Tracey L. Kelley
Letting Go, Pt. 2
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
If I'm completely honest, it was never my intention when I studied to be a yoga teacher to later own a studio. By becoming certified, I knew I wanted to further my personal practice and share yoga with others. The "how", at first, was through workshops and retreats.
There are so many variables involved to make a studio:
1) Successful for client experience 2) Financially and independently sustainable
3) Diverse enough --or focused enough-- for broad appeal
Plus there are challenges with leasing commercial space, choosing to rent that space to or hire additional teachers, providing class offerings that are supported in the marketplace, and so on.
While some yogic experiences don't carry a price tag, many teachers do invest a considerable amount of time and money to become certified and knowledgeable in order to best serve their students. If dedicated, the learning never ends. While some teachers may have another source of income through a different profession, a supportive partner, or something else, most have chosen yoga as their main livelihood. That choice has great responsibilities.
My teaching philosophy is not to work with the masses, but to develop personal relationships with students who humble me with their presence. I feel so fortunate to get to know someone beyond their movement into Trikonasana----to understand individual motivation, the integration of yoga and life, the experiences discovered and expanded. These preferences dictated my decision to build upon the community that I worked with and open a small studio to further our potential. There are two signs in my studio: "yoga"+its definition, and "community"+its definition. And in both of these ways, the studio was a rousing success. Small but mighty, our yoga studio atmosphere brought out the best in almost every attendee, allowing each person to feel fully supported and known. Stories and experiences shared fostered each member of the community, and that was a great blessing to me. Each morning, I started the day with people I truly enjoyed and loved, and ended each evening the same way. Yet after three years, the financial responsibilities couldn't be ignored. There's a lot that can be said about this, but instead I'll just sum up with a simple fact: as an entrepreneur and small business owner, I had to accept that a division of my company was under-performing. "Surviving, but not thriving," as a yoga friend and colleague said last year when she closed her beloved studio after five years. So, on September 27th, the studio will close. This decision is more than bittersweet: it's deeply personal, and full of conflict as to the nature of my teaching identity. There was a lot of what I detailed in Letting Go, Pt. 1. But, as a responsible business owner, I've dealt with the emotion in order to process what's necessary. As Lao Tzu said, "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."
Sharing yoga is still an important aspect of my life. I'll continue to work with individuals one-to-one in private sessions--now just in their homes. I'll host workshops (and maybe retreats in a year or two), offer support for corporate group classes, and I even have an event or two I'm mulling over that could be a lot of fun to stage. What won't happen is what became an absolute treasured experience for me: sharing space with every person who chose to spend time in the studio and trust--in me, in their fellow practitioners, in the sacred atmosphere we created with our positive energy to access our best selves. Because that's often what studios can do: create bonds of unity. It's the best reason in the world to start one. For some people, I was their first yoga teacher, long before I opened the studio, and now they'll go off into the wonder of practice to embrace new methods and philosophies. For others, they gave me permission to help them establish a more solid relationship with their practice; a foundation they'll use to continue that path with surer footing.
I will miss the souls of this tribe- probably more than they'll ever know ('cause I cry too much when I talk about it!)--but I respect the need to let go, acknowledge our special seasons together, and look forward to hearing their stories in new ways. What I feel for these people transcends simple gratefulness. It's been my honor and privilege to have these many years. Namaste.