How We Started Our Christian Yoga Business

Cindy Senarighi, President, Yogadevotion LLC

As I begin to write this, I hesitate because business seems not-quite-the-right word. Yes, we are mindful of legalities and the need to be compensated to keep moving forward, but really the best word to describe us is an “out-of-the-box” ministry.

When we began six years ago, we didn’t have the vision for the ministry that has now taken shape. We started by teaching in our own two churches because that is where we had the support for this new idea; remember, six years ago the resurgence of yoga was just beginning, and in our area doing it as a faith-based practice, in church, was unheard of. Our first classes were 6-10 people, but the word spread and soon we were teaching to 20 – 30 people. People from other churches would call and ask if we would teach in their church, and that was when a business plan had to be developed to support the ministry.

Robin and I decided that we would ask the churches to provide the space, stereo/microphone if possible, advertising to their church and surrounding community, and collect the class fee. We would provide the certified instructor, music and the devotions. All of our instructors were certified. We used Yogafit, and all of our instructors had taken additional training. Robin and I have trained with Baron Baptiste, and we have a yogi that works with our group every other week. I tell you this because I think that being qualified to teach yoga is a life-long endeavor, AND this gathering of community has become important for unity of our instructors. I cannot speak highly enough of the need to be connected and in prayer. As we grew, requests came from areas of the city in which we had no instructor. However, God provided for our needs. When a distant church would call, days later an instructor who taught yoga already and was a Christian would call and express interest in teaching for us since Christianity was not accepted in the setting she/he was teaching in. We have also had several instructors who wish to teach more to supplement their incomes.

Some of the business details we negotiated along the way were based in our Christian faith and values. We pay our instructors a better-than-average wage, and if they develop a large class, we pay them more. We give back to the churches, usually about 30%, which is often used for the health ministry programs or outreach programs of the church. We carry liability insurance and have a CPA and a separate person who prepares our taxes. Initially we did this all ourselves, but we soon were in over our heads as we grew. This year we hired a business manager who takes care of invoicing the churches and setting up agreements with churches so that we all know what is happening and when.

From experience I can tell you three things. First and foremost, let the Holy Spirit move you in the classes you teach. If this were just about yoga, there are plenty of other places people can go. People come to church because they are looking for the Spiritual connection. Set limits on your time, we require a certain number of participants before we send in an instructor; unfortunately we needed to do that to financially afford the business part of our ministry. Lastly, keep your own connection with God open through all the resources available to you: worship, prayer, community, fellowship and, of course, yoga.