IY Natural Foods

Dear Beloved Integral Yoga Community,

Integral Yoga Natural Foods is closing but Integral Yoga Institute remains strong.

As many of you know, Integral Yoga Natural Foods will be closing soon. After 45 years of service as a leader in the natural foods movement, the store is no longer sustainable in the current retail environment. There is sadness and frustration but reason to be proud of the store’s legacy.

There is a lot we want to share with you in this email, so thank you for bearing with us and reading all of it with an open mind and open heart. Yes, stores close all the time and yes, many small businesses in New York have experienced the same challenges.

But Integral Yoga Natural Foods is much more than a “business.” It was founded in the early 1970s with the mission to provide vegetarian food products in accordance with the yogic teachings and the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga Institute.

For a long time, it was one of the only places in New York to buy vegetarian and organic food and vitamins. Throughout its entire time serving the community, the store kept the highest standards in terms of righteous sourcing, no animal testing, local products and, most importantly, ahimsa, the yogic value of non-harming. In the last decade, other health food stores have made many changes in order to be profitable. Integral Yoga Natural Foods remained the only health food store in New York to be 100% vegetarian.

The last few years were very challenging. Big stores and online sellers have the buying power to purchase products at much less than stores like Integral Yoga Natural Foods could and therefore offer them to customers at much lower prices. It was clear that the store was becoming unsustainable. Although Integral Yoga needed the rent from the first floor retail space, we kept the rent as low as possible—well below market rate. Still the food store could not meet its obligations.

The right business decision would have been to close the store at least two years ago. But, like all of you, the team at IYI loved the store too much to let it go and wanted to do everything to keep it going.

Many in the community have wondered why the board did not come to you sooner with this situation. For a long time, the board felt it was our duty to handle this problem without causing fear and worry. Many feel angry and hurt that your help was not requested and your participation in the decision and your suggestions for solutions were not sought. This is understandable and we agree that we could have done better in communicating and asking for your input and assistance. We are committed to being more open in the future.

The outpouring of love and concern for the future of Integral Yoga is heartwarming and a testament to the community we have all built together. Nothing is changing at the Institute and the Shop. We will still be here, having yoga classes, workshops, teacher trainings and our other offerings. The Shop will continue to sell all the beautiful props, accessories, jewelry, candles, books and other items that make the Shop so special.

Please know that it is a privilege to serve all of you. That we work every day with only the desire to share the teachings of Yoga and of Swami Satchidananda that have meant so much and continue to mean so much to spiritual seekers here in New York and all over the world. That we wish money and financial matters were not an issue but accept the reality that the bills must be paid even as we seek only the supreme peace within.

With the support of our community and with a solid tenant in place we will be able to continue to offer the teachings, programs and events that you have grown to love and expect. We are committed to ensuring the long term health and viability of the organization as a whole for many decades to come.

May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.

Swami Asokananda