People will steal your shit.

Holy fucking breaking news Batgirl!!

Alanna Kaivalya says in her Manhattan Supreme Court suit that Wanderlust Festivals strung her along for four months just to get insight into her training methods.

Last week I blogged about TM and Copyright…..and a few weeks before that I blogged about Covering Your Asana with legal agreements . I’ve really been tapping into my legal mojo. I hope you understand, I’m not just talking to hear my own voice here. Alanna Kaivalya is suing Wanderlust for basically stealing her Kaivalya Method Teacher training manual. This is important shit!!! I ADORE Alanna Kaivalya her JivaDiva pod casts were the catalyst for me doing my first 200hr training. I also I love Wanderlust Festival. If they did her dirty – that is so NOT cool. SO SO SO much heart and soul goes into developing a teacher training. I cant even imagine someone snagging it on you. horrible. Good for her for actually getting a CDA in place. I certainly hope she also signed a collaboration agreement! Read the full story on the NY Daily News and you should probably check out my new Facebook page, Legal Dharma – for all things yoga + law related. Less Drama



Yoga TMTrademarking and Patenting yoga is a yuckie conversation to have and while I don’t arrogantly believe that 26 postures can be patented, trademarking is something that you absolutely should start think as a professional business owner.  First, grab a little background information on the distinction between

 “exercises, including yoga exercises, do not constitute the subject matter Congress intended to protect as choreography. Thus, [the Copyright Office] will not register such exercises (including yoga movements), whether described as exercises or as selection and ordering of movements.”

which has been a hot topic in the yoga patent litigation world…and the trademarking of your beautifully branded logo (mark), name, tagline or slogan.  trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  We’re talking about protecting your business name (identity, pictures and words) versus patenting the specific asanas you string together or how you set up your yoga class.

Your logo is an essential part of  your business.  It’s how people recognize you. When you build your yoga biz, you (usually) also create a logo (and other branding) that identifies your beautiful yoga business among a sea of others. It’s the identity and personality of your business. In addition to your logo and branding, you’ve probably developed some catchy names, taglines and slogans that are unique to your business.  You’ve worked long and hard developing your (yoga) goods, they are a significant aspect of your business assets – you need to make sure you protect them!

In a former business, my partner developed a line of tee shirts called Be Your Own Guru or BYOG for short and I developed a yoga training program associated with them. We never bothered to trademark this brilliant string of words or the acronym and guess what?  Two years later another yoga business launched a ‘Be Your Own Guru’ yoga training.  I was totally heartbroken, a tiny bit irritated but mostly I was smacking myself in the head pissed over never TMing the logo, the words, or even slapping it on the shirts and in the manual. It was like a 30-10-50 ratio of emotion there.

Here’s the skinny:

Registering a Trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office can be a little complicated (if you’re not familiar) and more than a little expensive. When you register something with the USPTO, you are then allowed to put at ® symbol, meaning you are federally registered.  Now, just because you’re not federally registered, slapping that fancy little R with the circle on everything, doesn’t mean you can’t protect the things you’ve poured your time and energy into!  The great thing about trademark is that it’s  first in time, first in right.  That means, the second you slap a “TM” on your business name, you’re putting the world on notice that you’re using it.  In the legal world, this is called putting the public on constructive notice of your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO! 

Make sure your you cover your asana and protect your business! Don’t let someone scoop up your brilliant ideas because you were too lazy to slap on a TM or officially file a trademark with the USPTO.  Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!  Empower yourself with knowledge so you can skyrocket your yoga business!


Business, Social Media, Yoga

WTF should I post?

R 3 Tricks for Building an Active Facebook Following 

Engage Your TribeBuilding a following on Facebook can be a challenge for lots of yoga teachers and studios because they’re not sure of the most effective ways to engage users and grow their tribe. Businesses with successful Facebook Pages use some key strategies to keep their fan base active and attract new followers on a consistent basis.

Here are three of the most effective tricks for building a following on Facebook:

Offer Value. Post Relevant and Informative Content. 

