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If You Want to Learn How to Hate Yoga, Then Open a Yoga Studio

in Business of Yoga, YD News, Yogitorials

by guest blogger April Arotin

“If you want to learn how to hate yoga, then open a yoga studio” is a quote that I read in the comments of a YogaDork post earlier this afternoon.

I closed my bootstrapping little space in the wilds of Cleveland’s west side in March.

I’m starting to come around to the love again.

The neighborhood where we opened the studio is the best and (hopefully) the only street in the city where folks looking for prostitutes, used cars and shabby antiques can be fully satisfied in one trip. Nestled between the city’s premier arts district and a quickly expanding market district, Lorain Avenue is the street that is hoped to turn into the living artery between the two.

Our former landlord has been betting on that turnaround for a dozen years or more, and with his commitment to seeing this dream come to fruition in his space, we opened after months of meticulous restoration. We (my partner, co-teachers and I) had high, albeit incredibly naive, hopes for our pop-up studio. I envisioned a space where I could remove pretense as a barrier to entry, contribute to the city’s renaissance while making yoga accessible to one of the city’s most under-served communities.

It failed.

I failed.

The space sits empty, just as it had for decades before we arrived.

A net positive experience, I learned more about the business side of yoga than I had imagined possible. Two weeks before I opened the space, I scrambled to fill the spaces in the (already printed) schedule after several teachers bowed out of the project. (Full disclosure: I am pretty sure I offended one of them and they all quit in solidarity. We all say the wrong things sometimes.)

I fielded the call from a crying teacher who was fired from a studio (30 miles away) for being involved with our project as I gave my parents their first look at the space. We hadn’t even opened yet.

I had no idea that the notion of a yoga studio in a blighted neighborhood with a manifesto about actively not selling fancy stretch pants would be considered offensive. My intention was to include all those on the fringe and the margins and the people like me who can’t actually afford to do yoga but need it the most. I was rattled by this, but not exactly apologetic and definitely not surprised, considering the source. That night was the first of many that I lost sleep over the studio.

One of my teachers said two things during my teacher training. I wish I would have listened a little bit closer. The first, if you build it, they won’t always come. The second, you can’t control anyone’s response, only your intention.

Those first weeks, I filled every one of those blank spaces on the schedule. I was slated for about 18 classes a week, many of them unplanned privates and no shows. I sat in the space with five students waiting for a newly hired teacher to show. She never did. I taught that class embarrassed, flustered and angry. Later, I found she was late and thought it appropriate to drove by the space to see if there was anyone waiting outside the studio. I was crushed, disgusted and pissed. I didn’t know a yoga teacher would or could ever make me that angry. These are the tiny things that added up to a staggering sum. I was starting to hate yoga.

I thought I knew the risks, but was blinded by my own naive ideals. I dreamed of this space becoming a model for urban revitalization through yoga in other spaces and cities. I never thought that the experiment would fail, and didn’t know how paralyzing that failure would feel. The risks that we calculate in a business plan don’t account for the raw emotion entangled in investing every available resource into our dreams.

I heard the nay-sayers, the downers and the skeptics tell me that we would never survive there. I didn’t listen until I was holding two jobs simultaneously to help pay the overhead on the space. Those whispers grew a little louder in between the four a.m. siren wails as I curled up on the floor on a stack of mats and props begging for the sweet solace of a real night’s sleep on weeks long stretches of working, teaching and running the space 7 days a week. As I struggled with the burnout, recurring health issues and my own defeated ego, I started to resent the practice. I felt like I had put everything I had into this thing and, just like a self-absorbed lover, it took even more than I was willing to give.

I held on because of the notion that this space could be the change. I held on as my partner and I moved from the loft we couldn’t afford anymore and in with his family. I didn’t want to let anyone else down. I held on for that one lady who drove two hours to meet with me as she transitioned out of her job of decades and into the uncertainty of forced unemployment. I wanted to prove it was possible to follow a dream to its beautiful ends. I held on for those students priced out of regular yoga classes, only to see a few of them on the other side of the high end bar I was tending with a $15 artisan cocktail in hand.

The morning that I announced the closure to all of the teachers and staff that had dedicated their time and energy during that year, I started to feel a sense of resolution tinged with bitter embarrassment and a mass of caustic anxiety. The final straw had happened weeks earlier. My decision to close came with the news that one of our teachers was leaving quite suddenly. A young man had been shot in the back after being robbed four blocks away from our back door. She didn’t feel safe anymore. I didn’t either, but not only because of that incident. I was starting to lose the solace of my practice.

