Dhyana Yoga: Is It Really Yoga?

As the owner of five wildly successful yoga studios from South Jersey to Rittenhouse, Dhyana Vitarelli may have set more people on the path to enlightenment than any other Philadelphian. So why does Dhyana Yoga have everyone’s chakras in a bunch?

“I never felt okay except when I was doing yoga,” she says. “I had a place to be.”

She returned to L.A. at 28, enrolled in a training program at Yoga West, and crashed on a friend’s couch. And while for the first time in her life she had a plan, she still wasn’t really okay. All it took was a bad breakup and she was back in the ER after, again, swallowing pills.

“Every person gets brought to their knees by something. The thing is to get back up again,” she says. “I figured, All right, you’re stuck alive. So make it work … alive.

Making it work meant moving back to Philly, something she never expected to do. But while visiting her dad in 2002, she hunted for a yoga class and was shocked: Aside from a few small studios and some classes at the Sporting Club, there was hardly any yoga here.

“Philly should have tons of yoga,” she decided. With only the cash in her bank account, she rented a teeny space at 12th and Walnut, painted it, stuffed padding in the drafty windows, and bought some mats. When she applied for a business permit, she needed special zoning—there was nothing in the code that covered “yoga instruction.”

She also had trouble with the name. Web domains for almost every idea she’d written down—Yogaunion, The Bridge Yoga—were taken. There was only one that she liked and could buy: Dhyana Yoga. In Sanskrit, dhyana means “meditation”—one of the eight steps on a yogi’s path to enlightenment.

Dhyana Yoga opened for business on October 5, 2002. Thanks to the pink fliers Diana posted in Center City, announcing, “Let’s have more yogis than hoagies!,” the classes quickly filled up. Pretty soon, she had to turn students away. “There was an energy being cultivated there,” says Marni Sclaroff, who taught the first class at DY. “She lives her yoga. She uses the values and morals from her practice in her daily life.”

The growing band of devotees assumed Diana was Dhyana. She corrected them again and again, until Sclaroff asked: “You’re just going to change your name, aren’t you?”

“I WAS READY TO leave Diana behind,” Dhyana says now, sitting on the back porch of her modest home in Westmont, New Jersey, which she shares with her new and often shirtless super-yogi husband/business partner, John Vitarelli (named by Philly Mag’s GPhilly as “Best Yoga Guru” earlier this year). If Philly has a “yoga power couple,” they’re it. (Both would prefer to be known as, if anything, “the yoga empower couple.”) Down the street in Haddonfield is the newest studio in the DY empire—it opened in December, joining outposts in Rittenhouse, Old City, West Philly and Ardmore.

Pretty much any time on any day of the week, there’s a class at a DY studio. There were 11 students in a recent Haddonfield class. If they all paid the drop-in rate of $15, Dhyana Yoga brought in $165 for the class. With 128 classes held each week in her studios, that’s $21,120 a week for Dhyana Yoga.

Of course, not every class has 11 people (some have more, some fewer), and thanks to discounts and deals, some people pay less. Yet no matter what that total may be, classes aren’t where most studios make money: The real rupees come from events and workshops, which at DY can run anywhere from a few bucks to more than $100. (Dhyana has at least eight scheduled between now and December.) Teacher trainings (DY averages about 65 students a year) typically run $2,100, for another $136,500 or so.

Sure, Dhyana and John have to pay rent and teachers, but Dhyana still drives a Lexus (hybrid, of course). And that’s a far cry from thousands of years ago, when yogis relied on townspeople to pay their rent and buy their food. “Now the exchange is a paycheck,” Dhyana says.

“Candles and toilet paper cost money,” echoes Corina Benner, who owns Wake Up Yoga’s three studios and is probably Dhyana’s main competitor, if either yogi were willing to admit it. (And they’re not.)

This isn’t about making money for Dhyana, though. It’s more about making family. The more studios she has (she’s not planning on opening more, because “My husband will kill me”) and the more people she trains, the bigger that family gets. “Ultimately, we’re yogis. We need community,” Dhyana explains. “I think that’s the X factor in making Dhyana Yoga as successful as it is. We’re family. Maybe that was the deep desire of mine, what I’ve always wanted.”

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  • K

    Dhyana Yoga was my first studio, some of the teachers are amazing—but some are outright corporate and make me sick. Not just because of their personality but they push people into injuries and that’s not the point. Rockstar Yoga? Bleh. Please stop expanding. Thank you!

