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Jois Yoga to Close Studio, Shift Focus and Money to Nonprofit Foundation

in Business of Yoga, YD News

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What’s next for the late Ashtanga legend Pattabhi Jois’s namesake organization?

We’ve been hearing rumors for days and have finally received confirmation of its truthfulness: Jois Yoga Greenwich will shutter its shala doors at the end of September. You may recall Greenwich was one of the multiple locations Jois Yoga opened to some McYoga controversy less than 2 years ago. Since then, ambitions of a studio chain, clothing company and yoga empire in the west have since been drastically scaled back, or at least that’s what it looks like.

So far, of the four initial locations (Islamorada, FL; Encinitas, CA; Sydney, Australia; Greenwich, CT) Encinitas and Sydney do not have confirmed closures. (The FL location closed last year.) We say it this way because our anonymous tipster informed us that all of the studios will close at the end of the month so that they could ”focus on philanthropy.” However, this has not yet been confirmed and Jois Yoga could not be reached for comment.

The closing of Greenwich was duly noted by Ashtanga yoga site The Confluence Countdown and finally confirmed with a less than informative email sent to Jois Greenwich newsletter subscribers offering ways to stay connected with teachers as they “begin their next great adventures” during these “times of  change and transition” have confirmed the closure.

What are these changes and transitions? Jois Yoga has seen many in the past few years as the landscape of their corporate structure, nonprofit organization and yoga in general continue to evolve in the commercial and noncommercial space. Most recently, they changed the name of their nonprofit arm, from Jois Foundation to Sonima Foundation following the monumental July court ruling that will allow their yoga program in an Encinitas school district to continue despite resistance from concerned parents over alleged religious indoctrination. Jois Foundation CEO Gene Ruffin announced that the title change, which combines the names of foundation founder Sonia Jones and Ruffin’s wife, Salima Ruffin, will reflect “a broader mission about health and fitness.”

Sonia Jones, lest we forget, is the astonishingly wealthy Ashtangi devotee who helped finance  and spearhead the Jois Yoga expansion. “I wouldn’t be doing this, trust me, if he [Pattabhi Jois] hadn’t said, ‘Will you open schools for me all over the world?,’ she famously told Vanity Fair in March last year. Apparently, this dream will remain in the practice, practice, practice phase.

All is coming.

The next step for Sonima Foundation appears to, indeed, be in research and philanthropic endeavors. The Encinitas school district which originally received a $500,000 grant from the foundation to fund a 3-year study on yoga in schools, accepted an additional $1.4 million after the Superior Court ruling in July.

The foundation is also connected to the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia in that the center was established in 2012 with an incredibly generous $12 million grant from multi-billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, a UVA alum, and his wife Sonia. The idea of the center is to “bind together the humanities and sciences” and to “interweave the practices of yoga and other body/mind disciplines into the basic fabric of a UVA education.”

An anonymous commenter posted on TCC what they claim was the reason Jois Yoga gave for Greenwich’s closure:

We have decided to focus our resources and attention on the not-for-profit yoga in education element of our organization. The yoga studios have existed as for-profit business entities and will be closing at the end of September.

If Jois Yoga can’t reach a global scale via studios and commercial ventures, they’re sure on track to be the biggest and financially abundant nonprofit yoga organization in the world (if it isn’t already).

There is still very little information for the Jois/Sonima Foundation. The website still says it’s “underway.”

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4 comments… add one

  • Wow! Still no comments. Amazing. Apparently no one has noticed the event.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Well, Boodiba, this can only be a good thing for Ashtanga; and a presaging for a rightsizing for commercialized yoga as a whole.

    Great news!

  • :) That’s what I’m hoping. I gave up trying to find a new teacher / studio home after my favorite retired from early morning Mysore. I spent two years struggling, and finally gave it up for completely solo, home practice. I’ve come to accept that there will be no one to help me with the day to day for the foreseeable future, ie, unless I completely change locations which isn’t in the works.

    But I really support all the stay-put, run a day-to-day Mysore room kinds of teachers. Without them how can the practice thrive?

  • alyson

    Wait…what is TCC?

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