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Yoga for New York Update

Posted February 20, 2012 @ 20:44:57
A number of serious issues are confronting Yoga studios both in NY City specifically and in NY State in general.
Yoga for NY has scheduled a members’ meeting  Monday, February 27, at 1:30PM to be held at Yoga Union, 37 West 28th Street, 4th floor, (between Broadway and Sixth Avenue), NY NY 10001. Click here to register your attendance. It will help us immeasurably to know how many people are coming. And please forward this information!
The three major issues to be addressed are these…

A Move to Tax Yoga Classes

The city is running audits on various studios, claiming that they should be taxing classes  (4.5%) in the same way fitness studios do. We are trying to find out if, in fact, the tax is appropriate. Yoga classes are not specifically listed among the services and classes that are taxable. The matter is therefore open to interpretation. But this could mean adding close to a $1.00 to a $20 class, a cost that gets passed on to the student, alas, and that also might mean waiting longer to raise the price of a class if that was in the cards for this year. One studio is being sued for three years of back taxes, which makes this an even more threatening situation, as those back taxes would have to come out of the studio owner’s pocket. This needs to be addressed head on and swiftly.

Independent Contractor status

The State is putting pressure on studios to treat Independent Contractors (teachers teaching 2-6 hours of classes a week) as employees, meaning a slew of clerical and financial obligations (taxes and insurance). While every yoga studio should look out for the welfare of its teachers, almost no studio but the very largest could easily survive when burdened with the thousands of dollars in extra cost that this would represent. Teachers and studio owners need to be fully informed of Independent Contractor requirements. We also need to help the city understand that it should back off on its huge push against Yoga studios as sources of taxation and funding in this taxing economy, so to speak.  To recapitulate: this is a two-pronged issue: how we need to avoid problems by being prepared; what we need to do to help get the city off our case.

Certificate of Occupancy

This is a yoga facility issue. The city is coming after Yoga studios for licensing fees that can be as high as $30,000. Dance or movement spaces are free of this obligation. Insofar as most Yoga studios are closer to dance than to fitness centers, there is no compelling reason to treat them differently. This represents again a considerable burden for smaller studios.
All Yogis, whether students, teachers or owners, should have an interest in these issues and participate in solving them, since they affect the bottom line in a significant way. If you or someone you know is in the process of dealing with any of these issues, please contact me directly (212 510 7404 or email) so that we can discuss the situation prior to the meeting. If you have met with lawyers or government officials, please alert me to that as well. It is vital that we have as much concrete information from as many persons as possible for this meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Yoga for NY needs a strong volunteer base and new board members. The organization also needs ongoing donations and fund-raising efforts, for which your ideas (and follow-through on those ideas) are warmly invited. With funding and a proper volunteer base, Yoga for NY could provide valuable webinars, continuing education for the business of yoga, marketing of NY State yoga and more.  The possibility of health insurance had been looked into but was beyond the scope of Yoga for NY. However, Yoga for NY could be a resource for info on individual health and liability insurance. The organization is open to suggestions as to how it might serve yoga in NY State while remaining in place to address any further issues of licensing or other government concerns.

Please spread the word about this meeting through your own mailing lists, FB page and Twitter, renew your membership and encourage others to join Yoga for NY! If we all join together, we can make good things happen.

Alison West
Executive Director of

Yoga for NY


Yoga for New York: 2007 – 2011: Yoga Alliance denies Yoga for New York funding to fight unlawful taxation of yoga teachers, after they invited Goverment Regulation into Yoga.