Content is key. And content doesn’t simply mean your class and workshop schedule. It’s essential to post relevant content that your tribe will enjoy. Did Elephant Journal post a great article? Share it. Did something make you laugh? Share that too. You can also ‘keep it local’ by engaging fans with news or information their local yoga community. Current events are a great example of localized Facebook content that readers want to hear about.

Being informative (read: ADDING VALUE) will keep users returning to your Facebook Page and can also lead to your page being shared by your fans. Whether your business is local or not, posting links to articles and tutorials is an effective way to include informative content. You can post information from other websites or create your own content and brand it with your business name to build name recognition and increase brand awareness.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a fantastic way to generate discussions on your Facebook Page. The answers your fans provide may give you insight into what your tribe wants and ideas about how to improve your offerings (or even dare I say, marketing!).  There are some very specific types of questions that can lead to increased engagement and participation on your page.

Yes or no questions are very simple and can be quickly answered by Facebook users. Two great yes or no questions to ask users are if they have signed up to your newsletter or visited your website. These types of questions create awareness of the rest of your business, are quick and easy to answer, and are engaging at the same time.

You can also use polls to ask questions about customer preferences and interest. Facebook makes this really easy by visiting While products and services are one subject for a poll, you can also have ones about current events or other topics related to your business. You can even have a weekly poll so that users will know to return to your page on a regular basis. As with any methods for increasing your following, the trick is to make it fun and users will come back frequently.

Create Contests

People love winning prizes and contests, especially if there are free products or a discount involved. By asking readers to like the content on your page or tweet your page to enter the contest, you can dramatically increase your following. When one of your readers likes or tweets your page, all their friends will see that. People are much more likely to like pages based on the recommendations of their friends and colleagues. In addition, you will build more brand awareness as your name is seen in more places on Facebook.

Building an active following on Facebook may take some time, but it is an essential part of every business’s social media marketing plan. The key is to be engaging and post content consistently so that your followers have a reason to visit and interact. Community development and management must be considered and treated as an investment. Slow expansion, not viral growth, is normal with Facebook. Don’t expect fast results. Be happy with steady growth. A Facebook Page is the page of your “brand” -Own it and use it wisely!

Business, Legal, Yoga

Cover Your Asana

Happy Baby Asana is brought to you by the Lovely Jessi Andricks at

So you finished your teacher training and you’re ready to dive into teaching yoga full time. This is your dharma. You’re doing what you love and loving what you do. You’ve perfected your craft. You’re certified and licensed. You might even open a studio. You’re living the yoga teacher dream. Your classes are full. You’re booking retreats. Best of all, you’re paying your bills!  But are you covering your asana?

As yoginis, we rarely think about all the awful things that could happen to us. We’re programmed to positivity.  But as business owners it’s our responsibility to make sure all those little things that could go wrong don’t and to cover our asana. What happens if someone gets hurt in one of my classes? What if a coaching client doesn’t show up or worse, doesn’t pay? What if someone reads something on my website,  thinks I am a doctor and can cure their sciatica?  These are just a few liabilities that can creep up when you’re in the business of yoga – and there are so many more. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re protected and to insulate yourself from liability. The first two steps are to choose and registering your business structure and obtained liability insurance. Once these things are out of the way, it’s time to talk about contracts and ensure you’re using the correct forms, properly drafted for your use. It’s important to understand what they are, and why you need them. Before we dig in, lets start with a little Contract 101. A contract:

  • Is an agreement between people or legal entities to do or not to do particular things.
  • Is an opportunity to write down what everyone agreed to, so that you can minimize misunderstandings.
  • Can sometimes be overruled by government laws and regulations (such as employment law, human rights law, consumer protection laws etc). Can be a good tool to manage your business risk.

Contracts can be developed by an attorney, legal consultant or you can utilize online templates. In contracting, words and punctuation are of the utmost importance and online templates may not always address your needs. As a heart-centered business owner, you should take a conscious approach to contracting. Make sure you take time to understand contracts before you sign, and do not sign if you do not understand. Now on to the juicy bits… my top 10 legal agreement list for Yoga Businesses.

