Another one bites the dust. UPDATE below. (And, no, it seems Bikram can not avoid being attached to scandal, in case you were wondering.)
It may have come as a shock to hardcore hot benders when they heard Bikram Yoga Union Square would be shutting its doors May 29 without even a rude remark or a sweaty heads up. BYUS is/was owned by Otto Cedeño, whom “friends” referred to as the “yoga Nazi” and who was also known as “the meanest yoga teacher” in NYC.
From the NY Post article three years ago that shed light on the meanie:
“He goes around and kicks people’s feet into alignment,” said Romero. “He doesn’t say anything and just shoves his foot into your heel.”
Cedeño often singles out people in incorrect positions — even bullying students lying on their backs in the purposefully restful Corpse Pose.
As there are minimal details about the studio’s closing beyond this post (below) on their website and tweets for students to come pick up their mats from storage, we can only speculate on the demise of the prime Union Square location, which follows an earlier closure of Penn Station’s Bikram Yoga Manhattan allegedly due to Yoga to the People peer pressures.
Was it the ‘Yoga Nazi’s’ rough teaching style? NYC’s rising real estate prices? The heat from Bikram Choudhury’s rape accusations?
Is this a trend? Cedeño’s bio states that he is “less likely to walk away from a commitment and more likely to take on a challenge.”
Here’s the message posted on the BYUS website:
MAT PICK UP – Friday 5/31/13 from 5-9pm & Saturday 6/1/13 from 9am-5pm.
We regretfully announce Bikram Yoga Union Square has shut it’s doors permanently. As an alternative, we have partnered with Bikram Yoga Herald Square so that all students may transfer their memberships to that location. We wanted to inform you that we will be verifying your packages as you go to Herald Square to make sure that what you get is what is owed to you. Meaning, if you have a yearly membership and it has 7 months left, we will verify this before you can take a class.
At the present time, we are compiling a list of all students whom are active to send over to Herald Square so that they may help accommodate you as easily and efficiently as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but I want you to know that we appreciate your business throughout all these years.
Director | OwnerBikram Yoga Union Square & Founder of MAX Men’s Yoga Shorts
UPDATE: Students were indeed shocked and saddened to learn about the closure. They’ve taken to facebook to voice their concerns, memories and protests over owner Otto Cedeno’s choice to continue business as usual while knowing about the imminent closure.
According to some reports, Cedeno was well aware of the lease ending and made the conscious decision to proceed as normal.
One student shared her frustration for his failure to act on ethical obligations:
I find it troubling that the studio ( meaning the owner)continued to collect money for unlimited memberships when it is clear that he knew it was coming to a close.
Even though I never practiced bikram for spiritual or philosophical reasons one would hope that some semblance of ethics and ethical behavior toward staff and students would have been in play.
Given that I don’t hold too much hope that may and membership are recoverable.
While folks were eventually given the opportunity to reclaim mats and a deal was brokered with Bikram Herald Square to honor memberships (and of course, other Bikram studios are thrilled to absorb new customers), some students are still left in the lurch. Legal Action Against BYUS was created amidst the hubbub and they want answers.
Their facebook page states:
After suddenly closing without warning, Otto Cedeno’s Bikram Yoga Union Square is not offering refunds, for packages or standing balances.
According to the building management, Otto was aware of the lease termination and continued to accept memberships. Although Bikram Yoga Herald Square is accepting transfers, they are receiving NO MONEY from Otto.
Where is our money going? Is this fraud?
Despite returning mats and offering transfers to Herald Square, he still is taking our standing balances and knowingly accepted memberships. This seems illegal.
For sanity’s sake, we hope this all gets sorted out soon.