Adhikara Yoga Studio Closing Its Doors On 18th Street

Adhikara Yoga Studio Closing Its Doors On 18th Street
Photo: Sari Staver/Hoodline
By Sari Staver - Published on February 06, 2015.

Tomorrow is the last yoga class at the Castro’s Adhikara Yoga Studio, a cozy storefront studio at 4229 18th St., next door to Mollie Stone’s. 

Owner Phoebe Joecks cites a “variety of factors” in her decision to close. After struggling to stay afloat for the past 18 months, the last straw was news that the state of California is in the midst of a campaign to ensure yoga studios are correctly classifying teachers as employes, not independent contractors.

Studios found to be in violation face fines and the danger of an IRS audit. Before that possibility could arise, Joecks said she decided to close the business.

Adhikara has been offering classes seven days a week for the past 18 months, after Joecks  and her husband, John Burton, moved to the Castro from San Diego. Joecks is a yoga teacher who also runs an events management business, and Burton is a technology executive. 

The couple wanted to “take the best things” from their favorite studios across the country and nest it in their own neighborhood, said Joecks.

Based on the five star reviews on Yelp, Adhikara (a sanskrit word that loosely translates to “studentship”) was beloved by its students for its intimate and welcoming atmosphere. Among the comments by Yelpers are “so much thought in every detail,”, “a great find” “an inspired space” and “my dream place.”

Ironically, says Joecks, those same qualities also became its downfall when it became clear that the studio's small size prevented it from being able to generate enough revenue to cover its expenses, let alone make a profit. One of the city’s largest and most popular studios, Yoga Tree, is also located just across the street, she acknowledged. 

“We hoped to offer something different,” she said, noting the personal attention made possible by a smaller class size. But yoga students, she admits, “can be very loyal to their teachers” and existing routines.

“I'm very sad,” Joecks said, a few days before closing. The owners poured over $50,000 into building improvements, including the installation of a heating system and a brand new bathroom, had a “reasonable” rent and supportive landlord, but the numbers just didn’t add up.

“We saw this as a community resource,” said Joecks. “We are sad to see it close but saw no alternative."

A lengthy discussion of the California EDD focus on yoga studios has been published on the Yoga Alliance website. A recent article there by Gary Kissiah claims that eight studios in the Bay Area have already been audited and those who filed an appeal lost and faced bills for back taxes as well as hefty fines.

“We didn't want to face the nightmare” of an audit, Joecks said.

Right now, Joecks is wrapping up loose ends, processing refunds for students who have unused credit on class packages, and trying to find a new tenant to sublease the storefront for the 18 months remaining on her lease. The storefront, she notes, is “ready to go” and equipped with high speed Internet, and even has a small private patio just outside the back door. Interested parties should contact her at phoebej {at} adhikarayoga {dot} net.

Joecks also urges students who want to stay in touch with their favorite Adhikara teachers to contact them via information on her website. The teachers, she said, all teach at other locations throughout the Bay area.

As for her own personal plans, Joecks intends to continue operating her events management business while she weighs other options.

“We love the neighborhood,” she said. “We’re staying.”