1. Release and Waiver of Liability Form   You know that form you sign when you go to a studio for the first time? It’s important.  It’s called a release and waiver of liability form.  In a properly drafted release form the student acknowledges that they accept any and all risks involved with yoga and that he or she will not hold you or your studio liable for any injury that may occur.  For Studios – every student that enters your yoga room should be signing this.  If you don’t own a studio and you teach in another setting, every person you teach should sign this form. If you’re teaching at a studio, ensure the studio’s release form specifically includes a release of liability for the teacher- many only cover the studio and not the teacher. This means if a student trips on your yoga mat as they’re leaving your class, they can’t sue the studio, but they can sue you! YIKES!

2. Employment/Independent Contractor Agreement.  If working at a studio, make sure you have an agreement in place. You could be hired as an employee or an independent contractor, though most studios hire teachers as independent contractors and not part or full time employees. If you’re hired as an employee- make sure you receive an offer letter as well as an employee hand book. If you’re hired as an Independent Contractor, make sure this is also memorialized in writing. The agreement should outline your pay scale, your services/duties, tax implications, confidentiality, liabilities/indemnities and the term.

3. Confidentiality Agreement/Non-Disclosure Agreement  A Confidentiality/Non Disclosure Agreement is quite simply a contract to keep a secret; they protect sensitive information  If you work with other people (yoga teachers, virtual assistance, web designers etc.) that may potentially have access to your student/client information, even if it’s just their email address, you need a NDA.

4. Content Consent Release Agreement  Consent Release Agreements give you permission to use a person’s image or likeness on your website or promotional materials. If you want take pictures in class for future promotional use or to simply use on your website and/or social media, you need to obtain permission to use that person’s image.

5. Client Agreement Many yoga teachers offer additional coaching or private instruction outside of studio classes.  If you do, client contracts are essential!! These agreements help protect both you and your client if something goes wrong.  The Client Agreement outlines the working relationship, commitments, payments and timing.  

6. Workshop/Retreat Agreement This agreement may look similar to the independent contractor/employee agreement  or even a collaboration agreement.  It articulates the where, when, why, and how much of your workshop or event. This agreement should cover the payment structure of the event and any promotional requirements.

7. Collaboration Agreement  A collaboration agreement outlines the working relationship of the parties on a specific project. Yoginis are social people, we love working with others. If you have an idea or something you want to bring to life and you want someone else to do it with you, you need a collaboration (sometimes called a teaming) agreement.

The last three are agreements should include on your website:

8. Terms & Conditions for your Website If you have a website (and you better!) it must must have Terms & Conditions. T &Cs act as a contract between your home on the interweb and all its visitors. T&Cs on your website protect you from liability that any of your visitors might take. If you sell any items on your website it is essential you have T&Cs in addition to the disclaimer (below) and the T&Cs must comply with applicable consumer protection legislation.  

9. Website Privacy Policy Privacy policies govern how you will use a website visitors’ private information. If you’re trying to build your following through your website, you probably have a way to capture potential student information. If you’re capturing this information you need a privacy policy. State by state, privacy rules may vary but because the interweb is world wide it’s possible for you to open yourself up to liability of a different state than the one you live in. 

10. Website Disclaimer  The legal risks you face depend on the content of your website. Many yoga teachers provide information, advice, and/or instructional videos on their websites which exposes them to potential legal claims.  To help protect you from potential claims you must have a disclaimer on your website. Your disclaimer must be tailored to include exact language to fit the specifics of your website both in terms of the substance of the material and how it is intended to be used. General language won’t cut it! If you swipe generic disclaimer language from another website, it’s probably useless! 

With proper drafting some of these issues can be combined into others, but don’t just start cutting and pasting legal terms together. Consciously approach your contracting needs, be mindful of the relationship and your end goal. If you need assistance with conscious contracting or template design and review – I am happy to help!

