How to Run a Yoga Studio

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Online Yoga Teacher’s Training Sample Chapter:  Here is a chapter directly from the Yoga Training Manual.  This chapter teaches you how to run a yoga or meditation center.  As you can see, the material covered is quite detailed and comprehensive in nature.

How to Run a Yoga and Meditation Center

As part of the Yoga Teacher’s Training Program, it is important to share with you what I have learnt with regard to setting up and running a successful meditation or yoga classes. In this document I am going to guide you on how to accomplish this important project, so that you can share the light of meditation with others, and also earn a living doing so.

Although, setting up a full time yoga and meditation center with multiple services and staff, is a little beyond the scope of this article, the knowledge below will still be vital in helping you do that, if that is your ultimate goal. What I will share with you below though are the parts and pieces needed for you to teach meditation and yoga classes, and run a successful teaching business. If you are new to teaching the spiritual sciences or are interested in setting up your own classes, this article will be very useful to you.

In order to teach meditation and yoga classes as a profession, the following aspects important.

Location and Space

Essential Tools and Equipment

Structure and Process

Advertising

Insurance and Legal Waivers

Pricing

In the upcoming sections, I will address each of these items in detail. After studying the information below you will have everything needed in order to start your own meditation and yoga teaching business.

SECTION 1: Location and Space 

There are 3 solutions to the space issue, and if you are just starting out then options 1 and 2 are what you should pursue. Option 3 is renting your own space on a long-term basis, but this is a serious commitment and one you should make only after trying out options 1 and 2 and gaining experience.

Option 1: 

Using Your Own Home: 

The most common place where most such businesses start is in your own home. The basement in your home is a very appropriate place. This can work; but has some pros and cons. Below I will tell you what these are, and also give you some tips on how to make such a space good for meditation and yoga practice.

Pros of Using Your Home: 

1. Permanent Set-up: 

One of the best parts of using a basement, or other dedicated room, is that you can leave it pretty much set-up for your classes and save yourself time and effort. If you rent a temporary space, which is Option 2, then you have to constantly set-up and clean up the space.

2. No Commute Time: 

If you are starting a spiritual teaching profession, there is a good chance that this is your second job or that you are looking to do this on a part time basis to start. This generally means that time is a limited resource for you and every bit of time and energy you can save will be helpful to you. Thus starting the business in your home gives you that saving.

3. Full Control Over Environment: 

Running the classes from your home also gives you freedom with regard to how you want the environment to be set-up. Important items such as music, temperature, lighting, etc are completely under your control and you can mange them to improve the experience your students have.

Cons of Using your Home: 

1. Not Professional Enough: 

This is the biggest draw back of running the classes from your home. Unless you have a walk-out basement or separate structure where you are holding the classes, it is hard to make it a very professional environment, which in turn means it is harder to charge high rates for you classes. Also, having small kids and other “homely” aspects can affect the professional aspect of the business.

2. Parking: 

If your classes become successful, you need to be mindful of parking becoming an issue and the neighbors objecting. So be careful of this, and inform your students where to park so they are least intrusive for your neighbors.

3. Cancellations: 

You have to be on top of cancellations and schedule changes, as the students are going to show up at your house. This can be a little awkward as well if you have cancelled a class and then have to turn away students who have shown up on your doorstep.

4. Restrooms: 

You will also have to have a restroom conveniently located for the students. This can be another item you need to address when running a home yoga or meditation center.

How to Make Your Home Center Better: 

So how can you make your home meditation and yoga center more conducive to teaching classes? Here are some tips for doing this.

1. Separate Entrance: 

Having a separate entrance is very helpful in giving a home center a more professional feel. If you are planning to be a meditation teacher, then always look for a home with such a facility, whenever you plan to move.

2. Signs: 

It is helpful to have signs prominently displayed when you are running home classes. This is very important for new students to feel comfortable that they have come to the right house and are going the right way, and not wandering around in your bedroom :-) .

The 3 signs I had were the following, when I ran the classes from my home basement. One outside the house, one indicating the Restroom and one indicating the Yoga Center.

More tips and hints for how to make your home center or other meditation space very good for teaching classes are in the next section on Essential Tools and Equipment.

Option 2: 

Renting a Space: 

I have also in the past run a successful yoga and meditation program, by renting a space. This is almost like running the classes from your home, but as discussed above I am sure you see the advantages and disadvantages.

Essentially, this requires more time and energy to do, but you benefit from having a much more professional set-up which clients expect to pay for. Here are some tips on how to find such spaces for your classes:

1. Art Buildings: 

Art building are great to find studios in which to hold your classes. I have used such a space previously and it was a reasonable and convenient option.

