Setting up a yoga business - getting started

Yoga and business
So you love yoga and have trained hard to teach. The next stage is to set up your own classes and perhaps even think about running a studio. Fantastic! However, running a business (even it’s a yoga business) comes with a host of challenges that are difficult to anticipate, and which - to be honest - seem to sit somewhat uncomfortably with yoga.

The ins and outs of running a (yoga) business are often not covered in any depth on yoga teacher trainings - or are covered quickly in a day, or half a day. So once the realities of running your own show are encountered, it can be a bit of a shock.

There’s no getting away from it: making a yoga class or studio successful means getting to grips with the fundamentals of business - behind the scenes of any yoga class, workshop or studio there is a raft of activity which must be performed and your ability to take on these tasks can the difference between a successful and less successful class, workshop or studio.

In the first of a new series, and drawing on our experience of running successful retreats and a busy yoga and meditation studio over the past decade, we look at the first two fundamentals of starting a yoga business.

Getting started

Whilst many teachers start teaching in gyms and studios, this is not always an option straight away. Frequently, yoga teachers start their career by setting up yoga classes in local church halls and community centres - and so, almost by accident, enter the world of running a small yoga business, with payments to take and books to keep.

All of this can be daunting. However, with some simple steps, and armed with a little knowledge, it needn’t be so.

Step 1. Find the right venue

OK, this might sound obvious, but of course, before you can start to teach you need to find a venue. What factors should you consider?

What is the cost of the venue?

The venue cost is a primary consideration and determines whether classes can be viable. Depending on type of venue, costs can be as simple as hire per hour costs. However, if you are looking to start your own studio, then it is worth bearing in mind that additional costs may include:

  • Electricity / heating

  • Cleaning

  • Business rates

  • Maintenance fees

Also if you plan to use other teachers to teach (or cover) on your behalf, you will need to consider their fees.

How many people can you comfortably accommodate?

Even after many years of running classes, it can be tricky to guess exactly how many people can be accommodated in your new potential space. So, come armed with mats so you can lay them out and see exactly how many students the venue will fit.

Getting to the venue?

The success for a studio can be dependent on access - if you live and work in a city, your requirements are of course different to if you live in more rural areas. To make classes accessible you should consider how your students may travel to get to you: train, bus, car, bike, on foot?

For a studio, does the venue has correct planning?

Frequently overlooked is whether a potential studio venue has correct planning permission. If you are looking to rent a space in a community hall this unlikely to be a problem. However, for those looking for a commercial property for use as a studio, it uncommon for venues to have the correct planning permission allocation, which can lead to expensive legal costs and delay in opening the space.

Step 2: Think financials - margin is key (stay with us!)

OK, so you have found a venue and have figured a total cost. It is now time to start thinking about some financial planning. Stay with us! Half an hour sitting down considering margins and numbers may be the key to whether a class will be successful or not…

Never give into temptation to under-sell

There is always temptation to under-sell yoga classes to gain a competitive edge on others in your area. However, by doing so, you are not only undervaluing your time, dedication and experience, but you are making you life considerably more difficult since you need many more attendees to make a class successful. Of course there is balance to be struck, when evaluating a fair price, check out the competition and evaluate what they are offering for the price charged. Be competitive - find a fair price and stick to it.

Average client numbers

Making a class profitable is dependent on the number of students who regularly attend. Of course, unless you structure your classes in membership or block payments (and we highly recommend that you do), this can vary hugely from week to week. So, think average attendance and be realistic - it is better to under-estimate if you are unsure.

Key financials

OK, you know all of the costs and have an idea of the attendance and so are now ready to think about break even and margin.

  • Break even - the amount that you need to earn to cover your costs.

  • Margin - the amount you earn after costs have been paid and which is subject to tax.

Calculating break even in terms of students

Whilst break even is a very useful figure, we find that it helpful to think of it in terms of the number of students that you will require to cover your expenses.

For example, lets assume a venue costs £25 per hour to hire and you charge £9 per class.

In this case, a break even number of students = £25 divided by £9 = 2.77 students.

So, in this scenario you will require three students to break even. If the class attendance drops below this level you will loose money. If it is above you will start to earn.

Again, stay with us….!


Margin is the amount that you earn as a yoga teacher or studio before tax. You should be realistic about whether a margin offers sufficient income on which to sustain yourself as yoga teacher. This is best shown by example:

Lets assume that you will have an average attendance of, say, 10 students in a class and you charge £9. Lets also assume that you are charge £25 per hour for rental and all associated costs.

We know that you will require 3 students to break even. So, the margin is earned on the remaining 10 - 3 = 7 students.

So margin will equate to 7 x £9 = £63. Of course this is subject to tax and does not take into account the time to get to/from the class and set up.

Until next time…

Once you have looked at the above, you’re half way there! In our next two blog posts we’ll go on to look at marketing, recruiting and other aspects of running a viable and successful yoga business.

In the meantime, please share if you have found this post useful. See you soon.

Darren Cooper