I remember how exciting it was when we opened our second yoga studio. Our first location was thriving, and it was so difficult to find a spot in any of our classes that the second studio seemed like a no-brainer. Running a yoga studio is a demanding but rewarding experience. It didn’t just give me a chance to pursue my passion full time. It also gave me an incredible community of people to practice with.
Anybody who’s regularly attended a studio practice can tell you how valuable community is outside of the classes themselves. In fact, some of the most popular teachers were a draw specifically because of the communities that thrived around them.
It wasn’t long after we opened that second studio that COVID arrived into New York City and put in-person classes into the rearview mirror. We had no idea when we’d ever be able to open again, and those once-thriving in-person communities suddenly ceased to exist. And while we had previously put some minor focus in creating online, it definitely wasn’t our main way of connecting with students, But, like with almost everything else in the world, COVID changed everything.
There are a ton of differences between an in-person and online yoga studio, but I found the journey online to be just as awe-inspiring as yoga itself. Here’s what I’ve learned in transitioning from being an in-person studio owner to an online yoga business owner.
I was surprised at how many people don’t have access to an in-person studio.
In New York City and the surrounding areas, there’s a yoga studio every couple of blocks. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are because of how many options there are here. As much as we complain about how crowded city life can be, we do benefit by having a lot of people who can support multiple places to practice yoga or meditation. Areas with lower populations sometimes just don’t have the student population to support a yoga studio. Lots of gyms or community centers will sometimes take up the mantle and run yoga classes alongside other fitness regimes.
While this is amazing, I’ve seen a ton of students from these areas interested in practicing a more diverse set of classes or interested in taking courses that aren’t offered locally and it’s exciting that online classes and trainings have given them this opportunity.
Community is just as important, but done differently
Community is a vital part of any yoga studio, whether online or in-person. Online, we develop community differently than in-person. We work together through online groups, email, and zoom calls. Online groups provide a great place for people to learn because they can look at different questions that students might have asked a while back and multiple people can contribute answers rather than the individual responses you might get during a one-on-one conversation.
Online opens up more affordable options.
The cost of running an in-person studio is entirely different than running an online practice. With an in-person studio we’re restricted by the space we practice in. If we only have one room, we can only have 1 class at a time. If we’re running a teacher training then we have to cancel classes to make room for the training. With online, we’ve been able to scale at a much more affordable rate since we don’t have as much overhead as we do with an in-person training. In fact, I’ve made it my mission to provide training at an affordable rate so that students who don’t have a four thousand dollar budget can still take a yoga teacher training.
Yoga should be for everyone and I love that the online experience has made it more accessible.
Everybody takes their own path.
Running an in-person studio is a local experience. You’re working with people in your neighborhood, which means your students might share a similar regional lens with how they view different things. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with a diverse population from all sorts of backgrounds, but New York is still New York with its own idiosyncrasies just like any other city.
As we made the shift online, the New York region only supplies a fraction of our student population. Our students come from all walks of life, backgrounds and belief systems and in some ways, I believe that an online studio helps to enable this a little bit more than an in-person studio. People step into a yoga class for all sorts of different reasons. Some will come because their physical therapist recommended it. Others might come because they’re looking to balance their exercise routine.
Still, others might be looking to yoga for the philosophical aspects. Since we have a larger overall population than you’d see with an in-person studio, it gives people an opportunity to connect with like-minded people and pursue a path through yoga that suits them. I find that it’s important to encourage people forward on their own journey rather than trying to rush them into a practice that looks like mine.
With YogaRenew, I’ve been running online yoga teacher trainings for years and I couldn’t be happier with the community we’ve built. Each week, we get the opportunity to speak with people from all over the world and connect with one another on this incredible practice. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn next.