When we announced the closure publicly, I was touched over and over again by the number of supportive, loving emails, calls, texts and drop-ins from the community around me. Each one of those shattered that rough shell and started to let the light shine in again. It was all love, from everywhere.

Right before the final class, I choked through my nerves as the owner of our closest studio neighbor walked through the door. I choked through tears and all of my silly yoga one-liners with the accompaniment breath of the students who joined to celebrate the funeral of a doomed space.

As we settled into the silence after that final om, I repeated the final closing I still use in all of my classes.

May that sound resonate out from here, carrying with it our highest intentions and aspirations for the benefit of all. May all beings, everywhere, be blessed with clarity, compassion, and a liberated heart.

I had to pause multiple times, voice wavering, choking on the permanence of letting go of that naive dream.

A few days later, Theresa, the studio owner who graciously showed her support by simply being present for that final class, offered up a space on her schedule. I was grateful, humbled by this, one of many compassionate offers from studio owners in and around Cleveland inviting me into their spaces to continue my work. I accepted immediately, inspired by her openness, kindness and unsurpassed yogic professionalism. I took the time I needed to mourn and heal from that whirlwind ride, and began teaching a few weeks later.

As I get to know her more each Sunday morning before and after my one weekly class, I am increasingly impressed by her commitment, creativity and resolve. I can identify with her struggles, her celebrations and find a growing expanse of common ground in her passion for the well-being and growth of the yoga community in Cleveland. This is what a studio owner should be like.

I hold her space with even more reverence than I held my own. I have realized that the opportunity to support someone else in their vision is one of most important contributions that I will ever make.

Through her, I continue to learn more about business than I did in a year of owning my own studio. This woman is one of the most driven and passionate that I’ve known. I am honored to call her a friend.

Through the dedication of Marcia and Lizzie, the teachers who were there from the inception to the final day, I learned what commitment looks like.

Through Jesse, the guy who volunteered to teach by donation every Saturday, I learned that the best teachers don’t always look the part.

Through every teacher that I hired, I learned the value of honesty, integrity and compassion.

Through my partner who held my hand and shored up the parts of me that fell apart as our dream crumbled, I learned what the ‘for worse’ part of that sacred vow means. As I fall back in love with my own practice and fill my time with all the things that I sacrificed to realize the dream, I am beginning to see the ‘for better’ part again. (Full disclosure: we aren’t married and I can’t believe he hasn’t kicked me to the curb.)

Through the students I see every Sunday morning, I am reminded of what it means to teach with full intention and attention. It’s through their presence, their curiosity and dedication that I fall in love with this practice again.

Every Sunday, I drive by the ‘For Rent’ sign in that vacant storefront window and realize that experience is knowledge. I realize the merit of leaving a space better than you’d found it. That final day, I had a team of my best friends helping me tear it all down without giving me even a moment to break down myself. Sometimes the most powerful experiences in life are fleeting, and, looking back, I see that, because it was so temporary, it was even more special.

This experience was a reminder to me that the dreams and passions that we share in this life are just that, shared. I write this not as a cautionary tale, rather, as a reminder that we are stronger when we set aside the comparison and the notion of lack and not enough, forget about the idea of competition and stand together as a community for the benefit of all.

In one of the notes that I received after the announcement was made, a simple statement from a woman that I admire (but haven’t met) still resonates: We never really know exactly how we affect the lives of others.

I do know now that when we join others who share a similar vision, our effect is stronger, fuller, multiplied exponentially.

There isn’t room in this life or in this community for anything else.

——

Earlier

63 comments… add one

  • April,
    As you know, your experience was not unique. I wish this weren’t true. Your intention is as so many of us have, to share this beautiful practice.
    Each of us has to find the way to share yoga in a manner that supports ourselves (not necessarily monetary) and our students. That can be even tricker in our current economy.
    If you know the story of the starfish, it is the analogy that helps me with sharing my yoga. One starfish at a time. Best to you!

  • Jodi Ryba

    Thank you for sharing your story! You have positively affected yet another person :) Wishing you peace, love & true happiness as your journey continues! Namaste

  • That ROCKED. I am sure your shadow has blessed many who were lucky enough to have felt it. Much love, yoga mama. much love

  • Jennifer

    April,

    That was beautifully written and I felt the emotion as if I had experienced what you had, myself. Your intention was (is) beautiful. Thank you for sharing your energy with me!

