The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Yoga Business

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Yoga Business

intensive yoga training courseBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

The dark exists everywhere and so does the light. The dark side of human personality is in all of us. Unfortunately, Yoga teachers, priests, politicians, and police are human too. We are not perfect. Some people try to make business look dirty, but business alone cannot be dirty without unethical behavior.

With that said, there are many caring Yoga teachers who spend their time working with seniors, fibromyalgia groups, alzheimer patients, and many more people in need. They don’t get front page billing on Yoga magazines or Time Magazine, for their efforts, but they do get gratification.

Very often, I advise Yoga teachers and studios in regard to disputes, between a teacher and the studio ownership. Each side will call the other self serving and greedy. Some Yoga teachers become a perceived threat to the studio for a variety of reasons, and find themselves out of a job.

The most common reasons for dismissal are: “Money is tight,” the Yoga teacher was networking to steal students, or an ethics violation. An ethics violation is a “no-brainer” and the studio, ashram, or health club has to take swift action. Especially, if this were in relation to a potential harassment case, where the management would find itself in, the middle of, a lawsuit.

About Business: Yes, everything in this world is business, to some degree, but ethical business practice is much different from greed. Some thriving Yoga businesses actually contribute to many charities, help the community, and spread the word of living a quality life.

Personally, quality Yoga teachers are hard to come by, and studios should prepare for “seasonal slow downs.” Below is some advice I recently gave a Yoga instructor who is very skilled, but was permanently released by an ashram, due to the “summer slow down.”

“Your ability and creativity to use props is a valuable skill. Very often, in lectures, I refer to knowledge of body mechanics, as a major asset, and the ability to teach every student, who walks in the door as priceless. You have the ability to teach, any student, at any level.

Although, the director of your ashram overlooked your value, you should not be discouraged, at all. There is a saying: “knowing is enough.” Keep developing your skills, help people, and good karma will help you.

The best we can do is, change the world for the better – one person at a time. If we can do more – that is good too. Don’t be disheartened – always look at what good can be done, in response to any given situation. Your passion for Yoga can help everyone you come into contact with.”

For those studio managers that worry about losing students to, a Yoga instructor, you could design a non-competition agreement, for your protection. I still do not have one at my center, but I do know what it is like to create an idea, find a teacher, advertise, and cultivate a class; only to have a teacher take the class home.

So why do I still not have a “contract” for Yoga teachers, on my staff? Did I learn from my mistake? Yes I did, but the relationship between studio ownership and independent teacher is all about trust, character improvement, and cultivating mutual respect. This is what makes it a bit different from the corporate world.

Lastly, if you are a studio or ashram owner that has been “burned,” in the past, by staff or employees, it doesn’t hurt to review your hiring process. Hiring good technical Yoga teachers is not enough, if you can’t trust them.

We did overhaul our interviewing process, preliminary requirements, and hiring practices, without implementing a non-competition agreement or contract. Make sure candidates are interviewed more than once, by different people. This will “weed out” those you can trust, from those you have doubts about.

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