10 Things to Consider before Opening a Yoga Studio, Part II.

Via Kelli Harrington
on Apr 1, 2012
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Yoga Business Tips from ZenSpot
Photo: ZenSpot

 Can you run a yoga business and still be a true yogi?

If you’ve been contemplating opening your own yoga studio, where do you start and what should you expect? First and foremost, know that you’ll be running a business, and a yoga business has all of the mundane responsibilities of any other business: infrastructure, payroll, taxes, human resources and the like.

If you’re determined that owning a yoga studio is for you, here is the second set of five tips that may help you prepare. Review the first five tips here.

6. Train Your Own Instructors

If you have a vision for what your studio will deliver in terms of style, customer service and quality, establish yourself as an RYS with Yoga Alliance and train your own instructors. There are thousands of teacher training programs in the United States and around the world, but not all training programs are created equal—many of them are not recognized by any certification body, including Yoga Alliance. In addition, many programs lack experienced staff or professionals in specific areas of expertise, creating knowledge gaps and misinformation about important aspects of instruction and lifestyle. Design your own training program diligently with the best faculty and highest quality research and resources.

Bottom line:

Know what you want, build it accordingly, and don’t sacrifice rigor—it will pay off in the end.

7. Do Not Put up with Yoga Divas

If I had a dollar for every yoga diva who has walked into my studio, I would be a very wealthy woman. A yoga diva is someone who may think they know everything about yoga practice and lifestyle, and makes a point of telling you how to teach and live. In reality, most yoga divas are insecure people who feel they must prove to you how good they are, rather than humbly living the yogic life about which they profess to know so much. Most of these folks don’t know the first thing about living the Eight Limbed Path, and even less about living the Yamas and Niyamas in particular.

Unfortunately, many yoga divas are yoga instructors themselves! The most graceful way to handle any yoga diva is to do your research, build your expertise, and kindly escort them out of your studio doors.

They are a disturbance to your business, and most importantly, to the students and the staff you serve. Be aware that a yoga diva may develop on your staff. If so, handle the situation swiftly and professionally.

Bottom line:

Create a safe learning environment free of diva energy.

8. Observe & Evaluate Your Staff for Life-Long Learning

After you have trained your teachers and have chosen those who would make the best fit for your studio, work tirelessly to ensure your staff members grow in excellence and perfect their craft. Many training programs certify instructors and then leave them with little guidance. Not advised. Continue to mentor with high expectations and communicate your commitment to it. Some teachers may feel that regular observation is tedious, stressful, or a challenge to their creativity and growth as an instructor. Address these fears by keeping a regular dialogue open with them about their teaching and include them as an essential part of the conversation. This will only benefit their growth, your students’ growth, and the growth of your studio.

Most professional organizations have regular observation and evaluation periods; evaluation isn’t any less relevant in the yoga business. The point is not to be punitive or critical, but to assist your staff in evolving into the best they can be so, in turn, they can deliver the best to your students. This is often one of the most difficult parts of owning a yoga business, but arguably the most important.

Bottom line:

The conversation that happens between you and your staff is worth its weight in gold, even during tough times.

9. Establish Policies & Procedures to Protect Staff & Students

Your studio needs to have consistent policies and procedures to ensure that all members—including staff—are treated equally and favoritism is not an issue. Consider having an employee handbook, operations manuals for instructors, managers, and supervisors, as well as clear guidelines for your marketing efforts and membership services.

Protect yourself, your people and your brand. Publish necessary information consistent with your studio policies to your website so that prospective students may become clear on policies even before they walk in the door. Consider utilizing a human resources consultant, a marketing/PR company, an accountant and a lawyer.

Bottom line:

These are not only good ideas, but also smart business practices.

10. Hold Yourself & Others Accountable to the Yogic Path

If you truly believe in living a yogic lifestyle (as opposed to just making a buck on yoga as a fitness craze) you need to hold yourself and others—especially staff—accountable to yogic principles. Any time I have had to make a decision, whether professional or personal, I turn to the Eight Limbs —specifically the Yamas and Niyamas—for insight and guidance to help me make the best decision with the resources available.

These yogic principles are the core of the business. Understand and know that these principles will constantly get questioned—many will disagree with your decisions because they don’t interpret the principles the same way you do. Practice humility, including accepting when you are wrong and taking right action to correct the mistake. Know that you may be unpopular because you stick to these principles, and, as a result, may not make friends with all of the yogis in your local community. As a studio owner, that is a risk you need to be willing to take and it requires courage.

Bottom line:

Use these principles as a path in life, embrace their teachings, and understand they will offer all the wisdom you need to succeed in business and in life.