  • i loved this post.

    You have Courage and Strength- and you Kick Butt.

    Milles merci.

  • I admire your strength and courage. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Kew

    I don’t own a studio, but I teach at one. I am glad I chose not to be a studio owner, because I am still coming to terms with teaching. I am struggling to find myself, which I feel I have lost in becoming a teacher. It’s a learning curve for sure, my own practice is actually deviating from what I teach, and I am trying to find a happy medium. It’s an interesting ride, this yoga thing!

  • Lelsie

    I also had a fleeting experience as a studio owner, although my teacher of 12 years was moving out, it was an existing business! I thought it was a sure thing; I am an authentic yoga teacher, teaching an authentic yoga practice. But where was everyone? My teacher was moving her studio into her home and had agreed to send an email out to her list of students’ letting them know I was opening in the space. A generous offer that never happened! I ended up getting pregnant, not being able to pay the bills, deciding to close the studio (for lack of a long term solution), lost the baby and had to keep going(til I officially closed the studio) !!!!!! I look back on it as a learning experience, but like she said I was embarassed and a wee bit bitter and so fraught with anxiety I could barely, close accounts, send out emails and pay early cancellation penalties. I did not hate yoga, but I have stepped away from the scene……..our small town yoga is a hard sell and an even harder labrynth to navigate …… I still teach my wonderful diehards’ twice a week and I’m still paying but yoga is evolution; yoga is finding out who you are in the darkest times (and being ok with it).

  • I read your post with recognition, and the memories of what it felt like to watch a studio I managed and taught at fall behind, and never get up. We all saw it coming, and we all reacted in different ways, but nothing we did could save it. I know how you feel, and three years later, it’s even better, and I feel like trying to open my own studio. I wish you the best with your teaching career and any future endeavors. Your blog really struck a chord, and remember a lot of funny/sad things that happened at the old studio. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Such a great post. When I went through teacher training, I was so gung ho, I knew I wanted to quit my job, teach yoga, open a studio, etc. But then I paused. I thought, “if yoga becomes my job, what will I do to center myself when i’ve had a rough day at work?”

    I decided I wanted to stay in love with yoga, and instead balance a full time job, teaching, and being taught.

  • Darla

    Thanks for the brave honesty.
    As others have commented elsewhere, in yoga culture we are WAY too encouraged to start with our big ideals instead of working first for grounded knowledge and setting realistic goals and building from there. Our ideals often get caught up with youthful arrogance and grandiosity. The ambition of bringing “yoga to the bad neighborhood” did have the tinge of noblesse oblidge — not that accessibility in and of itself is EVER a bad thing.
    My hope is that as more yogis and “enlightenment industry” workers document these cases, we will see LESS self-promoting bullshit, less narcissistic grandiosity. I stopped reading Elephant Journal, for example, because I could not stomach Waylon Lewis constantly declare himself the vanguard. WHo says so? Vanguard of what? You are not the vanguard or the savior or the Bright New Shiny Thing just because you say so. You are not special. Just b’/c you may think you’re new and frilly and facinating and deep doesn’t mean you are.
    I’m SO glad that you, at least, have learned than you have to EARN respect and regard. And that that takes time. You have to pay your dues.

  • Darla

    PS — the rancor in that tone was not directed at you, especially, but rather at the general issue I was addressing.

  • j

    thanks for the post and for sharing so openly. even though it didn’t work out in the end, your ideals resonate with me completely and i only wish i could have been there to be a part of supporting the space. i know it doesn’t make the loss any easier necessarily, but thanks for being a dreamer.

  • VQ2

    “One of my teachers said two things during my teacher training. I wish I would have listened a little bit closer. The first, if you build it, they won’t always come. The second, you can’t control anyone’s response, only your intention.”

    That’s 95% of the problem. Wishing (from afar) you could have hung on

  • Janet

    Thank you April, for your candor.
    Sometimes the best intentions in the world aren’t enough to make something you truly wish to happen. It took a lot of guts on your part to open a studio in a borderline neighborhood and to make that effort to reach out to those communities who could benefit from yoga.
    How can meaningful and lasting connections be made to these communities? What sort of support is there for studio owners and teachers alike to make projects like this have more impact?Is there any real support from the yoga community? I don’t know and I don’t have those answers but I would say that there should be some sort of a framework out there for independents like yourself.