Business, Social Media, Yoga

Using Facebook Groups

Last week I dipped my big toe into the Facebook pool.  Today I want to talk about FB Groups and how they should (and shouldn’t) be utilized. There are huge differences between FB pages and FB Groups. “A Page is meant to be more of a broadcasting platform one-to-many (though obviously you should be engaging with your fans also), whereas Groups are meant more for equal collaboration and discussion amongst a group of people who are related in some way and/or share some sort of similar interest.”  While each can and should be used by yoga business owners for marketing, networking and connecting to their tribe – they can and should be used in different ways. 

Facebook groups can be formed for a number of reasons to accomplish any number of goals. They can be formed by a business or coach for teleclasses or programming, by membership association,  formed to start a movement,  to promote your business and to network.

Here’s the DL on Groups:

  • Facebook Groups can be public, closed (anyone can find Group, only members see posts) or secret (nobody can find the Group unless added by a member).
  • There are two ways to join Groups – a Facebook friend adds you or you ‘ask to join’ and an admin of the Group accepts your request.
  • Groups don’t allow much branding at all. You get only your profile picture (a small square image), and nothing else.
  • Groups don’t allow other tabs/applications. This means you couldn’t run a competition, or have a contact page, welcome page or anything like that.
  • Group posts don’t go to your newsfeed. Instead, you get a ‘notification’ that someone has posted in the group. This can be both good and bad – it’s good because people definitely won’t miss it, no matter how long after you post the content they log onto facebook. HOWEVER, sometimes when there is too much posting going on it just gets so annoying a lot of people choose to change their notification settings so that they don’t receive these anymore. As the posts aren’t fed to your Facebook newsfeed, you effectively forget about the group forever because there is nothing prompting you to visit.
  • Groups allow ‘shared documents’ as well as group chat.
  • Fans of a Page cannot see everyone else who is a fan. Members of a group can see other members of that group.
  • Both Pages and groups can create events, post images, allow commenting/liking, restrict posts to only admins, and create polls.

*This list was created by Cara Pring on The Social Skinny.

I am totally ashamed to admit to how many FB groups I am a member of. It’s a disturbingly high number.  Every so often I go through the list, leave some and update others.  But my membership issues with FB groups isn’t really what I want to talk about today.  I really want to talk about how yoga business owners can use FB Groups for more personalized networking and marketing.

I am all for FB groups, obviously – I participate in them, moderate them and network in them. However in order for them to be beneficial to the members of the group and to the administrators, we need to remember that they serve a different function than Fanpages. There are two killer mistakes I see yoga teachers and studios making when it comes to creating and participating in Facebook Groups:

Mistake #1: Creating a Group instead of a Fanpage

If you’re running a business and using Facebook as a marketing tool to build your tribe and email list, you need a Fanpage.  FanPages are the official profiles for your business. Using a Facebook Page to connect with your students is a form of community development and it’s free advertising. The big bonus here is you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view a Fanpage. This allows you greater access to your growing tribe and potential new students and a new student pool is essential for studios and teachers!!  A Facebook Page is the page of your “brand” -Own it, use it wisely and grow it organically.

Mistake #2: Joining a networking group and spamming the crap out of them. Networking groups are designed not only to promote, but to support. If you’re just promoting in your networking group, you’re doing it wrong.   Here’s a great example- if you’re in a networking group filled only with other yoga teachers promoting your “introduction to yoga class series” there really isn’t going to get you jack shit for enrollment. Even worse, it’s going to piss off the people you’re trying to network with- why would another studio owner want to enroll in your into to yoga class? She wouldn’t. Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. It’s about cultivating relationships, NOT simply promoting your shit. If you’re just there to promote, you’re better off buying add space and leaving the group. 

The business of Facebook can be tricky, but these days, it’s practically essential to grow your business. Be sure to update regularly, keep your tribe engaged and offer something of value. ALWAYS offer something of value.  If you use your page or group only for promoting your workshop and classes you can kiss brand loyalty goodbye.  Even worse, there’s a good chance that your members and friends won’t be returning to your page anytime soon.

Business, Yoga

In Yo Face Friday

I believe in putting action behind your mantra. In the non-yoga world that’s called putting your money where your mouth is.

When I first started digging into yoga, reiki, the metaphysical, the law of attraction, abundance, manifestation and all the other new age goodness, I lost the type-a hustler in me. I had extreme faith in my ability to manifest anything I wanted into existence. I still do.  For a little while I forgot I needed to get off my ass and hustle, I couldn’t just meditate + vision board abundance into existence.

Thank Goddess, I remembered.

Last summer, I attended the Business of Yoga Conference in DC sponsored by the Yoga Alliance. It’s a fantastic conference, I highly recommend it and I thoroughly enjoyed 90% of the sessions I attended. BUT the entire time I was there, I wanted to know why the F am I not on their presenters list? I certainly should have been.

The months leading up to the conference, when the RFP went out for speakers I was floating somewhere between lacking confidence and believing that someone would eventually see my brilliance, reach out to me and demand that I speak.  So I meditated on it. I created a vision board around it. And I never submitted a response to their RFP. Guess what? No one came knocking down my door, demanding I deliver my brilliance to the eager yogis in DC.

Why? Because I sat on my meditation pillow. And when I got off my meditation pillow my hands were filled with magazine clippings and glue sticks (and more than likely a little sage). The most action I took was laying down my credit card to register for the conference.

It takes more than that. You have to dare to dream, but you also have to take measurable steps towards that dream. You have to set measurable goals and take steps towards achieving them.  You have to…

Meditation hustle

There are a lot of yoga business coaches out there and more and more are launching every single day. With studios opening like Starbucks, can you blame them? We all have different experience. Different expertise. Their awesome sauce doesn’t taste quite like mine [side note: Kelis is now raging through my brain]. But in order for me to stand out, I not only have to differentiate, I have to HUSTLE.

So I hustled.

I would love for you to join me in LA at the 2014 Business of Yoga Conference sponsored by Yoga Alliance.  I will be hosting a breakout session discussing  The Affordable Care Act: Your Ticket to Abundance.

Yup. Everyday I’m hustlin.


Awesome Sauce – Step 1

I don’t know if you guys noticed, but in last week’s blog post  I left you with 4 steps to take to define your own Awesome Sauce. I left that little nugget in the last paragraph of the post.  If you missed it, don’t worry, I’m about to dig deep, step by step.

Step 1: Understand Your Target Market

In order to create a winning USP, otherwise known as delectable Awesome Sauce, you need to understand the people in your target market at an individual level….as actual human beings with feelings, emotions and opinions.  This means not as a mass of demographic statistics, but as actual human beings. Your USP needs to appeal to their needs and desires, as well as their frustrations, worries, problems, and pain points. When you connect in this way, you create an emotional bond. The first step is getting to know these individuals.

Study Demographics

Start by looking at demographics. Find out your target customers’ age, gender, occupation, education level, and income. Try to be as specific as possible. Although you may have a good idea about your target market’s demographics, don’t leave it up to guesswork. When creating a demographic profile, rely on hard data wherever possible.

Observe Your Market

Gather data about your market both online and offline. Online, you can use social media sites, forums, reviews and blogs. Find out where your customers hang out online and spend time there. Offline data gathering methods include surveys and focus groups.

In addition to looking for demographic information, also look for psychological data. How do people in your market feel about themselves and the products they buy? Try to understand what makes them tick.

Engage Your Market in Conversation

Get into conversations with your target market to learn more about them. A common offline market research method is to conduct surveys. Surveys work well but they’re one-sided. A better approach is to get a dialogue going. You can do this through social media sites like Facebook, online forums, or your blog. Engage people in conversation related to your product or just come right out and ask them how they feel about it.

Take Good Notes

When conducting market research, it’s important to take good notes. Record all of the data you gather and organize it so that it’s easy to analyze. Separate data into categories, such as demographics and psychology. Look for data that’s consistent from one person to another.

Try to find ways to quantify your results. When it comes to market research, objective data is the most important. Subjective data, such as someone’s feelings about your product, should be used to support the objective data.

Draw a Picture

Take all of the consistent trends you find and create a picture of your ideal customer. Identify their demographic information, their opinions, their buying habits, and all the other data you’ve gathered. Once you’ve done this, it’s much easier to create a unique selling proposition. You now have a good idea of what your customers want and need in the products they buy. You can write your USP so that it speaks directly to those wants and needs.

