In this episode, John and Chris will dive into a question they got from one of their listeners about the direction that studio-based yoga is headed in terms of fitness over classic yoga. Classic yoga refers to the traditional way of doing yoga which has really evolved over the last 6,000 years.
They will discuss the history of yoga starting from the time when Patanjali created the Indian sutras on the theory and practice of yoga by synthesizing and organizing knowledge about yoga from older traditions, to the present time where yoga has become a portal into finding mental stillness in order to enhance the ability to pay attention and focus so as to move deeper into meditation.
The sole reason why people turn to yoga is to achieve physical and spiritual development, but when yoga studios focus solely on the fitness side of it, they fail in helping their students achieve their desired results. John and Chris will share how every yoga entrepreneur should go about teaching yoga to their students in a way that helps them achieve the physical and spiritual growth that they expect from yoga while ensuring that their yoga studio stays in business for the long haul.
Key Points Discussed:
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This episode was released December 18, 2019
Disclaimer: The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors
00:00 Just focusing on fitness is the very thing that people are turning to yoga for in the first place, which is, I believe what learners are saying is, The classic idea of yoga”, which is it’s more than just the body. Right? And this is the whole idea behind… like how it originated and where it came from, is that Asana, not to take a seat, but the physical postures were a supplement to the meditative aspect of it.
00:24 What’s up everyone? You are listening to Yoga Entrepreneur Secrets. I am Chris Yax, and I’m John Yax. We are part of a small group of yoga entrepreneurs who are committed to making a living, doing what we love, without feeling guilty about making money, or ashamed of being successful, because we know the real value of yoga and how the world needs it now more than ever. This podcast is here to teach the strategies and tactics so we can thrive financially as yoga entrepreneurs. We are the Yax brothers and welcome to Yoga Entrepreneur Secrets.
00:55 Alright Chris. So, you got your crystal ball out, and you’re rubbing on that thing, and looking deep into it. Well, I’m not actually rubbing on it. That sounded really weird. It sounded way bad. Please eliminate… Sorry, everybody. Plug your ears. Earmuffs kids. Don’t listen to that one. And, and so… so you’re peeking into the future, and what do you see?
01:17 So, the question… so where we came up with this, the topic of this episode was actually from a question. It wasn’t really a question, but it was something that one of our listeners, Lorenzo Bungie. That’s what the name is on the Apple review that we got. He said that he feels… I believe it’s a he. He/She. They feel that they should acknowledge… we should acknowledge the direction studio-based yoga is headed in terms of fitness over classic yoga. And so, this is important because, from review, I don’t know… it’s hard to dive into what Lorenzo means by classic yoga. So if you look at it traditionally, what classical yoga means is meditation. It’s Raja yoga. It is the path of taking a seat, closing your eyes, and focusing your attention on an anchor. Meditation. And, if you go back, way back, 6,000 years back, that’s what yoga was.
02:10 It was specifically meditation. This whole Asana thing, meaning… and even Asana, like that word was back then, but it meant to take a seat, meaning meditate. Now Asana means postures to most people. And so, where the question was… the.. or the comment that he’s really saying is, there’s this trend, and that’s why I mean like, we’re going to peak into the future of yoga studio ownership because there is a trend, there is a wave, a movement happening, under our feet of yoga studios becoming very fitness-oriented versus… now. So this is my point. I don’t think he meant meditatively oriented like they weren’t meditating. It is cool though. Sidebar, there are meditation studios purely legitimately, “I am meditating at the studio”, nothing else popping up all over the country, which is awesome because we are big advocates of meditation. But what I believe he’s really saying classic yoga, he’s saying more like traditional yoga, in terms of like iongar, and Ashtanga, and all the other ones.
