Even Snookie does yoga

Published on June 28, 2012 by      Print
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By Toni Grates

Coming up with a name for our yoga studio was fairly challenging.  Sanskrit words were out, as were all words synonymous with breathing.  Yoga poses were also out, and anything involving the words “energy, om, lotus or chakra.”  ”Toni Grates’ Yoga Emporium” seemed like a mouthful and “Real Deal Yoga” left me tongue tied, so we decided to keep it simple and name the studio after our geographical location. Village Yoga Canada* was born.

It was only a matter of weeks before we received a letter from Diane, the owner and founder of Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore.

Dear Village Yoga Canada,

I recently received an e-mail from one of your members thinking that we were you, which we’re not, because we’re us.  We are Village Yoga , serving the residents of the Jersey Shore.  You need to change your name, because this is going to get very confusing for our members and that’s not cool.  We had the name first and I don’t want my members getting confused.

I’m hoping you’re going to be ethical about this.



Unsure as to how anyone could confuse “Village Yoga Canada” with “Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore,” I emailed her back.

Dear Diane,

Thanks for your email.  I’m sorry that you received an email from one of our members in error.  We assure you that we’re not out to take members from you, especially since you’re 9-10 hours away from us.  We’ve named our studio after our geographical location and I would assume that your members will know we’re not you since the word “Canada” is a part of our name.  We’re happy to talk with you on the phone about this.  It is not our intention to be unethical about anything.

Thanks for your time,

Village Yoga Canada

I didn’t hear back from Diane for about 2 months.

Dear Village Yoga Canada,

I got another 4 emails from your members asking me questions about your schedule.  Clearly, I don’t have time for this and it’s getting in the way of the work I need to do at my studio.

I have no other option but to take legal action if you don’t immediately change your name.  I had Village Yoga first and it’s mine.



At this point, for solely my own entertainment, I started imagining that Diane was Snookie from the hit reality show Jersey Shore and that all her members were foul mouthed Jersey Shore brats who went to yoga to “pick up.”


We’re not changing our name, since we’ve legally been advised that it is available in Canada and since there is really no way that your members could possibly confuse “Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore” with “Village Yoga Canada”.

We’re sorry that our members have again contacted you.  Since our email addresses are fairly similar, we will figure out a new address to go by.

This is yoga, right?  So there’s no need for lawsuits.

Thanks for understanding,

Village Yoga CANADA

It was another month of silence before Snookie resurfaced.

Village Yoga Canada,

I have a log of 13 people who have contacted us thinking we are you.  I used to work in NYC and I know a LOT of good lawyers.  You will be hearing from one of them VERY soon, since you insist on being unethical.

I have no choice but to sue you for damages.


Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore

I never did hear from Diane’s lawyer.  I’m assuming it’s because she looked at a map and realized that the Jersey Shore is nowhere near Toronto, Canada.  Or maybe she took the time to reflect on the wise and immortal words of Snookie herself:

“I’m gonna do me.  You do you.”

(Jersey Shore, MTV)

* While geographical locations are correct, the studio and owner’s names listed have been slightly modified because we at Recovering Yogi don’t sell enough t-shirts to pay the potential cost of legal fees. Buy a tshirt!

 About Toni Grates

Toni Grates opened a yoga studio because she thought it would solve all her problems.  After 13 months in yoga hell, she shut the doors and peacefully went back to the real world.  She’s a mom and bonus mom (so much nicer than “step-mom”) who loves all things creative.  Post-studio, she has gone back to her love of writing with more material than she ever thought possible.  You can follow her adventures at www.namastebitchesblog.com.

Filed under: Boundaries and Tagged:


  1. Rob says:

    Very funny!!! Maybe she was worried that one of the many other Village Yogas that started before her might sue her.

  2. Jade Doherty says:

    i love the arsey tone of the emails followed by ‘namaste’. say what you want but make sure you sign off with something sanskrit to show you’re not a total bitch!

  3. Branáin says:

    Surely, you must be aware that the ninth limb of Ashtanga yoga is Sueurasshimsa.

    The holiest of holy, Bikram Choudhury himself, is a great proponent of using Sueurasshimsa Yoga to enrich the soul, as well as the wallet (or pocket book, or man purse).

    Here are some Google statistics to show how much potential there is in the yoga world to practice Sueurasshimsa:

    Yoga Shala: 442,000 hits on the name
    Pure Yoga: 389,000
    Laughing Lotus: 184,000
    Down Dawg or Down Dog: 28,700
    Om Yoga: 81,800

    “May your wallet overfloweth with divine cash, and may the Lord Bikram bring plentiful lawyers and barristers into your fold. Sue Shanti Shanti Sue.”

  4. Jenifer says:

    In order to defend the name of her business, she needs to trade mark it. Our business name is in the process of trademark (it takes a while — we’ve been waiting about 12 months now).

    The problem with a lot of yoga studio names, really, is that they are generic. For example, when I started teaching “power yoga” near a “power yoga studio” (I was teaching an independent class), the person kept calling me and saying ‘You can’t call it power yoga! Ill sue you!” and I responded “Feel free. The name is public domain, and you’ll waste your time and money.”

