The benefits of meditation are well documented—it’s said to reduce stress, boost happiness, improve the immune system, increase concentration and even slow the effects of aging. And once a fringe hobby for yogis and hippies alike, meditation has entered the mainstream with everyone from business executives to stay-at-home moms jumping on the mindful bandwagon. Here’s a look at how you can roll out the practice in your studio.
DEVELOP A PLAN
Before making any decisions, your first task is assessing if there is a want and desire for meditation amongst your regular clients. Once you’ve confirmed that you have a large enough group—we advise at least 15 students who you think will consistently partake in meditation—it’s time to come up with your rollout strategy.
You’ve got two options when it comes to launching the program. The first is to elect for a slower rollout by offering meditation as a hybrid class—in other words, tacking it onto the beginning or end of a few of your more popular classes, in order to breed interest and develop loyalty. This is what Samantha Danielle has been doing since she opened Levitas Studio in Seattle in 2014. “We offer it mostly as a seated floating meditation in the beginning of our aerial yoga classes,” Danielle told us. “It’s been what we’ve done since the beginning, so most people know that they will get some form of meditation during any class they take with us.”
The other option is to start offering it as a full class from day one. This is what Laurenn Cutshaw, vice president of marketing and branding at YogaSix—which has 13 locations in California and the Midwest—did when she rolled out meditation late last year. “The first month we offered the class for free twice a week,” Cutshaw told us. “We tried to schedule them during accessible times, so people could come before or after work, but also after a yoga class, so students could piggy back it into their workout if they wanted to.”
A key component to your meditation introduction is creating a warm, inviting space that will foster relaxation. It’s also important that the space be extremely quiet, so be sure that the room is either sound proofed, or that you (and your neighbors) don’t have anything noisy scheduled at the same time.
THE GUIDING FORCE
Next you have to make sure your teachers are up to the task. At Hush Meditation in Portland, Oregon, owner Chanel Carlascio employs instructors with a variety of backgrounds. “Most of our teachers are also yoga instructors who have additional meditation training and practice,” said Carlascio, who only offers meditation classes at Hush, which opened in 2014. “We require our guides to attend an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, plus we have developed our own curriculum and guide training that is used by instructors in all of our classes.”
STAY THE COURSE
Meditation isn’t a one-stop shop, it comes in different forms and lengths, so spend some time thinking about how to put your brand’s stamp on the offering. MNDFL, a New York City-based meditation studio that opened late last year, aimed to bring the practice to the masses with 30- and 45-minute classes—much shorter, and more approachable than the 2-hour sessions the practice has long been known for.
Carlascio has also curated her meditation offerings for the masses, especially staying away from any religious affiliation. “When mindfulness is presented in a secular, non-religious way, more people are willing to try it out and benefit from the practice without having to compromise their own personal beliefs or values,” she explained.
WHAT’S THE RETURN?
The question still remains, if you go to the trouble of incorporating meditation into your schedule, is it a viable source of additional revenue? According to Danielle and Carlascio, the answer is a resounding yes. “I think it’s something that people need more than they know these days and offering it to your students will be an added bonus that will bring added revenue for sure,” says Danielle.
Adds Carlascio, “There are a lot of good reasons to offer mindfulness training—it is an additional revenue stream, but the best reason to offer it is that there is a lot of science demonstrating how good it is for us. And if it is offered in a secular way, I think that allows the most people to benefit from it.”