Yoga Studios seem to be popping up on every corner. What has caused the sudden interest in this ancient tradition? Are we in search of healing, transformation and devotion? Because that was the original intent of yoga which literally translates to the yoking of the mind, the body and the spirit–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 and work out?
The savvy business mind doesn’t really care…It all comes down to the simple question..Are these studios even turning a profit?
There doesn’t seem to be a lack of students showing up ready 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” But Kevin didn’t know about discount coupon merchants like; Groupon and Living Social. Are these merchants filling out the yoga studios and 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. My journey began 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 was over one hundred years old and the wood floors 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 stumbled upon. Unlike the neon signs of today, you had to do your research to find these hidden gems. Based on the size of my class and the bare bones of the studio, I was one of the few searching for answers to the mysteries of life, when I found Ashtanga yoga. I spent the next fourteen years studying yogic philosophy and asanas before I made the plunge opening the doors of my studio and it was the most fulfilling thing I had ever done.
When I started practicing yoga it was far from glamorous and no one cared if I could do a handstand. There was no instagram, facebook or social media to post my latest asana conquering. I didn’t receive any accolades or likes when I got both legs behind my head in Supta Kurmasana. It was as it was intended. I had begun an entirely inward journey, a devastatingly hard journey because there wasn’t a real destination or goal. 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 it I had always worked out and stayed in shape, but, this was different, I just felt happy with no reason to. Yoga became my everything; my counselor, psychotherapist, doctor, healer, advisor and so much more.
Glamour of a career in yoga today is enticing—your uniform; the latest style of Teeki yoga pants—your job; make people happy. 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 buy the dollar and its strong allure. As soon as that becomes the primary focus you will quickly find you have even less time to practice and study the concepts your studio is providing and teaching and more time running a corporation. Green will demand that you keep expanding until you have franchises. With so much competition the only way to stay ahead in the money game is expand.
Before you sign your lease on the new hot spot in town, consider the next five questions…
- What is your Currency? It is easier to answer this question if you ask yourself “How will you know when you have made it? What is success to you?”
- 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.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.
- 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.
- 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 bey every teacher in town and soon everyone is offering what you are so you have to stay current and fresh with what is new.
- 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.