Published Jun 20, 09 AM
By Toni Grates
In the months following my decision to open a yoga studio with my longtime friend and business partner Ernesto, things rolled like clockwork. Everything happened very quickly and very easily. It was remarkable really. We secured a space in Toronto’s trendy Liberty Village and we were on our way to being the first affiliate studio of XYZ Yoga (let’s call it that). And within three months, we were sitting in a circle ready for our first day of XYZ’s yoga teacher training.
The people in the circle seemed great. Down to earth, friendly and interesting. The founders of XYZ Yoga were our teachers. Founder #1 began by telling us that we were going to have to open our hearts and share. This wasn’t about yoga. This was about our way of being!
It was Theatre School all over again.
“It’s all about being AUTHENTIC! What LIGHTS YOU UP?!?!? Prepare to be TRANSFORMED because we’re going to turn you into BAD-ASS yoga teachers!!!!”
I was feeling more fat-ass than bad-ass at that time. As I sat lactating and sweating, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d made a huge mistake. I knew I loved yoga and I knew I loved a good business venture, but this particular journey wasn’t sitting well with me and I felt tremendous guilt for leaving my 4-month old baby at home with Grandma while I did this. I wanted to build a more secure life for my family, but was this really the answer?
I consistently tried to share, but it was always of the “I miss my baby and feel guilty for being here” variety. The founders definitely had a talent for drawing out the stories in people and I was amazed at how ready and willing people were to share with a circle of strangers. From day one, years of repressed tears flowed vinyasa-style toward the circle in exchange for nods and kudos from the founders.
The core ideas were of interest to me, but the catchy cutesy lingo was too much to swallow.
Still, I was in awe. These suburban gurus had built a mini-empire on the platitudes of people in need. Their classes were full of people who felt indebted to them for all the onion skins they shed… for all the energetic “bricks” they were willing to throw into a yogic dump trunk and send away.
As the month’s training went on, it seemed to me that I was the only one not being lit up. Perhaps I was resistant. I couldn’t help but wonder how Ernesto was digesting all of this. “Ernie,” I asked one day in earnest after a training session, “do you feel lit up?”
“I’m lit up like a god damn Christmas tree,” he replied.
Upon graduation, I felt less prepared to teach yoga and more prepared to facilitate a counseling session; one in which the therapist wasn’t actually qualified to counsel people.
We opened XYZ Yoga’s first affiliate studio on September 1, 2010. What followed was exactly 3 months of painfully exhausting trials and errors on all of our parts before we unanimously decided this affiliateship never should have happened. In the end, the only thing we lit up was a giant neon sign displaying the new name of our independently owned studio.
About Toni Grates
Toni Grates opened a yoga studio because she thought it would solve all her problems. After 13 months in yoga hell, she shut the doors and peacefully went back to the real world. She’s a mom and bonus mom (so much nicer than “step-mom”) who loves all things creative. Post-studio, she has gone back to her love of writing with more material than she ever thought possible. You can follow her adventures at www.namastebitchesblog.com.