When you think of a typical yoga studio, chances are you envision a wood floor with plenty of space and possibly a large mirror, usually located somewhere in a downtown setting, or possibly a strip mall.
For Christopher Grant, the founder and former CEO of Gorges, a software development firm in Ithaca, his vision for a yoga studio is a bit different. The certified yoga teacher and guru recently renovated an old barn on his 65-acre farm property in Lansing. Grant has transformed the barn into a state-of-the-art wellness center, which will be the main space for his new business, Yoga Farm.
The grand opening of the 1,200-square-foot wellness center at the Yoga Farm will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 19, at 404 Conlon Road. Grant will donate $10 for every guest who attends the celebration into a scholarship fund for low-income families, single parents, and fixed-income seniors who want to take yoga classes. The event is open to the public.
“I have always been interested in teaching yoga and helping people find their path back to health and balance in their life. I’ve lived on this property for 12 years, and when people come and stay here and visit, I can see that they love being in the country. They love the feeling that they get out here on the farm; it’s a very special place. So as I continued to teach yoga classes, it was a natural fit to do so here.”
The barn, currently still under renovation, will certainly become one of, if not the most, unique yoga space in the Finger Lakes region.
“The barn has been there for over a 100 years,” Grant said. “I’ve lived here 12 years. And I’ve always looked at it wondering what I could do with it. It’s an old hay barn, and it’s very tall. It’s got a gorge that wraps around it outside. So I’ve always thought it would have great views, but it didn’t have any windows. I’ve been teaching yoga for about five years, and last year I started offering classes here. That was my beta test, my pilot program. By January, using a small space over my garage, those classes were full. So as soon as those classes got to six to eight people, I thought about how I could expand.”
This summer, the Yoga Farm will offer a new program in the wellness center designed to help overweight people return to balance through a combination of yoga classes with Grant and counseling sessions with Daniela Hess, a spiritual life coach. The program is available in one-day camps and in four- and twelve-week sessions.
Grant said “main idea” is that he has a philosophy that he wants to teach “yoga for everyone else.” Right now, he said, the style of yoga that’s being taught in a typical yoga studio in America, or in Ithaca, is more of a fitness, power type of yoga.
“The idea of yoga for everyone else, I’ve been looking at many different styles of yoga, and what I’ve been looking for is what I can extract out that anyone can do. So this is yoga for people who aren’t that fit but want to take the right steps to get back to being healthy.”
“There’s really two different things that will make Yoga Farm special,” Grant said. “One is the atmosphere. It’s in the country. The new yoga studio is perched on top of a waterfall. So you’ll get the sound of water and birds, and that natural setting. This is a great place to come for a yoga class, but also designed for longer retreats. In addition to the setting, the way I present is different than a lot of yoga classes. Myself, and there’s a couple other teachers that will be here, we teach a more holistic orientation of yoga. It’s less about physical fitness – although we have bodies and it’s good to be fit – and more about the integration of the mind, the body and the breath.”
For Wendy Morgan, a retired chef from Ithaca, the center has offered her the chance to start taking yoga again after she was forced to give it up because of health problems.
“Just working to getting my health back and getting back in shape, I feel like it’s such an oasis,” said Morgan, who began classes at the Yoga Farm in May. “I just feel comfortable there.”
Grant also envisions a full retreat center on the farm bordering a 65-foot waterfall, which would offer yoga classes, nature hikes, guest lectures, workshops and lodging in cottages on the property.