03:10 I can’t think of them right now, but like the ones that came out like a hundred years ago. Integral Bishnu Ghosh, which most people know as big Chrome. So way back, way, way back the Christmas saying thousands and thousands of years ago when this came around, it was pre religions. People needed to find a way to stop the chatter of the mind. What we have going on right now is the same dysfunction, mental dysfunction that people had thousands of years ago, different details, but around 400 CE, a gentleman by the name of [inaudible], but tangibly, I don’t know if it’s the first name or last name, so yoga was around before prior to that. But here’s the gangster. Donnie goes by one name, Daisy. He was the JZ of yoga. 400 CE was like sting.
03:58 And so he, before that it was guru to disciple, guru to disciple. So the teacher would teach the student, the student would then become a teacher and teach the student and nothing was really written down or codified until this O G named Patanjali came around and said, all right, I’m going to codify this thing. So he codified it and it was all about meditation, the process, the exact process of how do you get still and then fast forward another 1100 years. So it was around 15 hundreds is when the first actual Austin practices started to develop. It came from the aesthetics, the people that lived in forest and kind of hung out naked and did crazy things like held one arm up over their head for years until it shriveled up. There is basically this idea that the body is not worth a simply a distraction from becoming enlightened and becoming awake.
04:45 But fast forward to where we are now is yoga has become a portal or a door into finding stillness, right? We move the body in a sequential way, in a rhythmic way to get the mind to steady and then through that it enhances our ability to pay attention to hints is our ability to focus and through that, we’re able to sit still for longer and move deeper into meditation. So when Lorenzo’s seen classic yoga, we’re not quite sure if he means meditation, but it’s a really a great point of still within yoga studios if the emphasis is so much over to the fitness side of things and we’re all about the body, about getting stronger and more flexible, eventually doing gymnastics in classes and not acknowledging the fact that we need to get still in our minds and eventually practice meditation, whether that’s the yoga studio teachers that are not, then there’s a huge component of yoga that is missed and in our opinion is essential not only to the results of your students but essential into the shifting of the world and cultures and communities around the world. Eventually, just save people on this planet. We got to wait. I’m going to cuss, so earmuffs hit mute on your kid’s stuff. If your kid listens to this wake fuck up.
05:58 Yeah. So there’s a couple of things in that that I want to unpack and that is there is the trend of fitness. We have a studio owner friend who a number of years ago were like, listen, guys, you got to start putting weights in your classes. This is where we’re going. And it’s funny cause like I’ll go to a gym occasionally and there’s a really great one in the area that we live in and it’s awesome because like what we teach as the foundational positioning mountain pose and vertical stabilization is what we call it within the yoga studio. Like that’s the nature of the beginning of every movement. And so when you do it in yoga, you’re not weight-bearing weight in the fitness mindset. The next level is to load that movement with weight and then try to maintain that postural integrity through it. And so there is efficacy to doing that.
06:44 But what you’re missing in the process of just focusing on the fitness is the very thing that people are turning to yoga for in the first place, which is I believe what learners are saying is the classic idea of yoga, which is it’s more than just the body. Right. And this is the whole idea behind how it originated and where it came from is that Asana, not to take a seat, but the physical postures were a supplement to the meditative aspect of it. And so the way we approach it is yes, it is fitness-oriented in the sense of we’re having people come in to experience a physical experience, but what we’re doing is actually more than just the physical experience. So we want, we teach with a methodology, we’re very consistent with it. We have one set sequence that does not change regardless of the teacher, regardless of the time of day, regardless of the week, the month, the year it stays consistent.
07:32 We make little tweaks to it here and there, but that is the foundation. Why is it the foundation? Because the majority of people coming to your studio. I will assume that Lorenza doesn’t have a yoga studio because the next question that you had that will answer that I’m getting into right now is he teaches two advanced students and his teacher training. He was taught teach to advanced students first and then address the beginners and he does not believe in our methodology of teaching us that sequence. I think there’s more information that he may be missing. We teach one set sequence and then we teach a sequence that does change. We have a stability class and then we have a flow class. The flow class changes from teacher to teacher from class to class, but they all follow the methodology. The methodology is myofascial sequencing, so it’s movement based on the Mio fashion lines of the body, which is basically just soft tissue, but there’s a sequential way to do that.