You can even look at the physical picture you’ve drawn as you’re doing your writing, so that it sounds as realistic and personal as possible.

An Edge on the Competition

Armed with all of this information about your target market, you’ll have an edge over the competition. It’ll be easy to see what mistakes they are making and how they are not delivering. You and your company can then fill in the gaps and give your market exactly what they want.

Inspiration, Yoga

Own It.

Yup, the hiatus is over. It’s time for In Yo Face Friday.

Today I want to talk about owning it. Owning who you are and what you do with every ounce of your being.  Stop shying away from your perceived flaws.  For a long time, the yogini in me was ashamed of the lawyer in me.  I couldn’t reconcile the two aspects of my personality. The type-a, analytical, demanding side of me always seemed to be at conflict with the gentle, soft, energy healer in me.   Before my yoga training, the legal side hardened me. I felt as if my compassion and empathy were weaknesses. The opposite was true after my yoga training. For some reason yoga quieted my voice. I didn’t fit perfectly into the yoga teacher box, so my personality shrank. Only recently have I come to realize these juxtapositions are exactly my gifts to the world.

Own it

Never quiet your voice. Own it.

Business, Yoga

8 Tips for Studio-Teacher Retention + Loyalty

This blog goes out to all of my studio owners out there.  If you want the best studio in your area, you have to attract, fill and retain teaching talent. Pretty simple, right? Not always.  Most teachers pay their bills by packing their schedule with classes taught at any number of studios.  While I don’t think that’s the best way to build a sustainable business as a yoga teacher, that’s for another blog post entirely.  For a studio to be off the charts successful, hell even if your goal is just to operate out of the red,  loyalty is essential for your success. I’m not talking about the loyalty of your students, right now I am talking about the loyalty of your teaching staff.

Let me take a moment here, take it back to my law school days and set up a little hypothetical:  

I stole and edited this image from
I stole and edited this image from

You’re the owner of Rockin Yoga Studio and you just hired Candace to teach a Vinyasa class. You didn’t give her the best time slot, but she’s new and of course she needs to prove herself to get the killer class times, right?  You decide to pay her a flat rate and a per head bonus for every additional student over a certain number, let’s say 10.   You verbally agree to the terms of “employment”, add Candace to the schedule and website.  Candace also teaches at Yoga Studio B and Yoga Studio C, both about 5 miles away in different directions.  You have no idea what the other studios pay Candace.  Candace is socially active in your town and very friendly. She can be seen chatting up strangers at the local health foods, store, juice bar and even Target.  You have no idea what Candace gets paid to teach at Studio B and Studio C.  You DO know that if she’s chatting up potential yoga students, you want them coming to your Rockin Yoga Studio.

How are you going to ensure that Candace is loyal to your Rockin Yoga Studio and not Studio B or Studio C?  You could make her sign a non-compete clause stating she won’t teach within a 20 mile radius of your Rockin Yoga Studio, but that’s not very yogic is it? You definitely don’t want to be known as the Rockin Yoga Studio owner asshole, right?  Remember, we need to come from a place of abundance, not scarcity.  {if you feel that a non-compete employment clause is the way to go for you, you best sweeten the deal by offering a banging salary, health insurance and retirement 401k options}.

This may sound like a bunch of business mumbo-jumbo, but DO NOT FORGET, you are in fact running a business! It’s essential to focus on hiring strategies, employee development and career succession and planning…even in yoga studios.  Most studios are not well prepared to fill vacancies in leaders of their teaching staff. Many can barely find last minute subs! By employing consistent, studio-wide “talent management programs” at all levels studios can develop effective teachers and ROI (that’s return on investment for the business acronym challenged). So here 8 tips to build studio-teacher retention and loyalty:

Live Your Brand.  This tip is my #1 go to for every question about the business of yoga. for a studio to flourish you need to determine your studio style, tap into your awesome sauce and ensure your studio is living its brand. Make sure the teachers you hire are aware of your studio personality (brand) and will meet its expectations. Do not forget to clearly articulate what your expectations are. If your studio is known for post class tea time, let your teachers know you expect them to mingle with the students after class for at least 20 minutes.  Set expectations so your teachers understand and can live your brand.

