5 Tips for Yoga Professionals
I am a yoga boss. Everyday, my hands wrap delicately around my devotion, while my feet run a business. Now, I understand why yogis leave their lives to live in the mountains. Examining your mind seems infinitely more fruitful without the endless array of questions, demands and needs of the 150+ people in our business and the 10,000+ attendees. Working the Yamas and Niyamas is a darn blessed struggle.
Over the last five years, I have been the director of a non-profit yoga studio. We started with a handful of classes and a handful of unpaid and uninsured teachers; we now have over 232 classes per month, 35+ teachers who are covered under our workers compensation and who have access to our health care plan. We have gone from start-up phase to a mid-sized business in a solid phase of growth.
This year, Jivana asked me to join the Accessible Yoga Conference to lead a panel on how to grow a successful yoga business. I did what I always do, I reached out to all the other people I knew in the industry who are doing it better than I am. I reached out to Elle Potter from Yoga Buzz, Melanie Klein from Yoga and Body Image Coalition, Zack Pasillas and Jeanne Munoz from The Yoga Seed, Pranidhi Varshney from Yoga Shala West, Raja from Green Tree Yoga Meditation Foundation, and other kind folks from around the region. Not all could join for the conference, or were able to talk for all that long. What surprised me, however, was the frequency with which the same comments and questions arose.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH YOGA BOSSES:
Be the Change You Wish to See:
- If the capitalist model doesn’t fit the business you’d like to create, change it.
- The yoga industry has a history of not protecting its workers. As emerging leaders, we must stand up and be the change we wish to see by working toward health care, 401k plans, and excellent benefits for our employees.
Find and Trust the Experts:
- Human Resource Law in California is impossible to understand from Google. One mistake can sink your ship. Find the experts to review your practices.
- Yogic business seems like an oxymoron. We often find dedicated yogis with little business background fighting to keep a studio running, or we find great business-people with little yogic knowledge, setting the tone of the industry. A perfect balance of these skill sets does not come from any one person. You will benefit from both.
- Don’t be a Jack-of-all-Trades for more than a year. Ask the people in your family who run their own businesses (of any kind) to look over your budget and forecasts. Get another person to be your teacher trainer. Hire an accountant. Hire a studio manger. Ask for help. Burnout is a pranic disorder. It will happen, and your community will suffer if you do not prepare for it.
Build Your Team
- Know your strengths, and find a team of others who have different strengths. This applies when finding team members as well as business partners and sponsors.
- If you do not empower your team, your business will crumble.
- Firm boundaries are the key to freedom. This applies to yourself as well as to your staff, volunteers, employees, and clients.
Chart the Course:
- Looking five years ahead is the only way to make good decisions in the present.
- Include key stakeholders when you set the five-year vision, or make sure you have their buy in before you order T-Shirts with your new slogan on them.
Wave Your Flag
- Marketing is necessary, and it can be done with yogic values. Check out the Dalai Lama’s social media pages for example.
- Look back at number eight, if you haven’t gotten clear on what you will offer the world, marketing will be an endless race to promote one event after another. Get clear on who you are as a teacher, or who you are as a studio, and state it clearly.
If you are interested in making yoga part of your life, your career, or you are seeking ways to inspire your community into action, join our panel at the Accessible Yoga Conference. I look forward to introducing you to a group of dedicated people who I consider mentors.
No matter where you are in your journey, you have something to learn and something to share. Continue this conversation with us post-conference at yogaboss.org.