Williamsburg's Only Bikram Yoga Studio Closes and Seeks New Home
WILLIAMSBURG — Even through the worst snow storms, work overloads and personal crises, students have found balance and sweated out their anxieties in John Golterman's 115-degree yoga studio the past 10 years.
But come September the stretches, contortions and deep breathing on North Seventh Street must end, as Bikram Williamsburg leaves its home.
"I've been heartbroken," said Golterman, who is shuttering the center as part of a settlement with the landlord who he said tried to evict him from the space. "I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and I have a great love for the studio and the 10 years of my life I devoted to sharing the practice in this space."
Now Golterman is searching for a new home for Bikram Williamsburg, North Brooklyn's only studio teaching the highly structured hot yoga sequence founded by renowned guru Bikram Choudhury.
"I haven't been able to reach out to the community for help, but now I am," said Golterman, explaining that he hadn't been able to share information when the eviction case was still open but that he had emailed students Tuesday to deliver the news. "I'm absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that has come my way from students."
Golterman's lawyer Robert Werth confirmed that the case had been "settled amicably with the landlord" on the condition that Bikram Williamsburg leave the space come September. The landlord, Ulla Lee of 107 N. 7th St. Realty, did not respond to requests for comment.
Golterman, who said he had been looking at spaces "like crazy every day," hopes to open his new studio within 15 blocks of the previous location in a larger, more refined facility.
"This is an incredibly successful flourishing studio with a great community of students and teachers. The one thing that’s been a hindrance is the facility," said Golterman of his current building that demands constant repairs. "It was a blessing in disguise. I believe we deserve a much nicer space."
Golterman said he had talked with a few local juice bar owners who took interest in partnering with him to rent a large building, but that he still was not sure when he might reopen. If he finds a temporary space he hopes Bikram Williamsburg can operate in September, but if he embarks on a new permanent location the preparations will take at least a month, he said.
But for devoted students of the studio, Bikram Williamsburg fills a hole that can't be satisfied elsewhere.
Stephanie Browne, a graduate student, arts curator and interior designer, who has frequented Bikram Williamsburg since the beginning of last year, said the studio had been a key factor in her decision to live near Williamsburg in Bushwick.
"The teachers and students at this studio have supported the growth of my yoga practice — a practice which is a veritable engine to my life on so many levels," said Browne. "There is no way to summarize how significant this organization is to the individuals it serves and to the community. Bikram Yoga Williamsburg has brought to a culture of work-work-work, consume, and indulge a vital outlet for regaining balance. I honestly can't imagine the neighborhood without it."
And from daily practicioners to one-time visitors, all students are invited to the studio during August for a final "celebration" of its life, Golterman said. Classes are discounted to $12 throughout the month.
"I'm trying to foster hope and momentum toward the new space," Golterman said.