It’s All About Balance: Yoga Business

Many full time yoga and wellness professionals support themselves by combining their teaching and healing trades with good business. This can be tricky as the philosophies of yoga and business can sometimes seem to contradict each other. I know a lot of new yoga teachers who teach part time and have other jobs they want to leave but are not ready to commit to jumping into making teaching yoga their only source of income. Also, I have a lot of creative and entrepreneurial minded friends who want to branch out and start their own business and could really benefit from accessible educational groups. It is all about perspective:  Starting a yoga business can be a great life teacher and adventure. Like most things, it’s about balance and how we approach it. The number of yoga and wellness professionals continues to rise and we are beginning to see more creative resources pop up for those in the industry. At times, it can seem overwhelming having a yoga business, but we must remember we don’t need to take on all the responsibility ourselves. Seeking community support, partnering up with people with complimentary skills, and having a passion to continue to learn new thing is key. I recently met Melissa Leger at a yoga training at Yandara in Baja, Mexico. We spent a lot of intimate time together as most people do at yoga intensives and was able to get to know her on a meaningful level as well as learn about exciting projects going on in her life. We share many commonalities in the journey of  finding the balance with yoga and business. Melissa recently launched The Smart Yoga Teacher, a business resource for yoga professionals. Here we learn her story and dive into the benefits of this community resource.

What is your yoga story?

I started yoga in college in about 16 years ago to cross train.  However, it was very much a work out mentality. I did it off and on but it wasn’t until I had a bout of depression where I really understood it was more than just asana. During the depression, I was very aware of it, I tried everything: self help books, astrology, staying busy, meeting new people, hobbies, exercise….but every day I would have the uncontrollable urge to cry and felt incredibly lonely. On another self help kick, I felt like I needed more exercise and bought a Groupon and practiced consistently at a studio for 30 days. I liked the exercise so I kept going and about 3 months in, I noticed a lot of those negative feelings went away. They were and are still there on occasion but without realizing it I learned the tools to witness emotion instead of overcoming them. I then pursued my 200 hour training which had a heavy focus on mindfulness and yoga therapy and in changed both myself and my practice. I completed my 300 hour yoga teacher recently which is a good reminder who we are is always evolving in our practice as we move through life.

Tell us about your passion for business…

Ah, my passion for business. I am a creative person but not in terms of being an artist. I like to think creatively and I love a challenge which works great in business. I love creating something out of nothing and enriching people’s lives. To be honest, I like making money too. Not in a greedy sort of way but I find a lot of ease in not having to think about bills and struggling. For me, it’s a lot more fun and useful to work hard in a way I want to share good things with the world than to have the stress of not knowing if I can pay my bills.


What is the vision at The Smart Yoga Teacher?

Some people are natural mothers, artists, athletes…I’m naturally inclined for business with a background in it and I also enjoy it. However, that’s not the case for a lot of people, in particular, natural healers that tend to come into teaching yoga. I’d like to create an educational resource that has a lot of free ways to learn from people who have “made it” in the yoga industry using the language and values that make sense to us. This doesn’t mean they are millionaires, though that would be nice, but they can support themselves and their families with their yoga career whether it be the main source of income or added to other desirable streams of income. Right now we have the blog which features a lot of tips, templates, and some how to videos from my experience. On the podcast, I interview other yoga pros doing different things in the industry and are supporting themselves. We also have a Facebook group where people can learn from each other. Long term, I’d like to see some offline and online courses but ideally we’re all earning from each other in our language while living yoga.

As a yoga teacher yourself, what resources for yoga teachers do you feel are lacking?

Business for sure. Yoga Alliance only requires 2 hours with a maximum of 5 in yoga teacher teacher trainings. That’s not enough. I have an M.B.A., was in the military, and worked in finance for 8 years and it’s still tough for me. People expect to be able to teach and start a career after yoga teacher training yet they’re very ill prepared for business side. Unless they are an employee, there’s very few full time yoga positions out there. Not only do we have to know about business but entrepreneurship specifically. There’s a technical and a very scary and challenging emotional side that isn’t talked about enough. Adding on to that, I think there’s a lack of community when it comes to business and yoga. Sometime it’s by nature from the individual teacher but also from a fear of competition. There’s competition out there but competition doesn’t have to create fear or a sense of lack. I’d like to see more resources to create community for yoga professionals where everyone’s connecting, sharing, and helping out communities together not separately.

How do you think ‘living yoga’ can improve businesses, organizations, and communities?