  • Caroline

    i am a huge fan of dhyana yoga. way back in the day when i first got introduced to yoga in philly, it was by dhyana yoga. dhyana’s teachers were/are incredibly talented and ~dedicated~, and i am so thankful for its existence. yoga, for me, wasn’t about the sport of it; it was about the spiritual aspect. i got that fulfilled at dhyana yoga. palms pressed to you, dhyana, for not submitting to what the “norm” was/is (especially back in yoga’s first days in philly), but for committing to your vision of yoga being defined by its spiritual component as well as its physical–something that too many studios have neglected to do in their attempt to commodify yoga.

  • John

    As a student of yoga for many years in the 90’s and traveling from one studio to the next, it wasn’t until I found Dhyana Yoga that I began to find some meaning to it all. With enthusiastic teachers and welcoming community I immediately found my home. Is there anyone out there that has the right to decide what yoga is? If anyone out there is qualified to say what is Yoga and what is not then that same person knows that NO ONE has the right to be the judge of that.

  • jennifer

    I am an extremely successful yoga teacher in LA who teaches across the country. I love Dhyana Yoga ( and D herself) for the studio’s humilty, grace and pure yoga. I have sought them out to teach workshops there bc it is such an amazing space. I come from Philly originally everyone I know who does yoga practices here and adores it. I do not understand the writer’s point of view, and to answer: yes, it yoga!! And then some. If I was half as good a person and teacher as Dhyana (or John) I would be thrilled. I am humbled to take classes there and to teach there. Dhyana has integrity and is a businesswoman indeed, but how else can you run a business? Answer that and I will retire

  • jennifer

    Dhyana is KILLING it indeed because the universe is conspiring in her favor. She is good at what she does, she cares, she loves what she does, and she has integrity. She has found her bliss. I hope she opens a yoga studio/retreat center in Italy and all over so I can go and take classes and teach there. She inspires me. I hope to be as successful as her at what I love doing. isn’t it everyone’s dream?

  • Shane

    I liked the article, but I had to laugh at this:

    Pretty much any time on any day of the week, there’s a class at a DY studio. There were 11 students in a recent Haddonfield class. If they all paid the drop-in rate of $15, Dhyana Yoga brought in $165 for the class. With 128 classes held each week in her studios, that’s $21,120 a week for Dhyana Yoga.

    Only a snarky reporter who’s never had a business would come up with such ridiculous figures.

    Personally, I have respect for and send congratulations to everyone at DY, where I fell in love with, YES YOGA.

  • steve

    I *first* found yoga at Dhyana Yoga in Philly. I have since gone on to teach, practice, and study yoga all around the country and even world and have YET to find a studio environment that is as welcoming, inspiring, and loving of what Dhyana has cultivated at all of her Philadelphia Studios. The fact of the matter, is that Yoga is now a $6 billion dollar industry in the US – I personally would much rather have someone like Dhyana in the drivers seat then a corporate business person. Dhyana has been offering Yoga in Philadelphia for almost 10 years, how can you argue with that?!

  • Arnold

    This article doesn’t does do enough to detail the mean, cut throat individual that hides behind vail of yoga calm. She has, time and again proven herself to be all about the superficial. What yoga teacher announces “I’m killing it” to a class? What yoga teacher tells a student “you’re either with me or against me”? How can anyone justify this behavior? I suspect the only the people who have yet to feel her wrath. Oh and enjoy looking at her shirtless husband because once you talk to him you realize there isnt much between his ears.

  • Judy

    I do yoga in this city. I know many of the people quoted in this story, including Dhyana and John. And I thought it was a really balanced, fair, and interesting article. I’d never thought of the inherent conflicts in running a yoga business before. The magazine gives BOTH sides to the story (for example…while Dhyana may have sent nasty emails she also helped a pregnant student in need, while she may be seen as a “yoga factory,” she’s still teaching yoga. For her, yoga is all about family. How is that not yoga?) Frankly, I think Dhyana and all of the people I suspect she’s asked to comment here in her defence are so focused on the bad that they are blind to the good, positive stuff. That’s too bad.

  • Shane

    Why is this article in the business section Philly Mag? It reads personal, as a business person looking for business tips, I got absolutely nothing out of this, did the reporter not ask how this business grew from 1 to 5 locations during a recession nonetheless? I could care less about people’s personal opinions, I want to know how the business runs, otherwise leave it in another section. Disappointed in the magazine.

