Ten years ago, I finished my teacher training abroad. I was teaching in South Korea and the local studio that I practiced at was leading a yoga training. I thought to myself, “Why not?” and jumped right in. Prior to training, I never thought I wanted to teach full-time. My degree was in social work and social justice and my vision was to be a counselor, social worker or therapist. However, after training, things started to align.
I moved back to Minneapolis and discovered there were only a handful of locally owned studios that offered a variety of teachings, styles and yoga perspectives. I wanted to support and practice at a Minnesota owned studio but continued to feel out of place. It was not that I didn’t fit the bill; as a young white woman, I blended right in. It was that no one seemed to care. I walked in, did class and left without any connection to another person. Weren’t yoga studios my third space? Wasn’t I supposed to feel deeply connected to self and this community vs. just going through the motions or checking off “did yoga” on my to-do list?
It hit me: What was so powerful about the yoga studios in Seoul was the deeply rooted and inclusive community. People hugged with greetings and departures, they ate meals together, they shared stories, books and laughter as well as tears. There was something so authentic about the way they gathered and I thought, “This is what I can bring to the world.”
As much as I loved – and still do – talk therapy, I wanted to be part of the healing process that included the body, mind and soul. So I branched out and rented space from a Tai Chi studio. Thankfully friends attended the class weekly. Then all of a sudden, it grew and grew and grew. People whom I had never met before started to come. Desire to expand class times set in and I followed the calling. Now teaching multiple times a week, it became clear many people wanted a yoga studio to be a third place.
I found the perfect little studio in a vibrant neighborhood and said “YESS” to the opportunity of building a conscious and inclusive community. It took a lot of work. I relied on my husband, family and friends to help with the painting, decorating and cleaning. I taught 22 classes weekly. And I quit my job to dive right in. I was committed. I was in love. However, it was not until other people started teaching when it felt complete. The studio members wanted multiple voices, experiences and visions. I did too! This was a key component to the success of our studio. Getting a range of teaching interests, backgrounds and missions made our team unstoppable.
There is endless gratitude for all the people who continue to make it a wise place to grow, connect and be. It takes a village to see a yoga studio into success, and it takes a clear vision about a few important questions which are, “Why are you invested in the community?” “Who is not being seen at studios now?” and “How can you include them while staying true to yourself?”
For me, it was clear. I was invested in making a place where social justice and community were the root. Where people felt safe to express themselves fully and to take up space. I desired room for individuals to be seen and heard as their true self. Why are you interested in opening a yoga studio? I’d love to hear your story and journey. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect.