Whole Life Yoga under construction prior to opening
Whole Life Yoga’s grand opening celebration was October 13, 2001: 10 years ago this week. Although I taught under the business name “Whole Life Yoga” at various venues before then, I’ll always think of the studio grand opening as Whole Life Yoga’s beginning.
I’ve been reflecting this past week on this beginning, and I’d like to share some of my memories with you. Hopefully Whole Life’s story will inspire you to take a risk on something you believe in.
Whole Life Yoga was birthed from a meditation practice I did about 2 years after I started practicing yoga. On New Year’s day, 1999, I attended a class in which the teacher asked us to reflect on what we wanted to create in our lives. A clear and somewhat surprising answer came back. “A place for healing and growth.” For some reason I was sure that meant opening a yoga studio. It seemed like a good idea, so I went home from class and told my husband.
My words were something like: “Guess what! I’m going to quit Microsoft, learn to teach yoga and open a yoga studio. You’ll probably have to support us.” Being the wonderful person he is, he said something like “If that’s what you want.” Little did he know how much work there was for him in all of this. 😉 Now all I had to do was take a yoga teacher training and figure out how to build a business. Easy, right?
Fast forward about 18 months. I’ll never forget the day I sat down with my accountant to set up the business bookkeeping system and review my financial projections. Business plan laid out, marketing and financial plans in place, I was excited and ready to sign a lease. She studied my plans for awhile, not saying much. She then sat back, looked me directly in the eye and said, “This is a bad idea. Go back to Microsoft.”
If all you looked at were the numbers, she was right. We continued to debate the merits of starting this business until I left to use the bathroom. While I was there, she perused the titles on my bookshelves. Texts on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness crowded the shelves. I didn’t own a single book on software development. When I came back to the office she said “I’ve been looking at your books. I guess sometimes you just have to do things that don’t make sense.”
So, on we went. She, convinced I was committing financial suicide. I, convinced it would all work out in the end. In some ways, we were both right.
Honestly, those first two years were brutal. My father, who lived in Montana, suffered a stroke a few weeks before we opened. I literally had to plan the studio’s opening sitting by my father’s bedside, trusting that the building owner understood my plans and would turn the cavern in the picture above into my vision of a healing space.
Most people who knew me thought I’d finally gone off the deep end. A rumor even started that I had developed a brain tumor! But it always just seemed like the right thing to me. I wondered, but really never asked, what my family thought. They were quite religious and I wasn’t at all sure they understood yoga. At my father’s funeral, the minister told me something my father never told me in life. That he was proud that I had left the corporate world behind to open Whole Life, because I’d be spending my time helping people. If I had any lingering doubts, that erased them.
We opened about 2 weeks after his death to a much smaller group of students than I anticipated. I’m sure my accountant had to bite her tongue several times over the next two years to keep from saying “I told you so.” But slowly the trickle of people through the door became a steady stream. Our offerings grew, as did our student base. Now, 10 years later, we’re offering more classes than ever. We’ve served approximately 9000 yogis and trained almost 200 aspiring yoga teachers. I hope we’ve helped all of them in some way, be it large or small. I hope I’ve done my father proud.
As for the future, who knows what the next 10 years will bring? I sure don’t, and in a way I’m glad. Not knowing where the path of life will take you makes the journey that much more fun. But I hope that Whole Life Yoga will still be here, standing strong, continuing to serve you all.
Please join us in celebrating our 10th birthday on October 30th. .Free yoga and birthday cake! Details at http://www.wholelifeyoga.com/celebrate.html