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"The Art of Growing Yoga Classes"

Mona Ceniceros and Sun Moon Yoga staff teachers love training!

By Mona Ceniceros

 Sun Moon Yoga in Mankato is enjoying its 12th year of serving the local yoga community.  As the owner, I began my yoga career by developing a following.  Even before I had training and qualifications, I had a group of individuals interested in supporting my mission, and loyal to my classes.  It was this following in fact that paid for my first teacher training.  I had a logo designed and printed on tees.  Told my students sales of the tees supported my going away for teacher training.  They bought the tees, and many trainings and more than a decade later, having come full circle, I now have a teacher training program here in Mankato (see Yoga Study directory at www.sunmoonyogastudios.com )

I have some of the same individuals who supported my growth, our studio's growth, and created a yoga community, in my following today.  But it was not this following that is responsible for the success of Sun Moon Yoga.  Knowing how to develop a following only builds strong classes for you.  For a studio to be successful, attention needs to be directed toward building classes, not building followings.  It takes a different emphasis, skill set, actions and intentions to build a class.  It only takes a charismatic personality to build a following.  Building classes supports studios - cultivating followings can weaken them.

To build classes studio owners need to take total responsibility, and manage instructors to mutual advantage.  Depending on teachers to build the studio's classes can have two negative consequences.  The first, you are not able to take advantage of the good teacher, who lacks class building skills, and use this resource to your advantage.  And second, this is asking the teacher to develop a following without studio input.I first learned of the difference between building a following, and building studio classes when I needed more than my own classes to be successful.  For more than a decade, with Sun Moon as my laboratory, I have explored ways to support teachers, and build classes together.  With the studio at stake, I have watched, tweaked, supported, observed, and been involved with teachers in regard to building classes.  I have observed: There are teachers, who if supported in weak areas, produce income for the studio, that they wouldn't have been able to without the studio's support.

Mona Ceniceros/Sun Moon teachers (front to back): Nancy Holden,
Crystal Born, Peggy Julian, Melanie Williams, Carly Hopper, Maureen
Farnsworth, Julie Dickhudt.

A teacher can build a following without studio support (the more the studio resists it the stronger the following becomes!) Strong followings can throw a studio staff out of balance. Studio input can build a lucrative class even with a teacher weak in building skills.
Some of the best yoga teachers cannot be successful without studio support. Teachers need to be scheduled with class building skills in mind.

At the risk of decrying technology, I do not rely on class participation numbers on Mind Body software, to determine an instructor's financial value to the studio. Numbers only give half the picture.  Software can tell you a class is shrinking in size, and costing you money.  A knee-jerk reaction would be "change the teacher."  Which actually, as a studio owner could end up costing you more money.  Instead, try investment in the teacher and class, which may further your goal of building classes.  Factors that need to be considered are the extent of the problem, and if the teacher's potential is worthy of investment.  How can you take the equation (teacher’s personality and payment, studio input, student's needs) and work the variables to the studio's advantage.  When we view the teachers as the studio's greatest resource, then supporting some teachers (who aren't building classes) becomes an intentional investment.  There are teachers acceptable to students who don't have experience in class building skills.  Only a studio owner can make the assessment as to whether or not they see a teacher as having potential to be a studio asset; as a class participant, not on the computer.  Go with your intuitive response to their class.  If you feel it would be acceptable to your clientele, but the teacher arrives at the last minute, etc., then target the weakest areas and create an action plan.  Take responsibility for the things the teacher is not doing.  Demonstrate excellence in this area to the teacher and class.

For more on this topic attend Tend the Teacher event (muselan.com), Nov. 12 at the Arboretum in Minneapolis.  My presentation is entitled, "Tao and the Art of Building Yoga Classes".  Sun Moon Yoga Study 200hour Yoga Alliance teacher training is where I can share my wealth of experience, and experimentation, with teachers and studio owners.  For more information visit www.sunmoonyogastudios.com.

Mona Ceniceros has the longest established Yoga Alliance 200hour yoga study/teacher training program in a five-state area.  Mona Ceniceros, 12th-year owner Sun Moon Yoga in Mankato, has
trained hundreds of yoga teachers, studio owners, in a five-state area.