  • I very much agree. I thought it was great of the author to think of opening a studio in a borderline neighborhood–yoga is for everyone, and it would be lovely if more of us yogis could walk the walk. This reminds me of a visit I made to Harlem Yoga Studio here in NYC, where a teacher I was photographing there grumbled about the “bad neighborhood” and “fat students”. It made me very sad, indeed. There are no clear answers to this, but we as a community should keep trying to reach those who need the practice most.

  • Karen

    In my own teaching field, we have a VERY long apprenticeship period. We had to read pedagogy, we have to discuss it, we have to question and articulate everything we do in the classroom. We have to be aware of what we do and how we position ourselves in our roles vis a vis race, class, gender, nationality, sexuality. It’s called self-reflexivity, and we do it because we understand that writing is thinking, and therefore either liberatory or confining or both.
    Following from that, I must say I have NEVER understood the arrogance of many of my yoga teachers to think they can “teach spiritual things” without, obviously, EVER have been made to question or position themselves about teaching, spirituality, their wisdom or lack thereof, their understandings of what they do. Yes, there’s a lot of me me me me me here’s me and what I do and it’s all so GOOOOOOOD around the blog-o-sphere, and definitely a lot of yoga teachers have the same case of the runs verbally as they do in writing about How Spiritual They Are. Yet that’s not actual self-reflexivity, not actual taking responsibility. It’s just masturbation. They’ve never obviously been seriously challenged or mentored or supervised.
    Many young yoga teachers have often jumped the gun as to who they think they are and what they think they’re doing. They’re not More Spiritual or Wise than the Rest of Us. Like you, they need to come down to earth and get other themselves and put the time in before they make any big claims about what they do.

  • I want to highlight the take-away for any yoga teachers/folks who are reading this:

    Get Mentoring and Supervision!

    Supervision makes a *massive* difference in how you teach and how you separate your “stuff” from your teaching (and stop working it out on your students which is unethical).

    Mentoring can help you keep things in perspective and not put the cart before the horse. I have just started mentoring on yoga and business with a workshop this past weekend in Australia — eye opening for me and for them. A firm foundation is key.

    This is part of the investment. I pay for monthly supervision — worth every penny. I also have a business mentor of my own — also worth it. I get pushed, I get questioned, I get humbled.

    It works. DO IT. :)

  • Karen

    Thanks for that highlight. And sorry about my typos!

  • April

    Jenifer, I appreciate the feedback about and couldn’t agree more. I am not sure that it would have helped in this case, but it definitely couldn’t have hurt at all.

    Karen, I appreciate your point of view, but disagree. Nothing about any other person’s internal experience is obvious. There are a lot of assumptions in your comment, that, while I can agree (somewhat) with the sentiment, I don’t agree with the notion that anyone can really know about the inner lives of others. No one else’s personal history, life experience, level of education or knowledge or, dare I say, wisdom, is ever obvious, period. It is one of those things that we can only assume about others, and often, our assumptions are quite wrong.

  • Wisdom hard earned. Beautiful post. Thank you.

  • Beautiful post. I am always fearful that the yoga studio I practice at will succumb as many others although they seem to be very successful. Never regret trying as I am sure you impacted many people. On to new adventures you go.

  • My first yoga studio fell apart too — for a lot of reasons. The biggest? Lack of planning.

    I know that sounds so conventional. But I jumped in — very excited — without a firm foundation on which I could act consistently and adapt based on the market conditions, and so on. And, within a year it was dead.

    But, it did get me grounded really quickly, and I learned that I could learn the skills that I needed to do what I wanted in the future. I was able to get *deep clarity* about myself, the business that I wanted, even my markets. And once I got that, I was able to act in accordance — and create the success that I now have (and will continue to have).

    At this point, you are in the grief-and-gratitide phase. It’s a good place to be. What will grow out of this fertile ground will surprise you — no doubt. It might be something intimate and small and yours (continuing to teach a single class, you know?) or it might be something big and massive and, well, even scary at first.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s ok to have (and explore) the pain around this sort of loss. It’s not easy. But it is productive.