2. Yoga Centers or Karate Centers: 

Other places where you can rent the space for you classes or workshops are of course other Yoga Centers or Martial Arts Centers. Both these places often allow for their space to be rented for such activities.

3. Local Churches & Temples: 

Check with the local spiritual establishments if you can use their space for your classes. The difficulty here can be charging for them at times.

4. Local Municipal Buildings & Schools: 

Local libraries, recreational departments and schools always have spaces for events and classes. Again, you have to find one that allows you to charge. If you are holding classes for free, then you will have a much easier time with using these spaces.

5. Local Firehouses, Restaurants and Clubs: 

Many local establishments have such halls available for rent on an hourly basis. They are also good locations for your classes.

SECTION 2: Essential Tools and Equipment 

As a meditation teacher your job is to make sure that the class experience is transformational and memorable for the students. To this the following equipment will come in very handy.

1. Music: 

Although music may not be appropriate for most meditation sections of your class, it is great for the yoga and Pranayama phases. So make sure you have good equipments and more importantly good music selected for the class. Tunes that are spiritual, but not necessarily too relaxing are good. For the yoga and Pranayama phases you want more pick me up tunes, as they are doing physical work, so don’t go for very slow stuff. If the meditation you plan to teach allows music, then perhaps you can have some relaxing, slow tunes for that section.

It is better if you can control your music system with a remote.

2. Lighting: 

The lighting in your studio should be variable. In other words, you should be able to dim them when necessary. This is very key because although you need good lighting during the gentle yoga and Pranayama portions for the class, during the meditation portion or relaxation phase (for a full blooded yoga class), it is best to dim the lights to set the ambiance.

It is better if you can control your lighting with a remote.

3. Incense: 

I suggest not using incense or other smoky items on the days you have classes. Many students are allergic to them and also, they can affect the pranayamas. Use them on off days to leave a nice fragrance, or burn them in other areas of the house or studio to minimize the smoky affect in the studio itself.

4. Fan: 

A fan is a must for any class that has pranayamas and yoga. It keeps the air fresh and circulating. If you have windows make sure they are open as well, to allow fresh air in. In winters, if it is cold where you live, open them a crack at least, but make sure the studio is not too cold, as that can lead to injuries during yoga.

5. Water: 

It is important to have water available for the students in your class. A few cups and a bottled water source, is a worthwhile investment for the benefits and appreciation it gets from the students.

6. Mats / Sheets: 

If you have a hardwood floor, then you need to either arrange for mats, or be sure your students know to bring one with them. If you have carpeting, then I strongly suggest using sheets. I used very large sheets that are actually sofa covers (I got them from Wal-Mart) and they were excellent for this task. Sheets can be washed weekly and covers hug the carpet so it does not slip and slide.

7. Cushions: 

For a meditation or gentle yoga class, firm cushions are really good as well. They allow the students to sit more comfortably for the prolonged meditation periods and are really appreciated. Zen Zafus are the best, but since these can be quite expensive, you can get cheaper cushions to start with.

8. Sign-up Sheets and Basic Stationary: 

You should have a table set-up at the entrance of the studio where the students can sign-in when they arrive.

More on this topic in the Structure and Process section.

9. Information Board: 

It is important to have an information board at your center as well, where you can have your class timings listed and also, any changes or special workshops. I got mine from Staples and used an erasable board with magnets to hang fliers, which worked great.

10. Index Cards: 

It is a good idea to have the set you are going to teach on Index Cards if you don’t know them perfectly. You should not have a manual, other book or large papers with you when teaching, as that does not engender confidence.

11. Clocks and Stop Watch: 

Very important is to have a time device and stop watch when holding your class. This will help you time the exercises as well as the meditation session.

12. Meditation Bell: 

A meditation bell, which you can ring to give updates to the students on the amount of time that has passed, is a very nice touch. For long sessions, where beginners are allowed a break after 5 minutes or 10 minutes, it can come in handy.

13. Gong: 

If you are doing Gong Meditation, then of course you need a gong .

14. Cash Register or Money Box: 

Whether you are running classes on donation or are charging for them, you will need a cash register or box to handle the transactions. If you have a sophisticated operation, then you will need to be able to accept credit cards as well.

15. Box of Tissues: 

Yes you will need to have a tissue box available for the students to clean their nose in order to be able to do the pranayamas comfortably.

16. Decorations: 

It is really helpful if your studio is decorated with inspirations photos and statues, but don’t clutter it up. The feeling should be one of spaciousness and sanctity. You will notice after teaching here for a while, that the very quality of the air will change, and those that walk in for the first time will immediately feel the holy nature of this place. This is a tell tale sign that you are on the right track .

