Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Future of Yoga in Chicago | A Yoga Alliance Event

On Sunday, I took the opportunity to get a free professional headshot at a Yoga Alliance event in Chicago. I made an appointment to get my photos done at Moksha Yoga Center in River West early that afternoon. A presentation on the Future of Yoga in Chicago was scheduled for 3:30 p.m., which left me with lots of time to fill after my photos were taken.

Moksha Yoga Center, River West

I decided to do a bit of exploring. If you were in the Chicago area over the weekend you know it was not the best weather to be walking around. I took refuge at Big Shoulders coffee shop on Chicago and Milwaukee avenues, where I ordered a chai latte with almond milk. I sweetened the beverage with honey syrup and killed time by reading Friday's copy of RedEye.

To my delight, a vegan meal was served at Moksha before the discussion. I munched on falafel, hummus, pita and rice as I waited for the presentation to begin. I also met and chatted with a couple of  yoga teacher trainees. I find that the yoga community, no matter where you go, tends to be welcoming and genuine.

Before the Future of Yoga in Chicago event

Andrew Tanner, a spokesman for the Yoga Alliance, began his presentation by discussing the organization's origins. He gave lots of useful information about the industry throughout. For instance, he shared that, according to 2012 figures, more than 20 million people practice yoga in the U.S. However, more than 100 million people have an interest in yoga. There appears to be lots of opportunity to reach new people. He identified the yoga industry as being in the quality growth phase rather than quantity growth phase, which means that some of the not-well-managed studios will start to close and some consolidation will occur. He shared research that shows the No. 1 determinant of whether a yoga studio will succeed is whether the owner is able to effectively delegate tasks.

 I was deeply interested in his answer to a question about how daily deal sites impact studios. He noted that in large cities those deals hurt studios but that in smaller cities the deals sites help. He said, though, that if those students do not spend money on their first day in the studio they will likely not become regular customers. It is imperative, then, to provide some sort of incentive for a new student to spend even just $5 on his or her first day in the studio. That will increase the likelihood of retaining that student by 20 percent.

Tanner also introduced one of the lobbyists the Yoga Alliance has hired in response to Illinois' recent moves regarding the yoga industry in the state. The lobbyist shared that the goals of the Yoga Alliance are to find out what the state is aiming to do and then possibly pass legislation to prevent the state regulation of yoga. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I can see how it's important to make sure teachers are properly trained, and I am open to hearing about how to accomplish that.