While lying in savasana one year and two weeks after teaching his first yoga class, Elvis Garcia had novel idea: I should open my own yoga studio, he thought to himself, and I should build and cultivate my own yoga community.
After his lightbulb moment while lying in the corpse pose, he reached out to the owner of that studio.
“I literally just sent him an email he said ‘I would love to sell, let’s do this,’” Garcia said.
Eleven months later, in November of 2015, Elvis Garcia became the official owner of Seattle Yoga Lounge.
From Student to Teacher, Teacher to Studio Owner
Garcia took his first yoga class in 2011 while he was working a corporate, 8-to-5 job. He started going to class everyday, sometimes two to three times per day. Yoga was a way for him to escape the corporate life.
“I hated it,” he said. “I hated being in a cubicle, it was sucking my soul.”
One year from when he took his first yoga class, Garcia started teaching. The change from corporate work into teaching yoga classes was easy, as Garcia already had a background teaching dance; he discovered the same joy in teaching yoga as he did coaching performing arts.
Elvis had his savasana moment one year after starting to teach classes, and bought the studio in which he had the insight to leave the corporate job he hated and change his career trajectory.
What is it Like to Own a Yoga Studio?
Garcia’s mornings start with his own, daily yoga practice. After morning sessions of asana, pranayama, and meditation, he jumps into daily operations such as checking emails and paying bills. He finishes the nitty gritty parts of running his business around 3 p.m., then teaches classes in the evenings.
Compared to the corporate world, Garcia loves the lifestyle and workflow that comes with running a yoga business. He lives 42 steps from his studio, and strongly prefers answering emails from his living room instead of a corporate cubicle.
“I only count the 2-4 hours per day, the time it takes for emails and bills, as actual work,” he said. “None of the rest seems like work for me. For me, teaching and practicing has always been the fun part. It’s my passion, it’s what fuels me.”
The Best and Worst Part of Running a Yoga Studio
The best part of owning a yoga studio, Garcia says, is seeing his yogis leave a little happier than when they came. Building a curriculum, not just a community, within his studio is another huge benefit; he shared the story of last Christmas, when his studio raised enough funds to buy over 60 pounds of food and hosted a dinner for the homeless community in their neighborhood.
“One of the best moments as a studio owner was watching one of our volunteers dance to Christmas music with an in-need member of our community who came to the event. Watching our yogis help the community, and how appreciative those people were, that was a really cool moment.”
Garcia explained that the downside of running a yoga studio, or any business, is having to make difficult managerial decisions. He loves cultivating relationships with his staff members and anyone who walks through his studio doors, but sometimes contracts need to be ended. In his opinion, letting go of staff members, and other tough business decisions of the sort, are the worst part of running a yoga studio.
“I love people, I love building relationships in the studio,” Garcia said. “But sometimes the job just isn’t the right fit… I never thought about it from the perspective of the person doing the firing. It’s really tough.”
Pro Tips for Opening a Yoga Studio
Garcia’s success comes from his passion for yoga, and balancing his own practice with time off, while also cultivating community at the studio. He shared three tips for anyone who is hoping to open or run a yoga studio:
- Maintain your practice. Keeping up with your own practice and honing your own body is key to running a successful yoga studio and reminding yourself why you do what you do.
- Give yourself time off. For Garcia, that means not setting foot in his studio on Wednesdays and Sundays even though the studio is only 42 steps away from his front door. He does not check emails or do any work related things on those days off. Finding some time for yourself away from your studio is crucial to success.
- Be present at your studio. Know your staff and your students. Garcia believes making an effort to cultivate community, getting to know his yogis, and being there for his staff is key to success.