The Most Excellent Yoga Studio

I have a favourite yoga studio and I am sure you do too.
There will be certain places that we teach at, or practice at, that hold a little bit more magic for us than other places. But why?

It might be the beauty of the physical location, the tranquility of the studio room itself, or something more distinctive – the cafe downstairs, the unexpected crazy workshop next weekend or the new teacher you just met who has made you look at your own teaching differently.

It may even be the sounds you absorb and let wash over you in savasana. At one of my favourite studios in East London, it was the Rasta man in the street below announcing “Drum and Bass! Roots and Culture!”

When you get to the stage of thinking about what your OWN studio might look like (and yes we all do it, even if making that dream a reality is some way off) these aspects take on a greater significance.

However, here’s the crucial thing that a lot of first time studio owners miss:

It’s not about you and your day dream.

That’s right. Leave that for the soft focus movie moments you have just before drifting off to sleep.

It’s important to remember that you don’t build the dream for you – you build it for your customers. And in fact being clouded by emotion or fantasy can be one of the worst things you can do when starting a small business.

Yoginomics 101 has a lot to say on this subject (have you pre-ordered your copy yet? No? Click here!) but if you are just beginning to consider what it might take to open a studio then let’s get down to practicalities and try a short exercise to ground you in reality.

Think about The Most Excellent Studio. Either one you are familiar with, or one you know of that ticks ALL the boxes.

(You may take notes.)

Think about the following:

1. Is it on the way to somewhere?

You bet it is. This can be a bit of a double edged sword as amazing locations carry high rents. But when considering where to base a studio, or where to try and find a space for a class you will need to bear in mind the basics like transport links and catchment area. Especially in cities, your customers will have a low tolerance to unnecessary additional commuting.

2. Does it run like a Japanese train schedule?

Otherwise known as – does it have as systems and processes? This is about plain old fashioned customer service. Normal business rules apply here ie. your customers want to be able to book spaces either online or with a quick call, sign into class quickly, and be kept up to date with schedule changes and events. Get this wrong, and it’s like inviting a Whirling Dervish into your serene yoga class… in other words it’s a recipe for chaos and confusion.

3. Does the timetable speak directly to the customer?

Common sense rules here. Clever timetabling is actually a subject worthy of an entirely separate article but start to pay closer attention to studio timetables. You will find that the New Mum workshop goes into the mid morning, and the whizz bang dynamic teacher into 7pm Wednesday. The best teacher in the world won’t get a look in at a city studio if they are scheduled to teach mid afternoon.

4.  Is there a sense of ‘place’ about the, errr, place?

A great studio will have a set of defining physical characteristics, whether that be cosy, lofty, tropical, light, minimalist, tranquil. Although in theory yoga can be practised in a whitewashed windowless room, yogis are invariably somewhat seduced by the small touches; the spicy incense, the colourful Ganesh on the wall. The best studios have atmosphere and character.

5. Does it provide the customer with what he/she needs, and then some?

Increasingly, yoga studios are multifunctional spaces. They offer dance or pilates, delicious juices, the chance to buy a new mat or the opportunity to get know fellow students and teachers outside ‘yoga hours’. This is an important commercial point to think about, as for your studio to flourish, it will need to be about more than JUST yoga.

6. Is it about the people, as much as about the space itself?

Of course it is. Yoga naturally encourages the formation of community. Quite often we are drawn to a studio because we feel we ‘belong’. This has to do with the teachers we find inspirational, the friends we engage with, and the feeling of common purpose and shared experience that yoga gives us.

So The Most Excellent Studio is a many feathered beast. It is the sum of a group of attributes, some practical and tangible, some more esoteric. However, the key thing to remember is that it’s not a passion project –  it’s a business – and even if you’ve only just qualified as a teacher it’s never too early to think about this….

What gives your favourite studio its x factor? Tell us about your favourite studio in the comments below – what makes it special, but more importantly what makes it successful?

About The Author

Jules Barber

Jules Barber is the Founder & Creator of Yoginomics. Having worked in a golden cage in London for 15 years she sold out of her business to become a yoga teacher, corporate wellness specialist and location independent entrepreneur, on a mission to mentor and coach the next generation of amazing yogis - teachers and students alike.

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