Hi Russell, you are a professional yoga and mindfulness trainer. Tell us more about how you started your company and what motivates you to keep going.
I started Southland Yoga Training after I dropped out of college. Since my teen years, yoga has always been a passion of mine, and turning passion into business sounded like a great idea to me. Back in college, I always felt like I was wasting my time learning subjects I didn’t really need in life. On the other hand, yoga was impactful in my personal life and the lives of people who trained with me. I unofficially hosted some yoga classes in nature for my friends and family, and they loved them. So, in the end, it was a natural transition for me.
Yoga training is a competitive industry; how does your business make money?
I make money in different ways but primarily by hosting yoga and meditation classes, qigong practices. During these COVID times, I do virtual sessions. I also host some socially distanced events in nature. It has definitely been an adjustment for me and many other businesses like mine.
Did it take you a while to become profitable?
Since I already had experience teaching before getting certified as a yoga instructor, it really didn’t take me that long to establish my own clientele. It did take me about six months to start making enough to cover all of my business expenses and bills. I think it’s a relatively short period of time.
Was there ever a time you doubted yourself? How do you deal with these feelings?
I never doubted it would work because it already worked on a smaller scale. My doubts revolved around scaling what I was doing and finding enough clients. COVID-19 disrupted many businesses, and that was when I had to think fast and adjust my offering. One of the things that helps me in stressful situations is to cool my mind. I did a meditation with the intention of receiving guidance on what I should do. I often do that and suggest others try it. Once you ask for guidance, just relax and have faith that you will receive a sign of what you should do next. The sign was a call from one of my friends who recently started a digital marketing agency, who offered to help with my online presence.
How did you secure your first client?
My first customer was my cousin. She wanted to start doing yoga but felt unsure if she was doing all of the postures correctly, so she asked me to help her. I was happy to do so since she also agreed to pay for my lunches on the day we had practiced. It was a win-win!
In a competitive business like yours, how do you attract new customers?
It goes without saying that referrals are the best source of new business. For me, I have a couple of incentives for my clients to bring their friends and significant others to my yoga or meditation sessions. There is also a free session for anyone who would like to try out my services. No strings attached.
What is a significant change you had to make in your business in the last year?
Moving my classes online. There was a lot of uncertainty, and everyone hoped that things would go back to normal after a month of lockdown. But as we see worldwide, things are not even close to what they used to be. So, just like many other businesses, I had to adjust my offering and find ways to connect with my clients over Zoom and other applications. I am also working on a virtual program I am excited to release in the near future.
What is success for you?
I think success is overrated. My guiding principle in life is to pursue joy. If tomorrow I stopped feeling joy from teaching yoga and mindfulness to my clients, I will retire myself. I don’t think three is any reason for me to do business if I am feeling miserable. I would have nothing to give to my clients anyway. So, success to me is a joyful life, and I think I am doing pretty well so far.
Could you share a transformative experience from one of your clients (if you can)?
One of my clients had challenging issues with self-image and relationship to her body. By practicing yoga regularly, she started to get more connected with her body. She also engaged in some of my meditation practices and began to recognize her emotions. She realized that she had very strong emotions stored in her body that needed to be released. We worked together on finding the best techniques that worked for her, and she was able to remove these blocks. She is one of my best students now; she’s advanced so much over the years. It means a lot to me when people open up about their issues, and we work together to heal them. It’s very gratifying to me.
What is your vision for Southland Yoga Training?
You know, I have a vision for my business, but in today’s circumstances, it’s really hard to be certain. So I will just say that I am excited about connecting with my students in person in the nearest future. Virtual classes are great, but I guess I am an old-school guy, and I enjoy interacting with my students in person.
What book has impacted you the most?
What else would you like to share about your business?
Well, Southland Yoga Training is not only about Yoga. It’s really about emerging yourself into a flow of connection to your body, mind, and spirit. It’s about connecting with your inner self and with others and realizing that we are all – one. It’s more than just yoga; it’s a philosophy of life. Also, some people think that I am a Buddhist, but I honestly think that all religions are true and therefore don’t identify with any particular religion. So, everyone is welcome at Russell Jack’s Southland Yoga community.
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack, Southland Yoga Training Founder, is a 25-year-old yoga instructor and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He is passionate about spirituality, the vegan lifestyle, animal rights, and living in sync with nature. Russell specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations.