Marketing Your Business, Yoga or Otherwise

My marketing philosophy in my design business for the past several years is to foster relationships to procure continually repeating clients for long term scalable growth. This keeps me from having to spend time looking for leads and gives me more time to make money doing what I love so that I can afford to travel and enjoy life. Though I certainly need to establish new lead channels for my client’s marketing goals, ultimately my focus for their business is the same philosophy as well. On going clients/customers first. New leads second. If they are just starting a business, of course this will be different, but I find this helpful as a general rule thumb.

This is a philosophy that works especially well in a community based industry such as yoga where a feeling of connection is held in high value within the service itself. Focus on your students who are there, give them your best.

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You Are Perfect Just As You Are

I went camping for two days with one of my design clients in the middle of the week (’cause I can – being a location independent entrepreneur and all). Some may find that strange, but rest assured my client relations are all fairly abnormal. At any rate, we spent a lot of time talking about who we are, what we want in life and basically…how we roll. I have been realizing more and more that I am slightly..ummm…eccentric and this conversation really helped solidify for me that I am kind of an odd duck. I have no desire to be like anyone else. NO desire. This has become apparent to me even more so recently, than ever before, when I decided to take a break from teaching yoga for awhile. My path of being a yoga teacher, as it has been, was the last bit of me trying to be like others which simply did not mesh with who I actually was. I am not a golden light of health and earthly transcendence. I like the earth. I like the struggle. I like the raw and the brash and the wild. The irreverent and the novel. 

I practice yoga to keep from being in pain on a daily basis, to push the boundaries of my body and mind and to become more aware of the ways in which I limit myself. I sit in meditation for the sole purpose of watching thoughts arise so I can create space from them in order to choose how I think instead of being on the auto pilot program prescribed by my past, society, media,  people around me, etc. 

I do these things so I can be more me. Not to be more graceful. Not to be softer. Not to be kinder. Not even to be healthier. 

Frankly I would rather sit around at any given moment and drink coffee or beer, smoke a cigarette and talk to another human being about our experiences on this planet while throwing out a few f-bombs every once and awhile (often). 

And that is a-o-k with me. 

For a long time I used to think that the Buddhist concept of releasing the illusion of duality meant that I had to change myself in such a way that my actions were all more in line with each other. That if I was going to be a yoga teacher, I had to stop eating meat, be a size 2, and speak the half-truth of positivity at all times, and if I couldn’t do those things and fit myself into the idea of the mold that I had in mind, then I was somehow less-than and lacking. What a messed up ego trip! By the way, life is not all positive. It is yin and yang baby – all the time. 

Now, I realize that releasing the illusion of duality means just that – releasing the illusion of duality. 

I am embracing myself with a giant hug and a pinch on the butt. 

All the things that I do and say and think and feel ARE me. I am one, whole, fucking human being. 

Perfect.

So for now I am giving up the idea of “bettering” myself. I am just going to do what I do – work, play, travel, practice yoga and meditation, swear , smoke, drink, laugh, talk, dance, sing, write, eat this bacon and egg breakfast burrito sitting here next to me  (yum!) and explore what it means to rest in my wholeness, imperfections and all. Who knows where being comfortable with myself at this moment might lead to. 

My life is awesome and I live it on my terms. I enjoy my own company and no one seems to think I am an asshole (that I know of…or care about). 

What greater success is there? I am not talking about saving the world here.

How would you feel and what would your life look like if you stopped trying to be something that you’re not?

P.S. Here are some pictures from my super awesome, mid-week, trip to the Carrizo Plain National Monument … I give it 5 stars for SPACIOUSNESS.

Funny enough, it just so happens that I stopped at the James Dean memorial site on the way to the Carrizo Plain.

 

 

 

 

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The Cold Hard Truth About Being an Entrepreneur

Working for yourself is awesome. It really is. There are so many incredible benefits to being an entrepreneur.

You get to do what you love. Working for yourself you can decide what business you want to be involved with. You can even decide within that business what you like to do and what you want delegate to others.

You can determine your schedule. No one is going to get mad at you if you decide to come in to your place of business at 10am instead of 8am if you work at an office (or roll out of bed and over to the couch with your computer!) You can decide which days you want to work and which days you want off. You can take your vacations whenever you want to schedule them. If your child gets sick, you can just get them to a doctor with out worrying about loosing your job!

Your income is based off of your time and effort and isn’t static. I know so many people whose companies have downsized and their work load doubled, while their pay stayed the same. You can decide for yourself what to charge and how much to work. When you work for yourself your income can grow exponentially depending on your effort, but when you work for someone else you are lucky to get small raises rarely, maybe a bigger promotion exceptionally rarely.

You don’t have a crazy boss breathing down your neck. You don’t have to be under the thumb of one persons ideas of how you should work, when you should work and what you should look like when you are working! You can choose (and fire) your clients to suit your needs and how you want to be treated.

These are all great things. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

But is it for you?

Here is the cold hard truth about working for yourself.

It’s hard. VERY HARD.

Having someone tell you what to do is easy. Making priorities for yourself and being self-motivated is incredibly challenging.

Having a flexible schedule is wonderful, but sometimes so many non-work things come up, and because of that flexible schedule, it is challenging to stay focused and on track.

It is incredibly time consuming to work for yourself. Especially when you are just starting out. You think, “Hey…I am going to become a yoga teacher, or write this book and build a website and everyone will flock to it!” Then you realize, that not only do you have to teach yoga, but you have prepare for classes, you have to market yourself incessantly, you have to pay your taxes and do your accounting, you have to keep going to trainings, you have to take classes and network, you have to build a website.

So here you are as a yoga teacher or a self-published book author and you are working on your website and now you realize that you have to do it yourself or become an effective delegator real fast. It seems so easy, just build a website and they will come right? Wrong. You have this beautiful design idea, and then you realize that you have to work on the content for the site, and you have to get the right photos and you have to connect with social media sites and you have to write amazing content for your blogs and newsletters. Then the next thing you know you have to learn search engine optimization and you have to start getting other websites to link to your site. You also have to keep at it and update everything regularly. The list goes on and on and on.

So you find yourself doing all of this stuff that has nothing to do with what you had originally wanted to do and the next thing you know, that flexible schedule has you working ALL THE TIME. Somtimes you even start finding that the things you once LOVED to do start to feel just like…WORK!

When you are an entrepreneur you are doing what you love, but you also have to become an accountant, a marketer, a sales person, a manager, your own cheerleader, and trust me, those are not all of the hats that you will have to wear!

Also, you will find that you don’t have one boss breathing down your neck, you now have MANY CLIENTS WANTING SOMETHING FROM YOU and you have to prioritize and juggle all of their needs with your own.

Let’s not forget to mention dealing with things such as paying quarterly taxes, paying for your own health insurance, not being able to collect unemployment or state disability if something goes drastically wrong, and of course not having the same paycheck coming in at the same time each month.

There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur. In fact it is infinitely harder than being employed 40 hours a week. It takes more time. It takes more motivation and it takes more energy. You have to really want it. You have to have verve. You have to be stable and consistent. You have to be outgoing and a people person. You have to be COMMITTED.

Then one day you look around and wonder WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF and THIS is the moment of truth. This is when you have to dig deep, because it is in that moment when you either decide to give up or when you decide to push forward towards awaiting success.

Before you quit your job or start that new side business, you have to ask yourself, “Do I REALLY have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? Am I REALLY ready for the time, effort and struggle?”

Because it is only worth it if you are.

Of course, the only way to really know…is to try.

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Yoga Teaching Tips: How to Be a Good Yoga Teacher

As a yoga studio manager and yoga teacher I have seen many highs and lows in yoga student numbers for myself as well as for other yoga teachers. These are yoga teaching tips on how to be a good yoga teacher that I have actively put into practice as well as things I wish I had learned sooner (but it’s never too late!). A few of these yoga teaching tips are an absolute must from the very beginning while others you can work on over time.

1. Get to your yoga class at least 10 minutes early and greet new students.

2. Start and end your class on time.

3. Follow up after class with new and returning yoga students. Ask them if they have questions, give them encouragement or just ask them how their day is going!

4. Remind your students often before or after class that you are available to answer their questions.

5. Learn your student’s names and use them often.

6. Smile and make eye contact, but I recommend keeping hugging down to a minimum.

7. Stay consistent. Every time you miss one of your yoga classes your student base will drop.

8. Keep terms in everyday language and clarify when using yoga terms that new students may not know.

9. Don’t preach dogma. Share stories that your students can relate too.

10. Focus on your students. Notice their yoga posture, breath and facial expressions and offer modifications to students who are struggling or who are more advanced.