08:23 Now, if we were to teach two advanced students only you would be missing and disenfranchising and making beginning level students totally awkward and feeling out of place and unwelcomed in your studio because there’s such a big barrier, a big hurdle for them that they have to jump over thinking that if it’s all about the fitness if it’s all about the physical, I’ve got to do that. That’s the right pose and if I can’t do that I can’t do yoga. Right. That is a recipe to go out of business and the reason we’ve been in business for over 15 years now is that we are very clear about why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s physical, there is a fitness aspect because if I’m in pain, if I’m overweight and I don’t feel good, I’ve got to address that first and we addressed that through the sequencing and we address that by giving them a place to start and they know when I come in, this is the beginning level class and I will be able to do this class.
09:18 It will still be challenging and I will be able to progress within it. By the way, we have people who’ve been practicing with us for over like 15 over 16 years because we are teaching at another studio before we opened ours. And they still take that beginning level class. Why? Because in each pose there is a progression to increase the intensity. That takes an incredible amount of time to get to. Oh and by the way, what happens when you get there? Now it’s just about maintenance. If it’s only about the physical, if it’s only about fitness, this is the problem with the trend, the momentum of it all being like a fitness-based studios and we’re going to add weights and we’re going to do all the things to make it more physical and challenging. You end up losing the purest intent of the practice in the first place, which is why people come back.
10:04 They want to feel good, you’ve got to give them results. But it’s gotta be about more than that. What the postures really are doing, they’re opening up their a doorway to present moment awareness. Well, so what we’re really saying is make it about the physical cause. That’s why people are coming in. But it’s also got to be about, I’ll call it the spiritual. What that really means is just present moment awareness, remembering who you really are, not getting lost in the maze of the mind and all the future and past craziness, literal craziness that we’re all caught up in every single day. It is a 60 75 or 90-minute experience where they step out of the normal consciousness into a physical experience that gives them a doorway into a mental, emotional, spiritual experience. So you mentioned this already Chris, but I just want to bring this up because this is one of the next questions that Lorenzo had, is do advanced students enjoy practicing at our studios and then how do they continue to learn and develop after they’ve essentially reached proficiency in the given sequence?
10:56 So the beginning of the sequence. Yeah, man. Like so we have, I kind of alluded to it, but I’ll go dive deeper into it. We have students who have been with us forever, 15 years. They don’t go anywhere else. Why? Because they fallen in love with the experience and we give them stepping stones from beginning level to intermediate level to advanced level. In the two sequences that we teach, the stability in the flow. What happens in the flow is that we introduce inversions, foreign balances, and handstands. We introduce advanced transitions, jump throughs, and pickups and you know, arm balances are unbalanced occasionally here and there and we have, for instance, we only have one level, two class, at each studio one day a week. Why? Because we know it’s an aspect of where people want to go and take their practice, but it’s not our main emphasis. People get so much out of the experience of a stability class that they can come in and take that class and that’s all they have to take and they get what they’re looking for. They get results and that’s what goes back to what Chris was saying before. They get results,
11:54 meaning by consistently doing that set sequence, by consistently doing that class, there’s progression with the poses like Chris mentioned before, but the results, they feel our results off the mat. They feel less stress, they feel more connected to their significant other and their kids, their family. They feel that deeper communication that happens with that. They feel better when they’re doing the other stuff that they love to do, like dancing, running, surfing, whatever, adding bikes for motorcycle, whatever’s your band, your ride, whatever your ride is, man, they feel so they get the results and they’re like, no, I’m doing this because it enhances my life. And this is when you boil it all down, it’s like, why are we practicing? Because in one of Lauren’s first questions is fitness over classical yoga, but then he goes on to kind of describe fitness in that. If you continue to practice, you just want to do more advanced stuff.
