In her opinion, Annie Moyer said just because a workshop’s title has “yoga” in it doesn’t mean much anymore.
“I’m sad to say that, but I also think it’s a really important thing to say,” said Moyer, the director of Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in Fairfax, Virginia. At the end of the day, quality is more important than just hosting a workshop to host one.
For that reason, the studio is particular when it comes to what workshops it hosts and who hosts it. If a teacher isn’t known personally by anyone at the studio, that teacher won’t be leading a workshop at Sun & Moon. This allows for the studio to really evaluate if the workshops are high quality, as someone is personally vouching for the teaching ability of the teacher. Moyer said they are very particular about what is put in front of their students. “We need to make sure it has value for them,” she said.
The teachers and topic are also important for Lisa Johnson, a co-owner of Energies Balanced in Austin, Texas. She looks for senior teachers from whom she can gain information and knowledge, and then use in teaching herself. “When I look to attend a workshop or when I put on a workshop, I want to have good information, good knowledge, something people can’t get coming through a regular hour-and-a-half yoga class, something more in depth,” said Johnson.
Plus, the teacher should also determine the number of students in the workshop. Johnson explained if a teacher is comfortable guiding 20 students, then the workshop should have only 20 spots. Otherwise, quantity could sacrifice the quality.
Beyond a teacher’s experience and knowledge, Stacey DeGrasse, the owner of Capitol Hill Yoga in Washington D.C., said she has found consistency as a key to her workshop success. Early on, she offered a wide variety of workshop types. “What we found was that over time, there were certain workshops that would fill and we may even have workshops here and there that we’d have to cancel because nobody would even sign up for it,” said DeGrasse. “We started looking at those workshops that consistently did well, and now we’ve moved to that paradigm where we have those consistent workshops that we hold on a frequent basis.”
DeGrasse said by holding a workshop monthly, quarterly or yearly, her students know what to expect. In the busy lives of those living in D.C., she said they value their time and want to know the workshop they’re attending is going to be worth it. The flyers for each type of workshop even retain the same images so that when students see the posting, they know what workshop is coming up even from a brief glance.
But that doesn’t mean DeGrasse lets her workshops get stale. She explained she will throw in a new sequence or add a new theme to the workshop each time. For example, in Capitol Hill Yoga’s Yoga Basics workshop, students know they will always receive a handout with movements for practice at home. Every workshop, however, will change what moves are on the handout.
In terms of logistics, Moyer said she will send out an email before the workshop. It will let students know if the room will be packed, telling them to be prepared to share the space. The email will also let them know what to bring and leave at home, as well as review the schedule, location and places to park. She said the goal is to have students showing up at the door knowing exactly what to expect.
As for where to hold a workshop, Moyer said they typically host it either in the studio or in a larger, rented space.
Even with everything planned and students educated about the workshop, Moyer said you need to keep your own schedule open during that time. “Clear your [calendar],” she said. “Do not try to fit anything else in other than to be on call 24/7 for this event. That has to be your top priority, because things come up.”
For example, the teacher might suddenly decide he or she needs a projector. Moyer said you want to be prepared to deal with those issues. Having a person there to help run errands and check people in is beneficial. She said you could incentivize volunteers by offering up two or three spots in the workshop in exchange for their help.
All in all, DeGrasse said it’s essential to get to know your community to figure out what workshops will be best. She encouraged other studio owners to experiment to figure out what will work for them. “I’m sure it won’t be the same for every studio and in every location and in every community,” she said. “Go for it and observe the metrics in order to evolve from there.”