How to Start a Book Club at your Yoga Studio in 10 Steps
Whether you own a yoga studio, you teach at one, or you are a strong community member of your local yoga studio, chances are you can start a book club at your local yoga studio. Here is a guide to to create a powerful book club experience at your local studio.
The first book I ever read in a book club at a yoga studio was The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. Have you read it? It’s quite dry. Even though it’s translated, it needs a translator. We had an amazing translator to explain the book, and still it was remarkably dry. My first book-club-at-yoga-studio-experience was a flop.
In all fairness I was in a teacher training program. And in all fairness the The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is not really a bore – I was just 26 and brand new to the teaching path. For most of my classmates and I the book was over our heads. By about 2 feet. Though today The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is one of my top 10 reference books, I learned straight away what makes or breaks a book club at a Yoga Studio.
Step 1: Identify your Goal
What is your goal for this book? Here are some possible goals:
- Create a dialogue between students and teachers
- Deepen your students understanding of yoga, enlightenment, healthy eating, etc.
- To guide your students through a book
- To bring new people into your work
The more specific you can make your goal, the easier the rest of the process is. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you and your members will get lost in the process. Your goals will change over time. Identify your goal now, and then make it specific and actionable. (For a goal-setting workshop -watch this.)
If your goal is to guide your students through a book, you may consider charging a fee. You’ll all be more committed to the process. If your goal is to create a dialogue between students and teachers, you might choose lighter books, more informal meetings, or even just a poster and a Facebook thread on what people are learning as they are reading. Decide what you want. Design around that.
Step 2: Choose a Transformational Book
Not all books work well for book clubs. Not all book club books work well for yoga studios. Choose a book that reinforces the habits, the evolution, the lifestyle and the ethics you are championing in your own life and at your yoga studio. If the book isn’t a “Hell, Yeah!” for you and the community you nurture, then keep looking for one that is a perfect fit.
Make sure your book will work for all levels of your yoga students. (This is where The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali went wrong in the teacher training. It would have been perfect for an advanced teacher training, not an entry level.) In my experience as a yoga teacher for 15 years and yoga studio owner, yoga students want something that is easy to read, to do and to talk about. They want to sink their teeth in and have it enhance their lives without a long lag time.
Remember, it’s better to only read a few books a year in your book club than have a flop situation on your hands.
Step 3: Choose books that have a Book Club Guide
This is the most straightforward step. There is no need to invent wheels. If the author or publisher isn’t trying to make it easy for you to run your club and sell their books – ditch it for the one that does care about making your life easier.
Read the Book Club’s Guide in the back of the book to make sure it’s sufficient. Also, check for online resources that the book’s author created for book club hosts and members. With Body Thrive, there are 5-10 minute video lessons that accompany each meeting. This makes it easy for the host and the members.
Step 4: Set your schedule.
Decide which books you want to read before you decide how many books you want to read that year.
Decide on the best way to meet for that book. How many meetings? Underwhelm is the new black. If you have a new book every month – it way be too much for you to handle in organization or your students to digest. You may be better off reading one book per quarter.
Read the book to help you decide how many meetings you should have. For example, with Body Thrive: Uplevel Your Body and Your Life with 10 Habits from Ayurveda and Yoga, you want to host 2-3 meetings at your studio. You can encourage your members to find a buddy and check-in with their buddy weekly over the phone. This takes pressure off you and your members to meet every week, while still generating a powerful dialogue. Other books, like The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte is designed for 5 meetings, either weekly or bi-weekly. If you have your members pair off by levels of commitment, you can take the onus off you to host every meeting.
If your book club is reading one book a quarter, you might follow a book that is best read over 10 weeks, like Body Thrive with a book that is best read over 5 weeks, like The Desire Map, or read in a month. At your yoga studio you have multiple offerings. You don’t want to diminish workshops and classes to promote your book club. You want all parts to work together.
As you set your schedule, don’t try to squeeze a book into a time frame. Work your time frame around the book you choose.
