Lake Tahoe Yoga began as an idea. For years I would joke about various locations being "a great place for a studio." I never thought I would actually become a studio owner. It wasn't until I was approached by some locals who were curious about my skills beyond counseling that I considered starting my own business. I began with just a few classes, some private sessions, and free classes. Once I began actively teaching, I realized how much I had to learn about business, people and community.
Giving too Much Away
I am enthusiastic about instructing, guiding, and helping others to discover their paths. The teacher in me is always proud to see my students demonstrate their understanding, develop new skills and grow as individuals. While instructing others, I am always learning. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized the very people that I had been supporting, guiding, and instructing were planning on attempting to become my competition. Upon leaving Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio they took more than the knowledge I had shared; they took practitioners, ideas and more.
It is incredible to look back to 2008 and review how rapidly technology, advertising, marketing and business has changed. During this time there have been positive and negative shifts in every field. I have had to change everything about the way I market my business. What will never change is the roots of Lake Tahoe Yoga.
Many of the studios, gyms, etc. in town may be listed on Mindbody or some other app. They may have pretty photos with people posing on their instagram. Maybe they are offering classes at breweries, art studios, wineries, with goats and cats and dogs. They are viciously competing with one another. Lake Tahoe Yoga continues to remain focused on our roots: the practice, the knowledge and sharing it with others.
Putting our Money where it Matters
Lake Tahoe Yoga wouldn't exist if it wasn't for our community. It was the locals that encouraged me to begin instructing and who continue to support the studio. I didn't practice at any other studio in Tahoe. I didn't train with a studio here. I didn't learn how to run a business by working for another studio. Everything at Lake Tahoe Yoga grew through active learning, community engagement & support, and the dedication I have to the practice, studio, and practitioners.
Our social media photos are of Tahoe and people just like you and me doing their best to access more than a pose. They are trying to access Yoga. They are living in this world, working beside you. They are breathing, moving and observing themselves and the world around them hoping to bring forth positive change.
Every penny spent to advertise Lake Tahoe Yoga is purposeful and focused. From local memberships for TRYP, SLTWHS and Tahoe Chamber to social media the advertising is calculated to be the best way for us to reach the community and to give back.
Supporting Small, Local Yoga Studios & Businesses
Over the past 10 years I have learned much about Tahoe South, business, and people. I have grown as an instructor, business owner and individual. I have deepened my understanding of Yoga and what it means to truly practice. I know I am not perfect. I remind my students that not everyone lives life with an open mind and that most people are in service only to themselves. Taking this lesson to heart, I have chosen not to advertise on the popular apps so that I can donate a portion of Lake Tahoe Yoga's profits to local and international non-profits.
When traveling, I seek out the small, locally owned studios that are not listed on Mindbody and do not have fancy advertisements or websites. I have discovered wonderful studios, new instructors, friendships, connections and more. I have expanded this practice beyond Yoga studios and have begun seeking out small businesses, as well. It has opened many new doors.
Go Small, Support Locals
There is no guarantee that the studio you find listed on Mindbody is the best, nor is there a guarantee that the teacher instructing in the basement of her house is any good. You will never know if you don't try it out. How about giving that new teacher in the basement a try before heading to the studio paying to be noticed? Step into that funky little shop on the corner instead of going to the one with thousands of reviews. Ask a friend for a recommendation, ask a local where they go, step off of the beaten path and try something new. For it is only when we try that we know.
Yoga vs yoga
During a recent video stream, the difference between capital "Y" Yoga and lowercase "y" yoga was described. The first being the traditional practice as described by the Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The latter, being the practices commonly engaged in by modern Americans. What is the difference? INTENTION: Yoga practitioners are seeking betterment, contentment, enlightenment, while yoga practitioners are seeking a better body, group affiliation and fun. The traditional practice of Yoga has been copied, cut, split, divided and sectioned out. There are hundreds of styles that focus on just a few of the aspects of the practice. As a yoga practitioner, you are only getting a tiny taste of a very big pie.
Be Willing to Listen
To truly practice Yoga you have to be able to honor the traditions outlined in texts from over 5000 years ago while still existing and functioning as a human living in today's society. This is not easy. Many Yogis are perceived as weirdos who are out of touch with the rest of the world. Look at Jim Carey; he understands Yoga, but his words are falling upon deaf ears. Many of those with whom he speaks are not practicing Yoga. What he has to say is difficult to grasp, therefore, it can sound as though he has lost his mind. Yoga practitioners are willing to listen, even if we don't quite understand. We are ready to learn, to experience, to gain wisdom.
Be Willing to Compromise
You perceive the world based upon your upbringing and experiences. You see the world through your own eyes. You will never be able to see it as your brother, best friend, grandfather, or aunt does. At all times, we must do our best to attempt to see the world in another way, even though it will always be shaded by our own perspective. We can compromise. We can reach out to others and meet them where they are. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we do this by offering our weekly Vinyasa & Vino practice.
We are seeking yoga practitioners who are willing to attempt to see the world differently. We want to meet you and hear about how you see the world. We have opened our door to invite you in to learn about the traditional practice of Yoga and to encourage you to try it out.
