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Photo by Jennie Lyutskan
Photo by Jennie Lyutskan

Astoria yoga instructor Randi Cerini is helping locals break out of their comfort zones and get a new perspective on life with Om Tribe, a yoga retreat company she co-founded along with Brooklyn resident Erica Chen.

Cerini and Chen launched Om Tribe in July 2017. Since then, they’ve completed their first retreat — an impressive undertaking in which they took 10 participants to Guatemala for eight days. They have also held their first workshop to raise money for a charitable cause, and they teach Om Tribe classes locally to keep their community together between retreats.

Now, Om Tribe is planning a second retreat, and this one’s a little closer to home: it’ll take place from May 18 to 20 in the Catskills at Mountain House 668, an eight-bedroom home that sits on 5 acres and includes an indoor hot tub, a large kitchen, a deck, a fire pit and a pond for swimming.

Photo by Derek Shannon

Photos by Derek Shannon

“You won’t be roughing it that weekend,” said Cerini, who teaches at Yoga Agora (33-02 Broadway, Astoria) as well as at studios in Manhattan and for private clients. “It’s just a beautiful space with lots of rooms to come together and play music between yoga sessions and just reflect, hang out and bond in our down time.”

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During the three-day retreat this May, there will be at least four, 75-minute yoga sessions as well as meditations and a guided hike. Om Tribe hired a chef for the weekend, so all meals will be taken care of. Cerini said that the town, Windham, is “super cute as well if people want to explore at night,” with a wine bar, gift shops and more.

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Photos by Bob Din and Erica Chen

The trip costs $650, including everything but transportation, and Om Tribe is hoping to plan carpools.

“We’re trying to make it as affordable as possible, but it’s also going to be quite luxurious,” Cerini said.

There’s a reason Om Tribe is planning a wide variety of trips, from the eight-day retreat to Guatemala ($1,350-$1,650, not including airfare) to a weekend upstate: Cerini and Chen strive to make their community as inclusive as possible.

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“I thought it would be nice to have a balance as we grow our company to have international travel options for people who really want to step out of their comfort zone and have some adventure, and then have something that’s a little more local, a little more familiar, that would target different potential students and customers with different economic abilities to join our tribe,” Cerini said.

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In the future, “We would like to continue doing these retreats three to four times a year, connecting in between locally [and] raising money for [causes]. We’re hoping to start making really big trips, like Thailand, maybe, in 2019 — really exploring the globe and bringing people together,” Cerini said. “Big travel yoga plans.”

Om Tribe retreats are available to “all levels of yogi,” and Cerini said that on their first retreat to Guatemala, most students were “somewhere in the beginner to intermediate level.” The bulk of students come from Yoga Agora, where Cerini teaches, and Yoga Vita in Manhattan, where Chen teaches.

Cerini and Chen, who met four years ago when they were training to become yoga teachers, had both moved to New York to pursue dance. After dealing with tendonitis in her feet, which made dancing difficult, Cerini got back into movement through yoga — and realized that yoga was helping her tendonitis.

Photo by Grant Henry

Photo by Grant Henry

“I kind of made a rash decision and was like, I think I could teach this and be really happy doing it, helping other people with whatever they’re going through: physical, mental, emotional issues,” Cerini said, “and that I’ll be having this physical, movement-based lifestyle that I was hoping for — just not exactly in the way I had pictured.”

Cerini has lived in Astoria for six and a half years and has been teaching at Yoga Agora for two and a half years.

Photo by Marco Giannavola

Photo by Marco Giannavola

“The Astoria yoga community changed my life,” she said. “Yoga Agora is the warmest community I’ve ever entered into. It’s just this place where people come when they’re having a hard time. People come when they’re having a good time, but they always feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, my life is horrible right now. I have to get to Yoga Agora.’ And then they leave and [they tell me], ‘Thank you so much for being here. My life instantly feels better.’ No joke, I probably hear that every other day.”

She said that going to Yoga Agora lifts her mood, too:

“Even as a teacher, I still have bad days, and as soon as I walk up the stairs and enter the studio, I immediately feel calm for some reason, and I’ve never been able to say that about any other place that I’ve worked in my life. The students, the teachers, the owner: everyone who for some reason connects to this place and wants to keep coming back has this vibe; people are real.”

Plus, teaching in the neighborhood solidified her feelings for Astoria: “I was already in love with Astoria, but now Astoria is my life.”

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