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March 30, 2015

From Studio Owner to Yoga Teacher.

yoga pose Seated Half Bound Lotus bind

I am coming up on the one year anniversary of the sale of my yoga studio.

It has been an amazing year filled with unique possibilities and many surprising adventures.

Eastside Yoga Windsor was my baby for nearly a decade, and sadly, I had to let her go if I really wanted to continue teaching yoga.

People often ask me why I sold my studio. The conversation typically goes a little something like this:

“Can I ask you a personal question? What made you sell your studio?”  

To which I responded, “I loved having a yoga studio…until I didn’t.”

The business of yoga is hard work, and at the end of the day, it is a business. But unlike other businesses, you are responsible for building a community. Part of what makes the business of yoga unique is the importance of developing relationships in addition to providing a service, and these two elements together can become demanding of your time and overwhelming on your soul.

As a studio owner, I found myself becoming one part yoga instructor, one part mentor, one part business advisor, and one part psychologist…pretty soon all of those parts added up to no part me! It was simultaneously the hardest and yet most fulfilling job I ever had.

Unfortunately, as a chronic people pleaser, it finally wore me down into the ground and I had no other choice but to walk away.

I had stepped into studio ownership from a place of necessity. I needed a place to practice where I felt safe and welcomed. The studios in the city where I practiced lacked both diversity and the awareness of how to teach yoga to larger bodies. I desperately wanted to practice yoga, I never felt like I fit in. Yoga felt like an exclusive club for thin, white, wealthy and flexible people.

As a culture, we are so unaware of what that feels like to a person who doesn’t fit that persona.

The cost was prohibitive, the postures were impossible and the attitude was entitled and superior. I felt very lonely.

My introduction to yoga was quite different that my experiences as an adult in my local community. When my mother had taught me yoga as a young girl, it was a fun and connected practice. It was a practice that was designed to be accessible and it was a tool to connect with my own spirituality and connection to the Divine. I wanted to create that same safe space for myself and I wanted to share those same experiences with others who needed it and craved it in the same ways that I did.

Motivated in this way, I worked up the courage to open my own space, and that studio quickly became my sanctuary. I loved being there—it was my safe place. Our relationship stayed this way for a long time…until one day, it all changed.

The pressures to compete with new studios that were opening all the time, predatory pricing strategies, never ending Groupon promotions, and the constant need to please everyone started to wear me down. Working with the public is hard. People love to complain and many often feel that their needs are the only needs that should be met.

Many yoga students, as with people in all aspects of our lives, feel entitled to our time, our money and our soul.

I was growing tired of people complaining about my class schedule, the pricing, the teachers, their mats and everything else that was wrong with their lives. More and more, people wanted what they wanted—and they wanted it right now…and for free!

The message of yoga and what my studio was supposed to represent was getting lost in my need to run a successful business.

Walking away from studio ownership has blessed me with a core number of beautiful, wonderful students who are interested in sharing a practice with me.

In my new role, I am less concerned with the size of my classes and I am able to spend more time on the quality of my offerings. The people who come to my classes or those that take my teacher training courses now join me as my tribe. My students embody the practice and share their lives and experiences in symbiotic and fulfilling way. As a free agent, I am able to step away from the business yoga and just be the teacher.

Studio ownership helped me grow as a teacher and as a person, but thanks to my deep connection to my own personal practice, I was able to recognize the point at which I had stopped evolving.  Through compassionate self-study, I was able to recognize when it was time to go. The studio had shifted from being my sanctuary to a place where I felt suffocated and trapped, and I didn’t even want to go to the studio anymore. I was losing my passion for teaching and I had lost touch with the factors that had motivated me in the past.

Once I sold the studio, I quickly rediscovered my love for the yoga practice. It was like coming home all over again. I felt free and clearer in my intentions, goals and aspirations.

As I reconnected with what the yoga practice means to me and for me, I became invested in sharing the message of Yoga For All—beyond the confines of my local community. I wanted to share the message inclusivity to larger populations. I wanted to be the voice of change and I wanted to start the radical shift our North American culture.

So that’s why I made my choice.

The studio served me well. I learned about myself and my yoga in a way that never could have happened without the experience of owning a wellness business. Walking away from the studio has allowed me to walk in direction of my tribe and the people who are interested in expanding the aesthetic of yoga.

With my heart set on bigger and broader goals, I was able to discover my tribe all around the world.

Leaving my studio behind has afforded me with the life-changing ability to take my yoga out of those four walls and into the world. It is with eternal gratitude that I say:


Thank you Eastside Yoga Studio Windsor—you have given me the greatest opportunity for self education. I got my Ph. D in Dianne Bondy, and for that I will be forever grateful.

 

Relephant read:

5 Ways You Can Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher.

 

Author: Dianne Bondy

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Google Images

 

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Dianne Bondy  |  Contribution: 3,620