Keep Practicing in Locally Owned Small Studios

If the possibility that you may forever be swiffering floors, folding blankets, practicing congeniality and care with the most redundant questions, constantly checking in with people that work for you but don’t really work for you that work for themselves but don’t really work for themselves, and juggling what seems to be a unfinished crossword puzzle …the yoga schedule, then owning a yoga studio is for you!

No, no, no, wait! With a hint of insecurity I started this in a snarky way, so clever of me, its funny, trust me. But…allow me to draw us back and open the envelope to my journey with yoga studio ownership.

photograph by Cara Brostrom www.carabrostrom.com

My name is Juliet Loranger and back in early 2011 I came across an opportunity to start my own business. A yoga studio. Yes indeed, and my vision at the time this venture began was harmoniously bright with ideas, a set pulse, and a slightly competitive spirit (which I inherited from my French Canadian blood). As I grew into the shoes quickly, the entrepreneurial shoes of a single woman in her mid-thirties with $600 to her name, I became aware that I needed to plant some seeds in my mind. ‘Seeds’ as a form of marking the commitment that I was about to undertake. They were more than intentions or aspirations to me, they were tenets of what I felt was needed to be in place so that there could be something to balance the mojo.

One of them was the coolest…I mean I felt really cool saying it in my head. One tenet of mine at that time (and currently) was to “Have no fixation on the outcome of the studio.” In addition to that another tenet I secured in my heart was to stay as a visionary rather then getting up into the numbers and the spreadsheets. Its in my nature to envision things and make them happen and to hustle for the cause (that’s perhaps the Italian in my blood).

So back in 2011, I envisioned a yoga studio that would succeed on the vital seed planting of non-attachment and the credibility that comes with maintaining this. With this I had hoped that the studio as its own entity would never place any pressure or scheme or discontent on the folks that would be spending time there.

Omg…dying to know what happens, right? Gulp. Okay, beans to spill, coming up!

The students showed and we grew, they inquired and I hired, we all seamlessly became friends in a way that wasn’t hyper colored with mock interest in all things yoga. The team of instructors in the first, second and most of the third year were a super group of inspiring humans that were truly connected to each other. To say it was swell would be right. It was freaking swell and we knew it. The team of teachers were interested in each other as influential parties to a common goal. We practiced together quite often. A silent practice with conversations to close. Conversations that played a huge part in what we then imparted to the folks that came there to attend classes. The vision I held of non-attachment had led us to a place of trusting friendships based on learning the practice of yoga symbiotically and questioning things, things like the folded yet unavoidable idealism in the world around us. All this was the founding heart of Yoga on Union. The founding heart of expression, discipline, purpose with faded edges and a community that laughs with you. Needless to say we were thriving, business was there, the yoga was good and fruits were ripe.

So as I see the stages of studio development from there to here. The first couple of stages were like this: first the studio was a reflection of the tenets I gave to it, then it was the teachers that flavored the space with their independence and then the students gave to the entity of Yoga on Union, their vision, their effort and their ritualistic interest.

PHOTO PETER PEREIRA/The Standard-Times ++ Yoga instructor Juliet Loranger leads her morning class through various poses at her studio Yoga on Union on Johny Cake Hill. in downtown New Bedford, MA.

Freaking magical.

Until the times when things shift. The smallest of shifts in a creation like this tend to need most tending to. The daintiest tremors of someone feeling neglected or left out or unheard can be such a strike to the prana. As the last 2 years have unfolded there have been shifts that changed the core team of teachers. Innocent changes like someone moving away from the state or away from the practice of teaching and not so innocent changes like bouts of greediness and inabilities to compromise. Having to fire a teacher I trusted for not being truthful was so very hard on me as the owner of the studio. I felt very hurt. In doing a bit if therapy to let it go I noticed that seed of non-attachment got stuck and paradoxically more things started to change.

At the start of the studio there were very few other places to attend a yoga class in this part of the world, and in the short chunk of time since I opened the doors, there are now many options for people. So what started to change next was the students. There were less of them and being that the studio’s capacity is only16 spots, it seemed slim but not empty. People have options in gyms and YMCAs and all sorts of other places for yoga at a very low price per class. And I do believe that is ok, just until it isn’t. Jeepers, now I feel like I’m complaining. Maybe a little. I share with you the belief of a single woman small business owner who grew her vision to maintain a yoga studio where people can continuously feel they have the same strengths as the teachers and at the same time feel so safe that they are willing to be taught. And in all I share I must say it’s scary to think that it’s just all in the timing. That in time studios are supposed to flourish and to fluctuate. That no package of prana, faith, mojo, perfectly designed flyers and an extra class on the schedule can re-route what’s in motion. Ok, I’ll go with that…. because I know that all involved at the studio have had the delight of experiencing the fortitude of creating an intuitive business in a city where there are many, many empty store fronts and a touch of grey in the air. I know no matter how the evolution of the studio goes that its been my greatest teacher (or a close second to Noah), and I feel happy about that.

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As I began to grow into greater roles of leadership and have evolved into a more confident way of how I want to teach yoga, the options for the studio need to be revisited. It will go a little something like this: one day headstands, one day keeping my head above water….one day filling the room for a vinyasa class, one day filling out forms for a loan…..one day chanting to Shiva, one day singing the blues. But everyday forward from that special day I decided to place the commitment of non-attachment in my heart and trust in the funky disposition of studio life, I have been able to soak in the blessing of being able to provide, receive and make small buttery changes in the lives of others. A studio’s walls are only really a metaphor for how we find our selves needing what we need when we need it, its ceiling a metaphor for our ability to protect each other and its floor represents a blank canvas that waits for its artist to move and grove all over it.

And with this I say we must keep practicing in locally owned small studios because it’s so damn good.

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Today’s blogger, Juliet Loranger, is a Massachusetts based yoga teacher and studio owner and a The Mazé Method Apprentice.

Recently someone asked Juliet the question, “Why do you teach yoga?” The response fell effortlessly from her mouth, “I teach yoga because I practice yoga. Also because it is a transformative process and I believe everyone should somehow keep connected with the process of transformation.” Juliet has always engaged with the hails and fails of being a modern day rock-n-roll woman. Rock-n-roll is in her blood, and now, fortunately, so is yoga. Her personal practice of yoga is to establish a textural relationship with self-inquiry and to nurture the components that lay in the traditions and philosophies of yoga. On the daily, yoga helps her stand in her truth as she rocks out. Her teachings and classes are always to invite students to a place where they rejoice in what is, to educate students about the fortifying qualities of alignment in postures combined with fluency of their breath, to share with them in the discipline that’s freely required to transform and the candidness to be curious.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]