Here’s what it’s really like to own and manage a yoga studio

5 min read

I’m a person who happily jumps into different challenges if they excite me. I don’t look so much at if I have tons of experience in the things that I do; rather, what I look for most is a feeling of enthusiasm and passion for my projects. During the last three years, I have managed a small yoga studio in the Philippines, with (you guessed it) not much prior experience.

Here are some truthful things you should consider before opening your studio.

In the beginning, you won’t make much money.

You will have to pay for your expenses. You are unlikely to make much money in your first few years. When you first start, the cost of buying mats, belts, blocks, and other props can be quite high.

It will also take time to develop a regular audience of yogis. This will require you to be prepared to invest when necessary and plan accordingly. Start with a small side business, share your venue with like-minded entrepreneurs, and gradually increase the number of classes.

Work on your business and not in it.

Every business owner knows you can’t grow your business by working on it. It would be best if you did it.

You may find it tempting to run your own business (and you can, up to a point), but in addition to that, you will also have to oversee the venue and sales, maintain an online presence, and handle legal issues. It can be a lot of work and takes up a lot of your time.

When I first started hiring yoga teachers, I almost hyperventilated into a brown paper bag. How could they possibly be able to convey the soul of my business in the way that I intended? Guess what? Stressed-out owner/teacher/all-rounder does not help either. Letting go and sharing the load is a great thing. This brings me to my second point.

You’ll need to have leadership skills in order to manage and resolve conflicts.

It’s great to meet yoga teachers of all backgrounds. You are in charge of running your yoga studio, which means you have to hire (and fire, if necessary) all the teachers. It’s important to be prepared, even if it means hiring friends. Make contracts, deal with legal issues, and prepare yourself.

If you don’t know a lot of teachers, then you will need to hire, interview and advertise teachers. You will also have to coordinate everyone’s schedules to fit the classes that you are offering. No matter how hard you try, things can still go wrong. You may have to reprimand or fire someone.

This was one of my hardest tasks as someone who hates conflict. Ownership of a studio is a leadership skill, which means you have to be there for the good, bad, and ugly.

You are ultimately responsible if something happens.

Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out, things happen. You are responsible for everything that happens in your yoga studio. You may find that your yoga teachers arrive late or never at all. The reasons for this could range from family emergencies to delayed flights.

You, as the studio owner, must be prepared to step in at a moment’s notice to either teach or to find a substitute. You will have to cancel any fun plans you had for yourself and “live” at your studio.

Owning and running a business can be compared to caring for a newborn baby. You are constantly on call, and the child needs constant attention.

It is possible that you don’t have the time to teach or be a student at your studio.

I used to believe that because I had my studio and was hiring and hosting all the yoga teachers, I could practice yoga as much as I wanted and attend any class. When I did join a yoga class, however, my mind would be busy managing the studio and not on my practice. I wondered if the kitchen was running on time or if invoices were prepared correctly.

Eventually, I gave up, realizing that the only option was a private lesson or my practice. It was a painful moment of self-reflection for me. Was this the lifestyle I really wanted? Even though I enjoyed it, working for 12-16 hours per day, seven days a week, was not sustainable.

What’s your final verdict?

I wouldn’t change a thing because – as cliché as it may sound – the hard times are what teach us our most valuable lessons. We can sometimes confuse the love of something with a desire to make it a business and turn ‘what we love’ into ‘what we do for a livelihood.’

You should ask yourself what the most important thing in your life is. I think you must be passionate about what you do. You can also enjoy many benefits as a student or freelance teacher of yoga if you are not sure about opening a studio.

I don’t want to discourage anyone. Especially if owning and managing a yoga studio is truly what you desire; instead, I’d like to present a realistic view that focuses on both the highs and the challenges.

If, after doing all the research and weighing up the pros and cons, you feel this is your destiny, then go for it. I will be cheering you on and happy to answer your questions. Just post them below.

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