  • April, it’s 4:27 a.m. and I am sleepless in Cleveland, lying here awake, wondering about my own new yoga studio, wondering about it all. So I pop open Yoga Dork to see what’s what in the yoga world, if there’s something I can read to calm me, humor me, ease the sleeplessness–and I see your post. Thank you. I had the opportunity to teach for three months at your studio, and I am so grateful for it, April. Those Saturday morning classes when I’d have one or two students are ones I’ll always cherish. Your studio WAS the Cleveland yoga community’s riskiest and richest businesses to date. I was telling my husband this on our walk just last night. Our community did nothing but benefit from your efforts. You showed us what REAL yoga vision can be. “Let be be the finale of seem. The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.” Namaste, April!

  • Marcia,

    If you need some help to move forward toward success, let me know. I do business mentoring, and I have some space in my schedule for another client or two.

    I find that having someone to bounce ideas around helps. I pay my mentor (and my supervisor), so I know that it feels like “just not affordable” but I focus on return on investment in my work — for myself as well as for my clients.

    Anyway, if you are interested, feel free to drop me a line. There is a lot to wonder about — and sometimes wondering out loud with a person who reflects back to you what you may not be seeing in the picture. . . well, it’s really helpful.

    Cheers, J

  • Karen

    You know, that’s nice. But in this nasty self-styled-new-age-agent-entrepeneur climate I’d beware of people you don’t know selling “mentoring” and “life coaching” and “business management” services. This is just the latest potential marketing niche. Everybody in yoga is apparently on the hustle, on the make, on the take. The agent for Leslie Kaminoff et al is apparently doing well; many others think they’d like well enough to feed at THAT trough.
    Get street-wise, studio owners, former owners, teachers, and students. Even beware of potential sellers of services touting street wisdom! I’d stick with whatever studio you’ve found, ground yourself in a community and build from there. Don’t pay for services from people you can’t learn much about. Good luck!

  • Karen

    PS — Jenifer, piss off. This is the problem I have with the Elena Browers April Ritcheys et al failing at one thing then thinking they can re-tool and then sell themselves differently. Jesus Christ, can’t you just respond genuinely to a human situation w/o trying to exploit it to drum up new business for yourself? That is SO FUCKING CRASS.

  • VQ2

    As a yoga student, I know exactly where you’re coming from. Jenifer can’t hurt you. She’s over in New Zealand.

    It’s not the same like the U.S.

    Well, the part about her being in the real estate business and not the yoga business, definitely is the same as in the U.S. Studio owners have to earn a living. They built it, and the people stopped coming (in droves, anyway).

    The “Field of Dreams” has to now be rented out piecemeal ….

  • Thanks for your criticism. I debated whether or not it was appropriate here, and I definitely see your POV.

    I know what it is to feel like this lady, as well as the joy and relief in being able to talk to someone, as well as the joy of being able to be the person that someone talks to. I don’t take on many “clients” in this area, but I love to talk about it, which is why I put it out there.

    It can be isolating being a yoga teacher and/or a business owner. I want to let people know that they are not alone.

    So, thanks for the criticism. I’m always trying to seek the right balance. :)

    VQ2:

    Thanks for giving me some back-up. I know we’ve had a bit of a relationship on here (and EJ) for a bit, so you perhaps know my ethos better than others.

    What I found when I lived in the US is that my local business owners didn’t want to talk about the brass tacks of their business (and our industry) because it felt like they would be giving away the goods that made them successful.

    I can understand that sort of feeling, but I also truly believe that we can help each other and everyone succeeds.

    I want my fellow teachers (and other creatives) to find how they want to live and how to find the business model and methods that work for them. I want them to succeed on their merits and efforts — and if I can help with that in any way, I will.

    This is also why I chose the model that I did. As you say, it is a rental business (in a sense– a real estate business). I create the marketing, business culture, and provide offices — and then practitioners (and yoga teachers) rent their time/use of space from me, and get the whole that comes in from their clients. It really is a “win-win” for everyone, and allows me to live out many of my values as a teacher, as a business owner, and a person running a studio.

    I feel ridiculously blessed. But I also feel ok with people’s criticism. I knew that I was taking a risk here, and I can completely understand why people would be put off by my statement here.

    A lot of folks have been hurt by a lot of what is going on in the yoga world, and it’s only fair that those of us who are running classes, studios, whatever can take on that criticism and take it seriously.

    After all, we are the ones who create this culture, so without being able to openly accept criticism of this sort, we cannot move away from the negatives in our industry and replace them with what will truly serve everyone.