Step 5: Choose a Book Club Host
You may or may not want to be the book club host. If you don’t want to run the meetings, find a yoga teacher that is wanting more exposure and wanting to grow their classes to run the meetings. You can also ask a serious student who wants to give back to your studio to volunteer as this Book Club host or as the host’s assistant.
Many of our experienced students are eager to give back to the community that has supported their growth. Remember, it’s simple to run a Book Club that comes with a Book Club Guide. Make sure whomever you select you know from personal experience is reliable and will follow through with delight, enthusiasm and dedication.
Step 6: Find a time that works for your studio, your members, and your host to meet.
Obviously a book club meeting at 9 am on a Monday is bound to flop. When is the best time for your students that doesn’t compete with the studio schedule?
Often studios are vacant on Sunday afternoons or evenings.
Step 7: Create the Criteria for Attendance
What kind of book club do you want? To figure out how many people you want and your guidelines for attending, answer these questions. You must do this step before the next step:
- Will you allow drop ins?
- Is the book club for studio members only? Or, can studio patrons include their friends, enlarging your community? If it’s a community event inform your local community calendars in printed newspapers, online news, and community facebook groups.
- How many people do you want in your group?
- Is there a fee, or is it free? (Please don’t do donations – either charge or don’t charge). If you charge a fee, you’ll put income to the cost of the rent while attracting a more serious book club member. If it’s free, you broaden your net and increase your expsoure.
- How many sessions must members attend to join this book club?
- Do people need to sign up ahead of time?
- Do you want to create a special Facebook Group for your Yoga Studio Book Club? This can create a more private discussion from your Yoga Studio Facebook page. Your members might enjoy connecting between sessions on what they are experiencing through the book club. Due to the transformational nature of the books you’re likely to read, this is especially supportive. It may also mean the host should show up there a few times a week.
There are no right or wrong answers here. You will learn through experience what you want and what does not work well for your studio. Trust your gut on your first round.
Step 8: Inform Your Patrons
You have a plan. Sweet. Now it’s time to tell your peeps. Depending on what you decided above will determine what you do now.
- Make a flyer with the 3d image of the book cover.
- Announce the meeting schedule.
- Give people one month notice. This gives people time to check out the book while giving your studio time to build the buzz.
- Announce the book club book of the quarter at class for a few weeks. If you’re on an annual planning cycle, you may schedule all 4 books for the year at once, and print them on the studio calendar and website.
- If this is open to the community, tell the newspaper. Post on your local Facebook Groups. Post on your Facebook group with a link to sign up. Invite your peeps to bring friends
Step 9: Roll in out
- Get all your book club members on the same email list.
- Coordinate the email reminders to send to your members with your host, or automate them through your email software. (For example, if you use Mailchimp – talk to their customer service about setting up an autoresponder campaign. Write all your reminder emails before the course begins in one sitting. Automate them through your email software.) Set the weekly reminders to keep people reading on schedule, commenting on the forum, and attending live meetings.
- Make sure the host (which may be you) is ready for the book club meetings 10 minutes ahead of time. Lights on, doors open, book club guide and book ready. Create a warm, inviting atmosphere. Invite people to bring a cup of tea with them, or offer it if you can easily supply that without much additional effort).
Step 10: Get Feedback
As with any final step, you want to get feedback when it’s over. I use Wufoo forms because they are more stylized for my yoga peeps. Set up a survey where people can tell you about their experience, rate the book club, suggest a future book club book, make other suggestions and leave a testimonial for you to use in future PR about your yoga studio.
The yogic teaching on reflection is powerful. After you put something out into the universe, pause and notice what comes back. Then, incorporate your learning in your next endeavor.
And let me know how it goes! I want your yoga studio book club to be a grand success with every book. I can improve this guide if you send me your suggestions.
Set your yoga peers, teachers, and studio up for an engaging transformational experience. You will set your studio apart from the rest.
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