SECTION 3: Structure and Process 

I have gone over many details on how to set-up your class in the article How to Teach a Meditation Class, but here I will concentrate more on the overall process of running the classes. Essentially, your classes should flow as below.

1. Students Arrive: 

When students arrive, make sure you are guiding the new ones on what they need to do. The veterans usually go ahead and take their place in the class and do some light stretching or meditation. I don’t suggest having back-to-back classes, make sure you have at least a 15-minute break between them.

New students should be asked to fill out the legal waiver form and sign-in, while veterans just need to sign-in. The legal waiver I use is in SECTION 5 below.

2. Start On Time: 

Even if the class is half empty, start. Start on time. Don’t delay as that just sets a bad precedence and then the students become habitually late. Once it’s time, start. The key here is to make sure that the students who come on time sit towards the front, so that there is space in the back for the latecomers to sit.

3. After Class: 

How to teach the class I have detailed in the article above as I mentioned. So once class is over do the question answer period and then approach the new students to get their thoughts and feedback. This way they feel welcome and can ask questions privately.

4. Class Preparation Information: 

I of course go over how to create a website for your business in the important How to Build Your Website document, but it is important to list what your students need to bring to class and other pre class instructions. Here is my website address for my classes, and the list of how they should prepare for class is below as well.

http://anmolmehta.com/blog/classes/

A.

Please arrive a few minutes early to class.

B.

Wear comfortable clothing.

C.

Don’t eat anything-heavy 2-3 hours prior to class.

D.

Bring your own mat if you like.

E.

Water is provided, but you may bring your own if you like

5. Managing Your Classes: 

So you now have classes and students regularly. This is great but now you have to manage all of this. When I say manage it is the need to be able to communicate changes to them effectively and keep track of class sizes etc. So you must do the following 2 things:

A.

Email Lists: You need to have email lists of each class and all the students as well. This way you can update them on cancellations, changes, etc. Have them put their email when they sign-in and right after class add them to your address book. Don’t delay this step or the work will pile up and the students will start to miss out on important announcements.

B.

Phone Numbers: You also need phone numbers of the students, in case there is a last minute change. For in this case email won’t help and it is professional courtesy to inform them of the changes.

C.

Payments: I cover this in the Pricing section.

Important Miscellaneous Tips: 

Here are some miscellaneous tips that are important to run a good class:

Turn off the ringer on your house and cell phone prior to class, and ask the students to do the same.

Whether you are teaching at home or in a studio, you will need to manage the new students and latecomers. So have systems in place to deal with this.

Prepare the night before for your class, so you are not stressed 5 minutes prior as to what you are going to teach. You want to be as relaxed as possible for your class.

SECTION 4: Advertising 

As my teacher told us, although the great masters say there is no need to advertise, he suggests we do, and I suggest you do also :-) .

Your best advertisement is going to be your website. I will show you how to build that in the How to Build a Website document, but here I want to give you some more forms of advertising which I found to be very effective and good.

1. Local Township Website: 

One of the first places to get the word out about your classes is in the local township website. If they do not have a classifieds section here, what they will have is a forum. Or you will find your township forum on other large forum host servers. Just do a Google search for “Your Town Name State Forum”.

You should post about your classes in all the local forums you find. This is actually something you should do periodically as forum topics age. You should also link to your website from these forums.

2. Craig’s List and Other Classified Sources: 

You should also put classified ads for your classes on websites such as Craig’s List (www.craigslist.com) and Sulekha (www.sulekha.com).

This is free to do and gets you some exposure and back links for your website. All sites that have classifieds for free, by location should be on your list for postings.

3. Free Yoga Directories: 

Next you should place ads for your classes in the large yoga directories. There are also for free and is where you will get most of your students. The big directories are…

www.yogadirectory.com

www.yogafinder.com

4. Local Coupon Books, Magazines and Newspapers: 

Now we get to the aspect of advertising that costs some money. At this point you should see how your classes are going so you have some idea about your income potential. The next stage for advertising should be in your local print media.

Here check for popular ethnic magazines, such as Little India and check your local newspapers. In addition, check the local coupon books that come as the can be a good source of exposure as well.

5. Local Radio and TV: 

Finally, you can look into advertising on the local radio, specially any ethnic or spiritual stations, and also local TV stations. For such advertising, contract agreements always fetch a better deal for you.

SECTION 5: Insurance and Legal Waivers 

Liability Insurance for Yoga Teachers: 

In this age of lawyers and courts, it is very important to protect yourself. As I alluded to earlier, every new student should sign a health waiver and you should also get insurance if you plan to follow this path seriously.

