Yoga instructors carving quirky niches | News

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — As the clock struck 7 p.m. at Santosha Yoga in Crozet, 18 yogis rolled into the fetal position, sent “loving and kind thoughts” to the backside in front of them, then beat a quick path to waiting glasses of chilled wine.

The March 30 “Friday Wine Down” yoga class was just the second such event for Santosha this year, but it marks a burgeoning trend among yoga studios and independent yoga teachers. To survive financially, many are carving out ever more narrow and quirky niches to attract a loyal clientele.

Santosha’s draw is so compelling, in fact, that at least two women admitted to skipping the yoga part entirely.

Santosha’s owners, Chloe Watkins and Ashley Holland, hit on the wine angle almost immediately when they bonded at a couples’ class and discovered they both had connections to the local wine industry — and they both dreamed of opening a yoga studio.

“It was the right partnership, the right timing and the right spot,” Holland said. “All of that fell into place together.”

That is exactly the sort of symbiosis that fitness-studio business consultant Lise Kuecker urges her clients to seek out in a saturated market like Charlottesville.

“They’re not just competing against yoga studios,” Kuecker said. “They’re competing against every other boutique studio in town plus ACAC and the YMCA, where they’re going to get many of the same yoga instructors.”

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