Still Sitting is proud of the relationships it forms with organizations and individuals around the world as they engage in meditation and mindfulness practice. Occasionally we like to share their stories in our Customer Spotlight. These are some of the engaging, creative, colorful people who use Still Sitting products.
In 2019, Tony Wiederhold was at a crossroads. Sick of what he described as an “oppressive corporate work environment” at the pharmaceutical company where he worked, he knew he needed to make a change. He woke up on the fourth of July and decided that he would declare his own independence today.
With that, he quit his job at the pharmaceutical company, not knowing what would come next.
His interest in yoga seemed to point the way. Tony had been a practitioner of yoga for many years, undertaking a teaching certification in 2013. But as he immersed himself in the yoga community of Indianapolis, a question started nagging at him: Why does yoga cost 20$?
“In order to practice yoga or meditation that’s available in yoga studios, you have to pay money, and this never made sense to me,” he said.
The start of Indy Community Yoga
So, recently freed from his job, Tony decided to offer yoga for free in a public park. Not knowing what kind of interest there would be or who would show up, he posted his free class on Facebook.
“As it turns out, lots of people were interested in that. And it was a real cross section of the real population here in Indianapolis.”
Those free yoga classes on Saturdays were the foundation for what is now Indy Community Yoga, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that he founded alongside other like-minded folk in 2019. The organization proudly offers “Meditation. Yoga. Community Care. For Everyday People.” and works to make yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices inclusive and accessible to everyone.
“I realized that maybe there are other people like me who are also offering free yoga classes out in the world, and what if we just created a nonprofit platform where we could share resources. So that’s where Indie community got its start,” said Tony
“The goal for Indy Community Yoga is always to have accessible practice that is free for participants, and to partner with sincere community partners.”
In addition to yoga, the organization offers meditation and mindfulness practice. The group now sits three times per day, mostly online, and offers meditation after yoga classes. While they originally had to borrow meditation cushions from a local Zen center, they quickly grew enough to need their own supplies. That’s when Tony found Still Sitting.
A growing community
“It was time for ust to get our own stuff. So we looked around and we just really liked the aesthetic of the patterns,” he said. Now they are well stocked on zafus from Still Sitting that they use for outdoor retreats in public spaces and state parks.
Tony remembers when they got their first order of cushions that some people had no experience sitting on a zafu.
“There’s a lot of new people who come and they’ve never seen a zafu before. They have no idea how to use it,” Tony laughs. “I just ask people, do you need some instructions on how to use this meditation cushion? And some people just look at me funny because it seems like a stupid question.”
When you make practice available to everyone, you’re bound to have some funny moments. Helping people get comfortable on a meditation cushion, introducing them to mindfulness practice, andyoga, are all part of what Tony does on a daily basis since he left his job, and liberated himself four years ago.
What the future holds
Indy Community Yoga is continuing to grow. They want to take on fair pay. They are working on grants. In other words, they are working towards their goal of inclusion and accessibility that has been the cornerstone of the organization from the very beginning.
“There’s this sort of general notion that something that is free is cheap. But what we do is we really try to offer something that is premium. We’re very proud to offer things that are completely free to people and create these spaces for individual and community wellbeing. Especially for people who don’t have access to them.”
If you enjoyed this customer spotlight, check out our friend who is teaching kids to sit on zafus in his school library.