Yet another yoga school closes its doors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 January, 2011, 12:00am

Another yoga centre closed down yesterday, just a week after the 6,000-member Living Yoga shut its doors.

The Sheung Wan branch of Yoga Limbs was ordered to close by the District Court yesterday after its owner was unable to pay a debt of HK$476,800 to 123 Book Limited.

Yoga Limbs opened its Sheung Wan centre 12 years ago, offering courses to train people to become yoga teachers. It later opened a branch in Sai Kung but its total membership remained under 300, according to Dickson Lau Wan-shun, founding chairman of the Hong Kong Yoga Association.

Lau said Yoga Limbs' financial problems might be due to falling membership in recent years. Many Westerners had switched to other chains for their cheaper packages, he said.

'Many other small centres have closed throughout the years, and it is a miracle that Yoga Limbs survived for so long,' Lau said.

Yoga Limbs' website said classes would be suspended from yesterday until further notice, and it hoped to reopen the centre after it had 'worked out the problems'. It apologised to members and said it would send them e-mails explaining the situation by last night.

But by 7.30pm yesterday, one member said she had not heard from Yoga Limbs. She had been trying in vain to contact staff there since yesterday afternoon.

She paid HK$20,000 in September for a training course to become a yoga teacher, and had finished only half of it. She also bought a HK$1,800 membership for her boyfriend in December, as a Christmas present, she said. The closure was shocking, she said. 'No one knows what's happening. It had a good reputation and the classes were absolutely normal.'

She said she would approach the Consumer Council and the District Court soon, to gain a better understanding of the issue.

'It's very sad. It's not only about the money: I have also spent a lot of time and effort in the class,' she said.

A note outside Yoga Limbs' Sheung Wan branch said if the debt was not settled, the centre's properties would be auctioned off next Friday at a commercial building in Central.

Fong Fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Yoga Society, said small centres had been hit hard by rapid rent increases.

The yoga industry was in trouble as the number of Hongkongers taking lessons had dwindled in the past two years, he said.

The Consumer Council received 500 complaints about yoga classes last year, of which 330 were related to yoga schools folding. About HK$3.37 million was involved.

Last year, three yoga centres -Yoga Yoga International, Planet Yoga and Beauty Yoga - closed, affecting more than 14,000 members.

Stretched credibility

The Consumer Council heard 500 yoga-related complaints last year

This many of them were about yoga schools folding and leaving students out of pocket: 330