Stephen Hill and Cori Ford were just starting to see the fruits of their hard work to remodel and rebrand their El Granada hot yoga studio, Oceanside Prana. Their end-of-year membership sale had been a hit, the like-new space was bringing in customers, and Hill was finally getting back into teaching.
Then, March 14, after teachers and clients began canceling left and right due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they shut their doors. After two weeks of waiting, too much was still unknown — like when or how they could reopen safely and whether anyone would even want to practice hot yoga in a room together.
Meanwhile, rent and utilities were piling up, so they made the decision then to close permanently, swallowing the costs and debt of their hard work.
”We didn't see any way forward,” Hill said.
Hill said the toughest part about closing has been trying to make sure they are able to offer refunds for all of their members. That, and reversing his remodel efforts.
“I actually had to tear the wall up that I had just put up,” Hill said. “And take the mirrors down, take the heaters out, and do the best I could to return it to normal.”
Hill and Ford said they’re lucky — the yoga studio wasn’t their only source of income and it wasn’t fundamental to their identity either. Hill, who normally works as an electrician, said he’s been out of work since the start of the pandemic and is collecting unemployment. He said going back to serving customers in downtown San Francisco still doesn’t feel right.
“I'm not afraid of it, but I'm a guideline follower,” Hill said. “I don't want to go back downtown in that situation and leave four kids at home here without me.”
The pair said they’re making the most of their time at home, creating a mock school schedule for their four young kids and enjoying spending time together. Ford, who is finishing her training to become a licensed family therapist, said she does her schoolwork alongside the kids.
“We literally all sit at the dining room table,” Ford said. “I have my studies, they have theirs.”
They don’t have any plans to reopen Oceanside Prana or any other yoga business soon. But they say that’s OK. They are moving forward, and are drawing on lessons from their own yoga teaching and practice for guidance.
“Cory and I do spend the majority of our time in the present moment, in the now,” Hill said. “Things are unfolding rapidly and changing
constantly. There is really nothing else to do but stay present and accept that moment, each moment as it comes.”