Originally Posted Oct 19, 2011
Beth Shaw @YogaFit Biography
How did you begin yoga?
I am the founder and president of YogaFit, the largest Yoga School in North America. For the past 15 years, I have committed my life to the growth, evolution and transformation of souls. My every decision has been around my organization, its mission and what I feel is my soul’s true calling – my dharma, my life’s path.
I began Yoga officially in 1990 when I moved from NYC to LA- however I have been doing meditation and yoga postures since I was a child.
My company YogaFit is the largest Yoga School in North America. We have trained over 100,000 instructors on six continents.
I run a yoga business and like any business it is stressful, complicated and fraught with challenge. The great and best part of my business – the reason I got into it is that I simply love yoga- the way it makes me feel, what its done for my body, my mind, my spirit and my life. The way its opened me up to see the person I am meant to be and to be able to aspire to be that person in some small measure daily. I believe that if we are not growing we are dying and that yoga is the gateway that has helped me grow and to help millions grow as we well. YogaFit trains teachers but beyond that we grow individuals to be better to see their own greatness and to help others achieve their full potential as spiritual beings in human bodies.
What is your inspiration behind starting the studio, if any,view from your own life?
- Right View
- Right Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
I am in the process of reopening our Flagship studio in Beverly Hills/ West Hollywood California.
We opened our studio in downtown Hermosa Beach in 1997 , once a haven for 1970’s hippies Hermosa went through a gentrification and boom in the nineties. Recent college graduates flocked to the town along with working professionals who wanted the perks of living at the beach. Our studio was packed from the day we opened. Of course it did not hurt that classes were by donation only and we also offered parking validation – a huge plus in beach towns where the cities greatest revenue derives from parking tickets. One of my greatest advertising campaigns was when I made studio flyers that looked like parking tickets and put them on every car in town. The Chief of Police showed up at our studio a few days later but I was able to spin this into a front-page story in the cities newspaper featuring the Chief and I outside my studio placing a parking ticket on a car. Every challenge can truly be an opportunity and there is almost no such thing as bad press.
Running a studio was not without challenge – flaky instructors, finding the right front desk person, a business that was open seven days a week from 6 am to 9pm or later – what was I thinking? The one thing we did take serious from day one was our community service commitment. Teaching yoga to a group of people who would not normally have the opportunity to receive it has been part of our Teacher Trainings from the beginning. Community outreach was huge at our studio- breast cancer walks & classes, pet adoptions and giving free class packs to every organization that asked without fail. I have always believed as Master Vivekananda said when he brought yoga to America in 1893 that Karma Yoga is the most important yoga we can do. At YogaFit we take our community service very seriously – it is the foundation of our business and what I believe energetically has helped us grow and prosper. And kept us afloat in the most recent challenging times.
So we grew and we grew, despite some setbacks like a few instructors leaving to open their own studio (which has since gone out of business) 2005 brought the decision to close down the flagship studio; I had reached a point where I did not even want to go there to teach. Finding a reliable manager was challenging at the beach – where few seem to want to work and even fewer seem capable to do so. Our studio was no longer a good representation of the brand. People were coming from around the world to see the flagship studio only to find out it was under a bar in a dilapidated building. To make matters worse we had a severe leak of beer fowling into our studio and down the walls non-stop for most of that year.
What do you enjoy most about being a yoga studio owner and/or a teacher?
Inspiring and transforming the lives of others, sharing my practice, making people feel good.
YogaFit’s Community Service Mission:
The mission of YogaFit is to bring Yoga to the masses. When only 10 % of the US population belongs to a health club, our need to get people moving is necessary. Yoga is a gift of the body and the mind. At our original flagship YogaFit Studio in Hermosa Beach, CA we began offering Yoga classes for donation only. The community responded gratefully.
We believe that if everyone in the world gave one hour per week of community service work, the world be a better place. That is why we require every YogaFit Level 1 Trainee to perform 8 hours of practice teaching in a Community Service setting before receiving a Certificate of Completion. Our Trainees have brought the practice and benefits of Yoga to seniors in long term care homes, stressed-out corporate executives, cancer patients and survivors, disabled persons, incarcerated persons, terminally ill persons, children, mentally challenged individuals and military servants, just to name a few.
The Community Service Program gives our Trainees the opportunity to practice their new teaching skills in a less stressful environment with an appreciative audience. As the thousands of letters we receive in our corporate office, state, volunteering time and energy has proven to be the most rewarding experience for many of our Trainees. YogaFit is dedicated to this work as it promotes the essence of giving and sharing freely. To date YogaFit has given over 1 million hours and millions of dollars to charity.
YogaFit encourages and supports the philosophy of “ Conscious Business” . In this Millennium we believe the companies that are socially responsible will prosper from good will and good karma. Together we are changing the paradigm of what it means to do good business… really good business.
Thank you for your support of YogaFit.