11. Keep a professional yoga teaching relationship with your students.

12. Offer workshops. If you are a newer yoga teacher, just start out with 2 hours. Start promoting them as far in advance as you can. Even better: Lay out a workshop schedule at the end of the year for the whole following year.

13. Spend 1 minute after class before your students get up from their yoga mat and promote something for the studio you are teaching at as well something for yourself
(such as your amazing blog!)

15. Start a blog. Share your knowledge with your students outside of class and reach potential new students.

14. Set up a website (or convert your blog). Make sure to have photos, a bio, your schedule info, prices, location and contact info as well as pertinent information for new students.

16. You would be amazed how easy it is these days to make videos, books and audio. Get to it! Not only will your students buy them, but they will appreciate them. You will also reach and help more people. There is a good chance that you can find someone who believes in you and would be willing to invest their time and knowledge for a percentage of the profits (just make sure to cap the amount – for instance they get 50% of the profits until they reach $2000)

17. Promote your yoga classes regularly (not annoyingly!) on Facebook and Twitter and share other valuable information about yoga including quotes, links to other people’s articles, etc.

18. Seek out ways to spend some time teaching in service. Try offering a free class in the park or teaching to an under-served population. Not only will you be giving back, but you will often gain new students and meet people who will otherwise support you.

19. Practice on your own and take classes from other teachers regularly. This keeps your practice strong and your energy up for teaching yoga. When you take classes from other yoga teachers you will be introduced to new potential students. Even better…connect with 2 other yoga teachers and plan out a way to take each other’s classes regularly. Make sure to introduce each other at those classes!

20. Keep taking teacher trainings and going on retreat. That’s where we get down to the nity grity work! This also gives you an opportunity to share new and interesting experiences with your students.

21. Ask  a trusted  colleague, or even better, the studio owner, to critique your class. Let them know what kinds of things you want them to look out for. Are you fidgeting or slouching? Are you too quiet? Do you say “um” or other needless filler language.  Listen to their tips. If their constructive criticism feels right to you then work on that area. If their constructive criticism doesn’t feel right to you, thank them and chuck it! Not ready for that? Video tape yourself and watch it!

22. Find a mentor.

23. Know that you are enough. You do not have to be perfect. Just be yourself. I have heard many times from students that the teachers they connect with the most are the ones that (occasionally) share their own struggles and vulnerabilities. But keep the real personal stuff out of the studio. No complaining about your significant other etc…

24. Focus on your prosperity. Read and learn about prosperity often. Being a minimalist or being a yoga teacher in service is one thing. Being a teacher in poverty is no good to anyone.

25. Make goals each month, write them down and put them in a visible place. What classes do you want to teach? How many? How many students do you want to have in class and how much income do you want to make.

Joy and propserity to you! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment!

P.S. Read read read. Get a Kindle, pack your yoga e-books on it and take it with you everywhere so you are have regular education and inspiration at hand!

2

Start Connecting with People for a Joyful and Healthy Life

As a yoga teacher I often encounter the same scenario at the start of a yoga class.

Students come in and sit down as far apart from each other as possible. When  I am teaching I will often wait till everyone is situated in their comfortable spot and then right before the start of class I have everyone move closer together towards the front. When I do this, the level of discomfort in the room is noticeable. This is, of course, one of the reasons why I do it. After all, one of the many wonderful aspects of yoga is it’s ability to take us beyond our comfort level.

Many people go about their day with minimal contact with other people. They create walls and keep their distance, which hinders them from connecting with others physically, sharing emotional intimacy even with those they are closest to, and also avoiding any kind of contact with strangers.

Recently I have been riding my bike to my office. It is a leisurely, half hour ride through the beautiful tree lined streets of Sacramento. By the 3rd day I started to notice something very interesting: I felt more connected to other people. In any given bike ride people wave to me, say hi to me, smile at me, nod towards me, and sometimes even go out of their way to compliment me on some aspect of my physical appearance, my bike or just the fact that I am obviously commuting on my bike, versus driving to work. One day on my bike ride to and from work I counted almost 30 separate instances of positive communication between myself and others.

How many people do I communicate in this pleasant manner with when I am driving? Zero.  As we all know, if there is any communicating with others while we are boxed inside our vehicles it is usually a negative experience!

It is amazing to me how much more elevated my mood is by the time I get to work when I am riding my bike. Partly because of the exercise, but partly because I already started my day with so many pleasent moments with other human beings.

