When opening a yoga studio (or any business for that matter) one has to think, “what separates me from the rest?”
Even though in yoga we are a unifying and community-based people, you also have to be a business person. Why should people come to me? I’ve been pondering this question myself lately, as I just opened my own yoga studio after only (not quite) a year of seriously practicing myself.
Oh geez, I can hear it now. This in the face of all of the controversy about teachers who should not be teaching yoga due to the New York Times article. Listen, I take my teaching very seriously and I took my training very seriously and I will continue to train myself and teach my students with intelligence, intention, care and dedication.
I am aware of how quickly I’ve done this and how much everyone has reacted to that. Some are impressed by my enthusiasm and some are very much questioning the action. But doesn’t yoga teach us to listen to our authentic self? I am the face of my new yoga studio. What does that face project? It projects passion, enthusiasm, bravery, not caring what others think enough to not be true to myself — in other words, authenticity. But I am also peaceful, supportive, pure, open, loving and sincere (The last sentence was how my yoga sisters in my teacher training described me, so please don’t think that I am also full of myself. I know that I am not the end all be all, quite definitely!).
I think what I’m truly after and always have been is authenticity. It’s what I strive for in my life. I know enough to teach, so who says that I can’t have my own studio to teach in? And knowing that I have “gone for it” I think in the same manner, I can inspire others to go for it, to know their limits physically but also to push past any imaginary ones they may have.
My yoga journey started six or seven years ago when I tried yoga for the first time at a local fitness club. My friend and I looked at each other like, “are we even doing this right? What is this?” I decided to try again and took it a few more times at a local yoga studio and really loved the peaceful environment and the message that they seemed to be portraying, but they were hard to get a hold of, never returning my calls and never at the studio. They also had a box outside that said, “take a flyer,” but there were no flyers. It was kind of discouraging. Add to that, when I did attend, no one grabbed me and said, “what made you come here? So glad you came! Hope you come back!” There was really no interaction.
I tried another time and drove an hour away to a larger city where I thought, “here it must be different.” I was in a small room with a teacher who didn’t really seem to approach me or help me in any way. Not her fault, really. Partly it was my own responsibility to introduce myself and before I found yoga seriously, I had been accused of being a bit of a wallflower.
So then, just this past year, in May, my girlfriend and I decided to get into yoga again. I really don’t know what kept pushing me towards yoga when everything had been such a blah experience with it previously. So I went to a local studio again and had a great session of Yoga Nidra which is a meditative yoga. Oh it was so good.
All of this trying to find a place to practice yoga also helped me by showing me what I liked and what I did not like. While everyone is different, I’m sure that having your phone call returned is something universally appreciated. Again, a yoga business is still a business.
So, finally we found a place And loved it. I mean, really, it was a workout but you weren’t thinking the whole time about how much you hated your life at this moment. You know that feeling you get when you hate working out (me) and it’s all you can think the entire time (every time I worked out)? I was never an athlete but this style, place and people of yoga made me change my whole outlook. I quickly signed up for teacher training, even though I had reservations because I was so new to the game. I was not new to the game in the spiritual aspect but definitely the physical one.
I have done things in the past year with my body that I never thought that I would even be interested in doing, let alone capable. It is nice to surprise even yourself as an adult. It is nice to fall into the path and realize that it is yours. And even if you find out that it’s not, that’s okay too. Trying is the important part. Growing yourself, getting bigger on the inside, taking away what’s not right for you in order to fill up with more of what is right.
And all of us have that capability. Yoga creates space in our bodies and our minds. It calms us, inspires us, makes us stronger, makes us realize how much we complain and that, really, we should do it a lot less. Because the things that we have in our lives are magical if we can get still and take a moment to appreciate them. To appreciate a warm bed to sleep in when we look and see that people are cold and hungry. To appreciate a hot shower. To appreciate one moment where you are looking into your partner’s eyes and all seems right with the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s like that all the time. Life is not perfect, or better yet, life is perfect, we just don’t appreciate that there has to be bad and good in life and that all of it is good because it’s where we are. When we appreciate that moment, we can create more of it. Expand it. Because, as they say, “energy flows where attention goes.”
I hope to pass this on to my students. I hope to grow more of this in myself. That is what will be special about my studio, my passion, authenticity and the ability to “just do it,” as Nike says. My message, which is so much larger than myself, I must share with others.
You can do it too. You can do anything you want, don’t listen to the naysayers, listen to your inner voice, the child in you with a voice who has eyes that are sparkling with excitement. Be who you were then, before you learned who you were and were not allowed to be. Be authentic! The rest of us will benefit from that light you shine on us!