Some businesses feel they are successful if they have managed to stay open for one full year. If that’s the case, count us in the “we made it!” group. This past August our little-yoga-studio-that-could celebrated its one year birthday. We had a lovely celebration of yoga, cupcakes and good community. I’m always shocked at how quickly time can pass and how much STUFF can be crammed into just one year. This past year has held many teacher changes, a growing yogic community and several studio identities.
As any small business owner can surely understand, finding an identity that works can be the trickiest part of business longevity. When we first opened I attempted to trace the blueprints of my favorite Chicago yoga studio, without recognizing that since that yoga studio already existed and was doing quite well, maybe something different was needed. At the time, I thought that meant we would easily find eager similar yogis willing to give us a try. However, after a few months and taking several steps back to assess how things were going it became clear that my initial idea wasn’t the best one. That realization led to our identity renovation in March. We completely revamped our schedule, fine tuned our philosophy and dropped all of our prices. Seven months later I am happy to tell you that we have realized an identity in which we can believe.
Is it a challenge to have lower prices and all-levels classes? Absolutely. We aren’t raking in the big bucks and it can produce a quandary when you have a room full of seasoned yogis and one yogi who is attending their first ever class. But that’s the beauty of yoga! It’s humbling to remember my first yoga class, having to crane my neck to see if in fact the other students also heard the teacher calmly ask us to lift our toes of the floor and balance on our hands (what??) in something called crow pose. So, at times, while I admit to being a bit flustered by the wide eyed newbie yogi, it can be pretty powerful watching them go through an entire class without throwing up their hands and saying screw this, I’m out. By having all levels of students in the same room, moving through the same poses a visceral sense of coming together fills the studio to an almost tangible point. Last but not least-let’s be honest, it takes a lot of balls to come into a room full of strangers, take of your shoes, move around in a confined area and breeeeeeeathe. Or even just breathe.
It’s hard to explain the feeling when you hear students after class meeting each other, exchanging contact information and planning yoga dates. Times like this remind me that yes, while I initially opened this studio for selfish reasons (to have a studio within walking distance with awesome teachers), it’s so much bigger than that. I sadly often forget that I didn’t continue practicing yoga because it made my physical body toned and super fly. I continued to practice yoga because how it made me feel inside: the natural high, a strange sense of optimism, the feeling that everything seems a little easier and peace. Some people get “that feeling” when they go to church. I get it when I teach and practice yoga.
All in all it has been a great year for the studio. We’ve gone through shifts and waves, we made it through a Groupon, and we still get new faces everyday who leave with that just done yoga serene smile. I’m proud of what we’ve built. I’m proud of who we’ve become. And I’m excited to see where we go.