  • H

    Anyone who has met Dhyana or John can attest that they are smart, compassionate, down-to-earth, funny people. I’m more of a casual yogi (could live without the chanting, meditation,and even the harmonium) but have taken classes with many Dhyana instructors. All have been supportive to students of all levels and emphasized compassion (toward oneself and others) and resilience. The fact that Dhyana and John are also good business-people is fantastic as it allows them to offer more yoga options to more people. I felt that this article was a little snarky/mean-spirited and can’t figure out why. I wish them continued success. They are respected and admired by many people.

  • Lous Andreas

    I think this article, while not doing much to conceal its suspicious tones, def. makes some good points. Actually,I think it’s a little soft–soft on the fact that many of us long-time Dhyana “customers” feel just like that; I for one never felt community here. I feel it at Practice and Wake Up and I feel it at studios in New Hope, Lambertville, NY, Baltimore and even cold Boston, but at Dhyana it’s only community if you’re a DY teacher trainer or graduate. I finally got so sick of teachers’ condescending remarks, humiliating me in class and teaching a generic, alignment-oblivious practice, that I began thinking of it as a very bussiness-y transaction. Dhyana was the most convenient studio to me when I lived in CC and so I went–but only to 2 teachers (one of whom was NOT trained at DY and sadly no longer teaches there–shame, her classes were packed and she truly knew what she was doing..). I also worked at the studio for some time as a work-exchange and I’ve worked various yoga internships since I began practicing some years ago and it was the WORST exp. ever and the most…

  • Ranier

    Dhyana yoga is just as it’s portrayed—perhaps just a bit icier, a bit more cliquey-cultish and definitely uber trendy. It’s a serviceable Philly business, one of the few places that offers Anusara, but teacher quality (save for the anusara ladies and a few select, select others) is pretty shoddy. Dhyana takes anyone into her teacher training who’s willing to pay and acquiesce to her position on all things yogic; from 22 year old kids who’ve practiced less than a year to those with mild social disorders, it’s a rather motley crew. That, I think is wonderful—the inclusiveness of the program in that any and everyone should immerse themselves in yoga; however, they all shouldn’t be teaching—especially not when your charging 15 bucks a class. There are nationally certified teachers in the suburbs and NY that charge about that for a class and they are more qualified than anyone teaching at Dhyana. I also find the whole DO yoga Philly a bit hard to take—it’s nice she tries to include other studios but it’s all pretty much an in house event. Perhaps if she has such sway and wants to broaden Philly’s presence on the…

  • Holly

    In my last few months in center city, I also worked at the studio as a work-study exchange as I thought, hey maybe this will me find that community here I’ve always searched for. Again, I was wrong. I found Dhyana the boss to be disconnected and petty and the whole system to be a mediocre (at best) exchange. Again, I’ve done work-exchange many times over the years—in Baltimore, NY and the burbs and—generally—for 3-4 hours of service, one gets UNLIMITED free yoga. It’s an awesome deal. At Dhyana, 2 hours of work gets you 1 class (which must be used in a WEEK!). No one ever told me that last part and here I was trying to save and spread out my classes and they were expiring! Nice. All in all, Dhyana doesn’t offer the best yoga but she offers a lot of it in fairly convenient locales so people will flock there—especially those for whom yoga is a trendy way to “get in touch” whilst toning their thighs. I-and other students—have been castigated in class, ignored by teachers before and after class and treated generally awful by the most of…

  • Shane

    I’m one of the few people who can say I’ve been coming to Dhyana since the beginning, since the very first studio, a small room where I took my first class with Marni and took Kundalini classes from Dhyana. The classes were small, sometimes it was just me. I’ve seen the studio grow over the years and personally always had a great experience. They know my name, class is always fun and accessible, and from what I learn in those classes, judgement is not yoga & anything you see in someone else is really a part of you reflecting back at you. I have a year membership so I’m not going anywhere, but I hope no one else listens to any of the negative comments about this studio because whoever is saying them surely was attracted to Yoga to work that negativity out of themselves. And Dhyana if you’re reading this, I tell everyone I know what a top notch experience I have at DY, keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Samantha

    Whatever you might say about people’s negative energy reflecting back to them, I myself have had far more positive experiences spiritually and emotionally in other studios with teachers who are more spiritually aligned with the practice of yoga. I did a teacher training at dhyana, I also did work trade for several months and even taught there for awhile, and never did i feel welcomed and supported by that community. To those of you starting out, I strongly recommend supplementing your practice there with another studio, just so you can get a sense of what else is out there. Without intending harm, I think Philadelphia deserves better.

