Conscious party: Asheville Community Yoga stretches into a larger space with help from member Ben Phan

PLAY TO PAY: Asheville Community Yoga member Ben Phan says yoga makes him a better person and musician. "The focus on breath and awareness has helped me become more vulnerable and present, which enhances my connection to songwriting and performing," he says. Half of the proceeds from his band's upcoming concert will go toward ACY's expansion. Photo by Pat Barcas

WHAT: Ben Phan and the Soul Symphony’s benefit concert for Asheville Community Yoga

WHERE: The Grey Eagle

WHEN: Saturday, June 18, at 8 p.m.

WHY: Asheville Community Yoga started as a one-man operation in 2009 but has since attracted 10,060 students and roughly 50 volunteer teachers. Part of that growth can be attributed to founder Michael Greenfield’s commitment to making the lifestyle jive with literally any budget.

“We ask $5-$15 [per class],” he says, “but if you don’t have it, you don’t pay it. It’s that simple. And then when you do have it, you give more.”

There are limiting factors besides money, though. “In the wintertime, we’re at capacity and over, and so we have to turn people away,” he says. Plus, packed classes mean an overflowing parking lot and long lines at the center’s three bathrooms.

But in a stroke of luck — or perhaps karma, which Greenfield’s team emphasizes  — building owner Rick Robinson has arranged to sell to ACY and move his paint store out of the adjacent storefront. With double the space, ACY can expand its largest studio and add two smaller rooms, enabling a more consistent schedule of specialized classes like yoga for veterans and teacher training. At least five extra bathrooms are planned in addition to a cafe with healthy eating workshops and a healing space for massage, acupuncture, chiropractic work and more. Many of these new amenities will be by donation.

The building sale, however, isn’t sliding scale, so ACY needs $150,000 for a down payment. Most of that has already been raised, but member Ben Phan has offered to sing away part of the balance with a benefit concert.

A dexterous guitar player, Phan wrote much of his debut album, Dreams in Modern Folk, while walking solo from Mexico to Canada, and the introspection shows through in heartfelt, humbly searching songs. He’ll play those plus some unheard numbers alongside his Soul Symphony bandmates Franklin Keel (cello), Molly Barrett (fiddle), Ryan Kijanka (upright bass) and Mattick Frick (drums).

Visit for more information or to purchase tickets ($10/$12).


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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