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Meet Karen Gavrilov of Red Pearl Yoga in Fort Lauderdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Gavrilov.

Karen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I first started taking Yoga classes around 1993 with Mark Roberts in Fort Lauderdale at the community center. There were really only 2 places offering Yoga at that time.

Shortly afterward, I moved to San Francisco where there was A LOT of Yoga happening. I ended up practicing Ashtanga at It’s Yoga. As a former dancer, I fell madly in love with the strength and beauty of that flowing practice. I found that the studio environment combined with the practice gave me clarity and peace where I was struggling in my life.

I chose to do a teacher training-not to teach though- just for the immersive experience and knowledge. I had NO intention to teach. 2 months later I was teaching Yoga at the Palo Alto YMCA and at Stanford University! I loved it. I knew this was something I wanted to share, and having a lot of creative and artistic background and education, I also knew I could create a unique looking and feeling space where I could continue to express myself creatively and support others in that and the Yoga journey.

I moved back to Fort Lauderdale and I taught for a year out of another space. In 2002 I opened Red Pearl Yoga. I had no idea I had the skills to run a business until I was doing it. Kind of like teaching! We had a pretty legendary open air 2nd floor space overlooking the water in the Victoria Park neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale until April of 2017…and then…. we did the unthinkable! We MOVED! And what do you know? It’s even BETTER in so many ways.

We are now square in the middle of the up and coming MASS District (music and arts south of sunrise) neighborhood. We have the best neighbors, we have parking and support from our property owners and creative co-community… I guess the theme of this story is how when we take chances, and open ourselves up to trying new things and expanding ourselves, what happens is pretty wonderful. We just have to allow it. That’s the Yoga doing its thing.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Tough lessons along the way: trademarks, dealing with the daunting city licensing process, realizing it cost more to open than I planned (divine intervention on all these things I swear!).

A few years ago, the FDOT shut down the only road leading into our street and business for ALL of us in the plaza died almost immediately. They were going to close it permanently.

All of the shop owners and business owners joined me in taking it to the city, county and FDOT, we took it on with community support and presented our case via meetings and presentations to them. Three months later we had our street back open. With a turn lane! But yeah, that was a bump in the road none of us saw coming. Sometimes you have to push through. Persistence and strength are sometimes needed too.

Please tell us about Red Pearl Yoga.
We offer Yoga classes 7 days a week. We are known for being a welcoming space, where people can come to feel good or feel better. To heal and to challenge themselves inside and out. We do not heat our classes. Coming from an Ashtanga background I know for a fact that we can generate our own heat through breath, movement and focus.

As the studio owner and director, I encourage all of our teachers to be themselves and let their uniqueness and individual studies shine. Of course, we all follow the foundational rules of teaching which makes Red Pearl a safe space to practice and where people feel welcomed. It’s not about competition or comparison. We also do not assign levels to our classes- All levels are invited to practice in any of them. We adjust to the students, offering modifications, or challenges individually. We will guide people, of course, to start with the slower paced classes if they have injuries, limitation, recent surgeries. It all depends. We may suggest certain classes if we see a student is having a particularly difficult time and seems frustrated. At the end of the class, we want them to leave feeling good.

It is important that our classes are also financially accessible to more people (Yoga can get expensive!), so we offer 7 community classes during each week that are just $10 cash. We also host Connected Warrior Classes for Military (active and inactive) each Thursday 3-4pm. Those are free and with specially trained instructors who know how to work with PTSD and other trauma.

We discount our drop-in classes to Law Enforcement/Firefighters, Military, Public School Teachers, Full Time College Students, and Active Yoga Teachers. They do so much for us.

We also offer workshops and events each month. For example, our Rooftop Yoga Social is every first Tuesday evening of each month at the New River Yacht Club Apartments. Yoga, Meditation, Light Bites from local eateries, a local artisan vendor and optional massage poolside. Plus getting to know our neighbors while enjoying some good eats, and the open sky jacuzzi and pool.

We LOVE being in this new Flagler Village location. There is vision behind the property owners here that aligns with all of us. Our neighborhood hosts the MASS District Artwalk every last Saturday of each month so we often do something fun for that, showcasing the works of local artists, or offering a special class or just an open space to chill and check us out. This for us is great because we used to hang 2 exhibitions each year in our former location…There were hardly any galleries or places to see edgy local art and there certainly was no Artwalk. So now it feels like we are home, surrounded by other creative businesses and bold, captivating murals by Herbert Galarza and other South Florida artists.


  • First Class for Locals is just $5.
  • Introductory Offer for First Timers – save $100 on your first month unlimited package.
  • $10 Cash Classes offered each week (all 4:30pm M-FR plus a few other times during the week.)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Karen Gavrilov
Chloe Ravel
Native Realty
Maral Arslanian

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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