Editor: Brianna Bemel


About Kelli Harrington

Dr. Kelli Harrington is a teacher trainer, a yoga teacher and co-founder of ZenSpot, Inc.--Hot Yoga, Human Empowerment and Feng Shui design company dedicated to creating positive life balance for mind, body, and spirit. Harrington is also the co-founder of the ZenSpot Institute, a yoga teacher training facility and online education school dedicated to certifying high quality yoga teachers and wellness change-agents. As a certified fitness trainer, Ayurvedic lifestyle and weight management specialist, stress management and life coach, Reiki Master and wellness leader, Kelli spends her days running her business in service to others. As a vegan, EdTech geek, social media junkie, entrepreneur, activist, and environmentalist Harrington earned a doctorate in Educational Organizational Development and Leadership from the University of San Francisco; two Masters degrees at Teachers College, Columbia University and Pace University respectively. ZenSpot, Inc., is based in Oregon with facilities in both Portland and Eugene.


13 Responses to “10 Things to Consider before Opening a Yoga Studio, Part II.”

  1. Oooh I totally disagree with number 6…the last thing we need is MORE teacher training. Many people are well qualified and you may lose great teachers who don't want to pay for more training…I also feel strongly that the best studios have some variety so rather than make a bunch of little yous hire diverse styles and teachers. You can of course have teachers start on a trial basis and attend classes, just as there are many not so great teacher trainings there are also many great ones…If I was running a studio again I would totally hire teachers that have trained with yoga works, kaivalya, jivamukti, anusara and a host of others. If I didn't know where/how they trained I'd look up the school and ask questions.
    Just my two cents 🙂

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  4. ValCarruthers says:

    Great articles, Kelli.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  5. Kelli says:

    Thanks Tanya! I am VERY excited to have this out!

  6. Kelli says:

    Thanks so much Valerie!

  7. Kelli says:

    Excellent viewpoint AR. I appreciate the feedback.

  8. Vision_Quest2 says:

    And, have a host of different intensities within similar styles. I am 57 and a tough fit with today's trendy yoga that would be on offer. If I had a home practice for several years, was slightly athletic, about 15 pounds overweight (at most) and was offered a choice between the kick-butt (ONLY) so-called "Beginners Class", or "Restorative Yoga"/"Gentle Yoga", I would not last much over a year (if that) as your customer. It is a no-brainer not to insult us people of a certain age.

    And, if you think that's being a Diva, take a good hard look at what clientele is still retained for your classes. Some of us just do not have the money for private sessions. End of story.

  9. […] 10 Things to Consider before Opening a Yoga Studio, Part II. […]

  10. svadhyaya says:

    Nice, thanks. about YA. It should be clear by now that the emporer has no clothes. Big systems, clever busienss models, greed and administrative hoops will eventually fall, simply because it is not yoga. Yogis should be the first ones to stand up against self-propelling authorities who exploit insecurity and grasp their members by their fear of being left out in the cold or being at the bottom of a hierarchy. YA started as a nice idea but has now become an institution who establishes hierarchy and separation where there should be non-separateness and community. Yoga needs to remain free, otherwise it will be corrupted by greed and ambition. I´ve sen horrible thing happen in classes taught by E-RYT´s. A certificate is no guarantee. By contrast, it tells me only that the teacher is more interested in getting medals on her chest and following anxious ambitions to set them self apart from others than in actually embracing principles like non-grasping, truth and contentment. YA is gaining world monopoly fuelled by the insecurity and cohersion of young yoga teachers too afraid to stand up for themselves. In my future yoga studio, YA would be shown the same door as the divas (loved the diva-part BTW very funny 🙂 Teachers who embrace svadhaya and keep questioning their own values, experiences and teaching and colleagues are welcome though. Otherwise a very useful guide with lots of good insights. thanks again.

  11. Kelli says:

    Thanks for the reply. I understand the perspective on YA but I am not sure if you know that they have changed A LOT with the recent reorganization. I am actually impressed with the changes they have made and the work they are trying to do that may not have been accomplished in the past. Thanks for the laugh on the Yoga Diva part- it's funny but very true unfortunately Svadhyaya- thanks for reading! Namaste! Big Smile!

  12. Jasmine says:

    Kelli, I’m in the midst of possibly opening a studio….. your suggestions make a lot of sense to me and my potential partner….. if you want offline I can write you more about it….


  13. Jasmine-
    Congrats! I would LOVE to hear about your possible studio opening! Feel free to get in touch with me- http://www.zenspotmbs.com. I am glad this information was helpful! Namaste!