Celebrity gurus, Instagram hotties, a juice bar, aromatherapy, raw food chefs, spotless granite showers and lavender-filled, silk pillows for Savasana?
Lovely, but I don’t need any of it.
You know what I look for in a yoga studio?
I’m not alone. Legions of parents would agree. Trust me on this. I’ve asked them.
Most of us would be willing to practice in a high school cafeteria if someone would just watch our kids, keep them safe for an hour and a half and not charge us a fortune for it.
After I had my daughter, I felt lonely and isolated. I wanted to exercise and I wanted a little of my “me” time back. I longed to start a yoga practice because I was attracted to yoga’s balance of physical, mental and spiritual discipline. I needed yoga’s calming influence in my life, but the problem was that I didn’t have anyone to watch my daughter so I could go to class. My husband worked long hours. The class schedules weren’t compatible with his work schedule and we, like most people, couldn’t afford a nanny. That left me stuck and unable to practice.
I found a yoga studio that was a miracle and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the place saved my life. It wasn’t just the amazing teachers and the spa-quality amenities that attracted me and kept me coming back.
It was the babysitting.
So simple. So desperately needed. So infinitely appreciated.
For only five dollars, I could bring my daughter with me to yoga and know that she was safe and well-cared for by my fellow yoginis, with other children to play with, in a calm and loving atmosphere, only a few feet away from the studio where I was peacefully sweating away trying to exalt my Triangle. Best five dollars I’ve ever spent. Easily. What an enormous burden lifted.
My studio is the only one in my town that offers babysitting and I’m pretty sure that it’s also the most successful studio in town. There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I believe what sets it apart, what tips the scale in its favor, is absolutely the babysitting.
Hundreds of other women and men in my town feel the same way.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had much success finding studios anywhere else that offer this valuable service. When I travel, I still long to practice, but I can’t because I have no one to watch my daughter. I really wish more studio owners were on board with babysitting.
Yoga studios that want to be successful don’t need a lot of expensive, over the top, eco-chic design elements. They just need to watch people’s kids for them and all they really need to do that is a childproof room and an attentive, cheerful sitter. Try giving free classes to volunteers and see how many sitters apply. Thankful parents will line up to get in to studios where they know their children will be safe and nearby. Like I said, trust me on this. I’ve seen it happen.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Axel Bührmann