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After Bust, Wall Street Trader Gives up Finance for Yoga

By Serena Solomon | May 19, 2011 7:34am | Updated on May 19, 2011 7:33am
Matt Patton, dressed in black towards the right, enters triangle pose in a class at Yoga Vida.
Matt Patton, dressed in black towards the right, enters triangle pose in a class at Yoga Vida.
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Courtesy of Mike Patton.

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter Producer

NOHO — For Mike Patton, the financial crisis sent him so low he found himself in downward facing dog.

When the Princeton graduate was laid off as a futures trader with Bear Stearns in March 2008, yoga helped him survive unemployment. Now Patton is about to open his second yoga studio in Noho with Yoga Vida, the business he created 13 months ago.

“When I moved to New York, if you would have told me that five years later I’d have left finance, opened two Yoga studios and committed myself to 12,500 feet of Manhattan office space in Union Square and NoHo for the next five to 10 years, I’d have fallen out of my chair,” said the 28-year-old.

Unlike a host of other yoga studios, Patton’s Yoga Vida charges clients a low $10 per class with no lengthy commitment contracts.

Mike Patton strikes a pose.
Mike Patton strikes a pose.
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Courtesy of Mike Patton.

He's so busy he's began turning people away from his location on University and W. 12th Street, he said.

“It no longer feels like we’re testing the market, but rather giving the market what it’s asking for,” he said about the new NoHo location on Broadway and Bond Street.

Classes are due to start there on May 31st along with a teacher training program.

Although NoHo is only blocks away, Patton has come far from Wall Street and the somber days surrounding his layoff.

“Unemployment was uncertain,” he said. “There was a huge amount of labor supply and I was in a shrinking industry.”

A promising opportunity fell through at City Bank and Patton’s future looked  bleak, he said.

But a near obsession with yoga that he developed became the catalyst for a new season in his life.

“What yoga helped me to do was to be more present for this opportunity,” he said. Patton sighted gratitude, one of the pillars of yoga, as his biggest learning curve. Now he gets to bring this to his customers.

Although he started the Greenwich Village studio 13 months ago, Patton is still living off savings from before the financial crisis. He hopes next month to write himself his first paycheck from Yoga Vida.

With the unexpected turns of the last few years and vision for more studios, Patton still seems surprised at what he has created. 

“It is an interesting position. It feels more satisfying to get $10 from something I have built that is helping others then $10,000 from Bear Stearns,” he said.