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Yoga Teacher Attacked By Student, Management “Pathetically Unsupportive”

in Business of Yoga, YD News
CorePower Yoga | image via DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

CorePower Yoga | image via DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

It’s sad and frightening to think a yoga teacher who’d been physically attacked by a student wouldn’t be supported or protected by the yoga studio they work for. This appears to be the case in Chicago where a yoga teacher is claiming exactly that.

CorePower Yoga teacher by the name of Yogi Danny B says he was physically assaulted twice in one week by the same student while management stood by and did virtually nothing to support him. We’ve received several messages from the online yoga community about this. We’re reporting on it because we believe it brings up an important conversation.*

According to a facebook update Yogi Danny B posted last Thursday, October 22, Bucktown CorePower managers were “pathetically unsupportive” when a yoga student engaged in physical and verbal assault. Yogi Danny B noticed the man reaching into a drawer at the front desk so he closed the drawer which is what led to the confrontation, he says. “I closed a drawer he had opened and asked him if I could help him. He proceeds to slap my arm to try to open the drawer. I refuse to let it open and the verbal barrage of threats ensue,” Danny B wrote.

He says this happened while two managers were standing nearby, one being an Area Manager, who did little to de-escalate the situation. Following the altercation, the studio manager told him the student would not be welcomed back. However, the student returned that very same week. Danny B quit on the spot.

“I walk in to teach and not only is the student there, this same manager that sent me the email checked him in for class!! Heart broken. Could not have felt more let down. I quit. I wanted to teach, but I just couldn’t pull myself together,” he wrote in the facebook post.

To make matters worse, the incensed student followed Danny B out the door and proceeded to beat him until two other students and people walking by pulled him off. A police report was filed, but Danny B is questioning the responsibility and action, or lack thereof, on the part of CorePower management and encouraging people to be aware of what their presence and their dollar supports.

“Conscious consumerism. If you practice at Corepower Yoga you should know what you are supporting,” he said in his post. ”I’ve never been so let down by an employer in my life. I put up with a lot of things working for them over 6 years. This is something I can’t let go.”

After the incidents, and the public facebook post, CorePower’s Bucktown studio manager, Mary Neigel, issued a statement from the company’s legal department: ”CorePower Yoga is committed to the safety and welfare of its employees and students. Accordingly this matter is currently being investigated by the company’s human resources department.”

CorePower, a huge and fast-growing yoga chain, has been referred to as the “Starbucks of yoga.” Its corporate structure may make for nice growth and profits but is it breeding a corporate culture of apathy? There may be a lot of yoga teachers out there eager and ready to replace the ones on the schedule, but we’d hope staff safety (and an environment of non-violence – we’re still talking about a yoga studio) would be a top priority no matter how big your brand, or bottom line.

Here’s the full facebook post from Yogi Danny B:

Conscious consumerism. If you practice at Corepower Yoga you should know what you are supporting. I was battered (physically grabbed and slapped), and verbally assaulted/threatened by a student who I confronted behind the front desk last week. I closed a drawer he had opened and asked him if I could help him. He proceeds to slap my arm to try to open the drawer. I refuse to let it open and the verbal barrage of threats ensue. He’s gonna “show yoga boy some yoga”, “drag my face across the pavement”, “gonna find me”, in addition to constantly asking me to “take it outside”. All of this over me closing a drawer and asking him if I could help him as he was in a place he shouldn’t be, doing something he shouldn’t be doing. This happened in front of 2 managers that stood there doing nothing for 2-3 minutes. Not just any manager, an Area Manager in charge of several studios with years of management experience. Eventually she spoke up and said to “simmer”. Simmer?? Thats why they pay you the big bucks as an Area Manager. Resolving conflict with “Simmer”. The other assistant manager said “Thanks for being the adult here Danny”. Student gone, now I have to teach a class I’m already 2 minutes late for. I wasn’t in a place to teach, but I did. That night I initiate an email with the managers asking for a statement of the incident so I can give to the police. Pathetically unsupportive. Essentially they heard an argument. I have students standing next to them that heard every word. I told CPY I did not feel safe with him practicing at CPY, I didn’t feel supported during the incident and I wouldn’t be teaching there if he was allowed to practice. Yesterday (7 days after the incident) 1 hour before my class, the Area Manager emails me to say that she spoke with the student and he won’t be practicing at CPY Bucktown any time soon. Wow. So they’re going to let him continue to practice at CPY, just not Bucktown where I teach. I was baffled and felt let down of course. I walk in to teach and not only is the student there, this same manager that sent me the email checked him in for class!! Heart broken. Could not have felt more let down. I quit. I wanted to teach, but I just couldn’t pull myself together. In the locker room to get my belongings, there he is. I tell him that I quit. He says something to the extend of “you quit or you were just fired, because I’m still here.” I have a few words for him at this point which gets his blood up. He follows me to the front door. I’m putting my shoes on, he’s still talking and threatening. A couple of male students hold him at the door as I walk away. A few seconds later he approaches me as I’m unlocking my bike and proceeds to beat me. Eventually two male students and some guys on the street get him off of me. Off to the police station I went to file police report. Just another day in the yoga world. Violence at a yoga studio?!?! Twice in a week? CorePower Yoga.
CPY loves their students. They have some work to do on showing some love and support for the teachers bringing the students in. I have nothing but love for the CPY students. I agreed to come back to CPY because of the students. I cannot work for this company. I’ve never been so let down by an employer in my life. I put up with a lot of things working for them over 6 years. This is something I can’t let go. I hope you’ll find me at another studio. Become a conscious consumer and support studios that support their teachers. Check out my schedule here.http://www.yogidannyb.com/schedule.html

*Actually there are several. 1. Responding to violence in a yoga studio (and hopefully preventing it) 2. Yoga teachers’ (and students’ and staff’s) rights and protection in a situation like this 3. The bigger picture of the growing corporate yoga structure 4. A man was attacked at a yoga studio and allegedly there was no one higher up to help (even though they were involved) 5. Apparent apathy.

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4 comments… add one

  • anonymous

    So yoga teachers at Core Power Yoga are in fact employees, not independent contractors.

    I’ve worked a number of retail jobs and some of the procedures that seem to be in place for employee safety in those jobs (for ex. not opening/closing alone, what to do if questionable situations arise) are absent at Core Power, perhaps because the job as framed as teaching yoga rather than working retail. The lobby area usually offers a lot of retail, so retail theft is also a concern.

    As this article mentions there are lots and lots of available teachers. I try to put myself in as safe of a position as possible and speak up for myself, but I worry that too much of that will hurt my ability to get work. It would be hard to know if it will – or if it already has.

    I probably wouldn’t confront someone reaching into a drawer the way this teacher did (and it’s not clear if it was a cash drawer or something else). However, if I were in a situation where theft or another crime occurred, I worry that I would still be blamed by management for acting wrongly too, no matter what I did. It seems like a no-win situation for teachers – often put in a situation to respond to challenging situations without many guidelines or on the spot support.

  • VQ2

    At first, I thought this happened in Boulder, Colorado (home or inaugural start of Corepower) … in which case, it could have been easily made a Federal criminal case. You know: 420 issues, which is still a crime at the Federal level. Possibly in that drawer. Aside from the student being extremely unbalanced (and not minding his own business). Leave it to an overchallenging yoga style (with added ambient heat) to amplify his (and nearly anyone’s) issues (among other problems, though …)

    But it is in Bucktown.

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