In recent weeks, numerous blogs around the web have brought up issues around yoga and business.
For many, the common perspective is that yoga and business don’t mix, and that going into business with yoga not only denigrates yoga but makes it impossible to be a “true” teacher of yoga.
My perspective, however, is that by running any yoga teaching as a business, you better embody the principles of yoga in practice, or have the opportunity to do so.
By taking on business as its own discipline, we can reach the dual goals of both “living your yoga” and “making a living from yoga.”
The first question, then, may be:
What is business?
At its most basic level, business is simply the cultivation of a goal.
To cultivate this goal, business requires goals, clarity,values and commitment.
Business can be applied in any context with any set of values or principles, which is how and why it can be applied to yoga teaching.
Applying yoga principles to business, you can “live your yoga.” By applying the business principles to your yoga teaching, you can “make a living from yoga.”
Over the next four weeks, we’ll explore how to put these four things into action as you apply yoga to business and business to yoga. Today, we’ll start with goals.
Have a Goal, Make It Specific
So, the first aspect of business is having a goal. But, it can’t be vague.
Many people go into teaching yoga with big ideas. It is, by the way, a big idea to “make a living teaching yoga.” The problem is that it is vague. Very, very vague.
Whom do you want to teach? Where do you want to teach? How do you want to teach? With whom do you want to teach? And how are you defining “make a living?” What is a living? What, specifically, do you need that would qualify as “a living?”
The more specific the goal the better, because then you start to get a picture of the whole — you might call it a “global perspective” of what you are trying to accomplish. This global perspective provides a great deal of information, and that information provides guidance as to how to start so you can reach your goals.
Goals in business can be big or small. They don’t have to be huge, but they do need to be specific. The first step towards achieving your goals is defining those goals.
Here’s an example from my own life.
I have long wanted to run my own yoga studio. I just never knew where until 2008. In 2007, we visited New Zealand, and ever since my husband’s constant refrain was “I want to move to Wellington!” To say the least, we fell in love with the place.
We couldn’t figure out how to make that happen, until one day I noticed a studio for sale. I didn’t buy that studio, but it occurred to me, if not that one, why not another?
I started to do a lot of research — about buying businesses, business planning, running businesses. I ran through our financials — trying to figure out “is this even possible?” And finally, I looked through a lot of immigration paperwork and realized . . . yes, I think we can do this.
Suddenly, my vague goal of “run my own yoga studio” became “run a holistic health collective on Lambton Quay, Wellington, New Zealand.”
A business plan was born.
Immigration paperwork was filled out.
Accountants and lawyers were hired.
A visa was granted.
A business was purchased.
My specific goal had made it possible to take the concrete steps required to make the goal happen. So ask yourself, if you’re going into business of yoga, what’s your goal? And is it specific? If it’s not specific, can you make it specific?
Next week in this four part series on The Yoga of Business, Jenifer will look at the need for clarity in the business of yoga.
Jenifer M Parker is the owner/director of Healium, a holistic health collective, as well as a yoga teacher, Thai yoga massage practitioner, and avid meditator.
She enjoys the mindfulness practice that parenting her son Hawk brings, as well as sharing yoga and quiet meditation practices with him.