My Yoga Biz - Marie Burrows
Tips from the experts to help you grow the yoga business of your dreams
This month’s mentor:
Does a YTT set you up for running a business?
Generally, I don’t believe that YTTs teach you about the more practical elements of running a business, although the principles of yoga philosophy that you learn (such as the yamas and niyamas) should definitely be applied in a business framework. It took me several years before I took myself seriously as a business owner and moved away from the unrealistic ‘studio teacher’ mindset (teaching 15-plus studio classes a week) and learn a lot about business in order to succeed.
What’s your niche?
After years of trying to cater to everyone and resistance towards niching down (marketing error 101!) I’m fully embracing my love of Yin, cyclical living and the divine feminine. Slowing down and resting, grounding, has never come naturally to me but is just the medicine I, and much of our Yang-paced society, needs. I believe that the power of Yin and having a rested and regulated nervous system can be truly transformational, as can working with the cycles and seasons of life. I’ve gone from teaching many group classes weekly to pouring my focus more into longer, more in-depth offerings like online courses and in-person workshops and retreats, where there is more space and time to explore different themes. My signature offering is a seasonal online Yin & Nidra course called Seasonal Rest which moves with the cycles of the year.
Do you have a business plan?
While I think a business plan can be useful, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to not rigidly stick to any kind of plan. Structure is definitely important but it can be tempting to try to reverse engineer your goals, leaving no space for creativity, flow and rest. Embracing the ebb and flow of life and an integrated masculine and feminine energy in your business helps to bring sustainability and joy to what you do. I’m learning that a mixture of both Abhyasa and Vairagya, or perseverance and detachment, are the keys to success.
What’s the secret to making a living?
Allow yourself to adapt, to move with the wants and needs of the time, but also do what you love. Coming back to a sense of service is at the heart of what we do as yoga teachers, and I find myself coming back to this repeatedly. That said, a combination of tenacity, grit and Dharana, or single-pointed focus, is particularly important when you’re easily distracted or have Vatta tendencies and to flit from project to project (guilty!). Follow the ideas you’re most excited about, but don’t take it personally if they don’t do well, sometimes the timing just isn’t right.
Any self-care tips?
Making time for my personal practice — for just me to enjoy, not for my students (although I do this as well) — is paramount. Learning to rest and incorporate more space and pleasure into my weekly routine has been so important. Building a support team around me to help as I navigate various challenges as I grow alongside my business has also been crucial. I make sure that I schedule regular yoga practice, acupuncture appointments, sports massages and have also invested in a business coach which has helped me shift my mindset hugely and cultivate consistency. Accepting and asking for help has been a big learning curve, but it’s better to expand and ask what help you need to carry the load, instead of shrinking away from opportunities out of fear.
Written and compiled by Claudia Brown (yogabyclaudia.com). Get in touch if you would like to share your yoga business wisdom with others.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.