12:44 I want to do a press-up, I want to do a handstand, I want to do a full camel or something, some deeper and deeper and deeper expression of the practice, which is like Chris mentioned before, is eventually just going to get you to what’s the next level of deep thing. Now what? And we missed the freaking point, right? And the point is practicing is a small percentage of just getting better at the poses and a huge, huge use. The majority of why we practice is to get the mind to get still. When you walk into the yoga room and you have something gripping you and you practice for an hour or 75 minutes, 90 minutes maybe you get off that mat and all of a sudden that crazy weight that was on you, it feels like nothing or you have insight that gives you guidance into the problem that you had.
13:28 That is what it’s about, right? Not doing crazy fancy poses. We have fun doing the poses, but where most yoga gets caught up in is they start to move into gymnastics, right? If you want to get really good at doing press-ups, you want to get really good at doing handstands, go to a gymnastics coach, they’re going to get you there so much faster. They’ll break your body in the process, but they will get you there quick and fast, right? If you want to learn to still the mind, you want to have a better relationship with your family and your friends. You want to be more productive with your work. You want to enhance the quality of your life so you’re unrecognizable to yourself. Do yoga in that way, right? Do the practice and make it steady. Find a place that teaches with anatomic harmony and introduces the aspects of meditation to the practice and that my friends will revolutionize your life and that is the solution.
14:14 It’s understanding that yes, it is a physical practice. There is fitness involved because we want to start there, but what we’re really doing is teaching in a way where that becomes a conduit. It is a doorway into the more transformational experience or the classic yoga as Lorenzo talked about, so you have to offer both. That’s the real solution is don’t get caught up in the fitness momentum and that everyone just wants to get stronger, faster, bigger, bigger, lose weight, all that stuff like that’s an aspect that it’s there. It’s what people are looking for because as yoga gets more into the mainstream, they’re not just looking for the experience of yoga anymore. It’s not like we’re beyond the days of saying, Oh it’s hot yoga and like just come in and have an experience
14:52 of hot yoga. Now they want to know what is it going to do for me? And that’s what we’re saying like it’s going to do something for you physically. But what differentiates a yoga studio from a gym or any other CrossFit place or plot is, is that we have, it’s baked into the experience for it to be more than just a fitness experience. And when you miss that, you missed the very thing that will keep people hooked into a coming day in and day out, regardless of if they’re progressing in their hands to inner or not. Because life is going to happen to them. And when you have a space that you can create that they can come and experience stillness through physical movement, through breath-focused attention, they are going to come back time and end time out because it’s an experience that allows them to process the craziness that they’re going through in their life or if you want to say it a different way, they get a spiritual experience. Amen. My brother,
15:46 well Chris is describing guys is that yoga is the oldest personal development system around it’s lasted thousands of years because it works and so we look into the crystal ball and what we see the yoga studios that are going to survive in the next few years are the ones that teach people more than just Austin. They’re the ones that teach people personal development that teach people the real aspects of what yoga is all about that give people true results. The days of open up yoga, see like Chris said, the days of open up yoga so you’re just coming in and do Asana and get better at Asana. They are slowly going away and yoga studios that are going to survive are the ones that put programs together that actually change people’s lives in. They teach them Asana of course, but they do it in a way that teach them how to steal their mind, how to have a better relationship, how to be more productive, how to get X results. Personal development is where yoga is going to go and that’s going to be the way that this studio survives. They create programs that go deeper than just the Austin practice. Yeah.
16:42 All right man. Thank you for that question that like obviously we’re pretty passionate about that subject because we feel so strongly about that being like the cause of our success and our longevity over 15 plus years is that it’s always been about the physical and not about the physical. So thank you for the question cause it really spurred on a really great conversation for John and I to have with each other.
17:02 I know someone’s listening. I hope the only thing anyway. All the right people. Thank you so much
17:07 for listening and remember, do the work, honor the struggle and make the world a better place. Peace. Peace.
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