In our first discussion on how a small studio can compete against corporate studios and large studios with multiple locations, we discussed some of the competitive advantages that can be gained by studying the concept of Porter’s Five Forces Analysis and how to set up a winning business strategy within this framework.

Today we will stay within that framework, but focus on one core concept: The idea of innovation and how that can be used as an advantage to compete, grow your small business and keep students engaged, growing and happy.

When we discuss innovation in the yoga industry, we are not talking about innovating yoga teachings. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and does not require innovation. In fact, we must recognize that innovation of yoga itself and the creation of new yoga “systems” is nothing more than an attempt at differentiation through branding. Creating new contortions of the body and calling them yoga poses without understanding the underlying effect on systems other than the musculoskeletal system is also not innovation, it is contortionism and again, an attempt at differentiation for marketing purposes.

However as David, the business of yoga can be innovated extensively to compete against the Goliaths of the industry. If we keep in mind the agility of the small studio we can regularly innovate our business practices to keep driving student interest. This can be done via the software that we choose to run our back offices, innovative marketing strategies and in-studio contests that build community and drive student engagement.

One of the most successful engagement strategies that we utilize at Ripple Yoga is an October Yoga challenge where students get one star for each class during the month of October. With each star they gather, they can take a guess at the number of pieces of candy in a jar, with the top three guesses claiming prizes.

In addition, we can innovate how the lessons are taught. One of the greatest teaching methods is to relate the teachings in a way that modern people can understand. Often at Ripple Yoga, I relate the teachings to reversing the effects of sitting at a desk for long periods of time, because most of the students at Ripple Yoga work in office environments. It is a relatable teaching that explains why we are doing some of the physical work we are doing, rather than simply strengthening the body.

When we use innovation to help create and keep students engaged, we stay a step ahead of the Goliaths in the industry and we don’t even need to sling the rock.

Ah Ahimsa!

To read part 1 of the “David and Goliath” series, click here


Sarvesh Naagari is the owner of Ripple Yoga in Seattle, Washington, and author of the inspirational novel of the spirit, 20,000 Oms and a Cup of Chai. He has accumulated gary-beebeapproximately 2,500 hours of teacher training, including a six-month stay at the Ananda Ashram at ICYER in Pondicherry, India, where he studied the yoga teachings of Maharishi Patanjali and Swamiji Gitananda Giri, the Lion of Pondicherry. He also has an MBA in executive management from the Washington State University and a bachelors of science, corporate finance and accounting, from the University of Maryland. Prior to opening Ripple Yoga, Sarvesh was a corporate executive for 20 years in technology and innovation.  He is also a regular contributor to the Seattle Yoga News and the ClassPass blog. In his spare time, Sarvesh is an avid musician, singer, hockey player and volleyball enthusiast.