In our never-ending quest to find innovative, integrity-based sustainable small-b’s, the Good-b team visited the awesome Bhakti Yoga Center on “First and First” in Lower Manhattan.
Nestled between a tattoo parlor and a drag queen performance club, the Center is a hub of small business activity offering yoga, vegetarian cooking, meditation, kirtan and personal improvement classes. The Center plans to open office space rentals in their six story loft building on First Avenue. The Bhakti Cafe featuring vegan cuisine will be opening this September.
Among the most unique class offerings is the “Excavating Your Ego Type” workshop taught by two young and charismatic Bhakti monks, Hari Prasada and Rasanath Dasa (age 27 & 33 respectively). The workshop combines the study of Enneagram personality profiles with the Bhagavad Gita. The first two-weekend workshop in May was so popular, it was presented again at the LIPHE Balance Center in Westport, Connecticut.
Hari P and Rasanath D also teach semester-long Gita courses, weekly sessions on how to apply lessons from the Gita to your daily New York life. The dynamic teaching duo also present a fun Summer Film series and monthly book club discussions.
You Are What You Eat!
The Good-b team spoke at length with vegan Chef Doyal Gauranga das who teaches the “Gita Wellness” course exploring the dynamic world of food and health. As part of the program, Doyal presents vegetarian cooking classes and shows participants how to prepare gourmet food with organic and locally sourced plant-based ingredients.
Doyal spent his youth wake-boarding in Southern California before heading to the ashram to become a monk. One of the most wonderful messages from Doyal in our hour long discussion with him was that everyone in business, chefs included, has a personal responsibility to honor their customers. He sees cooking for others as a spiritual practice.
When asked what his responsibility was as the Bhakti Center’s Executive Chef, Doyal answered: “To make sure that the food I prepare for you is prepared with care and is something I would eat myself.” He explained that while it might not always be the least expensive way to serve food in a profit-based enterprise, it is his obligation as a chef to present the highest quality foods and not cut corners on health. During the school year, Doyal cooks for and supervises the preparation of up to 750 meals weekly for the Center’s Lower East Side location as well as satellite wellness classes at Columbia University.
(GB’s Monika & Chef Doyal, Doyal teaching, GB Chantrese & Chef Doyal)
A Refuge for Wall Street
The Center’s entrepreneurial prowess derives in large part from the hard work, and enthusiasm of a dozen or monks and the direction of former investment banker Rasanath Dasa- the brainchild behind the thriving enterprise. RD did not attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (India’s version of MIT) and grab an MBA from the Ivy League B-school at Cornell University for nothing! A former securities modeler and analyst who worked on complex telecom deals at Bank of America, Rasanath says understanding numbers is “easy.” Hmm!
Rasanath brings his wonderful Wall Street wizardry to building a thriving business at the Bhakti Center. If you want to meet him personally, sign up for a private Side Tour dinner at the Center or book a spot at his newest Side Tour event with Good-b’s very own Monika Mitchell, “Wall Streeting”- A Walk through the Financial District and 300 years of fun-filled and fascinating Wall Street history! (Coming soon!)