The Studio Space
One of Bindus longtime yoga students is a counselor at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. About a year after the 1999 tragedy at Columbine, this student confided to Bindu how important yoga had been for her during those dark days.
"She told me she would not have made it through that event without yoga," Bindu recalled. "She also told me that she had taught the breathing exercises that were helping her-ujjayi and dirgha pranayama-to her students at Columbine to help them deal with panic attacks and with the trauma of the event."
For Bindu, hearing this was a confirmation of her work. "Thats what its all about-being here and making a difference in peoples lives, helping them to use yoga as a tool to process lifes events," she said.
An 18-year student of yoga and a former Kripalu resident (from 1985 to 1991), Bindu opened her Littleton yoga studio, The Yoga Connection, in 1996. Today, she and three other Kripalu Yoga instructors teach 24 classes per week, with 350-plus students enrolling for each session.
"The integrity of what Kripalu Yoga is all about has been my guiding philosophy," Bindu said. "Sometimes its a challenge to put that above money or other peoples opinions, but the people Im attracting now get that also. Now theres a whole group of us holding that philosophy and creating the space."
How do you structure class levels: i.e., what constitutes a beginning level class and is it a prerequisite for enrolling in other classes?
Our beginning level classes are geared towards those who have no experience in yoga. We offer a 12-week beginner class which we generally fill easily. In Level One, the primary focus is on Stage I of Kripalu Yoga. We teach 10 basic postures, dirgha pranayama and ujjayi breath and the principles of breathe, relax, feel, watch and allow. We introduce the basic Kripalu Yoga methodology and ideology. For our Level Two classes, we recommend but do not require the Level One class or prior yoga experience. In these classes, we teach new asanas, introduce kapalabhati and nadi shodhana, explore the yamas and niyamas and yogic philosophy and begin work with Stage II Kripalu Yoga. We recommend that students stay in Level Two classes for one-and-a-half to two years. In Level Three classes, the focus is on Stages II and III of Kripalu Yoga. We teach fewer new postures, instead revisiting and refining postures taught in Levels One and Two. We introduce anuloma viloma and bhastrika pranayama and possibly other advanced pranayamas.
How much do you charge for a series of classes, with how many weeks per session?
Weve run classes in series of 10, 11 or 12 weeks depending on various circumstances. We charge $108 for a 12-week series (which equates to $9 per class, a $3 savings on our drop-in rate of $12). If a student takes two classes per week, the charge is $204; for three classes per week, $288. We also offer coupons for classes, at a price of $44 for four coupons; $84 for eight and $160 for 16 coupons. For $360, a student can take unlimited classes for 12 weeks.
How much do you charge for private sessions and how did you arrive at that figure?
I charge based on a sliding scale of $50 to $60 per hour. I have 10 years of teaching experience and thats what I earn teaching a yoga class per hour. For a newer teacher, I recommend an hourly charge of no less than $40 per hour. Value yourself and what you have to offer. Massage therapists in my area charge between $40 and $60 per hour; psychotherapy can run from $60 up to $100 per hour. I put myself in the middle.
How do you coax people into classes at non-traditional times (other than mornings and evenings) and can these be successful?
I believe there is a market for classes at all times of the day. We have one morning class that does just as well as our prime-time evening classes, partially because of the excellent teacher. One way to market non-traditional class times is to target people who might be available at those times, i.e. schoolteachers, stay-at-home moms, etc. Were considering offering classes for teenagers at 3:30 p.m. Be creative.
What are the seasonal trends in the yoga business and how do you keep students coming to class during the summer months?
Classes do get smaller during the summer, and Im not sure if we can change that. To offset the financial impact, were considering offering a weekend and/or weeklong summer yoga retreat in the mountains and running yoga day camps for children during school vacation.