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Power Yoga Works master teacher Bill Raup instructs students in an all-levels class. Raup is the founder of the studio. [Caroline New/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

As students deal with the hassles that accompany the start of a new semester, at least one place along the bustling 3900 block of Walnut Street provides them with a place to relax. Power Yoga Works, a combination yoga instruction center and clothing store, opened this past October to little fanfare but continues to fill a niche along the Walnut Street corridor. "One of our stated goals is to vitalize the street, giving people places to go in the off hours," Associate Vice President for Business Development Lisa Prasad said. "We feel they've been successful." Most of the yoga center's classes are taught in the morning and evening, increasing activity on the 3900 block outside of the nine-to-five work day, Prasad continued. According to Power Yoga Works owner and operator Bill Raup, the center was a success from the start, serving approximately 100 people during its first day in business. Raup -- who also runs a second yoga center in Malvern, Pa. -- claimed that the center is unique because it is user-friendly. "We're not asking you to put your foot behind your head," he explained. "There's nobody who can't do this." "We're definitely a thriving business," Raup continued. "We'd love to stay here. The first month, we were meeting our goals, and it's gotten better every week." Raup added that he hopes the presence of Power Yoga Works will contribute to the spirituality of the community. Penn's own Pottruck Health and Fitness Center also offers yoga classes, but Raup said his classes differ significantly from those that most gyms offer. His center is focused completely on yoga and integrates Western spirituality into instruction by simplifying the principles of the Hindu religion. "It's not really religion," Raup said. "It's more spirituality." "I don't compete with anyone," Raup added. If anything, he said, the availability of other yoga classes actually helps his business. Power Yoga Works' clientele is distributed pretty evenly among Penn students and faculty and other West Philadelphia residents, including members of the Drexel community, Raup said. His two centers are the largest in the tri-state area, he added. Raup cites the centers' visibility as one reason for their success. While most yoga centers are not on busy streets, Power Yoga Works thrives in part because of its accessibility, according to Raup. Power Yoga Works employs approximately 25 volunteers who take yoga classes for free in compensation for their work. As a result, Raup can make yoga available to an even greater number of people. Though Raup appears to easily make ends meet through his yoga centers, many Penn students are unaware of Power Yoga Works' presence near campus. Still, many agree that the center is an advantageous addition to the Walnut Street corridor. "I would go. I think it's a good idea," College freshman Caroline Beebe said. Nursing sophomore Joseph Bui was also unaware that the yoga center had moved onto the block but said he would attend classes there if his schedule allowed for it. Yet other students simply don't see the need for a yoga center at all. "I don't like yoga," Wharton sophomore Anne Chen said. However, based on the success of Power Yoga Works, more members of the community share Engineering junior Allison Smith's sentiments. "I think it's good just for random classes during the semester," she said, noting that gyms like Pottruck lock members into semester-long commitments.

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