Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looking forward, looking back

February, though now over, marks the five year anniversary of Tranquil Turtle Yoga studio. It has come without much fanfare this year, I admit, because of the swirl of other activities vying for my attention.  As I write this, I'm preparing to leave for a two week vacation, followed by a manual lymphatic drainage training. Not to mention I had been trying to figure out a new location for my prenatal yoga class, which so far hasn't panned out. It appears the class will be staying here for now and really I'm OK with that.

The possibility of moving my prenatal class got me thinking about the direction of the studio and where I, and it, might be headed in the future. I've wondered about my ability to teach yoga into my latter years. I know many older instructors but some on-going knee pain made me rethink that idea. Fortunately, I received an all-clear from my doctor. I'm not doing myself any unrepairable harm by teaching several class a day at this point.

I also wondered a bit about the future of yoga. I know it sounds funny to wonder about the sustainability of something 5000 years old, but recent conversations with students and other instructors and a quiet January at the studio made me think that maybe the Everett area has reached it's yoga saturation point. Or maybe the yoga "fad" has died down. "Are there any new students still out there?" I asked myself.

What I concluded was that hot yoga and gym-based classes might be pulling in the newbies and those who just want to "try" yoga but there's still a very real need for specialized classes in the area: prenatal yoga, therapeutic yoga, yoga for seniors, not-so-hot yoga etc. That's where Tranquil Turtle Yoga comes in.

When I started my little studio I had grand plans. I never intended for it to remain in my house as long as it has. It was just a temporary location until I built up enough students to move it outside. Sure, I've looked at rental space. Most of was too expensive to reasonably consider and the spaces that weren't just didn't have the right feel or weren't in good location.

But these are just excuses. The truth is I'm comfortable where I am and really don't want to move now.  I like my basement studio. I like the view out the window and cozy feeling it emits. I like that I don't have to drive anywhere to get to it. (I joke that a bad commute is a two-cat pile-up on the stairs.) I like that there's very little overhead. I like my students. Most of all I like the freedom it gives me. There's no staff to manage, no rent to pay, no teaching format to follow.

Many people have heard me talk about my days at the newspapers and how stressful and unrewarding that was for me. However, not many people know that I didn't really enjoy my first years as a yoga teacher as much as I had expected. Sure, I was glad to be done with my old job but it wasn't as relaxing as I thought it would be. I was always racing from one class to the next, going from fifth gear to first and back to fifth without every shifting in between. Classes were very big and often I had no idea who was in the back row and much less their experience level. I felt like I had to teach generic, one-size-fits-all classes. I couldn't really use most of the therapeutic training I'd received and so wanted to share. I started thinking is this all there is?

Then through a series of events and missteps, my husband, who had once suggested I become a yoga teacher, suggested I convert his "gameroom" into a yoga studio. I think he made this sacrifice mainly to avoid having me make a big financial mistake which would have been far worse than giving-up a gameroom. And here I am five years later.

My husband still asks now and then when he can have his room back. Well, to answer his question, as far as I can see not anytime soon. As long as it's still working to keep the studio here, God willing, I'll be here for another five years.

As those year progress, I see my studio turning more and more into a niche of specialty classes, something that most students won't find at their gym, and in some cases, anywhere else. I'd rather not follow the yoga trends, I've never been one for trendy, but rather start my own.

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