As a yoga studio owner and teacher, mentor and entrepreneur, I am always being asked questions. Lots of them. And I love it, so thank you, and please, keep them coming. These questions range from asana alignment questions, philosophy or even the holiday schedule.
Here are two questions – with almost twenty years “in the biz” – that NO ONE has ever asked me.
- Why did you open a yoga studio?
- Are you happy you did?
When I meet people and tell them about the studio, it is as if a spoonful of pixie dust got dumped in their eyes. It reminds me of how young and attractive female characters in movies are often working at a fashion magazine, an art gallery, advertising agency, or are cool jobs like yoga teachers or artists. It is as if we are programmed to think that certain jobs or career choices are glamorous or more fabulous than any other. I think the yoga studio owner gets slotted into that category of “OMG, that’s amazing. You must be so lucky and carefree; you truly are fulfilling your life passion.” Well, sort of.
Why Did I Open a Yoga Studio?
Honestly, the number one thing for me about calling my studio my place of work is that I get to wear extremely comfortable clothing all day and can avoid make up and high heels. I didn’t have these luxuries in Telco, High Tech, Financial Services, etc.
Every other aspect of the job as yoga studio owner/teacher that I love are ingrained in the rubric of my value system and I would do them regardless of role or physical address, as employee or employer. These things include: teaching and imparting my knowledge if it is valued and useful; loving and serving others; operating honestly and with a high level of integrity; building teams and empowering people.
For me, these are not exclusively perks of my current job. They are fundamentally who I am. Telco, High Tech, Financial Services also afforded me those luxuries. You never find your ideal job. What you find is your way of coming into who you really are regardless of the circumstances you are put into.
Like any other small business, notably brick and mortar, owning a yoga studio is not a dream job, full of carefree glamour. It is a lot of work; often times, thankless work. Ask me the next time the toilet breaks or I have to clean hair balls in the shower.
I am not lucky; however, creating a space and offering a service that aligns to my core values is indeed a true blessing and one I do not take for granted.
You see, none of it is work or a job when it is your own. The last day of work for any entrepreneur is the day they walk away from working for someone else to do what they feel called to do on their own. In that respect, I love being a studio owner. I am grateful that I can be useful to my community and have found a way to package my passions into a rewarding delivery model.
My motivations for opening my studio were to fill a hole in a community that was losing two of its studios in downtown Redmond. As an advocate for the science of yoga, I didn’t want to see practitioners without a place to call “home.” I guess I did it because I really love yoga and serving people.
After years of traveling doing workshops and teacher training around the country, I liked the idea of having my own space to deliver my teacher training program completely my way and on my terms. Personally, I felt it was time to apply all the ideas I had developed over years of collaborating with others into something uniquely my own. Lastly, I met a partner for the business that rounded out what I consider to be my skill gaps.
Am I happy I did it?
In yoga, happiness isn’t ever really the end game. In New Age gobbly-gook speak perhaps, but yoga is about santosha, being content. It is about abhyasa, the art of commitment to doing the work and being fully present while practicing vairagya, non-attachment to outcome of the fruit of your labors.
But here is my real confession. Each day, I love hearing the click of the lock as I stand at the front door of the studio. I always inhale when I am turning the closed sign over to open. There is a weird clicking noise with the computer when you first log into Windows that stirs something in me like a child handed a new toy. On the Sonos system I contemplate which music I should play in the lobby based on the faces and personalities that I know come to each of the respective classes. Lights go on, warming the room like the setting of stage; and of course checking the studio and switching the lights to make sure they are work and that the dimmers and heaters and set accordingly.
As I walk around blessing the space with prayers, my eyes dig into the details: is the tea bar, bathrooms and supply rentals well stocked? Is retail well-appointed and symmetric? All the signage updated? Can I see hair and dust in the hallway as the sunshine cuts in through the windows or it is clean enough? What else could be folded or cleaned before that first person walks in?
In my opinion, it’s that group of students that walk through the door each day that are the fabulous ones; they are Kates, Clares and Gwyneths to me. It is the insurance agent, the school teacher, the business man that greet me enthusiastically each day with mat in hand that give me my daily dose of pixie dust. My first morning hello, the opening smile for my shift, or the closing good night for the evening; they are the reason I opened the studio. That’s how I would answer those two questions if only someday someone would think to ask.
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