Challenges of running a studio
Yoga has changed a lot over the years. It’s a big business now. This makes running an independent studio like Hot Yoga Ibiza more difficult than it may have been in the past. Combine the day-to-day struggles of any studio owner around the world with being situated on a little island in the Mediterranean, and you’ve got an interesting combination.
When I first arrived in Ibiza it was difficult to get anything here – I used to order coconut water from Germany! But now, with the internet, everything has caught up to speed and you can easily get whatever you need delivered quickly. Everyone always tells me I should have a shop in the studio, but yoga is not about selling for me. I sell a couple of essential things – mats, towels and bags – but it’s just not me.
I don’t teach yoga for the money. Of course, like anyone, I need to make money. It costs money to run the studio. And I need to eat! If you work for money, you need to teach in a big room filled with a lot of students. You won’t know their names, you won’t connect. But if you work for yoga, for your dedication to the practice, you can have a small room and you can bring your students – who you know by name, by language, by level – to where they need to be. It’s never been about business for me. It’s always about the practice.
Many businesses in Ibiza rely on tourism to make their income in the short five-month summer season, but I stay open all year round. On one hand, I don’t have to hope for a tourism boost, but I do need to maintain my core numbers and the Ibiza community can be transient. For example, the weather seriously affects how many people turn up to class – if it’s hot and sunny, they go to the beach; if it’s cold and raining they won’t drive to the studio. Many people who practice here stay for three months and then travel for a couple of months. It makes it hard to build up a rapport with your students.
I like to know who the students are in front of me, even if it is their first class. It’s so much easier to connect, to know what they need. I often say a lot of my work is done outside of the room – it’s a bit like being a psychologist. I get a lot of feedback from new students that when they they practice in a city studio, they don’t speak to anyone, the teacher doesn’t know their name and they don’t get any personal attention. With me, they feel like they can grow. I take care of my students. Outside of class, I think my students have a nice community too – they all get along and it’s like a little family. Everyone knows everyone, even though they are all from different cultures which is nice. This is what I love the most about being on this island.
I teach classes in two languages – Spanish and English – but I can also give corrections in Italian and French. Personally I prefer teaching in English – the words are shorter and flow easily – but I give my students whatever they need. I don’t want anyone to ever feel intimidated or nervous about coming to class because they may not understand the language. I can always help you in whatever language you need and you can always watch the other students to keep up.
Despite what it looks like to the outside world, there’s actually not a huge yoga community in Ibiza. I get most of the support I need from friends around the world, from other teachers who follow the Ghosh lineage, or from books and online. But there’s no fierce war between yoga teachers in Ibiza. One person offers something, another offers another. I know no one will ever be like me, so I don’t ever feel like I have to compete.
One of the biggest difficulties I face however, is running the studio by myself. I teach seven days a week with no support, 16 classes in total, because I feel I owe it to my students to provide them a place to practice on a daily basis. My dream would be to offer ten classes a day, with different teachers… and take some time off! I used to feel the pressure of this constant teaching schedule, but through my practice I have learned not to let it bother me. As yoga teachers, we feel we shouldn’t show stress, or burnout, but we’re not robots. We’re human and I really hope my students understand this.
To run a busy studio, you must always be attracting new students and this is a big challenge in Ibiza. I believe students come to the teacher when they are ready, but I also understand you need to be marketing your studio correctly to reach more new people too. The balance is hard. It’s one thing to attract students, but another to keep them. We post new blogs every week and share photos to social media, because we know that’s what people want to see, but to me that’s not what yoga is about. I hope once the students arrive at Hot Yoga Ibiza, it is my teaching that keeps them here! Of course I’m happy when someone says they love my blog but it’s not done for admiration or the ego. We spend so much time trying to kill the ego in yoga, not inflate it!
Some days are harder than others, there are highs and low, ups and downs. I try to always maintain balance through my practice. If all of this was gone, I would still have my practice. I would find another way to teach yoga. Sure, I’ve been tempted to open a studio elsewhere, but I know I wouldn’t find the same mix of people and the freedom that we have here in Ibiza. You can think the way you want, dress the way you want, teach the way you want and no one is judging you. I feel safe here, in my Ibiza cocoon. It might not be the best platform for success but in the end my practice is the most important thing. I will always have the passion for that inside me. It’s who I am, not what I do.