This is huge. As yogis, the 8 limbs can really help us with running our businesses ethically yet abundantly. The yamas and niyamas in particular are amazing when it comes to business. They can be our compass when we go through the peaks and valleys of running a business: being happy with wherever we’re at, how to communicate with people, what’s appropriate behavior in the workplace, setting boundaries with ourselves, clients, and employees, creating positive work environments, maintaining balance…I can go on forever.

Any tips on how we can maintain balance between utilizing the internet as a resource and finding presence offline?

Turn off all notifications! Seriously. There’s nothing so important that happens on your phone that can’t wait until you make time for it to be present. I think the internet is a great place to connect but it can also be a place to escape from our communities and relationships around us. Set time aside specifically for business and do the work then enjoy your life. I’ve started turning off my phone or leaving it behind when I’m not working because it’s such a distraction from life.

What do you believe is in store for the yoga industry over the next 10 years?

Business wise, there’s going to be more opportunity and also more competition. Some people fear competition but the people who are successful understand it’s a natural part of business. We’ll see yoga in a lot more places outside of the yoga studio and more teachers. The ones that will do well are the ones that don’t undervalue themselves because they can sustain themselves and continue to become a better teacher. There will be a lot more online learning, just like other industries, but physical classes will be just as in demand for the energy, personal attention, and community.

What is your definition of success?

In business, I would say being able to support ourselves financially and love what we do. In life, understanding ourselves and really owning it.

Anything else you would like to share?

Most people who succeed in business are the ones that failed more often than others. The reason people become successful is because they believe so much in their path that they don’t quit. Take action, keep trying, fail more often, and keep going!
Melissa Leger is the founder of The Smart Yoga Teacher, Ignite Your Bliss, and a yoga instructor. After a career in the Army and finance, she began to feel the pressures of mindlessly achieving more but having a constant feeling of emptiness. Through her yoga practice and eventually her teacher training, she began to feel alive, empowered, and aware. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 at Mindful Yoga Academy in Spain, Level I of Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, and Level I of Yoga Gangsters training working with At Risk Youth, and is completing her 500 hour training at Yandara Institute in Mexico. She also owns Green Locus Yoga in Tampa, Florida which aims to make yoga accessible to the community regardless of age, body type, or ability. She loves cooking meals, traveling, and spending time with her dogs and husband.


The Holistic Evolution of Business Culture

This article is being graciously shared with us by Living Yoga Ambassador, Lauren Lee. You can find more inspiration at the community project she founded, ‘Raise Your Beat’.

Over the past 50 years throughout many Western cultures, social status (perceived success) was easily defined by material wealth. Whether it was a home, car, accessories for your home, clothing, jewelry (or all of the above) it was culturally accepted (and expected) to consume more, simply because we could.

(*Of course this mentality was more present in certain countries, and excluded those who rebelled and lived their lives according to their own set of rules.)

Fast forward to 2015, and there has been a drastic shift in values and perspectives. Currently our culture is redefining our relationship to ‘wealth’ and the age of mindless holistic1consumption is slowly fading.

The trend of shopping at corporate stores and buying mass manufactured products is dying out. It is now replaced by the urge to support smaller personalized shops that offer local, organic and fair trade products.

Businesses are constantly becoming more innovative, resourceful and eco-conscious with their products, priding themselves on quality over quantity and strong ethics that are aligned with their economic growth.

Along with the change in what we are buying, is the change in how we are buying. Outdoor markets and festivals boasting gourmet foods and live music are replacing air-conditioned malls with fast food courts and parking lots.

And the most interesting progression is quite possibly the transformation in our desires.

The desire to even physically own a product is instead being replaced by the ability to have access to that product.

This radical revolution from our changing desires supports a culture of business that offers new ways in how we use products.

For example: a bike, which you can rent near your flat, ride across the city, and drop off at your new destination…music, movies and media stored online, available to you on anyDSC06331 device with or without internet… experiences working abroad in exchange for accommodation and food…taxi services, cars, sleeping accommodations and land directly rented from one another.

These products are more flexible, offering more availability and affordable prices. They support us to share and network with both our local and global communities. And most important, they protect the environment and work to create a smaller carbon footprint as ultimately, fewer goods are being manufactured.

As mindful consumers, we are becoming more interested in the ‘root of the product’.

What is the true purpose behind its use (is it necessary), and how can it become a tool to enhance our lives?

Can this product become an experience and offer me more value?

What is the impact of this product on myself, my community and the Earth?

Our intentions as a culture are becoming more yogic with a better understating of our yamas and niyamas (ethical guidelines), connecting to what’s truly important – access over ownership, a quality eco product over one that harms our bodies and nature, and community success over individual success.

These Yogic principals encompass multiple aspects of healthy production and consuming, and are at the heart of the evolution of many small entrepreneurs and big corporate businesses alike.