    Thanks!

  • well said Karen

    and kaminoff may well be the biggest self promoting phony out there in “yoga”…

  • wondering

    and there is nothing more boring than a video blog, which he seems to love starring in.

  • Heh.

    Back in high school, I used to get detention for “wrong place, wrong time.” I think you guys are reminding me. Cheers for that!

    Also, you are speaking to (and protecting) the points of pain that people hold around business, particularly april and maria here. That’s really valuable to me.

    I don’t mean to hurt and trample on other’s pain — I know that pain myself as a business person and in my yoga experience (i.e., the whole ‘hating yoga because’ thing).

    It’s like poking a bruise or, worse, just putting salt in an open wound.

    I didn’t mean or intend that to happen, and definitely see how it didn’t just ‘skirt the line.’

    So thanks for the reminder in that regard!

    Now I have supervision this afternoon, so I’ll be able to have a good laugh about myself over having done this *again*. Obviously, it’s a long-term problem if I’ve been “wrong placing, wrong timing” since high school! It’s been 20 yrs since then for goodness sake! One would think I would have figured it out by now.

    Sorry guys, no harm meant, and I’ll be even more mindful going forward.

    Cheers!

  • No, I agree with you. I debated whether to post that I do it, but I felt like it was worth saying “hey, we can chat.” :)

    To show good faith, I would also point out some great *free* and DIY opportunities for people.

    In the US, there’s an organization called SCORE which is a group of retired business owners. They offer free mentoring and on-going classes on how to run businesses. They are great for a lot of background information such as financial planning, business planning, and marketing research (and how that works). But it’s very “jargon based” and also very general, so it doesn’t necessarily speak to the unique elements of our industry.

    Second, for DIY — watch TV. I know this seems silly. LOL But, these are shows that teach me a lot on an on-going basis and keep me on my game with my business:

    Tabitha’s Salon Takeover — professionalism and staff management;

    Kitchen Nightmares — “look and feel” and what you offer (tailoring your offerings to your business, values, goals, etc)

    Mary, Queen of Shops — understanding your market and tailoring your offerings and your marketing to that market.

    These three shows are *brilliant* for on-going inspiration on how to really understand “deep down” the business stuff.

    Third, I have to say that it’s always good to talk to a person first AND ask for references from them before working with mentors. I’ve paid three other mentors (besides the mentor that I have now), and one of them was all vision and no brass tacks, and one of them was all business-jargon and no real understanding of the industry and how it worked and how things that he was asserting as “must do” didn’t quite fit our industry.

    My current mentor is a lady who creates businesses, franchises them, and then sells them for million-dollar profits. She’s self-taught in a lot of ways, and so she speaks in a very “down to earth” way that relates to me and who I am. She also understands that I know more about my specific industry than she does, so she asks me poignant questions that help me hone in on how to make what I want work within both business and industry. She’s also stupidly expensive, but worth every penny.

    At the end of the day, my own hope is that teachers (and other creatives in business) know that they are *not alone* and that *what they want, they can get* — sometimes, they just need some process that someone has done before them.

    Going with experts of several kinds can help — I have an accountant who helps me with financial planning (and taxes) for example. I also have a lawyer who helps me figure out all of the legal elements of my business — and where my business is developing (into franchising and licensing). I have my mentor, who helps me hone my business and planning so that it’s consistent, makes sense, and I have daily tasks that are accessible that can help me create that success.

    Having a good team helps. It’s worth it.

    I’m not trying to blow sunshine, or even make money for nothing. I only have a few spaces for clients — which is why I’m happy to just have a chat and see if there’s someone else who might be good for this person, or a local resource (such as SCORE), or if they’d like to go into relationship. Who knows? Everyone is different.

    But I thought I’d put it out there.

    And your caution is *important* and *valuable*. So, I’m certainly not offended by it or taking it personally. :D

    Thanks, Karen! :)

  • Karen

    bitch, please.

  • ick

    you know, jenifer blowing sunshine, that’s just gross. eeeeewwwwww.

  • ick

    oh wait no look! it’s the new company!

    http://www.healium.co.nz/

    oh jenifer. you whore

  • Somehow, I responded in the wrong place. Step above from this line. I thought it would post down here, but apparently it didn’t work.

