Yoga trends to keep an eye on in the New Year and beyond.
Eliza Whiteman, owner of Flydog Yoga in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been a certified yoga instructor in the city for more than 10 years, making staying on top of new trends an important task for her growing business.
In August 2016, Healthline named Charlottesville the healthiest small town in the U.S., perhaps setting the standards even higher for Flydog — but Whiteman felt up to the challenge, even noting room for improvement on the yoga scene in the fit city.
“I had always wanted more from my community in terms of styles of classes,” said Whiteman. “I loved Power Vinyasa or creatively sequenced Vinyasa, and our town was slow to transition away from Ashtanga and Hatha.”
The studio owner said that in her search for new classes to offer she had to venture out to other cities in order to attend workshops, trainings or classes, eventually providing Whiteman and her husband, Brad, with the foundation to open Flydog Yoga in 2014.
“My husband was key in planning and researching the market to see if the demographic was there to sustain what we needed,” said Whiteman. “We are in a college town, with the University of Virginia, along with a very fit and active community who are always seeking out ways to support their healthy lifestyle.”
Whiteman said she sees a lot of hybrid-style class offerings, like Vinyasa/Yin Power Sculpt — a practice that incorporates yoga, cardio and weights — emerging throughout yoga communities, inspiring her to add those styles to her own practice.
According to Whiteman, any variation of Aerial Yoga is also extremely popular right now in her community and the industry at large. “We have Aerial Strength, where we focus more on using the hammock and poses to build strength, and Aerial Restorative, where we use bolsters and set the hammocks to a hover above the floor to use them as another prop,” she explained. “Our Aerial addition was another great way to bring in private group sessions, as well as children’s Aerial events or birthday parties.”
In addition to changing up styles, Whiteman emphasized the importance of having teachers on staff who are certified in specific styles. “Designate a lead teacher for a particular style and encourage them to continue their education in that area,” she said.
Whiteman added creativity is key when making a yoga class a destination adventure. She pointed to yoga hikes, glow-in-the-dark classes, and even classes with DJs as potential avenues to explore when thinking of new ways to engage and retain students. Once a month from April to September, Flydog Yoga offers a class on the deck of a winery overlooking Charlottesville, located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
“You don’t have to go crazy staying on top of trends, but continue to stay relevant, and thinking ahead is critical to maintaining your community,” advised Whiteman. “It is really about seeing who your demographic is or who you want it to be and finding out how you can peak their interest more, and have them become more involved.”
Whiteman said advertising, as well as connecting with fellow studio owners and teachers, is important as well, explaining that a “preview” week and social media promotion can help get new people to try new classes.
“Another way of testing out the market is holding a single special event or workshop and then gathering feedback,” added Whiteman. “Or we set up a six- or eight-week session to gauge interest and see if it would be a viable set class on the schedule.”