It seems the rise of yoga among the masses has begun to permeate deeper than asana with a rising in consciousness as a culture. And even in a context, which seems so far from ‘yogic’ (such as consuming) the new trends in business are implementing more holistic perspectives to sustainable and healthy options.

As a consumer, the next time you are in the market for a product, stop and think (research) which companies are offering that same product in a more user-friendly, enjoyable and eco-conscious way. Remember that you always have a choice and your lauren_bancosupport for these products will radiate far beyond buying and using them, as you will be a positive example of a mindful being for your own circle of loved ones.


LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

Yoga Trade Gets Us Started

When Jenny suggested spending her birthday in Spain, I had no idea how we would afford such a trip, given our financial facts which included my decision to leave the business community and teach yoga for the last several years and Jenny’s continuing education, pursuing her doctorate in education, with an emphasis in Organization Change, our spending was reduced to necessities (what we need, not what we want). We were already living a simplified life with minimal income and expenses. We were not planning a vacation. We wanted a different way of living congruent with our core values.

It occurred to me that we could do volunteer work that might make travel affordable, trading our time for a DSCF8512bed and food. My first and only search was on Yoga Trade: Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre in Andalucía, Spain. Within a short week or so, we heard back, Skype interview, and we’re in. We spent the most incredible three months doing so much more than we expected. The Suryalila job stated dish washing and clean up with general help in areas we may have experience.

We discovered an interest in sharing the Yoga Retreat Centre experience with the local community – a small town of 6,000 – Prado del Rey. Starting with 2 classes a week, one at the centre and one in town Jenny and I got local town people to translate and negotiate free space for the first community yoga class. Sundays in town and Wednesday evenings at the Centre with sunset and picnic options after. The first class was a huge success with over 30 at the Centre – many new to yoga!

While at Suryalila, we also provided a no cost yoga teacher training, coaching and support to individuals and Jenny provided business support and team leadership coaching to the Centre while helping to evaluate and install a new booking automated booking system.

Our efforts are over, for now, in Spain (90 day visa max) and we are working our way towards the Andaman Islands, India, (Thank you again Yoga Trade) sharing our knowledge of yoga, mindfulness and personal and business coaching with those who may benefit. Today, we are in Morocco teaching yoga at SurfMaroc (a Google search and several emails) and then the Andaman’s beginning November 1st pending work visa applications.

We left our home, our friends and families, to volunteer our time, experience and knowledge with others. We gave our possessions to family and friends who could make use, sold the car, and packed lightly with what was left. Clothing – mostly yoga. Although the days have been long, and the ambiguity of how we can keep this going longer is challenging, the experiences are incredible. Seeing the joy outside the United States that yoga and mindfulness training can bring to others is well beyond our initial beliefs.

Teaching others and teaching others to teach means more people will find moments of peacefulness in their lives – and the friendships we have developed will continue to spread this way of being around the world. We now have global relationships with too many to list, and invitations to keep up our efforts wherever we go DSCF9152including London, Dublin, Barcelona, Seville, Denmark, Washington DC, Italy, Austria and more. Traveling by foot, bus, rides from friends (Thank you* Javi), car loans (*Daniel, Harry, Thea & Gemma), travels to towns (*Emilio & Montse) to learn about local cultures, and by boat to Morocco – we are aware of our spending more than ever as getting from place to place is our major expense. We successfully launched a YouCaring fund raiser and are grateful to the friends that understand.

We have enjoyed the generosity and hospitably of many (*AJ, Lidiya & Paddy, David & Maria, Javi & his parents and many more) in efforts to keep sharing our mission to live a simpler life of service.

The road is our home for now.

Some of the unexpected: Warren did not plan on wearing out a pair of shoes in 3 months; riding the grape picker at sundown in the vineyard (*Mila!) Javi’s dog eating a kilo of the best Granada chorizo – tin foil and all – that we received as a gift (*Angel); Warren almost blowing up the truck teaching *Emma how to drive a manual transmission (*apologies Suryalila), 30 people showing up for the 1st community class from the town of Prado del Rey and then other towns (Villamartin, El Bosque joining in); the generosity of so many April-29-023(*Spanish people and immigrants); translation from so many including *Anja Dibbert, Academia Pradoventura Language School and her introductions to new yogi’s from around the world!! Jenny dancing like she was meant to . . . and so much more.


Sharing his personal experience with individuals & groups, Warren teaches yoga & meditation. His role with Sersano Wellness delivers Stress Management Programs to businesses promoting a Whole Person Approach: Meet people where they are & begin from there.