September 8, 2013

Better Yogis Build Better Studios. ~ Laura Dos Santos

Photo: Eugenijus Barzdzius

Chances are, the owner of the studio where you teach (or the studio where you want to teach) works exceptionally hard to keep things running smoothly.

She is the one who comes in at 10 pm on a Sunday night when the studio floods. He is the one who answers the phone when a student calls before the 6 am class (that he is not teaching) for directions. They are the ones looking for teachers who can work together, who can be a support system for the students and the studio.

While yoga is the business of love and light and Namaste, a lot goes on behind the scenes. Successful studios hire intuitive teachers. I’m not talking about your sequencing or your adjustments, although those should be intuitive, too. I’m talking about the simple things that make a big impact: be a better yogi. You’ll delight everyone and, in turn, make your studio a happier place to do yoga.  How?

Get it together.

Getting it together is a rather broad category. But here are a couple of examples to inspire you, and if you can think of even more ways to get it together, I am sure they will all be appreciated.

You wouldn’t arrive to the office 15 minutes late without letting someone know, would you? (If the answer is yes, then we may need a different lesson plan for you.) Being late to teach your class is even worse than being late to the office. If you don’t have someone working the desk at the studio, your students will be waiting outside, maybe in the heat, maybe in the cold.

The moral of the story is don’t run late. And if you do, let it be a rare (as in, once every 3 years) occurrence and make sure you tell someone who can tell your students.

Getting it together also involves taking the time to assess your social media presence. Your students are going to find you and they are going to ‘friend’ you. You are free to be yourself, but if you wouldn’t want your mom or your boss or your conservative acquaintance to see it, then you probably you shouldn’t share it with your students. Make a decision now to keep your social presence clean—or don’t friend your students and get familiar with your privacy settings.

Be attentive.

Be attentive to your students as they walk through the door. Taking a class is a personal experience for them and you have the power to influence that experience—it might be all the difference between a student falling in love with the practice and not practicing again for a decade. You know those students: ”The last time I practiced yoga I was in college and…”

During your class, you represent the studio. Take ownership, my friend.

Be attentive to what’s going on in and around the studio. Pick up paper off of the floor, replace the toilet paper and, for the love of everything that is sacred, take out the trash. Let the studio owner know when you find ants or cockroaches or when MindBody isn’t cooperating. Studio owners aren’t psychic and they can’t fix problems they don’t know exist. If it’s a problem you can fix, maybe they don’t need to know it exists—what a sweet gift to take some stress off of someone’s plate.

Be respectful.

We are so quick to think that we could do a better job at putting together a syllabus for the teacher training or explaining alignment in parsvokonasana, but the studio owners make the decisions, because they own the studio. You can compassionately give your opinion under the appropriate circumstances, but at the end of the day, they are viewing their business through a much wider lens. Please realize that some business decisions are heartbreaking, but they still have to be made objectively. Proceed lovingly.

This business isn’t about you. It’s about all the students, all the teachers and the person who has to make everything jive. Creating symbiosis is far more challenging than what your studio owner leads you to believe.

The single biggest respect that you can pay to the owner of the studio(s) where you teach is to support them. When you don’t agree, have the consideration to keep those opinions between you and the studio owner, and keep it compassionate. This support creates perfect harmony between the business and the yoga. This is how we cultivate a safe space and studio that just keeps growing.


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Assistant Ed: Katharine Spano / Ed: Catherine Monkman

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Laura Dos Santos