Yoga & Business

Yoga is about big ideas & everyday moments, making the theoretical practical and living out ideals. That’s why a great class has a theme that permeates each pose, each sequence and acts as a guide, a stabilizing influence behind all the fluctuations of mind and breath that a class allows us to observe. Yoga is applied philosophy, a living, breathing wellspring of wisdom we discover fresh for the first time over and over again.

Business is all about bringing big ideas down to earth and bringing them to life, setting roots and growing between Earth & Sky. You don’t have a business unless you have an idea, a way to implement it and an idea of what it’s worth and how you’ll exchange your idea for money.

Now when I started in business I knew I’d need to write a business plan, set up accounting, do marketing on almost no budget, set up times and places… all before I would have the chance to let my ideas shine. What I didn’t know was where I was going to start. I mean, writing a business plan requires you know answers to the other questions, and answering each of those questions requires assumptions about how you’re going to answer all the other questions…. It’s enough to make your head spin. It has mine.

When I asked people I knew who were already doing things in the areas in which I was interested, I received variations on “You know, you just start. It all falls into place.” While reminiscent of the Nike “Just do it” mentality, I found this hopelessly disappointing. The only sense I can make of it even now is that either they’re winging it themselves, or they’re wary of competition. I find this sad, because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed it’s that life isn’t a zero sum game.

Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is from someone in a wholly different industry. We work together as Paramedics and have each created ventures of our own, and his advice is the most yogic I’ve received. Five years he said. Give it five years to grow. Start slow, adjust, re-adjust and refine. Be patient. And while you’re being patient, acknowledge your limitations and when you aren’t ready to meet a particular need, refer people to someone who can. Serve your customers, your potential customers, your colleagues, remember you are in business to serve.

Boundaries are important because they give definition & allow for integrity, not because they keep us apart. That’s what the Namaste at the end of every class is supposed to mean. If we don’t live our principles in the business of yoga, maybe we don’t have a business, or maybe we should re-label what we’re doing simply “fitness.”

I’m in my first year, so according to my friend I’m about 20% there, and I’m adjusting plenty. I’m also keeping track of my lessons and solutions to share with yogically minded business persons, in any industry. Stay tuned for more. For now, my advice is to start with pen in hand. Start with your mission statement. It should be big enough to inspire and specific enough to guide your next steps. Next, start tying down the legal stuff – believe me this’ll make your life much easier as you grow. No matter how small a hobby, you’ll be surprised later what kinds of legal obligations you might have created for yourself (hint: gross receipts tax). Legalities change with your municipality, so start by asking what you need for a business license. This is part of satya & saucha, maintaining clarity & transparency and acknowledging you’re part of a community into which you are bound by ties of responsibility and mutual interest.

After that the interlocking network of questions is what you take slowly. 3x5s are your friend here because you can answer questions, put them in context, throw them out, change them, see how they change one another. Accounting affects marketing affects time and place affects what you’ll be able to create affects what you’ll attract affects… you get the idea. So, yeah, just start & it all falls into place. Just be prepared to watch it morph and fall apart and come together again over & over while it’s all “Just falling into place.” Like any yoga pose. 

  1. Christine … My local business development group has a great “how to write your first business plan” package. It’s basically a series of questions you answer. My accountant said to leave the financial analysis alone until the second year because without historical numbers, it’s “all a bizarre intersection of fear and fantasy” — his words.

    If you’d like to take a look at it, drop me a line on my email with your snail mail addy and I’ll pop it in the post.

  2. Avril said:

    Hi Christine, I’m interested in teaching yoga next year or so. I was wondering though how you found your first students? I live in the Philippines and there are only so many reputable studios so far, so I may have to be on my own in the beginning.


  3. Congrats, Avril! I’m still working it out, branching out from my original foundations. During training I volunteered at a local Senior Center, and had the honor of my first repeat students & some really awesome recommendations. After that, I advertise in free local media (arts papers, alibi, the kind you find at coffee houses), online on facebook etc (there are a kajillion! and we have a local networking site as well), and flyer like mad. I started out with b/w flyers and have realized it’s worth it to do color, make things people can take with them and do as much as possible face to face. Don’t be discouraged if it’s slow at first! It’ll take most people a minimum of three sitings of your name/business before they’ll *consider*, so remember to stay grounded in your center, what you know is true and be persistent. Slow, kind and ever present. Best!!

  4. Avril said:

    Thanks very much, Christine! I’ll take note of all that. I’m glad to see that things are all working out great for you! 🙂

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