WLVT: A Teacher's Take on the Business of Yoga
Are you a yoga teacher? A huge portion of people who come to Wanderlust, or any yoga conference, are yoga teachers themselves. Some of them might be trying to travel with yoga workshops, some might be studio owners, others might be looking to book their very first group class. One common denominator is the fact that most teachers could use stand to learn a bit about the business end of yoga. And while we teach hopefully to give back to the community and to become better people ourselves while helping others, at the end of the day, for many of us, it is still a job. And just because you are doing something great that you love, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work that you deserve to profit from financially. With that understanding, let me walk you through the awesome and informative panel of The Business of Yoga that I attended in the Speakeasy yesterday morning.
The panel was in the zen setting of the Speakeasy, with its beautiful lighting and décor complete with gold statue of Ganesha and colorful pillows spread on the floor for anyone who wanted to get up close. It consisted of four people: Julia Kadarusman, David Romenelli, Cameron Shayne and Chris Cuevas. All of them are innovators in their own right; Julia, an owner of a successful studio in central NJ, David, famous for yoga & chocolate workshops, Cameron inventor of Budukon, an infusion of martial arts and yoga and Chris Cuevas, the man responsible for hiring the yoga talent we have all experienced at Wanderlust.
The word that is constantly used in every business of yoga class I’ve ever attended is authenticity. And it’s being said over and over and over, and that’s because it’s true. Without authenticity, it’s no longer yoga. So go find your true voice. Easy, right? Not so much. But every day, if you make a conscious effort to be true to who you are, what you love and believe, eventually your true voice sings. And that voice is what will drive your career. As David Romanelli put it, “Pick an angle.” Not an angle in a bad way, as in picking an angle just to market yourself for money, but rather the angle that’s true to you and comes naturally (which for David was yoga and chocolate). It was different and fun and very him.
In 2013, there isn’t a business lecture in any field where social media is not discussed. It is a must to be successful. If I had to pick a second theme for the lecture this morning, I think that this would be it. There are famous yoga instructors born straight from YouTube videos, for example, Sadie Nardini. Sure, that doesn’t happen with everyone, but most certainly you should be rocking at least one social media platform on a daily basis. And this takes commitment. Once you decide who you are and where you want to be, you have to do it full force and with your whole heart.
Chris Cuevas, for yoga teachers, I would imagine is the most sought after person at Wanderlust, because he is the one who books the yoga talent that come here and present or teach at Wanderlust. So the question was posed, what does he look for when hiring someone? Authenticity. Commitment. And a good social media following. When he types your name in the Google search box, the return will be how he decides to hire or pass on you. How Googleable are you?
After a long discussion about social media, Cameron Shayne chimed in to say we forgot something important. At the heart of it all, you have to be a good teacher, he said. “[When we all teach], we are able to create transformational space for students. You have to be a good teacher with good content.” I would certainly hope so. Just because a yogi can do every inversion in the middle of the room or every backbend in the books, it doesn’t mean that they are a good teacher. So, if you still use a wall for handstand, don’t think it will affect your success as a yoga instructor.
The panel discussion wrapped up with Q&A and what I kept thinking was that it was very cool to be a part of the energy in the room, being surrounded by people who all actively trying to make yoga into their careers. It’s a unique setting. Everyone was listening so carefully, and really considering the topics that were bought up. These are people that might be going through similar things as you, or people who can offer assistance or advice and it proves that it’s the community that really matters, learning from each other. Someone suggested that next time, they should have a “cocktail” hour after the panel discussion or some sort of meet and greet for all of us up and coming yoga stars to connect and network with each other. And isn’t that what Wanderlust is all about? As Sean Hoess and Jeff Krasno (co-founders of Wanderlust) put it in a press meeting, there are usually always people before you who have tried to do what it is you are doing, and those are the people you can look toward to model yourself after or to learn from their mistakes. Julia Kadarusman also said something similar, “Learn how they did it and then bring yourself to the party.” So, if you are interested in moving your yoga career forward, ask your neighbor in the next class you attend what their situation is. Connect. The next Sean Corne could be right next to you!
~ Tosia is both a certified yoga and Pilates instructor, hold a masters degree in Creative Writing and writes a successful yoga blog. She has appeared on numerous yoga and Pilates DVDs for the fitness company Regeneration from 2007 to 2011 which she held part ownership along with her support system: her sister and mother (also certified instructors) whom share her passion for fitness. A bit of a renaissance woman, she was also a featured singer on the Grammy award winning children's album Songs From The Neighborhood: A Tribute to Mr. Rogers in 2006, and my EP of original music was featured in Brazil's popular magazine: SPEAK UP in 2011. She is truly grateful to be able to merge her passion for yoga and creative writing into her blog: YogabyTosia: Experience. Evaluate. Evolve. Find her on Facebook here, Twitter here, and Instagram @bytosia.