  • that twat did, but ooo wait where is steeeeeewart to defend him? cmon, stew, small biz owner spirit at work here!

    really, hon, look him up, blow him. he might give you a nice ad on huff-po (ho)

  • ditrected at jenifer, not original blogger, btw

  • April,

    I have tears in my eyes from your eloquant and heartfelt words of wisdom. Thank you for your honesty and beautiful spirit. I am blessed to have you as a friend and as a teacher of yoga and life. My passion and fortitude is buoyed by yourself and others that shine a light to their hearts and dare to live the authentic life! Bless you and see you soon!

    Love and gratitude,

    Theresa

    (PS, I skipped all the negativity that crept up in the comments… I’m going to let all that go)

  • hey sweets!

    While you’re being all spiritual and letting all the negativity go, how about refraining from the very negative action of exploiting some one else’s misfortune and difficulty to sell your own studio? After all, “Theresa,” your link leads RIGHT TO ANOTHER STUDIO! WOW Big fucking surprise. Why not show some respect and compassion? And refrain from flogging your wares> You know, like, ethics and stuff?

  • Theresa, thank you for posting. This comment stream became a runaway negative train. I think it’s call hijacking to see folks in social networking move so far from the topic, which in April’s story is one of light, courage, faith, hope, tenacity, and love. I am glad she is at your studio offering her grace and gifts. I hope to see her soon and meet you as well. (It’s a big city out there!) -Namaste.

  • And yeah, same here to you! And, YEAH, April, if these are the people whose “support you accepted, no wonder you fail!

    hey sweets!

    While you’re being all spiritual and letting all the negativity go, how about refraining from the very negative action of exploiting some one else’s misfortune and difficulty to sell your own studio? After all, your link leads RIGHT TO ANOTHER STUDIO! WOW Big fucking surprise. Why not show some respect and compassion? And refrain from flogging your wares> You know, like, ethics and stuff?

  • Theresa Gorski

    April, I loved joining your class yesterday! Your calm even after the excitement over this blog was inspiring in itself! I am so thankful to have you share your wisdom and renewed passion for yoga at my studio.

    Nameless person, I don’t see how publicly thanking April for sharing her heartfelt story and her compliments to me, was anything other than genuine. You have read negative intention where there is none. What April believes is all that matters to me in this case, as she is my friend and colleague. Marcia and I are local small studio owners who think April is great. Period.

  • Hi April,

    If there was no opportunistic intention, these two would have responded with their names, only, not with links to their own studios.
    Maybe the “negativity” is a shock to you folks, but really, take a lesson — many of us students out here are really, really tired of so many studio owners and self-styled gurus being on the make. It’s crass. It’s crass, and THAT is negative. Criticism and disgusted well-placed are not “negative” in themselves, but rather strong expressions of engagement in what we care about: yoga. Yoga, not any one person’s success.
    However, I can’t say I’m surprised by the naivete, because even in your original post, you seemed to have evinced a stunning lack of trying to see things from students’ point of view. It did seem to be all about your and your “vision,” not meeting people where they were.
    I wish everyone luck in opening their eyes.

  • Excuse me. I meant to direct some of that to “Theresa” and some to April.

  • VQ2

    I think you meant “disingenuousness”—not quite naieveté, not quite cynicism …

  • yes, thanks, VQ2!

  • Well, what ever is going on, maybe a little online savvy would help. If you really want to show support to another local former studio owner, do it in real-time. Take her out to dinner. Offer her a month of free classes. If you want to just show up online, use your own names, not ads for your own studios. You have, after all, entered a particular environment on these blogs where endless gross self-promotion IS a problem. And looking over “Jenifer’s” posts, I’d say it will ALWAYS be a problem. Maybe it wasn’t anyone else’s intention here, but nobody cares about your intentions — only the visible (online) results within an existing context. So, just like with April’s experience with her bad-neighborhood studio, maybe you should wise up to the existing context.

  • VQ2

    So well said.

  • April Arotin

    Thank you everyone for the words of support. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and the calm ease of closure. I have learned so much about myself, this practice and many other things that aren’t easily put into words through this process. Sometimes our lessons are hard to learn, but ultimately we always grow stronger from them. Namaste.

  • Anthony

    There are lots of trolls on these boards. They are the ones who insults strangers under anonymity. As far as I can say, they are just looking to get a rise out of people.

    Don’t feed them, they’re not worth it.

    (Although, I will say that shameless self-promotion and lack of solid guidance/mentorship are endemic in this community.)

    keep shining that bright light sister. you rock.