  • Michelle

    This whole article smacks of the same petty journalism of a NY publication that slammed John Friend, don’t you all know they’re just trying to get you riled up and turning on each other, this magazine is known for stirring the pot. And the internet has turned into a wasteland of complaints from “anonymous” people who don’t even have the courage to post their names on their comments. Google anything you like, your hair salon, your favorite restaurants, and you’ll find comment after harsh comment from disgruntled weirdos with nothing else to do, and you’ll be shocked because you actually like these places… my experiences at Dhyana Yoga have been fantastic, I go in, great practice, met a lot of nice people there, great space, love the teachers, and there’s a lot going on. So for me, it’s the best, especially if you actually want to practice yoga, and not just be an anonymous online critic.

  • Jason

    We are the stories we tell.  I have been a yoga teacher at Dhyana Yoga for over five years now.  I think a fascinating part of dhyana’s story has been overlooked.  When I first met Dhyana, she was doing a 1,008 day abundance meditation. From that experience, Dhyana has realized and actualized a powerful truth about abundance.  We experience abundance most fully when we bring it to others.  The story of Dhyana’s mission as a yogi and a businesswoman is to help people live lives enriched by yoga.  For her students, that means creating as many opportunities for exploring their practice as possible.   For her teachers, it means encouraging them to find ways to live life as a yogi.  It is true that Dhyana is demanding of her teachers.  But that is because she recognizes that we must stay committed to our highest intentions for ourself.  Those workshops she offers are not only powerful to students, but that allow teachers the opportunity to live as teachers.  The early teachers who made their way with their begging bowls lived as ascetics.  But most of today’s teachers have familial responsibilities. Many of her teachers have young children.  So today’s teachers…

  • kaleema

    I was searching for a yoga in the city & had tried allot of the studio’s in Philly. When I came to Dhyana Yoga I felt at home ,there is community, truly talented teachers, Inspiration, spirituality,

  • Kat

    I knew Dhyana when she owened a little studio at 1212 Walnut that was an offchoot of David Newman’s studio. Her story then was “I was given my name, Dhyana, by mu guru in India. He told me to name the studio Dhyana too.” This was years before breast implants etc. Things have changed, stories have change, but this remains the same. Many people seek yoga to oreplace lithium.

  • Kelly

    Satya
    TRUTH- I’m reading this b/c I just recieved an email from a yoga teacher asking us to comment positively on this article. I’m on the recipient list as a former teacher at DY. Truth be told, I have worked at about 20 yoga studios and the environment at DY made me uncomfortable and I was often baffled, dismayed and ultimately horrified by what I heard and experienced. Teaching there ended my yoga teaching career, maybe becasuse it was time for me to move on, bbut partly because I just couldn’t be part of an industry that strayed so far from where it was when I started teaching 10 years ago- and not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, Dhayna hooked me up with classes when Yoga Sutra closed and offered me other nice things (place for my baby, babysitters thru work exchange etc). That’s appreciated. I’m not bashing Dhyana. As it turned out my experience at DY in the end was like that of many others. High school-esque… caddy, confuding, suspicious. Caught in a passive-aggressive, deceptive play on the part of Dhyana and those who have pledged all but their first born to her. I was NOT…

  • Kelly

    I was thinking it would be nice to offer something positive that moves away from the controversial tone of the artice comments. Have you tried there GREAT and refreshing teachers? ELLEN at Practice Yoga, JOAN WHITE (in all her knowlegeable glory), PETE MATTIS (Find him at Sweat), ANGEL WILLIMS (teaching at that new place in Northern Libs, Reneta Gregori (I adore her classes. She is truly first class), TONI ZUPER (she just loves, loves, loves and knows so much, Bruno Circolo (teaches at the DY and other places). These are really good people, teachers who practice passionately but with a level head. No arrogance- just good fickin yoga! Look at everything with a discerning eye.

  • Michelle

    Get your facts straight! Dhyana Yoga did not start as part of David Newman’s studio, they worked together when they briefly dated, which I know because I taught at Yoga On Main at the time, and her studio was already open; there is NOTHING fake about that girl, she tells it like it is; and lastly, I’m disgusted at the yoga community in Philadelphia being so violent toward, whether they like it or not, one of their own. It’s clear to me there is a problem in the Yoga community, and it’s not Dyhana, it’s everyone.

