Dharma Initiative

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No question: The Gray Lady has gone ga-ga for yoga. Monday's New York Times Sunday Styles section features an above-the-fold feature on the "yoga rock star" (not really) Greg Gumucio and his East Village studio, Yoga to the People, which offers classes on a donation-only basis.

 These kinds of "dharma yoga" classes have long been an occasional offering at enlightened studios around the country--providing access to those who might not be able to attend class otherwise. The Times' story, penned by Mary Billard, includes a running list of other New York studios that offer donation-based or reduced-cost yoga, including Strala Yoga, Yoga Vida, and Do Yoga and Pilates. But it overlooks Dharma Yoga Brooklyn, which opened in Park Slope in March.

 Every class on that studio's schedule is donation-based--even the mats and towels are available for whatever fee you care to offer, and a donation-based bookshop is in the works. Dharma Yoga co-founder Lily Cushman (her partner is Jeremy Frindel) has every confidence that donation-based yoga will continue to thrive in the outer boroughs, too--it may even shape the future of American yoga.

 As is the case with Yoga to the People, higher class attendance means viable monetary yield even though some students may choose to donate nothing. "When people ask how we'll make it, we just say we have faith--in ourselves and in our students," says Cushman. "It's so nice to spread the teachings and give back to the people."

 What do you think of donation-based yoga? Is dharma yoga available where you live? Is this the yoga wave of the future?