Jo McNurlan, a Weber State University student, opened Yoga Jo’s in North Ogden in 2002. In May of 2010, she began to offer free yoga classes to the public. She said it occurred to her, after running the studio for eight years, that she was losing money in the classes. She decided to make them free and just offer the other services of the studio, which include instructor training and massage, for a fee.
“I think it’s a great concept,” McNurlan said. “I think everybody should do it. I don’t think there should be any charge for yoga classes. As one of my economic professors put it, it’s part of the public good, or public goods, and I think that’s what it should be.”
McNurlan said people were welcome to tip in the classes, just what they thought they could afford. She said that, in the prime of the free yoga classes, she was making more per class than she ever had before.
“People put in what they could to help us pay rent,” McNurlan said.
Sheena Knight, an instructor at Yoga Jo’s, said she got involved in yoga in a time in her life that really needed change. She said she was very stressed and dealing with health issues at the time, and yoga gave her a place to escape from those stresses and problems.
“I fell in love with it,” Knight said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to do a teacher certification, because I want people to experience that change in their lifestyle, and how they feel about themselves and . . . the world around them.”
Knight said she thinks McNurlan has been offering the community a “neat” service.
Kristie Archuleta, a yoga instructor in training, said she enjoys the healing aspect of yoga. She has been involved with Yoga Jo’s for about 10 years.
“I started out doing it for the exercise benefits,” Archuleta said, “and then, of course, it becomes more.”
Archuleta, who has been doing yoga for 14 years, said her children and her husband do it with her. She said she is taking the instructor training because she wanted to learn from McNurlan.
“The main reason I’m taking the teacher training is because I love Jo,” Archuleta said. “She is a genuine person . . . I wanted to get the training from her because of the type of person that she is.”
McNurlan said that, at the prime of the free yoga, the classes were full of people all ages. She said yoga isn’t for a certain “type” of person, but for anybody.
“People would just keep coming in,” McNurlan said, “and we’d have to keep moving mats, and people would keep coming in. It was just so much fun. . . . to have all those young people and all that energy.”
McNurlan also said the variety of people attending the free classes allowed the teachers to be whatever they wanted to be in front of a class instead of the stereotypical yoga instructor.
After being open for more than 10 years, McNurlan has decided to close down Yoga Jo’s and start with a new chapter in her life. She said she is going to focus on being a student and will continue doing massage on the side.
“Go to school, have a good time, get a social life,” said McNurlan about her plans for after Yoga Jo’s closes.
McNurlan said she is more focused on the meditation and breathing aspects of yoga right now in her life, but will continue doing yoga at home after closing the doors on March 31.
Knight said she hopes to teach a few yoga classes at a local school where she teaches and will continue doing yoga herself.
“It’s sad,” said Knight about Yoga Jo’s closing. “I hate to see it go. She (McNurlan) has given a lot to the community by doing that for them.”
Archuleta said she gets teary-eyed when she thinks about Yoga Jo’s being gone. She also said she will continue doing yoga on her own and with friends.
“I told all my neighbors that I’ll be doing yoga at home,” Archuleta said, “and, you know, I’ll give you guys a time that I’ll generally do it, and if you want to come over, you can come over and I’ll instruct a class. Otherwise, I’m just doing it by myself.”
For now, both Knight and Archuleta said they are enjoying the time still left at Yoga Jo’s. Knight said she hopes someone brings back free yoga in the future, and that maybe even she could.
“With my experience with it, I would absolutely love to offer it for free to people,” she said. “If it can affect their life in such a positive way, I just think the world needs that.”