Starting any business is such an exciting experience, and when it’s your dream yoga career that just makes it even more exciting! However, before you get to the fun stuff of naming your business and designing your logo, there are a few things you might want to do.
I have been having a few great conversations lately about yoga business, and I thought I’d share some specific strategies that have worked for me over the years whenever I have been starting a new endeavour. Starting with the very dynamic process of….research.  I know, research sounds less exciting than designing pretty logos, but it’s important to know who you are, what you want to offer, and who/where your students are before you start brainstorming the colours and shapes and words that will define your business.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in teaching is trying to be all things to all people. The truth is, you can’t. And the more you try, the less you end up actually serving the people who really want to work with you. So, research really begins with researching yourself. Who are you? What do you teach? How do you teach? Who is best suited to your teaching style? What are you good at, and what are you not good at (yet)?

Ask any experienced teacher and they will tell you that their teaching led in directions that they never expected. But, many times these specialty areas come with time and training and often even something as simple as coincidence. For new teachers, the best place to start is to ask yourself what do you love about yoga? What areas of practice are you most experienced at, and do you derive the greatest benefit from now? Is it the technical practice of asana, or breathwork, or restorative practice, or chanting? Don’t worry about what’s trendy now, or what others are teaching. What can you best teach? Take time to sit and reflect on these questions, formulate some idea of what your class experience will be like when you are best using your unique gifts, talents, and training. For example:

  • Who am I? I am dynamic, health oriented, enthusiastic, and motivated.
  • What do I teach? I like teaching strong classes and fitness is one of the reasons I love yoga – but fitness with mindfulness. I want to teach people who are interested in holistic health and the mental focus and calm that comes from yoga.
  • Who are my students? People who are into what I’m into – mindful fitness and mental focus.
  • What am I good at? Dynamic classes, flow, strength building for body and mind, motivation.
  • What am I not good at? Restorative or prop-driven classes, teaching with music, too much overt spirituality. I am better at quiet savasana time, practical theming, with a little bit of inspiration along the way.
  • What do I love about yoga? I love the simple act of moving and breathing – for me that is profound. I get the most out of practice when there are less words, and more space to experience.

What does this tell me about my business? I am looking for generally fit people who are health-oriented, looking for a strong practice but with lots of space for introspection, and people can bring their own spirituality which will be supported in class, but not imposed.
From these questions, you have a better sense of who you are, and who your students will be. And this can not only help you to refine your business plan, but guide you in designing, theming, and facilitating amazing classes. As well, this self-research process helps you to define yourself as a teacher and gives you space to teach in your way, and not just teach the way the yogis down the street are teaching. Yes, yoga is ancient and the tradition and the teachers who came before you are definitely to be respected. But, the reason that students will come to your class is for the way that you uniquely hold a space for people to experience the rich tradition of yoga.
So, this month take some time to do some Svadhyaya (self-study), dig down into who you really are as a teacher and what you can best teach today. Yes, you will learn and develop and grow in your practice and teaching, but where are you are now is where you need to start, and best to start with the truth about you.
Next month I’ll have some more on managing a mindful yoga business – and if you have any specific areas that you’d like me to talk about please ask…I’m always here to help.

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