  • Barbara

    I met John and Dhyana and attended their classes. They are generous, good natured people who live a life with good intentions. I love their studios and will continue to attend their classes. Some peop

  • Michelle

    I too work at DY and got Jason’s perfectly sweet and innocent email, that basically said “I came across this interesting article today and am commenting on it, maybe you will want to as well…” and I am glad he did because I didn’t realize you could even comment. I love my job and have been working there for more than 2 yrs, and we are all really close, last Friday night a bunch of us went to a concert together (including Dhyana and John), they have staff bowling parties, pool parties at their house, holiday dinners at restaurants, we all take classes together and from each other, and we just are like family, I love my DY Yoga family and we all know there are people in Philly who have personal issues with Dhyana’s success, we know that same small group of people are getting on here writing bad comments, so without putting more bad after bad, I just wanna say Dhyana more people love you than hate you, even though the haters seem to be the ones who take the time to write online, pretending like they are different people even though you can see their posts coming…

  • Kelly

    Yes! There IS a problem with the Yoga Community and I think this article does a good job touching on it. Dhyana Yoga was chosen as the studio and person to focus on by the author. I personally had terrible experiences with the business, as have many others. The author of the article touched on the root of the reasons. I hope more probing, in-depth research on the climate of the yoga communities in Philadelphia and beyond are conducted by capable journalists. Yoga as a business is largely unregulated and it is a problem. Does Dhyana Yoga teach yoga- yep. Is there weird cut-thraot tone of intolerance towards anyone who does not fully subscribe to the Dhyana Yoga way? Yep. Has Dhyana built a successful business- obviously. Has the yoga indusrty strayed away from the values it was built on? It seems like it to me.

  • Kelly

    I want to take accountability for writing the comment “Yes!”. I did not intend to post anonymously I think everyone should comment with accountability. Jason’s very innocent email to DY staff asked the recipient’s to comment to create a more complete picture of Dhyana and John. He was suprised by the article and comments. Since moving on from Dhyana Yoga it is even more clear to me; yoga studios run largely on emotion and superficiality. Many people go to yoga studios to seek solice. In my mind, there is a major disconnect between what owners/teachers are now offering at yoga studios and what people are trying to find. It is growing increasingly more dangerous to “students” as more yoga studios pop up. This is the first article I have read that moves in the direction of pointing out the weird stuff that goes on behind the scenes at yoga studios that is a far cry from OMs and AHs. After much consideration, I decided to truthfully contribute a little of my part of the more complete picture and if it is not what was expected well, that’s what is uncovered through journalism! It is not that I have nothing better…

  • carrie

    wow! take it for what it is. it’s a very well written article that has the pros and cons to offering yoga as a business. seems to be that the dy ‘community’ is focusing on the negative and in extreme defense to anything controversial. there are positives about the article – a beautiful flash dance wearin’ harmonium playin’ yogini! c’mon lighten up… if you’re using the phrase ‘killin’ it’ to describe your yoga teacher training, lighten up, you’ll feel better.

  • JD

    I like Dhyana Yoga, Dhyana’s smoking hot and funny and smart, and has a business anyone would envy. the most shocking thing in this article to me is that’s she 40. i can see why people think certain things are negative but there are also a lot of things positive, that’s the way it goes. And I also like Noelle, Alex and Liana at the West studio, they smile while they kick your ass in class. and i count that as another positive thing.

  • No

    The DY community/ cult is always in extremem defense of anything that is controversial. The leaders requires they all march in tune to singing her praise. Ha!

  • Johnathan

    This article is truly an example of poor journalism. There is no reference to the structure or quality of classes, which although may not be exactly right for everyone, have proved to be beneficial and life changing for many people from all walks of life. This article seems to be a reflection of the journalist’s own judgmental negativity, rather than being truly informative and considerate of the beneficial structure and integral character that represent Dhyana Yoga. Dhyana Yoga is far from merely being a yoga business, and in atcuality, is a center for accessing one’s personal power and beauty, that a city like Philadelphia so desperately needs.

  • Mia

    I am the “pregnant student” in this article and think it should be clarified that I was a teacher at the studio – NOT HER student. I took her teacher training program (it was my third teacher training), I was already teaching there, we were friends. I am amazed and HURT (mostly) that she would use my story to glorify what an amazing person she thinks she is. I was not homeless, I was not alone. I had a ton of friends standing by my side supporting me – if I recall there were four of them in the delivery room that day. I will always be grateful that she was there for me as well as EVERYBODY at Dhyana Yoga – but it wasn’t a pity party story the way she portrayed it. And it’s rather crappy for a “friend” to USE that story as a testament to what a “good person” they are. May I suggest a little “killing it” of the ego.