    The term “Village Yoga” is not trademarked in the US or canada (or anywhere else that I can see), and it is also a rather vague name. It would be like naming your business “Hot Yoga” or “Hatha Yoga Studio.” You can’t chase down and sue everyone who uses the word “Yoga” in their title, for example.

    Heck, even Yoga Works tried to do this with a studio across the US (east coast vs west coast!) saying that the name Yoga Works was too confusing with the studio Power Yoga Works. No dice. There’s no claim. Two vague words in the public domain and no trade make vs three vague words in the public domain with no trade mark.

    Also, Village Yoga Canada vs VIllage Yoga on the Jersey Shore would not likely be awarded a trade-mark. They might be able to trademark a phrase and a brand image of their own, but likely not the name. Why? Vague words. No one can own “On the Jersey shore” and is she going to attempt to defend a trademark for the “Power Yoga On the Jersey Shore” and also “Vinyasa on the Jersey Shore” and also Yin on the Jersey Shore and also Hot Dogs on the Jersey Shore?”

    It’s unlikely that even Village Yoga Canada would be able to protect the name to a great extent — beyond the registry of the business name (they wouldn’t allow another business to register it’s name thus). Here in NZ, we have that issue, which is why we went the Trademark route on our name. We were refused registry because there’s a company called Helium that’s a computer software company. It’s a bum deal, because we are a different industry *and* a different spelling which *should* get us the registry of our own name, but instead, our business has an alternative registry *until* we get the trade mark.

    Anyway, I find this sort of in-fighting rather funny overall. It shows a lot of ignorance, and I can’t imagine that 13 emails over 6 months is that difficult to “manage.” I mean, I’m a busy person, and our business probably crosses about 200-300 emails a day (this includes our bookings ones which just get deleted — bookings remain, of course), about 10-20 of which are inquiries or emails that need attention. If I got an average of 1 email every 2 weeks from your folks, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

    I would simply write back: “Hiya, emailing person! You have reached Yoga on the Jersey Shore, and I think you mean the place in Canada. I think you might have just used the wrong email address. I can’t answer any questions about their schedule; but I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer them!”

    I’m certainly not too busy for an email every other week or so. And courtesy goes a long way. What if I wanted to teach in Toronto? We have something in common! What if you want to bring your folks to the Jersey Shore on a retreat? Guess what connections you should have.

    If only people thought about professional networking this way. Too bad they don’t.

  5. Jessi says:

    Diane would do well to practice deleting those emails in which the senders have simply gotten confused and quit being so ugly about a simple misunderstanding……whatever happened to letting go?

  6. Cookiepuss says:

    Would you post both email addresses, so that I can send a few emails a day to the Jersey Shore address asking them where in Canada they’re located?

  7. kk says:

    Do you even know how badly I now want to open Village Yoga LA?? I don’t even want to open a studio and yet this compels me to just cuz. I guess it’s the aggressive aggressive scorpio in me? Oh well. who gives a shit?

  8. kk says:

    Oh and also, someone should alert village yoga chicago and village yoga seattle to write village yoga jersey shore to STOP USING THEIR NAME. Because ooh by would I LOVE to see their response!

  9. Bob B. says:

    Job well done! I just Googled “Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore” and they they cam up third in the search engine behind Recovering Yogi and Yogabitches. that’s shoving up where shanti don’t shine!

  10. Pamela Quinn says:

    I love this post. I have two studios in Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s crazy fun! (crazy…..) The person with the .com usually wins and it looks like Village Yoga in Seattle would win this one as far as the search engines go. I was thinking that VYC.com and even VYC is awesome and easy to remember. It’s cool and sounds like a fun tribe to belong to.

    Since you are in Canada, if you want to TM Village Yoga, I would do it! Get an international trademark. It’s an investment, but not that much. You could then decide to just sit with it or really market your brand….

    Good luck to you. Om Shanti, Pamela

    • Jenifer says:

      Looks like I have to tell my friend Andy to go and check your place out for me (if he hasn’t been there already). Looks awesome. :D

      • Toni says:

        Thanks Pamela and that’s very kind of you, Jenifer, but we’ve closed. It was shutting the doors that inspired me to start my blog and tell these crazy stories. Happy Canada Day!

  11. Kanani says:

    Village Cleaners, Village Cafe, Village Theater, Village Coffee Shop, Village Bookstore. There are more business names with the word village than probably even come up in a google search. The upshot is that presumably, anything with “Village” is in a community, preferably in a rather cute one with cobblestone streets –but who’s going to be picky?

    Maybe Village Joisy Shoore is near a nail bar, and a place where the Snookinis can get a good blow out. As for Village Yoga Canada, I think you should start answering her emails back in French.

  12. Kanani says:

    Here, it’s so simple isn’t it? They change their name to “Village Yogini Snookini” and it’s all done.

  13. candice says:

    Ha! Well I know a Village Yoga in California!

  14. Wren says:

    I did show up for a class that didn’t exist once because of looking up schedules online. It turns out there is a studio with the same name in another state. The dangers of the internet…

  15. Leesa says:

    Everythihg is vewry open with a clear explanation of thhe issues.
    It was really informative. Youur website is very helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

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