Episode 33: Lessons From A Yoga Studio Owner with Jeff Mah

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Jeff Mah is an engineer turned yoga teacher and yoga studio owner.  He and his wife owns the ever so popular The Yoga Lounge in the mountain city of Canmore, Alberta.  His journey has been a series of unexpected twists and surprises, at one point being an engineer and then later considering to maybe even do his MCAT to become a doctor.  In this episode, Jeff shares his story with yoga and what finally inspired him to leap into an unconventional (at the time) career path because it truly resonated with him.  And of course I had to get the scoop on what it's like to own a yoga studio!  Jeff gives us a glimpse by sharing the challenges, rewards and the hard work behind the scenes.

Key Nuggets:

  • What helped Jeff decide where to take his career:
    • Seeing somebody else take the path that he aspired to was an inspiring example for him.
    • The feeling of his two choices were different.  One made him feel anxious when he thought about it and the other made him happier the more he did it.
  • Lessons learned from opening a yoga studio:
  1. If you're taking over a studio, you don’t have to change everything right off the cuff.  The community that’s already built is invaluable along with the staff who has been serving the community for so long.
  2. Don't do something for somebody with the expectation that they need to do something back or they owe you.  Work on creating meaningful relationship instead.         
  • So far, the biggest challenge of running a studio has been to stay relevant.
    •  By relevant he means bringing a style of practice that’s meaningful to students
    • Considering the age group of your students and any challenges that they are meeting
    • A constant evolution in your offerings to the students, be willing to change
  • Behind the scenes: moving pieces that need to be considered as a studio owner
    • How to hire the right people
    • What kind of relationships you want to develop with staff
    • Cost structure of your passes/memberships 
  • What helped Jeff with success:
    • Listening to feedback from students
    • Realizing that teaching awesome classes doesn’t cut it.  Needed to start learning the business skills as well.
    • Be willing to get help.
  • Biggest rewards from running studio:
    • To be able to hold space for community and create  a community.
    • Constantly being surrounded by people you love.
  • What motivates him to put in all the hard work into the studio and into teaching:
    • Being part of the evolution as he grows and his students grow
    •  Advocacy is also something that he is passionate about.  Jeff states that as studio owners or yoga teachers, recognizing that you have influence and you have the ability to help shape a conversation is so important.
      • How to advocate with love and positivity:
    • Get informed
    • Keep checking back with your motivation
    • Have your stance but look at what shakes your opinions a bit

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

The more you practice, the more personal it becomes.  Remember that your practice is fluid - evolving with it allows you to evolve and grow.

Your One Piece of Advice:

Come from a place of service and see the big picture.  Let that guide you.


If you have any questions for Jeff or want to learn more, connect with him through:

Website: www.theyogalounge.ca 


Facebook:  @jeffmah