How To Start A Successful Yoga Studio

How to start a successful yoga studio begins with you, the entrepreneur. That might seem like one of those self-evident statements to which you reply, “Of course,” or it might be one to which you ask, “What do you mean?” There is nothing wrong with either response, but let’s go with the second one – just to make sure that we are on the same page. 

To start a successful yoga studio first brainstorm your dream business, then imagine your idea of how you would like your future clients to perceive your studio, then complete the real-world steps to make it happen: accounting, physical location, instructors, equipment, funding, accountability, advertising, and dealing with the competition; then think about the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of Yoga, create a slogan, create a business plan that will wow your bank, create a schedule, and set up an emergency plan, all with an eye toward making your yoga studio a comfortable home for your clients. 

A successful yoga studio begins with a knowledgeable, qualified owner/manager, is located in a comfortable building – whether online or in front of a camera–that will accommodate all forms of yoga and related equipment and might include a staff member who is qualified to act as a counselor. It could even be useful to have an employee who is qualified to act as a first responder for medical emergencies. But most of all, it requires having excellent business acumen, which allows you to take your idea of a successful yoga studio from its first nugget of desire, through development of a business plan, creating a location, attracting customers, and providing the kinds of services that might be expected of a yoga studio.

All business entrepreneurships begin with the entrepreneur, but with yoga it might be more true than for most because yoga has three primary components. The first is the physical, the second, mental, and the third is spiritual. It can have religious applications, but it does not have to have them. 

In addition to you, the entrepreneur, a successful yoga studio needs a physical location, whether it is a cleared room in which to lead online classes or a large room that will accommodate a class of yoga students. Even a class of one needs a clear floor space that will allow two people – student and teacher – enough room to do the various exercises. Some of the yoga positions, especially for beginners, need props, and a good exercise mat is a huge plus. Most off all, it needs you – a person who understands yoga, and has a certificate showing that you are qualified to teach yoga, who empathizes with people and can coach them in the three ways they can benefit from yoga, and finally a business manager who can deal with the nuts and bolts of running a studio. 

Beginning the process of setting up your yoga studio.

How to Start a Successful Yoga Studio
  1. Brainstorm. Write out all the aspects of yoga that you can think of. Write down every crazy thing that you would like to have in your business.
  2. Imagine your ideal of how you would like your clients to perceive your yoga studio. Ideally, your yoga studio would be more than just a place where people can attend classes, participate in cold or hot yoga, and stretch their tight muscles. It should be a place where they feel safe and comfortable, perhaps even a haven from the troubles in their world. It should be a refuge where they will want to return, a place to lay down their troubles for a little while, and just get in touch with themselves. 
  3. Focus on the Real World needs to make it happen.
    • Accounting
    • A physical location
    • Knowledgeable, qualified instructors
    • Equipment that will make teaching and participating easy.
    •  Funding
    • Accountability – insurance for every aspect, from coverage for personal injury, to burglary, fire, or bankruptcy. To paraphrase Elizabeth Warren, you need to have a plan for that.
    • Advertising – they might come if you build it, but they need to know that it is there.
    • Competition—are you a first for your neighborhood, or will you be competing against other studios?
  4. Focus on the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of yoga. Yoga can be just exercise, but it is often more than that. With its focus on timing all physical movements with breath, and the ability that timed breathing has to alter attitude, it is a good idea to be prepared for some of the hard questions in life. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have all the answers. For some things, “I don’t know,” is the right answer. For others, you might want to have a rolodex of referral agencies that you can offer your clients. 
  5. Come up with a slogan or mission statement for the primary focus for your business. 
  6. Create a rock-solid business plan that you can take to your bank. You might be the greatest yogi who ever lived, but unless you are planning yoga in the park (and you’d better check to see if you need a permit for that), you are going to need cash to fund your start-up and to keep going through the seasons. That means impressing your banker, potential investors, and clients.  Your plan needs to include details such as building costs (construction, rent, mortgage), utilities (lights, water, heat), an employer ID number, (unless you are starting so small you are going to manage all aspects of your business yourself), a plan for hiring and firing (yep, that, too), background costs such as insurance, and perhaps even a company van for hauling equipment. 