Identify the Gaps Will Rockin Yoga Studio be headed into the red if you pull your hamstring and can’t teach for a month or if your star teacher decides to up and move to Taos?  If so, that’s a big red flag.  You need to determine the studio’s current and future leadership needs. Compare those requirements with the current staff. Identify current teacher(s) that may be at risk as well as current teacher(s) that could step up to the plate in times of needs. How is your teaching pipeline, do you have a robust sub list?

Identify Your Teaching Talent It is important to gauge your teacher’s talent beyond the teaching audition to get the job. While you can probably decipher teacher popularity by running your class metrics through MindBody Online, you should also get regular feedback from your students and other staff members. Using this feedback you can develop the talent of your teachers.  By implementing competency modules for your teachers you can identify teaching potential as well as fill deficiencies. You can also implement a mentoring program by teaming up seasoned teachers with the less experienced. Competency modules and mentoring programs can also be used as a performance review, which is essential ensure teachers are keeping your students safe and developing their profession.

Develop Skills Roadmaps – once you have identified your high-potential teachers, develop a skills road map for your future superstar teachers. People learn and develop new skills inside and outside the studio. To support informal learning, you should consider activities such as coaching, rotational assignments, shadowing/mentorships and project (Seva) leaderships. At the core, the very definition of learning should reflect today’s non-traditional learning approaches and incorporate social networking tools into the process.

Staff Development Program To build loyalty and retention, it is essential for studios to give back to their teachers. The majority of studio owners give little thought to staff development and education.  Studio owners tend to be essentially non-linear in their thinking and business planning -they know they have to hire teachers and staff (usually as independent contractors, not full employees) and they see this as an expenditure or cost to their bottom line, when in actuality, their teachers and staff if developed properly are their greatest asset. The ROI on staff development is easily quantifiable.  It includes retention, morale, efficiency, competency and customer satisfaction. (could literally talk for hours about staff development and return on investment, so I’ll save the deeper insight for another blog post).

Career Development  – This is tied directly to the Staff Development Program. Career planning may not be something the average yoga teacher  or studio owner thinks about. We tend to live in the moment and possibly plan our next class, next workshop or next retreat. Thinking about it as a career is a switch that needs to be flipped. In a traditional business setting, research shows that companies that support career planning for their employees earn business benefits in both retention and engagement.  If your studio doesn’t provide employees with career planning, someone else will.  Self-service career planning will help motivate and retain talent by empowering them to generate a view with a career plan.

Develop Retention + Rewards Programs – If there’s one thing every yoga teacher has in common, it’s our insatiable desire to learn more about everything yoga. Every single teacher out there wants to continue to learn and develop their skills, and they’ll move mountains to be able to afford to do so. – offer trainings, workshop scholarships etc. linking pay to performance can be a strong employee motivator (paying per student) , however goal  alignment may hep potential leaders stay focused on what is important for the studio. Recognize excellence in performance with a retention program., base the upside of any bonus potential on the success of both the company and the student.

Create Community – Your studio doesn’t simply serve your students.  If there’s one thing you need to remember, it’s that your studio is also a kula for your teachers and staff. As with any relationship, familial or otherwise, you need to foster its connection. Schedule regular staff meetings.  Implement quarterly staff events and trainings. Give your teachers a reason to be loyal to your Rockin Yoga Studio.

YHC Yoga Teachers Family '10.
YHC Yoga Teachers Family ’10.

You will notice that each of the above tips on building studio-teacher retention + loyalty all build from one another. One grows from the next and each are important. If Candace knew your Rockin Yoga Studio was there to foster her skills as a teacher, was interested in her career development and had her back like a family member don’t you think she’d be pimpin out your Rockin Yoga Studio in Whole Foods instead of Studio B or C?

Do you use any of these strategies for teacher retention? Do they work for you?  I’d love to hear from you!


Lets go, Smarty Pants.

