Yoga and wine. Hip-hop yoga. Yoga on the baseball field. Yoga on a paddleboard. Yoga anywhere paired with anything.
Late yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar, Indra Devi and the like may very well be turning in their graves every time a goat jumps on someone’s back during Downward-Facing Dog. Do novelty yoga classes expand the footprint of yoga in a positive way or dilute it into something that barely resembles yoga?
The truth is, no one person can answer that question definitively; everyone’s practice is unique. However, for business owners, these nontraditional formats can provide opportunities for marketing, profit and new clientele. In an age where “boutique fitness” establishments are popping up left and right, yoga professionals are forced to find new ways to attract and retain students. These unusual settings and experiences can be an avenue to explore.
A great place to start is right in your home community. Is there a small business you appreciate that you can partner with? There needn’t be an obvious reason to link your two businesses at first, beyond mutual respect for each other’s interests and values. Maybe a local shop has space to host a class, allowing you to introduce your clients to their shop, and their shoppers to your practice. Perhaps you can connect with an aspiring sommelier to offer wine tasting after a peaceful evening practice.
Think about the customer segment you want to attract and let your creative juices flow (and enjoy the extra income through ticket sales and potential new yogis)! For example, Pedals and Poses and Hatchet Jack’s of Iowa City recently co-hosted an evening of yoga and hatchet throwing. Although an unlikely pair, the event was successful in ticket sales and response.
Another way to expand your reach while still supporting local businesses is through your website. Do you film classes or record podcasts? Hire a local musician or producer to create your signature background music. Could you partner with a local apothecary or artisan vendors to create your own brand of yoga mat spray? Lavender pillows? Mala beads? Sell them in-studio or online! It’s a win-win partnership.
No event or product can replace the strength of a studio’s commitment to quality yoga instruction, but a little creativity can take your business to the next level of success. If the idea of producing events or approaching other professionals is daunting, remember that trying something out once is not a long-term commitment or investment. Make it as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Often times, these ventures can be created for little to no overhead cost. If it doesn’t work out the first time, take a lesson from your yoga practice: make some adjustments, and try again.
Cara Clonch Viner is an Iowa City-based actor and fitness lover/teacher/blogger through her business Pedals and Poses. She is a certified yoga, barre, WERQ (dance fitness), and cycling instructor. When Cara is not in the studio or on stage, she loves spending time with her husband and daughter, being a “foodie” and working on house projects. More information can be found at www.PedalsAndPoses.com.