In a brand new strand to the blog, we look at the entrepreneurs of the holistic world, who had a dream to set up their own holistic practice, and got on and did it! Sharing their stories, tips and tricks, we’ll find out about the journey that brought them to where they are now, and hopefully provide you with some inspiration if you’re looking to do the same. We’ve met Robin Watkins-Davis before on the blog, where we got to know her a bit better, and here, in her own words, is how she came to be the youngest yoga teacher in the country…
The idea to start a weekly yoga class for teenagers came about while I was doing my GCSE exams when I noticed the profound benefits of regularly practicing yoga whilst being at school. I wanted to create an environment for young people to relax and surround themselves with like-minded people who could uplift and inspire them. Whilst on my Teacher Training course in my AS year I realized that yoga was so much more than just the movements, and one of the most powerful parts of it was the sense of community and support I gained from both the yoga teachers on the course and the students participating. Because of this, my focus for all of my yoga classes is to create strong relationships with my student.
The process of setting up my business started with my training, and whilst I was on the course, I started to think about how I wanted to run my classes and the core values of my business. I started to hold free classes at my school to trial whether there would be any interest amongst the teenagers there – through this I learnt what parts of yoga were really effective for teens and this helped me then design the business and website around that. After I trained in June, I filled my school summer holiday with research and planning, designing the content for my website and setting up booking software MINDBODY to manage my online bookings. MINDBODY has been great for my business as it has helped me keep all of my client information in one place and stay organised and efficient. Once I had got all the information together for the website, I sent all the information and images over to a company to build it for me. During this time I also took care of all of the legal requirements, such as insurance, a DBS check and a first aid qualification.
I also had to think about marketing! I contacted local schools and arranged to go in and do talks about yoga, and I worked with a local family friend and graphic designer to make a flyer, which I put up in local shops and schools. I also used social media and hashtags to share information about my classes.
The next step was to look around different venues to find a suitable venue for Stroud and Cheltenham. I found the perfect places, booked in my sessions with them and told as many people I could about my classes!
The classes have now been running for 6 months and I still can’t believe the power of yoga – I find teaching yoga so empowering and liberating.
To create an environment where people feel comfortable and relaxed for my sessions I try my hardest to make the room look appealing: I put fairy lights out, play music, light candles and spray some lavender drops around the room. I arrange the mats in the traditional Sivananda style, so that no one has their back to anyone: I have noticed that teenagers feel more comfortable this way and it also encourages team work and a sense of community. It’s not too formal: we laugh a lot, and occasionally slip into a little dance if a good song comes on! I am dedicated to offering a yoga class which is in perfect alignment with the needs of this very specific age group, so I sequence my classes with the seasons, as well as in relation to what’s going on in the academic school year. In exam time the classes involve more relaxation and rest, and before the summer holidays they are more energetic and playful.
I always end my yoga classes with blankets, eye pillows and a guided relaxation so that there is always a moment and opportunity to centre yourself, relax and have a moment of self-care. I love getting to know my students, and at the end of every session I invite them to join me for a hot drink and sweet treat.
As for developing my business further, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to give talks and meet new people at conferences and events, and finding new ways to share yoga with more young people. Recently the connections I’ve made have led to private yoga classes with adults and two yoga teen retreats -one in Scotland at Easter and one in Cornwall in the summer – so there’s something to be said for networking! In the future, I hope to take on an apprentice to work on evenings or weekends (to fit in around school, of course!) to help lead even more teen yoga classes.
You can find out more about what Robin does at www.blissbyrobin.com