The Business of Yoga

By Ashley Jugo, LTY trainee/2016

After having a discussion today with a fellow yogi from the teacher training, I learned about the business side of yoga. I hadn’t given much that to it, as business itself sounds so official and not such a yogic concern as yoga is about asceticism, non attachment to material things and I feel that “business” means money, logistics, strategy, etc. and I do not associate those things with yoga. Needless to say, after having taught two classes, I realized that business and marketing is very important if you want your yoga practice to thrive. Speaking to the fellow trainee, she provided some sage advice on how developing a yoga following is about creating relationships and  maintaining them. She related it to hospitality and how when you go to a restaurant the customers that keep coming back will be your regulars and they keep coming back because of the service, how they are treated. They food may be good, but they come back because they feel welcomed, valued, important. The same is true for the yoga class. People will become interested 1) because of word of mouth and 2) because of what you are offering them. She said you want them to feel connected to you. You must be genuine and have empathy. This struck a cord with me. You can promote something all you want, but without forging those relationships and cultivating them, you lose people’s interest. Humans are social creatures by habit and if someone comes to a yoga class they are looking to the teacher to create the relationship with them, to guide them on their journey. It’s a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving. The instructing aspect of yoga can’t be one-sided. Going back to the business side of it, I never realized how much of a challenge it is. You have to be very proactive and have those connections in the community. And life is life. People have work, families, prior engagements, schedule adjustments, traffic, etc. so that comes into play why someone may not be able to come to a class. It’s understandable, but then you can’t get hard on yourself if no one shows up. If you are putting the effort forth and bringing awareness of the yoga practice, that’s what counts. It’s hard letting go of control and resistance, because when you feel so passionate about something and it doesn’t go the way you intended it can really throw you off. It reminds me of what a yoga teacher said of the class I recently observed for the training. He told the students to meditate on the word “surrender”..what it means. It means to let go. Let go of the control. Let go of what you wish to happen. Just be. Everything is beautiful and is meant for your good. Right now, it feels difficult to see that, especially if things come up unexpectedly (like a yoga instructor getting sick when you were scheduled in advance to assist a class and the class getting canceled). You just have to go with the flow. I can’t be honest and say that I am not disheartened, but it goes to show you that you have to be prepared and organized. That “business” does matter in yoga. It is not so much about the money, but it is about being well-prepared, flexible or adaptable, and patient. I think yogis are patient by nature, but letting go what you want is where it gets tricky. A true yogi I think is someone who no matter what is happening to them, whether it is something they wished for or not, upholds a positive outlook and content nature. If you let something get to you, that means you have weak self control and lack mental discipline. Teaching yoga for the first time opened my eyes to this. So, realistically, the yoga business is valuable. You have to know your audience (in terms of who you are catering to), know what you want to teach and how you want to teach it, know yourself, and ultimately be adaptable. Be ready for anything to happen, whether it is one person coming to a class or none. You have to be willing to be complacent with whatever the universe gives you because whatever happens is meant to happen. It’s happening for you to teach you something and I am most defiantly learning something.

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