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Yoga and The Business of Real Life
Quite simply I try to make every class my very best class
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST BARBARA DENOWH
A month in. I am simply amazed at how fast this month has gone.
I found out at the beginning of October that I had the lease on my little studio space and I didn’t start my classes until the 18th. This is my fourth week.
And how are things going?
I am completely shocked with the success of my little studio. I expected to have many classes where no one showed up and I was left twiddling my thumbs. That has happened once and it was during the first week.
I am overwhelmed with how fast my classes are growing and how fast word is spreading.
Without a cent spent on advertising.
Budget management: Keep an eye on set expenses
I should mention how I am measuring success. Success for me is the ability to make my rent. I have a good situation that I negotiated honestly and carefully; and I can keep going as long as I make the rent.
Rent is being made in one week of classes.
I have taken many leaps of faith in this little undertaking. I’ve spent a good chunk of change on studio supplies, such as mats, blocks, and blankets. I finally sucked it up and dropped a lot of cash on bolsters and straps from Hugger Mugger.
I made a commitment to my students and myself and I made a commitment to my investment: precious time, hard-earned money, faith in my dream.
Asset management: schedule, sweat equity, community
As you may remember, I priced classes at $5.
(If you’re working this out for your own studio right now, you can read more on how I decided what to charge in last month’s column.)
And, for me, the biggest leap of all: Sunday classes. Oh, how I struggled with that decision. Sunday is my day. (If you’re thinking Sunday yoga?! – well so did I, and you might like to read more about that, too. )
This last Sunday I had twelve yoginis. Twelve! I think the room could realistically fit fifteen. And, I didn’t have enough props for everyone.
I don’t mean this all to sound like The Secret. I wished it all and TA DA, it came to be. Part of the success can be contributed to my community’s need for these types of classes, which is something I spent time experimenting with and figuring out.
Still, the number one factor contributing to my little bit of success: hard work.
I have been working my ass off.
When I get home at night, I collapse into a tired heap.
Resource management: developing as a teacher
There are specific things I do constantly to help my work improve and succeed.
I write and re-write classes.
I get to the studio early and play with sequences.
I take notes after class
about what worked
and what needs to be changed.
Notes on students. So and so has sciatica. So and so has severe low back pain.
I read asana books, yoga philosophy books, and anatomy books. I take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere I can find it.
Quite simply I try to make every class my very best class.
I’m learning a lot, too. For example, how to expand my teaching style. I usually teach a led flow style class. I’m learning, out of necessity, how to get off my mat, give personal attention, and teach by verbal cues.
And, I’m experimenting with other styles of yoga. I teach a couple of restorative classes a week and am in love with the blissed out looks on faces as people leave.
This has evolved out of the need to give my own body a rest.
Time management: self respect and maturity
Speaking of giving my body a rest, I had to make some tough decisions about the other classes I teach.
I have a very “can do” attitude about everything, and while it mostly serves me well, I get in over my head more than I’d like to admit. So, I had to take a serious look at my schedule and be realistic about what I could accomplish and what I could handle.
That led me to drop my class at the YMCA. The last class there was very emotional for me. I had been teaching there for two and a half years, and many of the students there had been with me from the very beginning.
And, at the end of the month, I will be giving up my Dancing Lotus class. It took me two years of constantly going to classes and workshops there to even be considered as a sub and then as a teacher. Needless to say I agonized over this. My compromise is to teach a FREE Saturday class there once a month.
When things are overwhelming and when I am exhausted, I take a few moments in legs up the wall to soak it all up.
I have a new mantra: Keep Calm and Carry OM.
Barbara Denowh is a yoga teacher in Helena, Montana. You can find her in cyberspace on Facebook or at her website denowhyoga.com. She also rambles about yoga, teaching, her wonderful husband, and her hound at babsbabble.com
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.