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.
Be Vulnerable and Ask for Feedback
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.
Yoga is not a business
Although Americans have made a business of teaching asana, we can never make yoga into a business. To find bliss is an individual pursuit and, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, requires a guru - someone who is Javanmukti. Unfortunately, that means those of us worried about red lines, income, practitioner numbers and advertising, aren't there. So, how do we, as yogis, as teachers, as business owners really follow and guide others on the path of yoga while still surviving the commercial world? We must not lose sight of what this practice is all about. It's not about getting more people in the door or becoming a "famous yogi." It's about quality. To teach is to guide, to give others the knowledge of ages, to help them to find their path. It's about sharing all that you have learned and helping others to seek out more while you do the same. It's about satya and ahimsa. To be a yoga teacher, a studio owner, a guide for others, is to always keep the mind of the beginner and to follow your path to enlightenment not the one of fame and fortune. Are you teaching?