Social Currency

Entrepreneur of the Year and Yoga Studio Owner aren’t two titles often used in a single sentence, but on this day, I wear both of those titles with great pride. Here’s why. 

The award I am receiving today from the Over the Rhine (OTR) Chamber is in recognition of Yoga on the Green. This class serves hundreds every Tuesday night in the summer, is free to all, accessible to pretty much everyone and held in the heart of our city, Washington Park. 

But here’s the really, really on Yoga on the Green. From a traditional business standpoint what the Yoga Bar gets from holding this weekly class is name recognition and P.R. What we loose is a huge chunk of paying clientele in the summer months. Most Cincinnati yogis practice 1-2 times a week and here we are giving away yoga in a compelling setting for 15 weeks a year.

Under a traditional business model, it’s not a profit generating formula. It’s not Entrepreneur of the Year material. So why do it?

Because I’m not a traditional entrepreneur and I don’t believe in only one form of currency. I don’t have stake holders or a franchise platform to answer to. Instead my motivation is simple and it is the mission statement of The Yoga Bar studios. Share the gifts of yoga with as many people as possible and make our city a better place for us all!Followed closely by, create a sustainable and joyous life for myself.

So here’s why this accolade means so very much to me.

Yoga on the Green generates SOCIAL CURRENCY. Simply put, we build community through this class. Each week we gather together and the instructors remind the students to be good citizens, that each of us has a dharma—a calling, a purpose—and that dharma is SERVICE. We pose the question; how can we better serve our community and one another? Then we breathe together, we stretch and we commune.

Afterward, those four hundred or so yogis spill onto OTR’s streets and support small businesses up and down Vine, Republic and Main. After class I see tables of women laughing over glasses of wine with their yoga mats slung over their bistro chairs. I see twenty-year olds linger after class to meditate and observe the people utilizing the park. I see sixty year old men and five year old kids watch from the sidelines one week, only to grab a yoga mat the following week and join in. 

By the end of the summer, I have seen friendships forged, romances blossom, I have seen people amazed by what their bodies are capable of and by how still their mind can become with attention to the breath. When Labor Day comes, and we roll up our mats for the season, we have raised a bunch of donations to help support ongoing programing in the park and we have gotten to know our community.

Sometimes in the fall Yoga on the Green students wander into The Yoga Bar studios and become clients, more often they don’t. We won’t see them again until the summer. But when my path crosses a student at the market during the winter months, and they stop me to say how much they loved the series, how it helped them appreciate downtown Cincinnati again, or how it helped them feel like part of a community, then I know I have done my job. That they have been touched by the gifts of yoga and that this is for me both sustainable and joyous!

{contributed by Rachel Roberts}

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