How To Open A Yoga Studio In A Small Town

How to Start a Successful Yoga Studio
  1. A plan/schedule for daily operations. This can vary from yoga studio to yoga studio, depending on regulations for your area and your local economy.  But here is an outline/list of just a few of the many things you might want to consider.
    1. What kind of business is it? Single proprietorship, an LLC, a partnership, or corporation? Choose carefully. Some business types mean that you are personally responsible for all the business debts, while others, such as an LLC or corporate setup could make the business an entity that bears the burden of its debts. This protects your personal property, such as your home or personal vehicle, should there be a financial emergency. Sometimes a little distance is a good thing. 
    2. A budget for your physical location costs
    3. Budget for repaying loans/interest to investors/
    4. Payroll
      • Employer ID number
      • How are you paying yourself? You can “volunteer” your time until your business is up and running; or you can budget in a proprietors “draw”, which is somewhat like paying yourself a salary. If you are separating your business from your personal accounts, a “draw” is the better choice. It specifies how much money you take from the business. Remember, you’ve got your own living expenses to cover as well as those of the business.
      • How are you paying your instructors? Are they on payroll or are they contractors? (Read the rules carefully.)
      • What about receptionist or janitorial staff?
    5. Your hours of operation
    6. Scheduling for your employees (or for you.)
      • Contractors maintain their own schedule
      • You schedule employees – it is an important distinction.
    7. Building maintenance (Squeaky clean and smelling of lemongrass – yes. Dusty and smelling of old gym socks – no.)
    8. Inventory of equipment
    9. Maintaining advertising/publicity
    10. Don’t forget the taxes!
  2. Emergency Plans
    1. Building problem – from a power outage to bomb scare or shooter. How will you protect your staff and your clients? (I know we don’t want to think about that, but its something you need to consider.) 
    2. The budget isn’t stretching. How will you cover payroll, rent/mortgage, and utilities?
    3. How will you handle on-premises medical emergencies?
How to Start a Successful Yoga Studio

A Successful Yoga Studio is a Home for Your Clients and a Well-Run Business. These lists barely touch the surface of what is needed to create a successful yoga studio. Some of the things on it might not apply to your situation. The bottom line is that like a well-run home, a yoga studio has physical components. There are business requirements that will need to be met. Since you are dealing with people, their safety and well-being are paramount. After all, yoga is a discipline devoted to improvement of yourself, and if you are teaching it, improvement of others. You might say that running a successful business of any kind is a sort of yoga exercise, and that it goes way beyond knowing the right forms or saying namaste at the end of a class. 

How To Start A Private Yoga Business In 5 Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about local business regulations?

You can check with your local better business bureau, your city’s ordinances, and with your public library. In some areas, you can discover local and state regulations by visiting your government’s small business website to discover the basics and obtain various forms you will need to get appropriate permits and licenses. 

How can I get a certificate showing that I am a qualified yoga instructor?

Yoga Alliance, an association of yoga instructors, offers a 200 hour course that will enable you to earn a yoga certificate. In addition to the basic certification, you can add specialization in Hatha or Tantra yoga. They also offer Ayurvedic nutrition, meditation, and business entrepreneurship training. Here are links to two possible training centers. They are certainly not the only ones. Be sure to look at their certification before signing up for classes.                  ( ( )

You mentioned a spiritual aspect of yoga. Do you have to focus on that?

You do not. Although many people do take a spiritual approach to practicing yoga, many of the benefits derive directly from learning relaxation and breathing methods, as well as following a regular routine of calming physical activity. 

Is there a way I can get started without being on my own?

Yes, you can sign on with one of several Yoga franchises. This is much like taking on an established fast-food restaurant or gas station. The franchise has already set up the framework, so that you can get into your teaching routine quickly. 

To learn more about starting your own Yoga Business check out my startup documents here.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.