Five Questions

FIVE Questions...

FIVE questions an ex-studio owner says you should ask yourself if you’re considering opening a YOGA STUDIO

Yoga Studios seem to be popping up on every corner. What is the secret to the success of yoga? Are people searching for healing, transformation and spirituality or is it just another fad driven by twenty something, girls adorned with mala beads wanting an excuse to wear the hottest trend in yoga pants?

What has everyone rushing to their bank with a proposal?

Are these studios even turning a profit? There doesn’t seem to be a lack of students showing up eager to sweat , stretch, chant and breathe. If Kevin Costner had been talking about yoga studios in field of dreams, he was spot on—“if you build it they will come” with a small caveat of “then, immediately place it on discount coupon merchants like; Groupon and Living Social.” But, are they creating misleading perceptions about how much revenue is actually being generated?

Being one of those yoga studio owners myself, I am here to dispel the myth. Nineteen years ago—I climbed six flights of stairs, with no GPS or google map and wandered down the lengthy hallway of one of capitol hill’s relics—The building, over one hundred years old had wood floors that had seen their share of feet. The faint smell of dust, old wood and mildew filled the air. This was a time when yoga still remained a secret that only a fearless few searching for meaning outside their societal contribution would show up. Unlike the neon signs of today you had to do your research to find these hidden gems. I was one of the few searching for answers to the mysteries of life. This was when yoga was far from glamorous, there wasn't a platform like Instagram or Facebook to post a picture of my latest asana conquering. When I got both legs behind my head in Supta Kurmasana I wasn't concerned about how many likes I would get. Other than the way I admired my teacher for her peaceful insights, the only fruit of my labor was savasana and—I felt better. I couldn’t explain what had changed. I had always worked out and stayed in shape, this was different. I felt happy even without any external reason for it. Yoga became my everything; my counselor, psychotherapist, doctor, healer, advisor and so much more. Fourteen years later I opened the doors of my studio in hopes of giving to my students what my teacher had given to me.

Today's yoga is very different indeed. Who doesn't want to wear Teeki pants and make people happy for a living? Teacher trainings are turning out literally hundreds of certified yoga instructors per year with a burning desire to do good, armed with Autobiography of a Yogi, the Sutras and the internet topped with a deep reverence of yoga they venture into their new career filled with excitement. Shortly after they discover that making a living as a teacher can be a lot of work besides just knowing how to lead a class. Often times you spend more time traveling from studio to studio than actually teaching. Managing your schedule, cleaning, checking in your students and living in sweat can quickly lose its glamorous qualities.

So, the next logical step becomes—studio ownership. They begin dreaming of the day where they just have to drive to one location and browse through catalogs of mala beads, incense and the latest props and accessories all day, while getting your fill of yoga and meditation. That is, of course, if you can find time between cleaning, inventory, advertising, blogging, creating workshops, scheduling, updating the website, managing, teaching, counseling and so much more. If you have kids or a husband or god forbid both, you will barely find time to eat, none the less, practice yoga.

Why do it?

Well, studio ownership can be quite profitable if one of the next two things are true—either; your currency is not green, that is right, studio ownership will provide an endless supply of love, respect, community, service and connection—but, if you are drawn to the dollar, you may find yourself living a meager existence unless you step away from the very thing that drew you to the business to begin with. Many studio owners set out with good intentions and become seduced by turning a profit. As soon as that becomes the primary focus there is less time to practice yoga and study the concepts your studio is teaching and the path becomes less clear and you forget what your message even is as you start selling sculpt and bar and completely forget how pranayama applies.

Before you sign your lease on the new hot spot in town, consider the next five questions…

  1. What is your Currency? It is easier to answer this question if you ask yourself "How will you know when you have made it?"
  2. What is success to you?
  3. Do you teach yoga? This is going to be a necessity, as you will often times find yourself giving up your day off to cover a class. This also gets you the respect of your teachers. You can’t very well direct them if it is something that you haven’t done—or aren’t willing to do, yourself.
    1. What is your knowledge of yoga (be honest)? Would you consider yourself an expert or at least highly knowledgeable? Do you revere yoga and its roots? Have you practiced yoga for at least five years? I think five years gives you a good foundation to know what you did or didn’t like about your yoga experience so that you can offer that to your community.
    2. The woman who changed my life that day in capitol hill, my teacher—had studied extensively with master teachers for years—submersing herself into the yogic lifestyle, she spent months residing in ashrams in india. Well versed in yoga, devotion, meditation and the culture from which it emerged, she truly revered yoga and its traditions. I relearned how to breathe (turning my attention back to something I had deemed an involuntary reflex) and through the breath I gained a greater understanding of stillness in both the mind and the body. We need to revere the true yoga teacher--those who have dedicated their lives to a deeper sense of knowing.
  4. Are you filling a need? Do you have something special to offer that you feel isn’t being offered anywhere else? Careful with this because even a specialty or niche can be picked up easily by every teacher in town and soon everyone is offering what you are so you have to stay current and fresh with what is new.
  5. Now, ask yourself: Why do you want to own a yoga studio? Are you satisfied with the answer? When you own a yoga studio the likelihood is you won’t see that teacher that caused you to fall in love with yoga. In fact you may not see sunlight for a while. You will need to nurture and provide for your baby so it can grow with a strong sense of unconditional love and become the hub of healing and transformation you are hoping for. A baby needs constant supervision and nobody can care for your baby like you do. This means that you will have to start convincing people to come to you so you can continue your growth and learning alongside your students.