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7 ways I survived in a solo yoga business through Melbourne’s longest lockdowns

Caroline Giles

Rainbows and unicorns certainly do not abound just because you meditate and are a Yoga Therapist. Similarly, like every human being we still experience the full spectrum of emotions, so it is natural that the raw experience still catches us off guard and derails us.

So this is how I survived…

 

Stay in it & keep going

Covid and lockdowns for this business were not about creating new bells and whistles, there was plenty of that happening for free on the worldwide web. Of course, it was about adapting to different mediums and being flexible in delivery, however the ethos and style of what I do, did not change. It was about sinking ever more deeply into the practices and doubling down on the hard (boring!) foundational work and making the commitment to keep going… By staying the course I soon realised that I was not ready to ‘give up’ the business, or to stop working, and that my dharma (life purpose) was right here.

Truth – Late in 2020 despite the uncertainties, I changed my web support company and rebuilt my entire website, with an updated platform for my (existing) online Courses. I cannot tell you how tedious and endless this work was. However online was what everyone wanted, and little did I know how far this would take my business into 2021 and beyond.

 

Stay connected to the ‘why’

We all need a compelling reason to get out of bed and to stay committed to the path we are walking in this lifetime. Staying clear about the how and why of being ‘me’ in the world became crucial to the ‘survival’ of Experience Yoga. Yes, in previous years I had invested in a business structure, worked with a business coach, explored my business values etc and what a vital foundation this became. However it was much simpler and easier than any of that.

Truth – Integral Yoga® the lineage of my training and teaching, maintains that all the practices of yoga are to create – An easeful body, a peaceful mind, and a useful life. These words spontaneously appeared in my consciousness time and time again through the endless lockdowns. A living reminder of my true ‘why’.

 

Tune in to what feels right

Most of us felt the overwhelming fatigue that was already there (and possibly our age, yes I turned 60 in lockdown!) when we were forced to stop. No more getting up at 430am, planning when to eat a meal due to class timings, thorough cleaning of the studio.…. For me it did not ‘feel’ right to add more class times, do more and more online freebies, when I simply needed to ‘down tools’. No I did not stop completely, but sadly I know for many yoga studios there was no choice. But I did not think…. ‘I’ll just give this new idea, class, whatever a whirl….’

Truth – I took the largely unpopular stance of not changing my pricing when I moved online. This felt completely right for me, as what people still got was my expertise at such a crucial time, especially in therapeutic techniques. And my business costs did not change, in fact increased due to tech purchases, and it felt like the admin work quadrupled!

 

Do what YOU really believe makes a difference

Most of you who know me understand that my meditation practice is the one non-negotiable in my day and life. It is also a practice that one needs to experience – telling you it helps and to do it does not work! Up until Covid invariably people would not commit to a series of meditation  sessions or a workshop. However during extended time at home, without the usual distractions of outings, visitors etc, many realised the messy place of their mind and how it was interfering.

Truth – One of my most satisfying teaching experiences in the past 10 years was offering an early AM meditation immersion over 2 weeks. I offered the immersion knowing that this is THE best way to ‘kick-start’ a meditation habit, however unsure if anyone would sign up. They did and witnessing their commitment and change was simply delightful.

 

Get uncomfortable, be more creative

Jeepers! ‘Pivoting’ became the new buzz word and norm during Covid. I intentionally had to stop myself from ‘watching’ and ‘seeking out’ what everyone ELSE in small business was doing to ‘survive’. Enter the thief of comparison!! Putting aside high expectations and staying with not knowing was uncomfortable, however provided space.  And in that space a little creativity sparked!

Truth – Early in 2021, I realised that I had few contemporary skills in online presence and online ‘selling’. Covid was not going anywhere, and the chances in Melbourne of offering face to face sessions were slim.  I signed up for a social media marketing group, my worst nightmare or so I thought! However it brought fun, laughter, more ease on socials, AND my ‘online’ formula for ‘selling’. Curious about the ‘fun’ – check out my Instagram reels!

 

Grieve, let go – learn to ask

When the armour around your heart breaks open, only then are you open to receive, let go. We all have breaking points, and I have had my fair share in this lifetime. Covid felt like the cherry on top. And there was nowhere (we were allowed) to go. Letting go, allowing it all in, was the only option.

Truth – More times than I can remember I simply sat on the floor and cried and cried. The case numbers, people’s ‘bad’ behaviour, feeling powerless to effect change….It was at these times that unresolved past hurts, losses, pain, would surface. Staying in it, with it, softened the experience and gave me courage. Courage to get up, courage to continue, courage to seek guidance from those close to me.

 

We make our world a heaven or a hell depending on our view of it.

It’s all for good. Swami Satchidananda

 

These are two of my favourite quotes and reminders from the founder of Integral Yoga® . Some days accepting the ultimate truth of these is not possible, other days they get me through.

Truth – This pandemic made me super conscious of my moment-to-moment choices and how they shape my experiences. How I choose to think, spend my time, what I read, to whom and to what I listen to, how I use my resources, etc etc. It all makes a difference.

If this article has raised questions or concerns for you, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. 

 

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Caroline Giles Experience yoga studio melbourne

I’m Caroline Giles, a Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher, and the owner of Experience Yoga. I’m inspired to teach you practices of yoga for health, well-being and wholeness. My students are the everyday person like you and me. They come to create strength, vitality, inner peace and courage in their life through the practices of yoga.

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