Good news – There are more yoga teachers out there today than ever before!
Bad news – There are more yoga teachers out there today than ever before!
When we start our teacher training, we all have a vision of what our new life will be like — wearing stretchy pants all day, drinking green smoothies, and leading a room full of adoring yogis through an inspired yoga class… No doubt, it’s a beautiful vision, but the truth is being a yoga entrepreneur is not quite that easy.
With more and more people are getting into the “flow”, competition is stiff. It’s not enough anymore to complete your 200-hour certification, get your name on the schedule at your gym or local studio and teach a solid class. (I’ve tried that.) Nor is it enough to rent a storefront, hang a shingle, and start your own studio. (I’ve gone that route too.)
In this popular marketplace, it’s imperative to find your voice, build your personal brand, and define your niche in order to attract, engage, and grow your client base. Anyone can walk into a yoga class at their gym or corporate chain studio and get a decent to excellent workout. My question to you is: what is going to keep those yogis coming back to YOU?
What makes you uniquely the BEST person on Earth they could come to for their yoga needs?
Finding your voice is all about authenticity – discovering and defining who YOU are as a teacher/leader/warrior in your community, rather than who you think you SHOULD be.
I spent the early part of my yoga career trying to be like my teachers, using their sequencing, their language, their vibe. After all, they were excellent teachers with full classes! Why wouldn’t I want to be like them?
Yet, I often felt a kind of pressure to live up to my image of them and I wasn’t making as much money as I needed to quit my full-time office job. So I wrote a business plan, borrowed some money and opened my own storefront yoga studio so I could do things my way!
When, after 3 years, I wasn’t making a profit, I tried to cater more to public opinion. I traded in gentle, therapeutic yoga and chanting mantras for hand weights and “Yoga Sculpt,” and basically chased whatever I thought would get people in the door.
And guess what happened. I fell out of love with my studio and clients, I still wasn’t making a profit and by year 5, I felt exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually.
After much soul-searching, I decided to close the studio, regroup and begin again.
I’m reminded of this quote from Danielle LaPorte, whose book The Fire Starter Sessions was a major catalyst to help me get out of running the yoga business I thought I should be running and into the business I want to be running:
“When being real is your priority, the various parts of your life start to groove. Your career will begin to reflect your true passion; your living room will match your values; your friends will fit your soul; and your wealth — of which there are many definitions — will start to measure up with your notion of freedom. Sometimes the courage to be true to yourself comes in the form of an out-loud declaration, a rebellion, or a love-drenched vow. Other times it’s a quiet conviction that we can read in your eyes… Being genuine is the foundation of integrity — often inconvenient and not always painless — but the only way to go if you’re here to really, truly, fully live.”
Often I think we’re afraid to be totally authentic because people might not like it.
It’s true the more specialized your brand becomes, you’ll find you won’t appeal to everyone. The great news is that you don’t need to. There are enough potential clients and students out there for all of us!
I’ve spent the last year re-building my yoga business creatively around the things I LOVE! I see clients who who want to learn to chant mantras and crave a more therapeutic practice. I’m launching a podcast about abundance and social change. I’m helping other holistic practitioners and creative professionals find their voices and grow their businesses. And though this new yogi business is still in its infancy, I delight in every step of its progress because I feel so authentically like ME.
So how do you find YOUR voice?
Start by journaling on the following questions:
- Who are you? What’s important to you in your personal practice? Your business? Your lifestyle?
- What are you doing? For whom? Why?
- Then as you move throughout your week, engage in svadhyaya (self-study). Check in with yourself frequently and observe the following:
- When do you feel useful? Alive? Inspired?
- What activities give you more energy?
- What do you do with ease?
- Which topics light you up and make you want to talk about them all night long?
- Where do you struggle?
- What feels like a chore?
- When do you tune out, get distracted, or find yourself refreshing Facebook for the 15th time?
Finally, define your niche and add some flair by incorporating some of your “yogi super powers” — experiences, passions, skills from any previous careers and studies. For example, are you a world traveler? Maybe you could lead retreats. Do you love comic books? Who knows — maybe you could launch the first ComicCon for for yogis! Be creative. The possibilities are endless.
As you work to refine your professional yoga practice, you may hit a few snags, have to pivot and make adjustments. That’s normal. What I can tell you is that once you begin to express your authentic voice, the colleagues and clients who resonate best will manifest and your business will become a true reflection of you.
How are you going to begin to find your voice? What other tips and tricks do you have for yoga teachers?
Andrea Klunder is a Creative Consultant & Mindful Entrepreneur who collaborates with creative professionals, artists and healers in an approach to cultivating whole mind-body connection to find your tribe and express your voice. She’s a healer and yoga teacher who’s worked with people of all walks of life all over the world. She loves singing kirtan (musical meditation) as much as humanly possible. Yogipreneur readers can find my gift guide for discovering your voice here!