  • keara

    love you <3

  • Why are you yogi’s being such self righteous bitches? Fuuuk. SHe wrote an article about herself her experience. How crappy to ready this shit back and forth from some people who claim to practice yoga. PRACTICE YOUR FUCKING YOGA NOW!!!!!
    Just cuz you are in the ocean doesnt make you a fish.
    PRACTICE your Yoga and be fucking humble already!

    Namaste Bitches!

  • And to you! :)

    I humbly request that people check their shit before posting comments — are you really interested in showing support, or are you flogging your product?

    Remember, your shit stinks too.

    Things that make you go “hmmmmm”

  • “flogging product?”
    I dont think so. If you want to buy me something cool, but I have nothing to sell you.
    At least I have the balls to let people know who I am when I say what I say.

  • What a nut case.
    This “if you have the courage, you’ll put your name on your post” is SO jejune. Sounds like Waylon Lewis or Lesliekaminoff, both equally open internet attention whores who think that being open about being attention whores makes them honest and spiritual and brave.
    Wrong. Too many self-styled spiritual folks have too many spin-doctoring image-makers called agents these days. “Name” means nothing, idiot.
    Even if anyone seems to use a “real”-sounding name online to comment, it means nothing. Anyone can claim and pretend anything they want. They can flog, narrate, tell a sad sorry story, self-promote, apologize, whatever. It’s all just writing.
    Grow up and get a clue. It’s the internet, asshole.

  • Here’s my real name. Intensely searchable, yes? I still think you’re an idiot.

  • thanks

    “Say that to my face, I dare ya!”
    The internet as grade-school playground fight.
    Many times, if I would take stands in public on the internet, people would so “dare” and bait me to give my private name, only so they could proceed to stalk and harass me privately, out of sight of these lists. On these lists, they maintained spiritual, civilied tones. The very same people!
    Who is to say anyone here would not do the same — because you write about “spirituality” and good intentions?
    No one should be so stupid as to buy what they read online.
    People who keep anonymous are the smarter.

  • Brave & beautiful. Your story is nearly identical to mine. I closed my storefront studio last year 5 years after opening with many strong conflicting emotions. Today I am still healing and my yoga business (sans studio) is sloooowly starting to blossom into something I love. Thank you for sharing.

  • April.
    I don’t do yoga, because I don’t have time, because I am running a small business right down the street from your old studio.

    I didn’t even know you were there. Had I known – I would have run down to give you a big hug and welcome you to this deserted island and offered any business savvy I could muster.

    Your blog should be read by any first time entrepreneur, because it’s so accurate. Owning a business is hard – extremely hard – unforgiving and extremely lonely too at times. Attempting to even do it takes guts. You should be proud of yourself.

    Thank you for sharing this incredible story and your insights. It’s getting me through my day.

  • I have had my own studio for 10 years, and the first 9 were so rough I could barely call myself a yogi at one point. I saw the worst behavior I have ever seen from people during those years and the disappointment was indescribable. What changed was that I began to offer the classes on a donation basis (hence no more financial transactions or customer dynamics) and also that I took a vow of silence except when teaching (hence no longer the requirement to engage in unbearable chit-chat). It’s fine – not crowded or hugely prosperous, but fine. I am happy to say that I practice with gratitude and joy every morning alone and the meaning of practice has re-awakened within me. I do believe I rescued myself just in time.

  • Dear April my heart and blessings go out to you. Please you did the right thing closing your school because it is what you needed to do simple as that. I have been teaching for over 4o years in USA,ASIA and Australia. I do have my own school and I do have a training program for teachers it lasts 3 years. The big thing I tell my teachers is that don’t open a school for at least 10 years after your teacher training because those first 10 years of teaching should be for fun and learning no business and advertising and all the stuff that goes with a school. I also advise them a yoga school will probably not make heaps of money and may require a second job.
    Even very successful schools these days have hard times as so many people complete a training and open up a studio close to the existing older ones and yes lots of people do yoga but sometimes not quite enough in some areas to support more than a local yoga school.
    I had a school that was in a questionable area for a few years and as soon as an incident happened with a car robbery for one of our students we almost went under and had to move. Our student population was afraid to leave there car close by.
    Good luck ,never give up on yoga and it has many ups and downs just like your hamstrings. Lots and lots of Love
    Sam in Australia

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