Yoga Enterprise

Help Your Members Stretch Their Business Model: Associations Now

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By Lisa Boylan / May 19, 2020
(DaniloAndjus / E + / Getty Images Plus)

When everything changes overnight, there is no time for surveys or focus groups. Associations need to be quick from “What are we doing?” to “Here is the plan.” An association’s quick response helped its members make a daunting – and counterintuitive – online migration.

Yoga is an old practice, but there are no exceptions to a new normal that is no longer new – or normal. Even old practices have to adapt when the whole world suddenly changes. The Yoga Alliance has 100,000 members – made up of yoga schools and teachers from 150 countries – who suddenly, like many people around the world, had to work out a plan to get their businesses online due to COVID-19.

Catherine Marquette of the Yoga Alliance, vice president of marketing and communications, said that until a few weeks ago, yoga was mostly taught in person, but the global pandemic was upsetting the entire industry. Dean West, FASAE, author of a study on the economic impact of COVID-19, recently told Associations Now, “You can’t just view a crisis as a threat. You have to see it as an opportunity to generate energy for strategic changes. “

The Yoga Alliance did just that. Marquette described the first few days of responding to the effects of COVID-19 as “chaotic” but also as “incredibly rewarding”. Within two weeks, the Yoga Alliance had redesigned their business to help members transition to a virtual world of yoga teaching. Among the resources that the organization has developed:

  • A COVID-19 resource site To keep members up to date on a wide variety of topics, including business, financial, and community information. The website also includes a legislative section with information on provisions of the CARES Act and other emergency bills and initiatives relevant to yoga professionals.
  • The Yoga Alliance Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Fund, designed to help yoga professionals around the world hardest hit by the pandemic. The fund is open to all yoga professionals – members and non-members – who are unable to pay basic bills.
  • A proven method How to reopen and restore [PDF] Help yoga professionals prepare – if possible – for reopening their business.
  • A COVID-19 Membership update page Address member concerns about the potential impact of the pandemic on aspects of their professions.

Virtual events were a big part of the response. In the past four weeks, the Yoga Alliance has hosted more than 40 virtual events, and Marquette said attendance was double or triple what is usual. “Becoming a virtual events team almost overnight is one of the ways we’ve really stepped up our game in terms of serving the members,” she said.

The virtual training events range from research into payment systems to considerations about insurance liability and much more. According to Marquette, 40 to 50 percent of virtual events were about moving a yoga business online, and the pros and cons of using various online platforms like Zoom, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook Live to teach yoga classes analyzed.

It is a stressful time and many people are currently looking for the benefits of practicing yoga. “We have a lot of scientific and biomedical research online demonstrating the ability of yoga to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, and to support immune function,” said Marquette. The Yoga Alliance has updated its membership directory so everyone, including the public, can find qualified teachers offering yoga online.

Marquette commended the members of the organization for showing up for work despite having the same fears and insecurities as everyone else. She said the urgency to help members is now greater as more and more people are turning to yoga at this difficult time. She said, “You need the strength, peace, and stress relief that can come from it.”

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