How We Built Our Thriving Yoga Community

Today’s post is going to be a little different and a little bit special. I’d like to give you a sneak peak behind the scenes of the business side of The Yoga Room.

A couple of weeks ago Racheal Baxter Cook from The Yogipreneur asked me to write a guest post for her ♥ Your Community Blog Tour, which is a collection of 30 heart-centered yoga entrepreneurs who are sharing their yoga-community-building stories during the 30 days of April.

BlogTour_bannerSome background about Racheal: I “met” her online a couple of years ago. She’s a former financial planner who left her job and created her own business where she consults and coaches yoga teachers and studio owners on how to launch and run successful businesses.

While I’m not a client of Racheal’s, I do know that her work is very well respected in the yoga business community, so I’m honored for the opportunity to write this post and share a little bit about The Yoga Room with both our own yoga students and the worldwide community of yoga teachers and studio owners who are looking for tips and ideas to help their communities thrive.

TYR Yoga Community

So here we go!

I think it’s important to first give you a frame of reference for who I am and what The Yoga Room in Round Rock, Texas, is all about. I’ll give you the short version :)

I am a former high tech engineer and marketer. I worked in Fortune 500 computer companies for 10 years, and I realized early on that I didn’t really love that work. Instead I wanted to do some kind of work where I could help people more directly and personally.

At the same time that I began my career in high tech, I also started practicing yoga. Eventually I studied to become a yoga teacher, and then after a few years of working full time, teaching yoga on the side, and planning how to open a yoga studio, I opened The Yoga Room. Then a few months later I left my job in high tech marketing to run the studio and teach full time.

When I opened the studio my objective was to offer yoga for regular people like me: stressed out employees of Corporate America. I knew the benefits of yoga first hand, and I wanted to share those benefits with people who normally would never step foot in a yoga studio. I’d been to yoga studios filled with Olympic athletes and I’d been to yoga studios filled with young skinny yoginis, and to be honest, I felt intimidated in those places. I felt like I didn’t fit in. It was very important to me that in my studio everyone would feel welcome and comfortable.

I came up with the tagline “Yoga for Every Body,” which has two meanings. It’s for everyone. And it’s for people with all kinds of bodies. I think our tagline sets people at ease right away, or at least enough ease that they click past the Google search results and onto our website.

On our home page, I’ve written a welcome note to visitors to our site. I tell them that yoga is for every body, and I tell them how at The Yoga Room we make yoga accessible and beneficial for everybody. I welcome visitors to contact me with any questions they may have. I strive to make them feel at ease and welcome.

TYR Yoga Community 2

That feeling of ease and welcome is at the core of every communication we put out and every decision we make.

The Yoga Room has a staff of six people who help me run the business and the studio's front desk, and 14 active teachers including myself. All of the staff knows that our priority is helping our students, especially the new ones, feel welcome at the studio. This is how we do it:

  • We make it a priority to learn our students’ names and stories. What kind of work do they do? Do they have any injuries? The better we know them, the better we can serve them.
  • When we see a new face walk in the front door we make a special effort to help them feel oriented and comfortable. We show them where to put their shoes and where the restrooms are located. We focus on being really present with them so that we can answer any questions or uncertainties they may have.
  • We intentionally keep our class sizes small, usually no bigger than 12 students. This allows us to provide lots of personalized attention and make sure that the practice is working for each student.
  • We approach our classes with love and acceptance. We strive to model being our authentic selves (flaws and all) so that our students are invited to do the same. We’re all together on the path of creating better versions of ourselves.
  • Our excellent teachers are pros at offering modifications. We focus on teaching and demonstrating the most gentle versions of yoga poses first. Then we offer modifications for those who want more challenge. We emphasize that every person’s body is different, so every person’s pose will look different. We talk about how in yoga practice we are not competing with anyone, not the person on the next mat, and not with our own expectations about what our bodies *should* be able to do. We walk our talk of Yoga for Every Body.
  • We look for opportunities to reach out into our city community. During months with nice weather, we offer a free monthly Yoga on the Plaza class, co-sponsored with our City. We teach yoga classes in our local schools. We offer a Work-Trade program that pays people in studio credit in exchange for helping us with studio chores.

Our simple intention to help people feel welcome and at ease has really worked for our studio. We’ve magically built an amazing community of kind and lovely yoga practitioners.

Sometimes the reality of the studio and the community catch me by surprise. When I walk into my class and find my students already there, sitting on their mats, chatting and laughing with each other, it fills my heart with love that we've created what we originally set out to create: a studio that offers Yoga for Every Body. It really does make my heart beam.

Zelinda Red Top

XO, Zelinda


P.S. If you're a yoga teacher or yoga studio owner and this article resonates with your vision of the kind of yoga business you'd like to build and grow, please join our mailing list for our upcoming yoga business training and/or our upcoming therapeutics-based advanced yoga teacher training!

And if you'd like to read more about what other entrepreneurs are sharing about their communities, you can read yesterday's post from Allison Braun and tomorrow's post from Caroline Frenette, or see the full list of bloggers at ♥ Your Community Blog Tour (the sign-up is at the bottom of the page).

Holiday Toy Drive

Holiday Toy Drive Flyer TO PRINTOne day last week I had a pretty tough day. As I drove home in the evening, all I could think about was getting my kids to bed so I could have a relaxing soak in the tub. I imagined a scented Epsom salt bath. I imagined dim lighting. I just needed a little peace and quiet. When I got home, my husband met me with a serious face. “There's no water.” My response was a blank expression – I was confused. He explained that he forgot to pay the water bill. In that moment my hope for my peaceful and relaxing bath was dashed. My disappointment must have been evident in my face. My husband thought I was mad at him, but really I was just sad that I wasn't going to have my luxurious bath.

And then I caught myself. How spoiled am I? So many people live their lives with far less than what I've been blessed with, and I'm going to pout about not being able to take a bath in my tub for one night? Later that evening I borrowed my neighbors' shower and life went on.

This experience of having my water turned off for one night made me think more about people who are less fortunate and what their lives must be like. I thought about what it must be like to be homeless in this freezing weather we've been having. And I thought about what it must be like for the children at The Texas Baptist Children's Home (our neighbors across the street from the studio) who are living without their parents.

This year The Yoga Room is hosting a Toy Drive for the children at TBCH. If you're not familiar with this organization, TBCH provides housing for children whose parents are not able to care for them, and also for single moms who have fled difficult situations and need help with their young families.

I became familiar with TBCH years ago when I worked at Dell – my team did most of our community service projects there. And through that introduction, I was later able to do my student teaching as a yoga teacher at TBCH. I've found the staff and house parents at TCBH to be wonderful people who are genuinely dedicated to helping children. I feel honored to be able to support them with their Toy Drive this year.

If you're looking for a way to help support someone who is perhaps less fortunate this holiday season, please consider donating a toy for the Toy Drive. You can bring a toy to our Grand Opening & Holiday Party this weekend, or anytime before Wednesday, December 18th.


XO, Zelinda


P.S. If you decide to help with the Toy Drive, here is the wishlist provided to us by the Texas Baptist Children's Home...

GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR KIDS Art Kits Baby Alive Dolls Baby Doll Accessories Barbie Car (We have plenty of Barbies) Barbie Clothes Beyblade Toys Cake Pop Maker Craft Kits Dress Up Clothes DVD Movies, G or PG (New Releases) Easy Bake Oven & Accessories Fur Real Friends Hexbugs Warriors Battle Arena w/ Hexbugs Hot Wheels Race Track How to Draw Books Imaginext Toys Kid's Digital Camera Lego Super Heros (age 7-14) Legos Friends Mega Bloks Nerf Toys Origami Books Paint by Number Sets Play Food Play-Doh Kits Popular Action Figure Toys Remote Control Helicopters Remote Control Cars Science Kits Spy Gear Super Heroes Toys

GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR TEENS Boys Leather Footballs Leather Basketballs Caps (Nike, Adidas, Teams, etc.) Christian CD's Model kits Wallets Watches Hoodies (All sizes) Sleeping Bags Fishing Poles Camping Equipment Duffle Bags DVD Movies, G & PG Itunes Gift Cards ($10) Sonic Gift Cards ($5-10) Starbucks Gift Cards ($10) Academy Gift Cards ($20+)

Girls Jewelry Boxes Watches Photo Albums Scrap Books Scrap Book Supplies (New) Blow Dryers Make-up (Natural Colors) Christian CD's DVD Movies, G & PG Pajamas Sleeping Bags Duffle Bags Hoodies Itunes Gift Cards ($10) Sonic Gift Cards ($5-10) Starbucks Gift Cards ($10) Ulta Gift Cards ($10-20)