  • Sara

    I begrudgingly attended a Dhyana Yoga class a few months ago after weeks of promising my girlfriend I would give it a shot. Having tried yoga once before and being disturbed with the hippie disposition and overly groping techniques of the instructor, Dhyana’s studio was a breath of fresh air. Her instructors are intuitive,calm and very welcoming. I have attended over thirty classes and have never felt judged, made fun of or left out. It is a great space to develop your practice and to find your particular level of comfort in yoga. How can the abundance of classes be seen as a bad thing? I enjoy having the ability to chose from five or so classes a day rather than the rigidity of other Philly studios offering one or two classes a day at their ONLY location. Dhyana is guilty of serving her students to the best of her ability. Just turns out her best blows away all the other competition. Step your game up, open your heart to the possibilities and make your own success happen.

  • Kate

    It is healthy to question. I don’t think people commenting here are are jealous of the success of this studio. The comments are in line with the author’s writing. These people are questioning if what is going on is really yogic. Also, over the years we are seeing more “yoga celebrities” with eating disorders, cosmetic surgery of all sorts, and a clear need to feel important and loved. Becoming a yoga teacher is like trying to become a model or actress. You want the spotlight. You want to look a certain way, be seen a certain way and need an audience to efficate your worth. can you teach yoga when you are on stage? I’ve been to the Dhyana Studios. Many times. I like the yoga but it is a scene. It is not clear to me how people who are supposed to teach others to find truth and contentment when they themselves are so caught up in apprearances. True yogis of ealier days or yogis FROM India would frown upon over developed muscles, tanning bed tans and fake breasts. Yet we see this all the time in yoga magazines and studios these days, particularly on those who teach/ act…

  • J

    ~~love love love one and all~~ I personally think it’s wonderful there’s so many yoga choices in the area now, and if Dhyana Yoga had anything to do with that, that’s a good thing no one can deny! ~shine on~ beautiful teachers and students!

  • AFOIZEN

    All the evil in the world is within, and it comes out in us all sometimes, especially in Philadelphia! Who are we to judge. Look inside yourself, if you wanna be free. That is what Yoga taught me. Just breathe. See god in everything and everyone, good and bad. We could make this city so much better, building a better future. Or we could get caught up in things that can’t be changed. I am half indian so Im an expert, yoga is everything. Yoga is solitude and community. Read the Gita and you’ll see, just like me, and we’ll be free. Article, smachmarticle. Where was this muckraker with the WMD’s! Yoga is love, let’s make some.

  • Afoizen

    We can all have hate in our hearts, and yoga helps to douse those flames. no body is perfect, least of all business people. Yoga is a science, an ancient one. It can help you transcend any obstacle. Where I do yoga matters little, the fact that I do yoga means everything. I go to Dhyana Yoga because I enjoy doing yoga with my love. We could just as easily do it isolated, but that isn’t what it means to us. Yoga is the joy of living, connecting everything with something so simple as breath. America needs yoga more than ever, we should work together to spread it far and wide. Think about the children! It’s quantum mechanics man!

  • christina

    what dyhana yoga offers is unprecedented in this city; classes all day long at several locations with some of the greatest teachers in the midatlantic area and actually beyond.
    every year, i look forward to”dyhana dollar days” as much as, if not more, than i do shark week. unlimited yoga for $30 per month for 3 months…plus you can buy as many as you want as gifts. are you kidding me? to hear the numbers put out there in this article are absurd. why not calculate how much you can save with this annual special? yoga even 3 times a week for 3 months would cost $540…what other studio allows people living in a subpar socioeconomic strata the ability to achieve physical, emotional and mental serenity without having to pick up a second job? and please don’t throw out these fictional work trade numbers. i did work trade at another philly studio and they offered 2 free classes per day worked. really, you’d expect to get free unlimited yoga for a few hours of work? this is someone’s craft, someone’s passion. as a chef, i wouldn’t cook for you for free all…

  • christina

    long if you only put in 4 hours of dishwork for me in a week.
    dhyana also offers discounts on special workshops…oh and wait…dhyana offers special workshops…not just everyday classes. she breaks down barriers from traditional yoga by adding jedi yoga, acro yoga, etc. and while these classes aren’t always packed, she keeps them on the schedule because her teachers are passionate about about their purpose; because there is an audience out there that wants it and because, even as a business woman, she will provide a space for growth and life improvement even if she isn’t financially benefiting directly from that time slot. this is also the woman who brought a yoga festival to philadelphia successfully for the past two years. she is a pioneer. she is making changes and allowing yoga to be an option for everyone willing to put it all on their mat. i have had a really great experience with dhyana and her staff. there are some teachers i prefer over others, but that’s the beauty of the mass of options she offers. you will find what fits for you.

