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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    After 20 years, New London yoga studio prepares to close its ‘sacred space’

    Instructor Genipher Love leads a yoga class at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts studio Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in New London. Blissworks Yoga is closing after 20 years in business. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Trish Reyburn, left, owner, and Amy Jones, massage therapist and office manager, in the Chocolate Room used for reflexology and massage therapy at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts studio Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in New London. Blissworks Yoga is closing after 20 years in business. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    The Chocolate Room used for reflexology and massage therapy at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts studio Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in New London. Blissworks Yoga is closing after 20 years in business. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    New London – After 20 years in the heart of downtown, the Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts studio is preparing to shutter its doors for good as its owner, teachers and clients prepare move on to their “next adventure.”

    After brief periods of time at other nearby locations, Trish Reyburn moved her business to an upper-floor space at 224-230 State St. 17 years ago and, over the years, welcomed thousands of guests to yoga, massage and other bodywork sessions, along with tarot card readings and assorted workshops.

    “The year before COVID was our best year ever,” said Reyburn, a 54-year-old Waterford resident who left her job at an insurance company to pursue her passion for the healing arts. “But we had to close our doors to many of our classes for 15 months and never really recovered.”

    In addition to the pandemic challenges, Reyburn said her landlord asked her to vacate the premises in order to make room for more apartments.

    The building, whose lower floor is home to the Honey Bee Farms Market convenience store, is owned by Honeybee224, LLC. Mohammed Khan, listed as the building’s agent on city documents, declined to comment for this story.

    Reyburn, who was operating on a month-by-month lease, initially worked with her office manager, 39-year-old Eastford resident Amy Jones, to brainstorm new space options.

    “We hit the pavement and looked at a lot of commercial real estate,” said Jones, a massage therapist at Blissworks.

    An initial plan to move into an office building on Bank Street that houses the Jasmine Thai Restaurant & Sushi Bar later fizzled.

    “When we looked at the nuts and bolts of the financials, we'd have been paying more for a smaller space,” Jones said. “And we didn’t want to go into debt or take out a loan.”

    So Reyburn said the hard call was made to close the “sacred space” down. She said the response to that decision was heartfelt condolences from scores of clients.

    “There’s been just so much love,” she said. “So much kindness generosity and encouragement.”

    Kimberly Doucette, who has attended Reyburn’s classes since she opened, and was one of the owner’s first yoga teacher-trainee, described the studio as a welcoming place where friendships were formed and nurtured.

    “I’ve been to other classes where people just go their separate ways after a class is over,” Doucette said. “But here, we’d all go out for coffee – it was a community.”

    Though the studio was tentatively slated to close on July 31, Reyburn said that timeline may be moved up sooner, though no firm date has been set.

    Jones and Reyburn said they’re both still figuring out their next steps. Jones said she’s committed to continuing her massage practice and Reyburn will again run outdoor yoga classes this summer at Harkness Memorial Park in Waterford.

    “I will continue teaching – that's all I know,” Reyburn said.

    j.penney@theday.com

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