Yoga Shanti says namaste to Tribeca

Yoga Shanti on Warren Street will not reopen, signalling — at least by my guesses — what could be a real struggle ahead for our local workout studios. It also seems that the building has been entirely vacated; two floors are now for lease.

Yoga Shanti was opened two years ago on the third floor of 28 Warren by Colleen Saidman Yee, who opened her first studio in Sag Harbor in 1999, where her husband is also an instructor. (Lois Smith Brady’s Vows column on them in 2007 is a great read, though you can read any number of profiles on Colleen, whom the Times once called the First Lady of Yoga.) They are still operating online and in open air classes in Sag Harbor. (Kula Yoga Project on the fourth floor of the same building announced its closing at this location in January.)

Colleen did grow an attachment to Tribeca, based on her letter to students announcing the closing and with it, a history of her opening there. It is also a enlightening description of how hard it is to own and run a small business around here, even one with a devoted following and significant name recognition: “I’m not sorry about what went down in that gorgeous space. In my 60 years, it was one of my favorite rooms – and may actually be the room where I felt most at home. The love that you all brought into the space made it feel like we were in a safe womb. The community of teachers and students that built there was steadfast and growing and becoming more beautiful every day.

“Yoga Shanti Tribeca began one day after a call from a friend saying that she had the perfect space. I wasn’t looking for a space—I had sworn off opening yoga studios. Just for fun, though, we went to look at it, and Rod exclaimed in a sad voice, ‘It’s fu**ing perfect.’ I fell in love, and didn’t even take a breath.

“In a month, we opened. It’s useful to have an amazing artist in the family that can do anything exquisitely from vision to completion—build, install, sculpt—you name it. Our son Evan took it on, and those of you who’ve ever been in there know it: it’s stunning! The teachers were thrilled to be under one roof again, and they re-arranged their lives to be able to accommodate the schedule. Then the students started trekking up those ugly green stairs.

“I expected the classes to be filled to the brim right off the bat, but they weren’t.

“Still, slowly it built. The teachers showed up, the students showed up and magic was happening. It was humble. It was like old school New York, which appealed to some, but not all. Tribeca seemed like a foreign land to many of our students, and at the end of a busy day, those that lived uptown weren’t so keen on making the journey. And then there were the green stairs—ugh. But we built, and each month the numbers were better than the month before.

“But in New York City, organizations that sell ‘fitness’ classes in bulk for a large discount makes it very difficult for the small studios to turn a profit. Still, we found other ways to profit — our teacher trainings were robust, and our tee shirts were coveted — both the tees and trainings will continue! By January 2020, our numbers had doubled and the studio appeared to be thriving. Our 300-hour teacher training had 36 students. The senior teachers were mentoring the young and curious teachers as they were starting to own the teachers seat and deliver stellar Yoga Shanti classes. Rodney and I are so proud. It is a beautiful team. After 2 years, Yoga Shanti Tribeca was becoming the buzzing beehive I’d dreamt it could be.

“Then came Covid-19, and everything came to a dead stop. The losses were heavy. We went online to continue to connect. It’s amazing to have the community stay together like this.

“Still, we’ve been yearning to get bodies back in that beautiful southern chakra space. Our lease is up in September, so I’d begun negotiations for that. The rent increase was sharp. I gulped, contemplated, then decided to re-open once we got the all-clear from health officials. I was hoping that the road-work that had been marring our entrance for two years would finally be completed, and the scaffolding from the building next door would finally be removed. And, yes, I was hoping that maybe we would even be allowed to paint the ugly green stairs.

“Then, on Saturday, I got an email that said that we needed to be out by Tuesday, May 5th. Yup, not even three days’ notice. And during a pandemic. I was outraged. I called lawyers. I called the landlord. But there was no recourse — I had to leave on Tuesday — no ifs, ands, or buts. To fight it would be costly and exhausting. So we’re moving out.

“I’m sick. I’m sad. I’m sorry. I like to think that everything happens for a reason—you know: if one door closes, another one opens? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a pause for Yoga Shanti in New York City, not an ending. The community will stay strong. We are in brainstorming sessions constantly, imagining what the next iteration will look like. With the paradigm shifting, we will pause and assess and then re-enter.

“Thank you to every single one of you that made it to 28 Warren St. over the past 2 years. A big shout out to Mia for being the calm in the storm. Both Rodney and I are here if any of you need us for any reason. I wish we could have a proper ‘grieving what’s temporarily over, and celebrating what happened’ gathering. But for now, we will see you online.”



  1. It sounds like the landlord really did Yoga Shanti dirty. Proposing a sharp rent increase during a global pandemic and then giving them three days to get out?! Why are landlords like this.

    • Clearly there was some kind of problem here we are not being told about, because of the discrepancy between the lease end and the notice to vacate.

      “Our lease is up in September, […]

      “Then, on Saturday, I got an email that said that we needed to be out by Tuesday, May 5th.”

      I cannot imagine a landlord forging income in a market like this.

  2. Sophie’s on Chambers St is out of business. :(

    Also Krispy Kreme opened at Fulton transit hub last week.