Earlier today, I received an email from the owner of the yoga studio at which I have been teaching Ashtanga for a couple of months (wow, it's been a couple of months already? Time flies when one is having fun, doesn't it? :-)) The email was sent to the few of us who teach yoga classes at the studio. She informs us that starting December 31st, she will no longer be leasing the studio, because the class numbers thus far have not been enough to support the cost of leasing the space. Since she did not specify any further plans to relocate/find a new place to house the studio, I take the email to be a euphemistic way of saying that she is closing down the studio. So starting from December 31st, I will once again no longer officially be a yoga teacher, and will be devoting more time to my practice and self-healing. Which is good for me personally.
Nevertheless, as I was contemplating this development earlier today, I couldn't help noticing how there always seems to be a certain disconnect between yoga as a personal practice of self-realization/self-care, and yoga as a business. For the last couple of months, there have never been more than three people showing up for my class on any one evening. In fact, most of the time, it's one or two individuals. But these one or two individuals show up almost every week; which means that the practice (or at least the way I teach it) speaks to them enough to get them to keep coming back. In my opinion, I feel that this is a success. When I first taught yoga years ago in grad school, I was constantly preoccupied with how many people showed up for my classes. But since I became an Ashtangi, I had decided that if I were ever to teach again, I would try to stick as closely to the Ashtanga method as possible, no matter how many or how few people show up. Thus, I feel that if I can get even one person to appreciate the method and make it a part of his or her life, I would have succeeded. And I have.
But of course, things do not work this way from a business point of view. From a business point of view, there are real financial concerns to address. From such a point of view, a yoga studio is worth running only if its operations can generate enough revenue to cover the overhead costs. And the main way for a yoga studio to generate said revenue is through students (unless, of course, the studio chooses to do something lucrative in addition to its regular classes; something like, say, a Yoga Alliance sanctioned Teacher Training. But let's not go there now, okay? :-)). Anyway, what all this means is that if a yoga class does not bring in enough students, it is not a success, from a business point of view.
Some of you seasoned teachers who are reading this are probably thinking: Duh! All this is so obvious! How can we survive and pay the bills if we don't have enough students?! What planet do you live on, Nobel? (Answer: Maybe I'm from Mars. My skin seems to be turning redder by the second as I write this...) And of course, I totally anticipate and understand this reaction on your part. All I can say is: Gosh, I'm glad I don't teach yoga for a living. I'm glad it's "only" a practice for me. To all of you yoga teachers out there, you have my most sincere respect. I take my hat off to you.