News / Vancouver

Not-so-hot season for Vancouver yoga studios

Vancouver’s thriving yoga community is trying to regain its balance after numerous studios have been forced to shut their doors in the past six months, with remaining yogis making space for orphaned students and teachers.

Closures include two Bikram Vancouver hot yoga locations, along with studios Inner Space in Gastown, Sanga Yoga in Dunbar and Yogapod on the North Shore.

“We can honestly say we have done everything we can do and now the time has come to let go to create wonderful possibilities ahead,” Yogapod’s founders wrote on their website in late May. Their lease was up and the property slated for redevelopment.

This prompted many studios-still-standing to offer freebies and discounts to members of the closed studios – and sparked social media debates over the merits of independent versus corporate studios with multiple locations.

YYoga, which with 10 studios has been called a “big box” operation in discussions about the closures on its Facebook page, is one centre that opened its doors due to the closures.

“We’re sharing with the rest of our community… that’s what yoga is about,” said Jen Riley, vice president of marketing. “No one benefits by a studio closing.”

Nothing in particular seems to have caused the spike in closures, Riley said, but it points to just how challenging it is to run a yoga business.

“What it costs to keep a studio open would probably surprise people,” she said, as it’s same to operate whether one or 20 people show up. Discount sites like Groupon, where people can buy passes for as little as $29 a month, may have trained people to look for unrealistic prices, she added.

Another local yogi has a different solution to help teachers make a living in the uncertain business environment. Lynn Roberts, president of Innergy Corporate Yoga, teaches other yoga teachers how to run their own mobile businesses that operate from workplaces and homes.

Roberts once wanted to open a studio, but decided not to after considering the competition (with other studios and outdoor activities) and the rent instability in a business that depends on location.

Instead, she lets teachers access her how-to business model for a flat fee. Her clients include tech companies, banks and people who simply prefer to practice in a more private setting.

This “hidden community” is another creative way for yoga teachers to survive, she said, although she believes her business complements rather than competes with studios. “I love yoga studios – our community really needs them.”

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