Most people don't think of yogis as entrepreneurs, but many are -- yoga studios wouldn't exist without entrepreneurs. Even the "big chain" yoga studios (as if such a thing really existed) such as Corepower and Bikram studios were started, and often still managed, by savvy entrepreneurs who followed their passion all the way to the bank and the American dream.
However, not only are yogi entrepreneurs living the dream (and "their" dream), they're also pretty financially fit. The U.S. fitness industry has been steadily growing for many years, now well over $55 billion with no signs of slowing down.
Yoga is a fantastic niche within the health industry because it focuses on relaxation, stress management, and is complementary to every other type of activity or sport out there. Yoga's health benefits are legendary, as it has proven to help those with brain injury victims, PTSD, depression and eating disorders. Beyond this, people are desperate to carve out "me time" and want to look better while also working on their spiritual, mental and emotional health. Yoga offers all of that. Here are just a few of the key reasons why yoga is the ultimately entrepreneurial venture to consider in 2015 and beyond:
1. It's relatively quick to qualify
If you want to be a yoga instructor (and confidently own your own studio), the minimum hours for certification are just 250. You can spread that out over a year, or you can opt for a "boot camp" style certification course in just three weeks.
— Rebecca Skylar (@RebeccaSkylar1) May 2, 2015
Spoiler alert: There are some yoga studio owners who are not certified themselves, at least by the US governing entity's Yoga Alliance. It's not a requirement, but it's certainly a good idea--at least if you want to be seen as an "expert" (again, as if such a thing exists in yoga) and be able to legally lead and sub for your own classes.
2. Rural areas are in desperate need
If you live in a metro, it might seem like you can't swing a yoga mat or BPA-free water bottle without hitting another yoga studio. The market in metros is certainly saturated, but there's always room for more (take a cue from Starbucks). However, many rural areas are still without yoga studios at all, while others have subpar or makeshift studios where students are making do because they have no other option. Depending on the more rural area you choose, you may be able to charge a princely sum for your classes because supply/demand is in your favor.
Much like the simple pace of rural life, yoga taught at a fundamental level, and spiritually-neutral tends to be more openly received. In a blog post, yogi Cathy Woods describes taking her yoga practice from Florida to rural America in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains. After some initial cultural resistance, Woods was eventually able to grow her first, 15-person class into more popular lessons at through the regional community college.
3. Karmic yoga makes giving back easy
Many entrepreneurs have heard lined with gold, and giving back is an important part of their venture. This can be challenging to do in many industries and businesses, but not with yoga. "Karmic yoga," which is described in the Bhagavad Gita (the Hindu "bible") is basically offering free yoga classes or yogic knowledge. Many yoga studios offer at least one free or community class each week. It's a great way to give back, perhaps lure in more paying customers, and test out new teachers. Plus, it gives you karma points.
4. You set the fees, rules, pace and everything else
Any yoga practitioner knows that every yoga studio is different. You shouldn't charge exorbitantly more or less than other studios in the area, but if you're the only one of your caliber, it's pretty much up to you. Test out the fees that work, try out different rules (some studios are very "no talking in the studio" while others are chatterboxes). You get to design the atmosphere you want in a way that few other types of entrepreneurs can enjoy.
The biggest upside of all is that you get to do what you love all day every day. This isn't what people think of when they normally envision the "entrepreneurial atmosphere." There will be some stress, of course, especially financially when you're starting, but you're already equipped with the yogic tools necessary to handle them. If you imagine days of being barefoot in Lululemon, surrounded by like-minded people, then maybe being a yoga entrepreneur is right up your yoga mat.