Halifax Yoga classes at St Judes Church & Dean Clough

Ten years in business: what I've learnt

<strong>Ten years in business: what I’ve learnt</strong>

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Janine from Radwood Comms to talk about my business and how its grown and changed over the last 10 years. She recorded our conversation so I could share it with you all – and here it is. I hope some part of it resonates with you, or at the very least, you learn a little more about me and my style of yoga teaching. Happy reading!

How did your business start?

I first started doing yoga because I was feeling stressed. I quickly saw how good it is for the mind and decided I wanted to learn more. Initially, I began studying yoga for myself. I hadn’t actually thought about becoming a teacher, but when I started to find out about all the benefits of yoga that changed. I could really see how yoga could help other people – my friends, family, work colleagues for example. So many people I knew were struggling with the stress I’d felt – so I set up the business to meet that need.

Tell me about your business journey

To start with, I was out leafleting, I was going door to door, I was going to GP practices. I think, in the beginning, what brought people to me was word of mouth. I have a background in marketing, so I started to carve out my own brand. Even though I didn’t have any students I knew that if I created a brand then people trust you, so I got to work setting everything up. I was also doing events and stalls just to get word out – and they did their job. I built a small community of people that were willing to try some yoga!

What were your classes like at the start?

My classes weren’t anything like they are today. They were very instructional, a lot of talking, a lot of me asking questions. I was learning how to be with people and how to move their position. My students knew that I was new to this, so there was an understanding between us.

I had about five students at the start, but I’ve run classes with one person before. There were times when I went back home and said to my husband: ‘I’m not sure if there’s a market for this in Halifax’. But I kept going. There were lots of ups and downs at the start – and there were a few times when nobody turned up! But I would go back and try again. Resilience is really important in the beginning, as well as having an idea of your long-term goal. It’s a journey – businesses can take a lot of the time to build.

How have your classes changed?

For at least the whole first year I was asking for loads of feedback all the time. I really wanted to gain an understanding of what my offering should be for a group. With an individual you can tailor to them – but when you’re working with a group, you have to make sure you care for the majority. So, the first year was lots and lots of talking! I was also doing quite a few courses. Every time I learned something new, I put it into practice straightaway and kept asking: “how does that feel?”. The more I learned, the quieter I became. I realised people need space, time and a safe environment to work out their own stuff. Now, my classes are much less instructional and more invitational. I create a warm and welcoming environment and invite that person to explore whatever it is they need support with.

How have your services evolved over the years?

I think I’m a lot more than the physical body now. I trained in Ashtanga Yoga which, alongside being a traditional lineage, is very physically demanding on the body. And yet, over the years, I’ve grown to understand that I want to offer a more restorative physical practice which is suitable for everyone, regardless of physical ability. I have gone a lot more into mindfulness, meditation and understanding the self beyond the physical body. That’s why I’m offering the Love Your Body course and the writing course that is coming up. I’m more focused on the emotional body, mental body, spiritual body – and much more in touch with the community. I feel like if I was to stop delivering yoga classes a really beautiful community that has come together would drop away. I love being part of that community.

What are the key things you’ve learned over the last 10 years?

Definitely patience! It certainly wasn’t ever a fast track to where I am now. So, a lot of patience. It isn’t easy – but it’s easier when you know you’re on the right path for you. For me, there was never an alternative. Even when nobody turned up for a class, I took something from it. So, because the purpose behind my business was right, I kept going. Ongoing learning has also been important for me. I’ve continued to learn different techniques so that when a group come into my class, I can adapt to what’s needed today. I would rather continue to learn and keep bringing in what’s useful, than to stick to the same set of sequences time and time again.

Is there anyone that’s particularly supported you on your journey?

I have got a really important teacher. She’s called Marilyn and she has inspired me beyond belief. She instilled something in me about trusting my intuition and believing that I can find my own offering. She’s my heart teacher and she’s there for me all the time. Even if I don’t speak to her, I feel her presence. When I met her, l felt in that exact moment that me and her were meant to connect. I feel really emotional talking about her – it’s really hard to put into words how important she is to me.

I’d also say my family. My mum and my brother have encouraged me in lots of different ways. We’re all self-employed in our family so they’ve really understood my journey. I would also like to thank my teacher, Paul Dallaghan, who I trained with in Thailand. He was hard man in many ways, but he said a few things that really stuck with me. I needed to hear them, so I thank him for that. Before him, there was a guy called Mark Thomas – I did a diploma in yoga with him and he set me on the path I’m on now. Finally, I’d say my husband, Chris, and my two boys. They’re so proud of me – and I’m proud that I’ve shown them that you can achieve your dream. That’s the best lesson you can give, isn’t it?

What are your business highlights?

I’m really proud of myself for the journey I took to India with my heart teacher, Marilyn, because that really was a once in a lifetime experience. We stayed in ashrams all over India and it was a really authentic experience of what yoga really is, and how its embedded in day-to-day lives over in India. Even though I had a young family and finance was a consideration, I went for it – and it was gold dust.

Something else that’s been incredibly precious to me is that I’ve had my babies through my yoga journey. My students have shared some of my biggest life events as I’ve gone all the way to full term and still delivered classes and been part of the yoga community. You can run a business and be a mother too. Finally, it’s the special times when a student tells me what a huge life changing differences the practices have made to them. To have been a small part of their magical moments means the world.

Describe the last 10 years in one word

It probably comes back to my sankalpa – my mantra: ‘I love, and I am loved’. I give out love through my teaching and I feel it back from my students every day. Love is what drives me.

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