The Yoga Journal and some other companies now provide liability insurance for yoga teachers and unlike in previous years, there are more options now for such insurance. Here are some useful links for insurance purchases.

http://www.yogajournal.com/benefitsplus/

The following are insurance companies listed by Yoga Alliance:

http://www.yogaalliance.org/Insurance.html

Waiver Form: 

The waiver form I use for my yoga and meditation classes is below. Feel free to copy it.

Agreement of Release and Waiver of Liability Form 

I, ________________________________________________________ (Print Name)

hereby agree to the following:

That I am participating in the Yoga Class/Workshop, offered at Silent Mind Meditation Center, 66 Corona Ct., Old Bridge, NJ 08857,

Held at: Silent Mind Meditation Center

Called: Kundalini Yoga Class

Taught by: Anmol P. Mehta

during which I will receive information and instruction about yoga and health. I recognize that yoga will require physical exertion, which may be strenuous and may cause physical injury, and I am fully aware of the risks and hazards involved.

I understand that is it my responsibility to consult with a physician prior to and regarding my participation in the Yoga Class or Workshop. I represent and warrant that I am physically fit and I have no medical condition, which would prevent my full participation in the Yoga Class/Workshop.

In consideration of being permitted to participate in the Yoga Class or Workshop, I agree to assume full responsibility for any risks, injuries or damages, known or unknown, which I might incur as a result of participating in the program.

In further consideration of being permitted to participate in the Yoga Class/Workshop, I knowingly, voluntarily and expressly waive any claim I may have against Anmol P. Mehta or Silent Mind Meditation Center, its instructors and staff for any injury or damages that I may sustain as a result of participating in the program.

I, my heirs or legal representatives, forever release, waive, discharge and covenant negligence or other acts.

I have read the above release and waiver of liability and fully understand its contents. I voluntarily agree to the terms and conditions stated above.

REGISTRANT’S SIGNATURE:

________________________________________________________

DATE:

________________________________________________________

SECTION 6: Pricing 

If you are passionate about meditation and have completed the course requirements so far, then I can assure you the money will come. People are very willing to pay for a good meditation and yoga teacher. There are many teachers, but not that many really good ones. What I have hoped to do with the program is to help you become not just a good teacher, but also a great teacher. This will mean that you will not just be able to inspire and uplift people, but you will be able to entirely transform their lives for the better, and they will be happy to repay you in any way you desire.

There are basically 2 ways to run your classes. One is by voluntary donation and the other is by charging a set fee. Initially, while you are gathering experience as a teacher and building your confidence and clientele you might want to do donation based classes for a short period, but I suggest moving to fee based classes eventually.

There is a lot of debate regarding this issue, and my personal preference is donation-based classes, but in today’s world that just does not work as well. The biggest problem being that students don’t take the classes seriously and for all your effort you don’t get the level of commitment the classes deserve. So move to fees based, it will be good for you and the students as well.

One note though is that always having an option for students who cannot pay for classes to be able to take them as well. A scholarship program or other exchange program is suggested. I have discussed this topic in detail in the following article, so please do read it to understand this complex topic better.

http://anmolmehta.com/blog/2009/08/11/heated-controversy-confirmed-by-survey-should-spiritual-services-be-free-or-not/

Option 1: Donation Based Model: 

If you have decided to use the donation-based model, permanently or temporarily, then the following tips will be useful for you.

1. Donation Box: 

You should have a donation box prominently in view where the students sign up for your class, so they know where to give the donation.

2. Suggested Donation: 

In you class information page on your website or flyer, you should mention what the suggested donation should be. For the US, I suggest $10 per class donation.

3. Remind Students: 

At the end of your class, you can remind the students that the classes run on donations and that you appreciate any support they can provide.

Option 2: Set Fees: 

If you plan to use fees here are some guidelines for how to charge for your classes.

1. Amount Per Class: 

I suggest $10 / class in the suburbs, and if you are holding classes in urban areas you can charge as much as $15 / class. This is for a 1-hour class. For longer classes and workshops you can charge more.

2. Bulk Discount: 

Always have a bulk discount offer, which encourages students to sign up for multiple classes. A bulk discount is typically 20% or so off.

3. First Class Free: 

I strongly suggest that you have a first class free option. This is one of the best ways to get new students, and it gives those who are curious a worry free method by which to try your class. Also, after all you are a wonderful meditation teacher and there is no doubt they will love the class and sign up for more anyway .

4. Accounting: 

Make sure you keep all your accounting up to date. I suggest using Microsoft Excel or other computer software to keep track of payments and how classes completed. Also, this will help you run reports to see just well you are doing :-) .