Yoga studio to shut after failing to renew lease

The storefront of Bikram Yoga Harbourfront at HarbourFront Centre yesterday. The studio was opened in 2012 and it is not known how many members it has. An e-mail from the studio on Sunday told members that it will be closing on July 1.
The storefront of Bikram Yoga Harbourfront at HarbourFront Centre yesterday. The studio was opened in 2012 and it is not known how many members it has. An e-mail from the studio on Sunday told members that it will be closing on July 1.ST PHOTO: DAVE LIM

Members with unfinished packages can continue using them at another studio

A five-year-old yoga studio will be closing on July 1 after failing to negotiate a lease renewal with its landlord.

Bikram Yoga Harbourfront, which has one outlet at Harbour- Front Centre, said in an e-mail to members on Sunday that those with unfinished packages will be able to continue using them at another studio, True Yoga.

Bikram studio was opened in 2012 by Ms Bronwyn Ayres- Munro. It is not known how many members it has.

The studio did not respond to queries yesterday.

It said in the e-mail that it had been "in negotiations with the landlord to attempt to come to an agreement for the renewal of our lease".

"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have not been able to do so, leading to the very painful and difficult decision to close (our) doors," it added.

The studio had stopped accepting sign-ups for new packages, except for those that can be used up by July 1.

Members who are affected have to convert to a True membership between July 3 and July 31. They may then continue using their packages at True's centres at Pacific Plaza and HarbourFront Centre.

However, those with vouchers and gift cards will not be able to transfer over the remaining credits. A True Group spokesman confirmed the arrangement.

Ms Koh Sin Yee, a member of four years, said she felt the closure had been handled ethically.

Staff at the studio had earlier told her not to renew her membership, which was ending, as they said there might be changes, said Ms Koh, who is in her 30s.

But another member, clinical psychologist Adriana Giotta, 43, plans to ask for a refund on her membership as she feels that the studio has not been fully transparent about the move.

On Bikram Yoga Harbourfront's website, the studio said all its teachers had been trained by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, who founded the practice of doing yoga in sweltering rooms. He is facing legal difficulties in the United States.

A California judge issued an arrest warrant for him last Wednesday after he failed to pay about US$6.5 million (S$9 million) to a former legal adviser in a sexual harassment case.

Mr Choudhury was sued in 2013 by Ms Minakshi "Mikki" Jafa- Bodden, who said he sexually harassed her and also unfairly fired her after she refused to help him cover up allegations that he had raped a yoga student.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Yoga studio to shut after failing to renew lease'. Print Edition | Subscribe