You can do just about anything if you know how to set goals, but most of us don’t. It takes quite a bit of planning and if you’re not a planner, it can be tough. That’s why we have the SMART method for setting goals. A SMART goal is one that is:

  •  Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-based


Being specific helps you focus on exactly how you’re going to reach your goal. Start by creating a statement that explains what you’ll do. Use the phrase ‘I will’. Now, ask yourself the what, why and how of this goal to refine it. Make it as detailed as possible. This will help you generate the sub-goals and steps that you need to take to get there.

Corporate Services offered by Sonya Genel

Real Life Example: I will grow my yoga teaching business by including corporate offerings in my services.  That seems like a pretty fabulous goal, but how exactly are you going to achieve it?  You also need to set sub-goals – little steps to take that will get you to your end goal.


There needs to be some way to know when you’ve reached your goal. The results have to be measurable. If you want to make more money, for example, choose a specific dollar amount that you’d like to be making per year. The great thing about making goals measurable is that you can easily see your progress and this keeps you motivated to work on it.

Real Life Example:  I will add 4 Corporate Yoga Clients/Classes to my teaching roster per month providing an additional $700 income per month. Here you’re measuring both the amount of classes/clients your adding and attaching a dollar value to it.

Quick TIP: sometimes it’s easier to work backwards from your bottom line/dollar value to figure out your metrics!!


Office Yoga with Sonya Genel

Without action, goals are just day dreams and day dreams don’t pay the bills. Make a list of your sub-goals and attach specific actions you can take to make them happen. Think about things you can do today that will bring you closer to achieving your goal. Also plan actions you can take when things don’t go as planned. Hello Plan B.  During the course of working your way toward your goal, set aside time to reflect on your actions and assess the results.  Self reflection and analysis will let you dig in and get to the bottom of where you’re getting hung up. If you’re not getting the results you want, make the necessary changes.

Real Life Example:  Sub goals could include; draft Corporate Yoga Proposal; establish corporate pricing, add corporate services to my website. Not getting that damn proposal written? Why not? Don’t know how to research ROI? Confused over standard corporate pricing? Don’t let confusion or the unknown paralyze your momentum, it’s time for Plan B.  Hire Terra Kroll to design corporate yoga proposal package.


Sonya Genel

Goals only work when they’re realistic. Keep your head in the stars, but your feet firmly planted on the earth. To fluff that down, it simply means that you have a firm grasp on the big picture – perspective. Ask yourself whether or not this goal is something you can do – or even want to do. Take some time to think about your strengths and weaknesses. Which parts are going to be easy and which will be difficult? Develop a plan for the challenges you’re going to face.

Real Life Example: You’ve read the yoga blogs and understand corporate is the way to go + you want in on the prosperity. Your goal is to build corporate yoga offerings into your services and maintain at a minimum 10 corporate clients per month.   You’re a popular yoga teacher with an extremely loyal following. You consistently pack your classes. The kicker is, you’re known and loved for your deeply spiritual classes. Students that come to your classes really want to be filled up.  The problem here is that your spiritual classes are not going to jive with the needs of corporate america. Corporate yoga will be the kriptonite to your Yogini superpower. If you’re dead set on moving into the corporate world, how are you going to adapt your spiritually based teaching to make it more corporate friendly?  That’s the plan, Stan. 


Set up a detailed time frame for when your goal and all of your sub-goals are going to be achieved. This is hard to estimate if you’ve never done it before – just make the best guess possible and change your time frame slightly if you need to. Be flexible baby! We often find that it takes longer than we planned. However, make sure you have a definite deadline to add urgency to it.

A great way to plan out your goal is to use mind maps. Mind maps are visual tools used for brainstorming and setting out tasks. At the center is your main goal and all of your sub-goals branch out from it. You can then define timeframes and exactly how you’re going to reach all of your sub-goals. Mind maps put goal planning in a visual format that makes it easy for you to see the big picture.

Here’s the 2014 Goals Mind Map for The Darshana Collective:

2014 Goals

Need to play a lil catch up?

Ready Set Goal! 
Resolutions Suck, Goal Setting is Awesome!