  • Heather

    “…is the act of creating yourself.”
    “If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” Deepak Chopra
    I appreciate Dhyana Yoga and all the wonderful teachers and friends that I have found there. Yoga class, like life, is what you make of it.

  • T

    Praise Dhyana! Priase the fanchise! Do you all see you are sending more people to her front door by commenting even if you know she is a fraud? And on the flip-side, you look like a drooling puppy dog by purging your vows to her franchise all over a public forum. The woman started a business, found a bit of luck combine with commitment and she is now a polarizing figure. I am not surprised by the divided opinions expressed. She herself had breast implants yet claims to study ayurveda? Honestly? She turned a story about helping a pregnant friend in to a false tale of her own Matryrdom? That’s terrible. How much more proof do you need to see you are worshiping a false “guru”? Not a bad girl, just not worth all this talk. Only in the land of yoga. Weee Weee- Yoga is love! Weeee! Philadelphia Mag would not print this story without fact checking to a rather complete degree.

  • JD

    There is so much BS going back and forth in this commentary all you supposed yogis who seem to think you’re better than Dhyana or any of her teachers look like you could use a little lesson in non violence. It’s obvious some of you aren’t even reading the article, someone sent you to this link to make nasty comments, based on other nasty comments, which aren’t even related to anything in this article that would have been fact checked. So try reading the article for yourself it’s fair and balanced and not full of the BS people are putting on here.

  • Kera

    I started going to DY when I was just starting my journey as a yogi. The monthly unlimited membership was inexpensive compared to other studios in the city, especially with the student discount and other deals (new student promo, dollar days). Since I was completely fulfilled with my experience I returned month after month for the unlimited membership. The convenience of multiple locations and variety of class and teacher styles was an easy reason for me to become loyal to the DY business. Two years of practicing at DY led to a work exchange offer which allowed me to continue my yoga practice despite my personal financial struggles. The WEX program was a 6 month commitment which I enjoyed immensely. After the six months, Dhyana herself hired me on as part of the DY staff, a true honor! Dhyana, while she may not know it, has been a huge inspiration to me and I am so grateful to be a part of the DY family. Behind the scenes at DY is as yogic as you can get! From my perspective, it’s a really simple business that is based on values that are consistent…

  • Lucy

    The article is interesting. I took the Dhyana training program a few years ago, and didn’t finish as some of those mentioned in the article because I also felt I wasn’t learning anything, and Dhyana wasn’t as yogi as I imagined. She was a good vinyasa power yoga teacher. She knew the sequence well. The training was very fast paced and scattered. Alex was wonderful, a saving grace that kept me in it far too long. I haven’t gone back to Dhyana Yoga since, and don’t miss it. I still practice and plan to teach through another program, one less ego-based. I’ll admit, after the training it ruined my ideal and practice of yoga for a long time. I’m glad to have gotten it back, without the help of Dhyana Yoga. If you are new to yoga in Philly, I recommend trying out many other studios including some in NJ and at the Garland of Letters.

  • Jason

    I wrote a 2pg letter to the editor (posted on FB) so here is the exec. summary. This article and contents are confusing and poorly written. It isn’t a business or health article. The numbers are completely off, based on these #s, DY 5 Studios bring in GROSS over $5 million dollars. There are no discussion on health benefits of yoga. The article fails in answering its own title.
    The most important thing is that the practitioner has the choice and opportunity to try Dhyana Yoga for themselves and decide if DY is yoga for them. I have known Dhyana and John a very short while. I see them balancing business and yoga in the best way they can. How well could you do?

  • Joan

    This article was very well written and on the money. Dhyana is a great business women and I respect her success. As a yogi, I think she is acting more than she is really living it. A true practitioner of yoga doesn’t wear their yoga on their sleeve and there is usually a sense of humility and deep respect for this ancient practice. The ego is a huge cause of suffering and practicing for a long time helps us understand that our teaching is not about filling up our egos. It is an honor to teach and to pass this tradition on, and remaining humble makes us a great teacher because there is always more to learn. I have heard her trainings are not informational and have a lot of weak parts that aren’t well thought out. There is a very young energy at that studio, along with that, the support and enthusiam are very present there. I hope that as Dhyana matures so will her following. Like attracts like, and the students are a reflection of there leader. The family is there, now refine it by bringing…

  • Sabina

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen something so negatively slanted trying to pass for journalism. Even as an op-ed piece, it tees the line between slanted character profile and “roast.” There are real positives and negatives to address in the issues presented, but they get very blurred by the author’s thinly disguised vitriol. “Like, seriously.”

