Adapt or Die
How my brand values guided me from brick and mortar to virtual by Leah Bosworth
Adapt or die. This has been my motto since Covid-19 came rushing into our lives like a freakin Tsunami freight train. At the beginning of March 2019 the conversation slowly started turning towards this potential invisible enemy headed our way. Nobody knew what was coming and the results are still rolling in.
For weeks, my boyfriend kept whispering, you should shut down now and get ahead of this thing. But after spending nearly 5 years working my yoga butt off to create a thriving in person yoga community, the thought of shutting down everything I hold so dear was a hard pill to swallow.
One of the reasons I decided to open a brick and mortar studio was because I LOVE to create environments. I loved being in a physical space that is beautiful, smells good and makes me happy. Creating a space that people feel instantly welcomed and at home no matter who they are is what I live for. My whole business model was built on hugs, skylights and eucalyptus essential oils. (Well sort of) ;)
It all happened so quickly. On Friday, I was pondering…”am I going to close the studio”? On Monday I was taping a sign to our door and frantically email all our members. Two days later we were (like so many) attempting to keep our classes going on Facebook Live. That was short lived. We spent the next 20 days furiously researching, buying equipment, returning equipment, buying adapter cords, cords cords and more cords. Figuring out lighting, figuring out sound, installing new internet, daily emails with our community, dealing with Zoom, discarding Zoom and finding another alternative to Zoom and reconfiguring everything!
It was April now and our State like most others were closed until April 29th?, May 15th? May 30th? No one really knew and it became apparent to me very quickly that no one was going to know for quite some time. As I was wracking my brain to figure out how this was all going to work, I heard a voice that said “virtual is the future”, and it hit me. I knew that this was the path forward.
Though the thought of shutting the door in the face of so many people that I had built relationships with, that I trust and whom I admire so dearly, made me want to curl up in a ball and hide under my favorite bunny blanky. But I knew this was the only way to uphold all the values that had built my business in the first place.
1. STRENGTH This was not an easy choice, but it was a strong choice. I knew I wanted to be a source of strength for people and not be wishy washy. I didn’t want to open and then turn around and close again because one of our teachers got sick or based on the uninformed information that was and is constantly coming at us. With all the uncertainty swirling around us then and still to this day, online yoga classes are clear. For some it may not be ideal, but at least it’s not confusing or uncertain. You don’t have to wonder if the studio you’re going to is going to close again. You don’t have to worry that the studio is following good practices to keep you safe. You don’t have to wonder what other people are up to. Are they being safe? Are they putting me at risk?
2. COMMUNITY One of the reasons I opened a small business was because I love to cultivate community. Yoga is one of the only things in the world that I can think of where there is literally a way to practice for every single person on the planet. Now we can expand our message and our community around the globe. It’s inclusive. If we opened our studio by the CDC guidelines, we would have to limit our class size to 9 with the size of our room. Who would we let in? And who would we have to turn away. The idea of that was just never an option in my mind. With online classes it is open to everyone. We do not have to limit our classes sizes. It is truly open to all.
3. EXPANSIVE As difficult as this time has been and continues to be, for me to get up every morning and carry on, I must look at the positive aspects of this. With this new platform comes innovative ideas and opportunities. We are creating classes with different lengths of time, are able to combine class styles in new ways and are looking at opportunities to collaborate with people all over the country and world to elevate and uplift our students. All our classes go into an on demand library so you can access any class at any time from anywhere. I also love the ability to expand our offerings for things that we don’t have room for on the schedule as well as, being able to focus on tutorials and educational videos. You don’t have to live in our city or even our state to take our classes. The possibilities are limitless.
4. DIVERSITY Phoenix is actually a fairly diverse place, however, because it is so spread out and we are most often in our cars, we are often quite segregated to our particular 5 mile radius. With online classes we have the privilege to connect with communities all over the country and the globe. To be able to reach all walks of life is powerful and exciting.
5. INSPIRATION My goal as a yoga teacher has always been to uplift and inspire everyone who comes through our doors. However, we have been compelled to expand beyond our beautiful brick walls. The limits of this pandemic have forced us to be innovative, creative and find new inspiration. Inspiration can come from many places, action, beauty, kindness… to name a few. But ultimately, it comes from the heart and the heart knows no limits.
6. MEANING “Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore, to be practiced by everybody in all affairs of life. If it cannot be practiced in all departments, it has no practical value.” This quote has been a driving force for me in my decision making to stay online. Ahimsa is the first of 5 yamas (ethical principles) in the 8 limbs of yoga. They are principles that I use to navigate my life. No amount of disinfecting, physical distancing, mask wearing is going to keep us 100% safe. As a business owner, this is a risk that I face on a daily basis. Things can happen anytime in a public space. My reason for starting this business was to help people improve their lives. And if I am doing something to put my community at risk because of pressure from people or because I prefer to teach in person, then I am acting out of fear and ego, and that goes against everything I teach.
The world is forever changed now. I do believe we will get through this pandemic and be able to safely be in person again, but I don’t think it’s going to look like it did before. Everything is different. We as a people are different now. I don’t know what the future holds for me, for our country or our world.
I do know that yoga is malleable, strong, resilient and evolves with the times. Yoga doesn’t care if you are in a yoga studio, in your living room or on a beautiful beach somewhere.
It is simply waiting for you… there for you… whenever you decide to begin.