building, letting go of the expenses and monthly rent paid across the street in its previous location. In 2018, we opened our Healing Arts Center and Karma Café.
In 2019, we became a fully solar powered campus. We also spent 2019 and the beginning of 2020 campaigning for our Heart of Community Fundraising Mission. We kicked off this fundraiser with a Town Hall Meeting in which we reviewed our financial status as an organization with full transparency. At this meeting we informed the community of our 1.85 million dollar debt from our 2017 Expansion Project. The Heart of Community ultimately raised $181,500 of the necessary funds to pay off our short term loans.
In March 2020 we closed our studio doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and began offering both live and pre-recorded online practices. Thanks to the diligent work of both our Executive Director and the president of our board, we received Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the government in the form of a $10,000 grant and a $140,000 30 year loan. We also received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $26,000 and PPP forgiveness monies of $166,000. This money was used for mortgage, utilities, and constructing our outdoor practice space. At this time we have spent all grants, loans, and PPP monies to keep the studio open to this point, and now it is up to YOU, the community, to sustain the center financially!
Over the course of the summer we constructed our outdoor practice space behind the building, which can fit up to 60 people. In September 2020 we opened a limited outdoor schedule, which continued until December when it became too cold to practice outdoors. September 2020 also brought the sudden passing of one of our beloved staff members, Ryan Tibbs. Ryan’s death has been a huge teaching for us all at Asheville Community Yoga, and we are grateful beyond measure for the community response of compassion and understanding as we continue to heal from this deep loss. In March 2021 we began a slow and steady re-opening of our campus, beginning with outdoor classes and then expanding back into the building in April. We have navigated COVID precautions with the safety and wellbeing of our community at the forefront of our priorities, and we are arriving on the other side of the pandemic entirely changed as an organization. Karma Café and Healing Arts will not reopen at this time, and we are operating on a much more sustainable in-studio schedule that includes being closed on Sundays. We are so excited to now offer indoor, outdoor, and online classes to our community every single week, and we are also excited to be building the foundation for a prosperous future here at Asheville Community Yoga!
As a 501(c)3 organization, Asheville Community Yoga is funded through daily donations from students, larger contributions from local businesses and donors, and grants. Asheville Community Yoga is dedicated to keeping yoga accessible to ALL because we believe that the benefits of these practices will enhance health and wellness in individuals, families and the greater Asheville Community.