Tips from the experts to help you grow the yoga business of your dreams
This month’s mentor:
Sarah Highfield, 38, Yogagise Yoga, London
What is your business plan?
At the moment, I’m focused on strengthening my profile, the Yogagise Yoga brand and building a pool of resources. I understand the importance of being ‘in front of people’ and cultivating relationships, thus far, it has helped me to achieve goals which I don’t think would have been possible without doing so. Additionally, I don’t want to be a face with no substance, so I’m constantly trying to learn more and develop. On a day-to-day basis, I’m not seeking to reinvent the wheel - I look at what other successful yoga teachers are doing and try to do the same. Sometimes I try to do things better, but mostly, I just want to keep up. Outside of my regular routine, I want to create events, retreats, workshops, trainings, and experiences that deliver equal amounts of value and enjoyment. A lot of people have asked me if my goal is to open a yoga studio, but the answer is ‘no’, that has never been a goal for me. I want to have a business that is flexible and collaborative, can move around, and can be done remotely if need be.
How do you use social media?
I use social media to showcase everything yoga-related that I do so my students, potential students and business partners, and other yogis can see what I’m up to. A few years ago, I used to use it to try and directly generate sales, now it’s more indirectly. I try to share high quality, useful content which helps my audience get to know me better and get a feel for my personality and vibe. I appreciate that I’m not the right yoga teacher for everyone, so it’s a good place for people to check out before they book a class with me or come to one of my events.
Who do you admire in the yoga world?
I admire all the other yoga teachers around me; I understand the passion and drive they have because I have it too. I look up to the teachers who inspired me to teach and encourage me to keep developing and learning. I also admire the students for their support, turning up and making time for yoga. Without students, there would be no teachers.
What has been your hardest lesson?
It’s been hard learning, more and more, that the yoga industry has its own ongoing issues. The list of high-profile yoga ‘gurus’ and organisations, which have been accused of all types of abuse is sickening and cannot be hidden or ignored. I’m relieved that the victims are no longer afraid to speak up and the people behind the abuse are being brought to justice. On a more personal scale, as with other industries, there will always be people you don’t see eye to eye with. It’s not all roses.
Do yoga teacher training courses prepare you for running a business?
From my experience and what I’ve heard from other yoga teachers, the general feeling is no. Yoga teacher trainings certainly offer advice on the business of yoga, but it’s really only an introduction. I’m currently working on my own Yogagise Business Course to help address this gap in the teacher training courses. That will be ready this year and will educate both yoga teachers and wellness professionals alike on how to run a profitable business from scratch. It will detail business strategy, sales, marketing, branding, processes, optimisation, finance, digital implementation and mindset.
What is your niche?
In terms of the style of yoga that I teach and my classes, my niche is being able to create classes which blend different styles of yoga to create something tailored to my students’ needs. For example, I love to start off with a strong flow, then maybe come down to the floor for some Yin and then possibly finish with a short Nidra. I like to take bits from each style of yoga and put them together so that my students have a class that challenges them and ultimately relaxes them. My students often tell me that they like how clear my classes are, so I guess my yoga cue game is strong, which has come in handy with the increase of online yoga classes. On a broader level, I’m interested in the business of yoga, and more specifically how that works in a modern, fast-paced setting.
What is the secret to making a living as yoga teacher?
It’s a simple answer but I use my time away from work to eat well, exercise and relax. I try to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends; there’s always lots of food involved and time away from screens. A change of scene is always a nice way to find balance.
How do you manage self-care?
The yoga industry is really competitive, but I believe that staying ahead of the game is key to being profitable. Being a ‘good’ teacher is not enough because there are so many good teachers. I try to stay profitable by being proactive, responsive, and adaptable. I invest time into building honest and open relationships. I’m organised and track everything in my ‘Yoga Tracker’, which is a spreadsheet where I log everything including all my students, my jobs, class lists, events, retreats, trainings, press coverage, leads, invoices etc. This helps me to stay on top of all my work and not feel overwhelmed.