Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A followup to Thursday's quote

The following article by Lisa Gniady appeared in the August Midwest Yoga Teachers Newsletter. Lisa covered the Yoga Journal Lake Geneva conference for the current issue of Yoga Chicago, and this sidebar was cut due to space. Your comments are welcome.

Yoga Journal Lake Geneva Conference, 7/7/11 – Business of Yoga Intensive
By Lisa Gniady

The Yoga conference began with a two day Business intensive. I was able to attend the first day of the intensive. Even though I have no interest in opening a yoga studio, I still found it an enlightening experience. I gained valuable insight in how to promote my classes and grow my business.

The workshops were all very businesslike. PowerPoint presentations easily displayed the information so you could sit back and absorb the relevant points. Business and yoga seem like polar opposites, yin and yang. However, in the new age of computers, learning to use the media to share our passion is natural. Seminars such as these offered by Yoga Journal give studio owners beneficial tools to successfully share the benefits of yoga to the masses.

Deborah Williamson an energetic speaker began the workshop with wonderful insights on how to grow your business and build a community. She owns four yoga studios in the Midwest and offers teacher trainings around the world.

Some Highlights:

· You can’t be an expert at everything, find people with expertise to help you.

· Spread the word……hand out 3 business cards a day.

· Be enthusiastic and have integrity.

· Teach what you love. Be true to yourself.

· Create a community and support your local community.

· First impressions matter. Be a likeable person. She posed the question, “Would you hang out with you?”

Some business advice:

· Daily posts on Facebook

· Use twitter, E-Blasts

· Offer workshops: Yoga and (fill in the blank) and promote

· Volunteer for free talks

· Hire teachers who can offer what you can’t

Some words of wisdom:

· It is not about the pose, it’s about a better life.

· She stressed the importance of savasana, saying, five minutes in savasana can change a student’s life.

I signed up for her email list and within half an hour of the workshop ending; I received a friend request on Facebook.

Meg McCall, Director of Mindbody Inc. followed with a PowerPoint presentation on building a viable business. She gave useful information on setting goals and turning goals into action.

Interesting statistics according to the “2008 Yoga in America study by Yoga Journal and Harris Interactive”:

· 15.8 million Americans characterize themselves as current yoga practitioners

· Median age of a yoga practitioner is 41; media age of adult population overall is 46

· $74,000 average income for a yoga practitioner household

· 6,204 active yoga studios in the North America in 2009

According to data collected by MINDBODY on the nearly 3,000 studios it serves, the typical profit of a yoga studio is 12 to 13%.

Beth Shaw president and founder of YogaFit the largest yoga school in North America then talked about opening a yoga studio.

Some insights she shared:

· Yoga is a business of passion, labor of love. If you don’t have the passion, it becomes just another business

· Know the demographics of your area; check your local chamber of commerce

· Your website needs to represent you. It is your calling card.

· Move from a place of intuition

· To double income immediately, sell merchandise

· Start small and grow

· Offer free classes to…Hair stylists, massage therapists, nail techs, and chiropractors. Students come from referrals.

· Location and parking can make or break a studio

Poignant question:” Anyone can open a yoga studio, but should you? “Reminding us that when you take something you love and turn it into a business it can take the joy away from it.

She stressed the importance of making more good decisions than bad.

Susan Fireside spoke next on Visualizing Your Company and The Branding of Your Business. She is owner of Winter and Construction Design, specializing in branding and identity of a business.

Susan gave a down to earth discussion on how to market your business. She brought in samples of Webpages demonstrating how to connect a web page to the personality of your business:

· Create a story

· Connect your logo to your story

· Keep it simple

· Attach color palate that reflects your brand i.e. Hot yoga, red

· Be careful of music on a website(remember, people use internet at places of employment)

A few days later, I met Susan in the Ladies’ room. I asked her how she came to present at this conference. She said she approached them. If you don’t put yourself out there, then you limit yourself. .

Ron and Ann Weikers. Partners of YogaBalance Yoga Studio in New Hampshire were the final workshop of the day. Both are practicing attorneys and presented on the legal issues underlying yoga studio creation and management.

It was a concise, organized presentation to help a studio owner with the nuts and bolts of running a yoga business. They displayed examples of sample contracts for teachers and students.

They provided valuable information to protect a studio owner from some of the legal pitfalls of our litigious society. There is more to running a yoga studio than four walls and a teacher. It is important to be informed.

Eric Paskel yogi and founder of Yoga Shelter presented on Friday on Social Media Marketing. He shared his story, knowledge and message in an easy to follow PowerPoint.

· Yoga is a service industry…focus on your higher purpose….to be of service…this will build your bottom line.

· Use social media to help others and build community

· Give it away! Offer free classes to get people in the door. Why would someone want to pay for something they don’t know? Offer Community classes.

· Use social media to elevate yourself

I had the pleasure of talking to Eric before his presentation. As we spoke, he said “Making a living comes from what you get; making a life comes for what your give.” Besides this class, the only class he taught was a free class for the community.

A common theme that came up again and again in the yoga for business workshops was about giving. Yoga Journal offered numerous free classes, meditations and discussions for the community, a good example of the yoga community paying it forward.

By Lisa Gniady (c) 2011


  1. I absolutely accept that modern yogis need to earn money to keep body and soul together. Some of this marketing advice is sensible in that regard. People practice/teach yoga asana for so many reasons, and I am sure that the workshop had fairly broad relevance.

    But statements like, ”It is not about the pose, it’s about a better life” are a bit relativistic and lame. Any legitimate yoga system will tell you that “a better life” ultimately means ego death. It seems that such a topic is too much of a downer for some. But it shouldn’t be. Yoga teachers who know the purpose of yoga -- and live and teach accordingly -- will be successful (in the most meaningful sense of the word).

  2. Thank you for your insight, g.d.

    Speaking of the ego....

    Just last week, when teaching a rather unpopular (difficult) balance posture called Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, I said, "One of the goals of yoga is to destroy the ego. Perhaps this pose will help."

    One student laughed.

    And one teacher smiled.

  3. Provided all works out, I hope to give my own ego a beatdown in the Tirumala darshan queue in less than two weeks. Heck, I might even take the stairs . . . : )

  4. Are you sayin you're going to Andhra? That is awesome! There will be many opportunities for tapas, both literal and figurative. Hopefully you can get a ticket for a seva.

    We went in 2008 during Ganesh Chaturthi (so the crowds were relatively thin). There's a longwinded post about it here.


  5. Wow, thank you. Yes, that's where I'm headed.

  6. You are so lucky!

    I highly recommend standing in line and getting a ticket for the seva, if you can.

    It will probably be very hot there (esp. down the hill if you go to the Krsna Temple) so drink lots of fluids / coconut water.


  7. what is Dharma Breakfast blend? I was reading some of your other posts! :)

  8. what is DHARMA BREAKFAST BLEND? I was reading about it in other post! IT looks good! :)

  9. Coconut water
    Raw, sprouted, peeled almonds

  10. nice post
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