  • mck

    i have practiced yoga all over this country, even working in a well known studio in LA. i have taken several classes at DY and stopped a couple years ago. ive seen too many times, yoga teachers who spread “love and light” but in real life are awful people. wearing a “yogi mask”. egos get so out of control because yoga makes people happy, and in turn they give praise to the teachers. the ego at DY is unbareable. its cultish and i believe the only reason is ignorance. theres much better yoga in philly if you stop drinking the DY kool aide. it feels like DY is the “cool kids” of yoga. but in real life yoga, theres no such thing. so, let them cram into her classes. im going where the awesome yoga is. and there, you have to check the ego at the door.

  • anonymous

    I found this article and the comments below really interesting, and a bit perplexing. I have been going to Dhyana yoga for years, and I love it. It changed my life. No one knows my name, but I never felt like that was necessary. The practice of yoga itself feels to me like it engenders a community. I moved away to another city and never found another studio that could match my experience. I always thought it was because the teachers at Dhyana seemed to live and practiced what they taught – that for most of them it seemed to be more than just a hobby. I always picked up on a community there that I wasn’t a part of, but I always felt like if I sought it out, I’d be welcome. People have always been really nice and welcoming and frankly very kind there, so I’m surprised by the level of animosity I see in some of these posts. A personality cult is not good, but I really never felt like I was experiencing that there and I’m quite sensitive to that kind of thing. Something about this article made me feel like the person who wrote it…

  • Anonymous

    Something about this article made me feel like the person who wrote it doesn’t really get yoga. These personality problems you’re describing aren’t really relevant-we all have them, we’re all human, and that’s why we need yoga. If teachers or volunteers feel they are being exploited there, that is a different story, and they should work to address that, but I think there’s something a little bit destructive about an article that casts a place that people like myself have experienced as an unalloyed refuge in such a negative light.

  • joe

    Diana (Dhyana) is a fake, superficial woman who tells her story of lies and laughs all the way to the bank when people who want to find inner peace so badly actually fall for what she’s serving up. Its a shame. At the same time, I feel bad for her. She is a very fragile, insecure person who lost her mother at a young age and took to substance abuse.poor thing. And maybe the people who are paying her thousands of dollars for her bogus teacher training mill are getting just what they need. I know of many teachers and students who have left there after seeing the truth. They are all better people for it now. We each have a path. People who place themselves in the public light with their name on signs and likeness all over posters open themselves to public scrutiny. Real yogis would never make yoga a photo shoot or go to such great lengths to alter their sacred body to be attractive to the superficial eye.

  • Joe

    The Jim and Tammy Baker of Yoga.

  • Sofia

    I was VERY surprised to read some of these negative comments. I moved to PHL last July, headed straight to Dhyana Yoga based on recommendations & found home! There was an immediate sense of community. In fact all my teachers & the front desk staff knew my name within a week! I’ve practiced Yoga for 12 years in major cities all over the world. I find the DY instructors to be of extremely high caliber, continually challenging students to do what works best for them. For some that means flying into handstands, while others may take a rest. I’ve NEVER felt unsafe during any practice there EVER. After all, when you practice w/o ego you should always be safe, so it’s ultimately up to you. There’s no question the instructors know their alignment, in fact many of them are Anusara inspired teachers. With the Yin and Relax & Restore classes, there is definitely something for everyone. Some DY teachers were trained by Shiva Rea, while some maintain roots in Ashtanga…nice variety! I have NEVER gotten the feeling of the studio only being interested in $$…in fact I just bought a year pass there for $650 (the deal is over now…

  • Kelly

    I only hope people are still reading this so I can declare the following. The posts I made about DY came from a raw place of feeling injured. I was hurt and felt I had a lot to say and didn’t feel I had a captive ear with the appropriate audience. So I spoke out publicly with out a filter. Reflecting on what I said and conversations I have had since, I am uncomfortable with the public statments I made and wish I could retract them. I inquired about retrcting the words and was told I can not. My teacher Angela Farmer who is older and wiser that anyone involved in this discussion always says, “believe we are all doing our best, because we are.” i believe that. My own emotion pulled me away from that belief and I spoke from a dark place of anger and pain. Those dark emotions have since passed and when I read what I said about Dhyana and the studio, I read hasty words I do not truly mean. The statements reflect an extreme position that stems from emotion and personal discomfort. DY studios have done great things for many people. Great people work…