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We are all concerned about the numbers of students who come to our classes. It doesn't matter if you are used to ten or a hundred. The ebb and flow of student attendance affects us all in both our egos and our wallets. But be careful not to spend time thinking about the absent students while warm bodies are looking at you for direction. Never abandon the students who have come into your care simply because the number may be lower than you'd like.
A drop or increase in student attendance offers a wonderful opportunity for introspection and examination of ourselves as teachers and practitioners. A drop in attendance could have something to do with external factors, such as new studios opening in the vicinity or approaching holidays. It might also reflect a shift in your teaching approach that your regular students are not interested in. Or it could very well be that you are still teaching from a memory that may be stale and uninspired. A simple cure for this is to get back on your mat and revisit your practice with a breath of fresh air. Students recognize our passion for the practice. If we do not love our practice, why should they?
And what if you come to the realization that your heart just isn't into teaching anymore and that you're sustaining yourself and your students on autopilot or that stale memory? After all, this happens all the time regardless of the chosen occupation. How in the world do we give ourselves permission to back off, even for a little while?
Well, it seems like that's where the yoga comes in handy…you know, that lesson of non-attachment. If I feel like my contribution has lost its relevance or even its passion, it's time for me to take a little time off. Maybe a little vacation is in order. There is no need for fear.
Most of us grasp the concept of ahimsa, at least on the mat. But what if we broaden our perspective to include all the actions in our lives? Denying our own well-being—physically, mentally and emotionally—is the same as doing harm. And in turn, this violates satya. We cannot honestly share something that we do not possess.
I find it helpful always to be prepared to let go. This requires great trust and even greater dedication. Besides, it may just be the right time to focus on that tap-dancing career we've always dreamed about! This not only applies to students and teachers, but to those who own and run our yoga centers as well.
I have always been grateful to the owners of yoga studios. There are times when we have not shared the same vision, but I have always appreciated the fact that they are the ones who keep the doors open and give our community a home. Running a yoga studio is indeed a business with more complexities and challenges than most teachers realize. So I commend those dedicated souls who keep us going and I pray that we all remember a mantra that will provide for a studio's success:
Serve the Students, Support the Faculty. All will be well.
If we are drawn to serve, the universe will provide. Along the way, if we do our best striving to practice those first two yamas of the great tree of yoga, always honoring non-harming along with our own truths, we will succeed and we will prosper.
More on the business of yoga