We want you to feel good, to look good and to have fun as well as to listen, learn and discover your Self.
Join us on Friday evenings for Vinyasa; a sequence of interconnected movements that encourage grace. Then stay for a glass of wine and Satsang; a conversation among like-minded people.
On October 27th, my pitch for Lake Tahoe Yoga was shown on the Vistaprint Facebook page as part of a live feed during which they provided feedback to business owners.
As I watched the feed with one of my practitioners she commented; "Talk about being vulnerable." I was more overcome with excitement to have Lake Tahoe Yoga reach thousands of people rather than concerned about the fact that I was putting myself out to be critiqued.
I have always seen LTY as a reflection of who I am and what I want for our community. When the studio doesn't do well, I feel like I am failing. When it succeeds, I am encouraged. Regardless of success or failure, I will continue to strive for change and growth both for myself and LTY.
The feedback I received was valuable and will guide me as I move forward in promoting what we offer. I should note that this is not the only feedback I have ever received and certainly not the only contest I have entered. I belong to multiple business groups both locally and online and am often asking for guidance and honest feedback from others. In fact, when we remodeled in 2015, the funding came partially from a contest that I won through a business group created by Quickbooks.
As a business owner, I know that the best guidance comes from those who are in the same boat; people who own or have owned businesses in a variety of locations and fields. Their guidance helps me to learn lessons without going through the struggle and to take consideration of things that may have never occurred to me.
As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I know that there is much to be learned from teachers outside of my local area. I strive to bring traditional, new, and unique practices and ideas to our studio and hope to spread them throughout the basin. My husband often comments that Lake Tahoe Yoga is "where good ideas come from" and that we "populate Tahoe with high quality teachers." I would never assume that I am the only one who is drawing from outside of the area, or that I am the best in Tahoe, but I hope that which I am teaching is having an influence on the yoga community in Tahoe.
As a Yoga studio, our job is to share knowledge, experience and philosophies about Yoga. Our hope is that you, our practitioners, will absorb what we share and eventually, begin to do the same. There is a middle ground, though, for all of this. You see, we all have to practice and our practice is more than just what we do in the studio. It is the generalization of the skills we learn in class into our lives. It is a lifestyle.
You are Me
Have you felt the effects of your practice? To find Yoga is to find your Self. In order to get there, you have to restrain (Yamas) your wants and observe (Niyamas) your needs. The way you treat yourself should be reflected in how you treat others. And, if you see yourself as spiritual, holy, god-loved, etc. then you will see all others in this way.
Restrain, Direct, Control
Every posture is a demonstration of the practice of Yama. We move with intention trying to retain the position prescribed in any way that our bodies are able. We can generalize this practice into our lives through the Yamas.
The Yamas are five-fold: Truth, Helping, Generosity, Moderation and Sharing. Living your life with the intention of retaining these aspects of Yoga can shift our perspective and have an effect on others. Imagine if everything you did was guided by these principals. What would you do differently?
Observe, Reflect, Realize
Pranayama practices are tools designed to focus and limit our thoughts. These breathing techniques include a count of breaths, length of each, pauses between and various aspects of mudra or mantra. These techniques are the first step in establishing Niyama.
Niyama are five-fold: Purity, Contentment, Self Study, Dedication and Devotion. These practices direct our attention toward our own habits. We live life based upon memories, experiences, wants and desires. Our thoughts and actions are a demonstration of subconscious karma. To practice Niyama is to practice treating yourself well. The more you do so, the better you will treat others.
Shift, Adjust, Change
Our continued practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama ultimately leads us toward the additional four limbs: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
The more we live a lifestyle of Yama and Niyama, maintain our physical health through Asana and consciously breathe the less our attention will be drawn to distraction (pratyahara).
Allowing ourselves opportunities to spend time alone, in quiet spaces allowing our minds to be directed by rhythmic breathing or sound vibrations, the better we become at focusing upon that which is important (dharana).
Silencing the chatter of useless thoughts, detaching from toxic people and environments, recognizing that which we can control and letting things happen as they will while remaining present becomes natural (dhyana).
Eventually, we will settle into contentment and recognize that we are each a tiny droplet in the ocean of the universe (samadhi).
Tahoe is a playground. It really is. There is the opportunity to do any number of fun activities in a day. You could wake up and CrossFit, go for a run, mountain bike, play golf, go skiing and finish with a restorative Yoga practice or a cocktail. What a great place in which we live!
In order to keep this place wonderful and sustainable, we have to not only protect the natural resources we have but also the community of incredible people that have made this location what it is. Since the opening of Svadhyaya Yoga Studio in 2008, I have worked to make sure that I feel connected to our community and that I am actively supporting it. I cross the state line in order to visit friends who own businesses, I reach out to local not-for-profits, I support our schools and groups that give back. In turn, our studio is supported by the incredible community of practitioners that have found their way to our space.
Yoga, as you may already know, means union. When I think about what Lake Tahoe Union means to me, it means unity in Lake Tahoe through the connection of all of us including community members, businesses, families, everyone!
Take a moment today, tomorrow and every day. Consider what you have done in order to be a part of your community. How have you supported, sustained or grown the world around you? How can you do more?