The Yoga Biz: How Can Studios Support Each Other?

My good pal, author of the ever-entertaining blog, “Under the Alexandria“, sent me this article from the NY Times today:

A Yoga Manifesto

In particular, I like Tara Stiles’ model where class attendance is limited and price is really affordable at $10.  That’s how I am doing it now with my weekly yoga labs.

This whole topic of the commercialized, Westernized version of yoga has been a hot one for the last few years.  Honestly, the western version of “yoga” is primarily focused only on one of the eight limbs of yoga–the physical Asana practice.  It’s more about fitness than anything else.

As a hopefully soon-to-be studio owner, while I would want to try to honor a lot of the classic foundation/principles of yoga, this is also Los Angeles (or NYC).  Renting a space costs a *#$-load, as does marketing/advertising.  People should not feel ashamed to ask for money or to be making good money when they are providing a wonderful wellness service to the community.  I think we need to stop sneering at those with commercial success–why be bitter when they are just so much better at marketing?  🙂  Their customers are getting something out of their classes–they keep coming back, and they keep bringing friends.  How can we NOT be in support of happier, healthier people, whatever the mode of delivery or style of yoga?

It’s tough when I meet people that have studios in LA.  None of them are very warm to talking about how the biz works or how we could work together.  I’ve reached out to 3 different studio owners now, and of course I’m not asking for any critical inside secrets or their mailing lists, and the tone of voice in the reluctant response, or that shadow that passes over the eyes, makes me hesitant to pursue any further.  I guess when I face the gritty reality of building a customer base, I won’t be so eager to talk to others about it?

I don’t want to be like that.

It makes me feel bad that people seem to think I’m competing. In the yoga community, everyone is happy to teach or train you to teach, but they are reluctant to be a business mentor.  I think there is a place for all kinds of yoga studios– and to a realistic extent, the more, the better!  Each one will have its own appeal and particular brand which will attract a certain following.

I want to create a community where we can refer students to each others’ studios, hold a street fair to publicize together, etc.  But I guess there are only so many customers to go around?  🙂  I saw a commercial  space advertised recently…just what I’m looking for–in a trendy hood like Echo Park with lots of foot traffic and boutique shops, etc.  Only $2/sq ft!  Of course the first thing I thought was that the folks at Urth Yoga will instantly hate me, as they are half a mile west.  Now, why would I assume that?  The folks at Urth are very kind, maybe they would be supportive.

It’s all in how you market yourself.  Chakra5 is a different kind of flavor and brand.  There are people who will want to go to Urth (FYI Urth is wonderful– I go there myself, but music is not generally a part of their classes, and you may not prefer to to partner-oriented poses) and there are people who will want to go to Chakra5. Some people will just like a particular space better to practice in.  Or hopefully they will want to go to both our studios for different reasons.  🙂   I’m planning to market as a more full wellness solution than just a yoga studio– so other classes like pilates and nutrition, and services like massage and acupuncture all factor in.  I’m not even sure it will be accurate to put the word “Yoga” under “Chakra5” on the signage.

My final point is…how can we all ride this yoga wave together in a positive way, have healthy businesses and strong followings without getting so caught up in the money, in the egos of teachers, in competing with each other.

I liked this article I came across recently about “the perfect ketchup”, and how many studios can coexist because of the unique experience and style each offers.

Terry McBride, the CEO of Nettwerk records, who started Vancouver yoga chain Y Yoga, said it best when he said:

High tide floats all boats

McKenna Rowe is the Founder of Chakra 5 Mobile Yoga, an experienced team of corporate yoga instructors that provides mobile yoga classes on location and by appointment at businesses, schools and organizations throughout greater Los Angeles. Call us to start your corporate wellness program today: 310-853-3885.

Posted in Yoga Business