Thanks to the connective and informative power of the Internet, it’s never been so easy to find what you’re looking for… and that includes in the yoga world too.
Michelle Taffe, a Melbourne based yogi, writer and entrepreneur is the founder of The Global Yogi, a website dedicated to helping yogis check out yoga around the world.
The YLB spoke to Michelle to find out more about her website, who it’s aimed at, and the challenges of starting an internet-based business.
What inspired you to start The Global Yogi?
I was inspired to start The Global Yogi (TGY) because I was looking for a site like it – which would help me plan my yoga journey to India. I guess this is the same reason many people start their endeavours – to create the thing they think is missing in the world.
I wanted to go to Rishikesh to do a yoga program in an ashram but could find no site on the Internet that gave me a good idea of what the town was like and the different places that I could practice yoga.
I thought – there must be plenty of other people like me who are looking for a website with comprehensive information on yoga retreats, trainings, retreat centres and yoga studios around the world in order to plan their travels – so I thought I’d create it.
I was living in Palma (capital of the Spanish Mediterranean island – Majorca) at the time, and had lost my job as an editor on an online lifestyle magazine thanks to visa complications, so I had to think of a new plan for my life.
In Majorca I had met a number of yoga teachers who travelled and taught around the world and I thought that a website like the global yogi could help them to connect with students worldwide, as well as helping people plan their yoga travels. As well I am passionate writer, and I wanted to write articles about yoga and spirituality so I thought I could combine all of these things in TGY.
Who are you aiming the website at? What niche are you trying to fill?
The website is aimed at yogis of all ages who want to travel and practice yoga around the world.
As well as yogis I hope the website appeals to people interested in spirituality, and different spiritual practices in general. In future I want to profile more meditation centres, and monasteries that welcome visitors.
Given the yoga demographic is about 75% female, the ‘niche’ is definitely majority female, and concentrated in Western countries where more people have a level of income that allows them to travel.
What’s been the biggest challenge in kickstarting this baby?
There have been many challenges, but probably the biggest one has been the business aspect of the site – attracting paying yoga businesses to profile their studios and centres on the site.
Also finding the time to keep the site updated with new content while at the same time being the business development, marketing, graphics, web development and Search Engine Optimization department is a constant challenge. Ideally I would have a few assistants!
What’s been the most awesome thing about creating a website?
It has been very exciting to see how many people really like the website and obviously appreciate the information they find on it. I am always getting new signups to the Newsletter, which is a sign that I am doing something right.
Also it has been great going to different yoga festivals around the place – especially the Bali Spirit festival – and connecting with like-minded people at the same time as promoting the global yogi.
How does yoga inform the way you’re doing business?
I am constantly investigating and questioning the whole nature of ‘business’ and how I can run a business that is making a profit while at the same time staying true to my own values and beliefs, and staying true to the mission statement of TGY – which is ‘to help bring the gift of yoga to more people throughout the world, and thus be an agent in the promotion of peace, harmony and love on planet Earth’.
I try to treat ‘business’ in the same way that I would treat a normal personal relationship with anyone – being clear, open and positive in my communication.
Just like in yoga if I find something about the business aspect of TGY is making me uncomfortable – then I pay attention and investigate what is going on underneath.
What do you wish you’d known before you’d started?
Having worked as a web designer, webmaster and web editor / producer, I already had a lot of experience in this area, but was lacking in business experience. So ideally I would have known more about how businesses work before embarking on the project.
But based on the journey with the website so far, I think there is no way that I could have really known about what is involved in running a web magazine and a business without actually doing it.
Maybe I would have benefitted from knowing that it will be lots and lots of hard work and that the rewards may be some time in coming – I think I probably thought that it would be easier and that it would take off kind of by itself – without me having to do so much promotion.
But now that the site is nearing its first anniversary online, the momentum is building and I am excited about the future. I have a number of special TGY projects in the pipeline for this year which I’ll be rolling out in the coming months … so, stay tuned for updates!
Check out The Global Yogi to find out more about International Yoga Retreat Centres like:
- Suryalila Retreat Centre, Cadiz, Spain
- Sunflower Retreat Holidays, Italy
- Blue Spirit, Costa Rica
- Absolute Sanctuary, Thailand
- The Sanctuary, Thailand
- Om Palace Devi Mandir, Canada
- Villa Sumaya, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
- Self Cultivation Space, Andalusia, Spain
- Huzur Vadisi, Lycia, Turkey
- The Abbey, Oxfordshire, England
- Yoga Rocks, Crete, Greece
- The Natural Yoga Centre, Auvergne, France