The Business of Yoga: An Oxymoron or a Recipe for Success?
The industry of yoga today is worth $16 bn in the US and $80 bn worldwide. This means that people teach, students take classes, retreats, courses, workshops… And that whoever sets up and organizes those events might become the successful teachers they dreamed of during their trainings. But the reality is that it is not uncommon that yoga teachers and studio owners struggle. In fact, some days, it might feel like fulfilled and comfortable full-time teachers are the exception to the rule. Some might also wonder whether it is ethically responsible to make of yoga a business when it is a practice supposed to elevate us all—isn’t money evil?
In this article, you’ll find here a couple of points to think about before you set yourself on the journey, a little food for thought as you explore your possibilities and something to give you perspective during the more challenging times.
A Hard Reality
For teachers to be successful when, by successful, we mean financially sound, fulfilled at their jobs, and experiencing a humanly-manageable level of stress, they need to take care of a couple of things. Because you’d need to teach an unreasonable amount of full classes to be able to rely on them as your main source of income, it’s important to supplement that with retreats and other forms of teachings. This takes a lot of work, energy, and can be incredibly stressful given the number of details to take care of when organizing retreats, workshops, courses, and trainings.
If you decide to teach yoga online, whether, through blog posts, courses, or even apps, a lot of work has to be invested beforehand, before being able to reap fruits of the seeds you’ve planted. You might have to take courses and classes yourself or ask for help, as you navigate the challenges that building your platform involve.
When you become a yoga teacher, then, you have to be ready to not only be a teacher, but also a business manager, marketer, public relations and customer service representative, and more. This leads me to my next point.
You Are An Entrepreneur
When you decide to get into the business of yoga, you have to keep in mind that you are about to become an entrepreneur and/or business owner. This acknowledgment comes with a set of questions you need to ask yourself: are you ready to be self-employed or to become an employer? How do you feel about having to look for your own work opportunities? About building a community, a network? How do you feel about having to take care of your taxes, health insurance, maternity & paternity leave, pension, and the like?
Although those aspects are bound to be overwhelming at the beginning of your teaching journey, and also things you can learn about along the way, it’s important to be realistic on the responsibilities that getting into the business of yoga entails. Your ability to navigate those things will also determine whether a full-time yoga career will be a synonym to success for you.
Being of Service
If you ask a Zen monk retreated in the mountains of Japan or a meditation teacher traveling the world in between stays in their ashrams at home in India, they might agree on one thing: that yoga isn’t made for profit. It is also an assumption, still found in some parts of the world, that yoga is for hippies who don’t really want (or need) any material possessions, including money or expensive yoga pants.
If you ask a Zen monk retreated in the mountains of Japan or a meditation teacher traveling the world in between stays in their ashrams at home in India, they might agree on one thing: that yoga isn’t made for profit.
But is this outlook still possible in today’s world? Not that we need the expensive yoga pants, but what about spreading the practice of yoga in a way that’s sustainable for teachers, too? And are we doing our fast-moving, sedentary, stress-filled lifestyles a favor by not using the power of yoga to enhance our physical, mental, and even social wellbeing?
If yoga also involves being of service, then we have to think about what it means today, what shapes and forms it can take, and if it can work with the business of yoga.
Beware of the Scarcity Mindset
The scarcity mindset refers to the idea that the business of yoga is overcrowded. Because of such a high level of competition, it is thought that getting into it is a terrible idea for both our sanity and financial security. Fortunately for us, though, there are about 7 billion of us on this planet, and the ratio between living being practicing/not practicing yoga is most definitely still in our favor.
The possibilities with yoga are endless because so many of us still haven’t discovered the practice.
Don’t fall into this mindset. The possibilities with yoga are endless because so many of us still haven’t discovered the practice. Although it is potentially going to sound somewhat cheesy, every one of us is unique and that means any new yoga studio, whether brick-and-mortar or online, will bring something new into the yoga world. The only condition is that the right intentions and decisions have to be made throughout the creation process.
Set Your Expectations & Explore Your Options Creatively
Is getting into the business of yoga a good idea? Does it work? Is it responsible from an ethical standpoint?
Those are questions worth asking. The practice of yoga can be incredibly healing, empowering, relaxing, soothing. It can also help build community, foster connection, invite deep inquiry about ourselves and the world we live in. We would be missing out on a versatile outlet if we didn’t use our creative and intelligent minds to make the business of yoga work for us as teachers and/or studio owners.
The practice of yoga can be incredibly healing, empowering, relaxing, soothing. It can also help build community, foster connection, invite deep inquiry about ourselves and the world we live in.
Like any other kind of entrepreneurial business, however, it is filled with challenges to conquer, and it might also be difficult to find the right people to work with. If you arm yourself with patience, are willing to be realistic about the task at hand, and remember why you came to yoga in the first place, then there is no reason this business isn’t a recipe for success.