People need to make positive connections with other people in order to be healthy. Loneliness and separation are a major contributing factor to stress and depression which cause dis-ease in our body.

If you find that you are spending your day avoiding contact with other people or are just looking to connect more often, here are a few things you can try in order to start breaking down you barriers:

Strike a up a friendly conversation with the person working the supermarket register.

Spend a day making eye contact with everyone you pass by.

Smile and say hi as you pass someone walking on the sidewalk.

Give your significant other or children a hug everyday (at least 1!).

Sit down next to someone in your yoga class who you haven’t met before and introduce yourself.

Call a friend you don’t normally talk to on the phone and have a chat.

Get off of Facebook and go out to dinner with a friend.

Next time someone invites you to a gathering where you hardly know anyone…go!

When Traveling:

If you want an incredible travel experience, I highly recommend you stop sight seeing and start looking for opportunities to engage with the people of the culture.

See if you have any friends who know someone in the country you are visiting and try to meet up with them.

Stay as a guest in someones house by utilizing websites like AirBnB.com.

Live and work with a family through websites like Workaway.info.

(You can often find hosts who are yoga practitioners on both of the above sites!)

Do your best to speak the language even if you feel you are not ready.

The best experiences in life are the ones we share with others. You will find that as you start connecting more with other people that not only will you feel elevated, you will be giving the same gift to others.

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Serving Humanity for the Sake of Service While Being Supported by the Universe

Below is an email I sent last week to Steve Pavlina, the uber blogger for “Personal Development for Smart People,” in response to his article Waking Up.

- The Wandering Yogi

________________________________________________________________

Dear Steve,

Your recent post about Waking Up and being of service to humanity really hit home for me as a yoga teacher. I also think it is so inspiring that you decided to remove the copyrights from your work to share with the world. That is pure love and trust in abundance at it’s finest! 

After reading your blog I laid down on my bed and thought about the ways in which I was not feeling supported by the universe and the ways in which I could be of support more. 

I teach yoga 2 plus times a week and get paid $30 per class, regardless of how many students are in there. There have been times when the studio is full of students and times when it is not. Every time I sit down to teach a class I see how many students are there and I crunch numbers. When things are slow I think to myself “oh good” there are 8 students today”…or “oh no, there are only 3″ and when the studio is busy, the same thing occurs “oh good” there are 22 students today”…or “oh no, there are only 15″ The moment I sit down and crunch those numbers in my head and place a value on my self as a teacher based off of those numbers, is the moment I completely loose touch with my whole reason for being there…to serve the growth of humanity.

So I made the decision to stop teaching these classes for money. Though I am loosing a stable percentage of my income, I am not concerned about lack of prosperity. I know how much I am supported when I am in service. I have experienced that time and time again. I am greatly looking forward to sitting down to teach today for the SOLE purpose of raising consciousness.

Thank you for all of you work.

– Stacy Hayden (The Wandering Yogi)

________________________________________________________________

After I made this decision I contacted the owner of the studio and  let her know that I am releasing my teacher’s pay back into the universe. It felt great. When I went in to teach the next day I explained to the students what I was doing and why.  I let them know that I had been doing them a disservice by crunching numbers before class and either feeling relieved at the numbers or guilty because of the lack. I explained to them that often because of the financial aspect of being a teacher I would end up not only catering to my ego, but catering to theirs as well. I would be “customer service” sweet when what they really needed was a compassionate kick in the ass, I would cut times on exercises so as to not overload them so they would not get frustrated and would keep coming back versus really giving them the space to have a true experience…the list goes on.

About 3 days later the fear kicked in. Holy crap…I just lost $270 plus a month! Why did I do that? But then I remembered all of the roller coaster feelings that I had wrapped up in being a teacher for my income and it feels refreshing to be released of them. I feel better AND I am supporting the growth of humanity. Can’t beat that!

A few days later I realized another wonderful outcome of this decision. One of my biggest goals is to be “location independent.”  To have a home but to be able to work from anywhere that I want, whenever I want to. One of the things that was stopping me from taking the next big leap is that I would loose a portion of my relied upon income while I was away because it was still attached to my teaching on location. So though I no longer have that particular  income, all of my income now is totally location independent! I just bought myself freedom for a mere $270 a month. Last year…a couple of months ago even, $270 a month felt like everything. Now I have the physical and emotional freedom to replace that money in a way that is more supportive of my life design.

Awesome.