I Just Want To Get Along

By Stephen Ewashkiw | August 26, 2013

5922 km so far.

One of the reasons I started my pop-up yoga class in the Silver Lake Meadow in Los Angeles was to help bring students from the great studios in the area together, to share knowledge and friendship.

I wanted to also encourage the yoga studios in Los Angeles to talk to each other, to support each other, to share knowledge and students, to help make the whole community stronger as a result.

If you know a little about yoga, or a lot, you might assume that everyone gets along, hangs out, and sings kirtan together watching the sunset. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

stephen in an old phone box in malmo sweden

Hello, I’d like to make a collect call.

Talking to yoga studio owners and teachers on our trip, we have discovered that the way things are in Los Angeles isn’t unique. Everyone has their stories to share of a studio owner who fired a teacher for being friends with someone from another studio, studios that refuse to advertise one another’s workshops, and studios that just can’t get along.

This makes me sad and I would love to find a way to help them see that what’s good for the one is good for the many.

Yoga Studios Could Learn From Coffee Roasters

As part of our trip I have visited coffee roasters all over Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. What has stood out is how friendly they are, how much they love what they do, and how they are desperate to tell you about other roasters you should go visit.

That’s right, they send you to the competition.

Or, as the owner of Te Och Kaffehuset told us, when we met him at Solde, where he was enjoying a coffee:

We’re not competitors. We’re friends.

We stopped in at Solde because our friend Markus works in the same building as their roaster and told us it was excellent. It is.

When we were there they asked if we were visiting other roasters in town, and I said we were planning to go to Lilla Kafferosteriet, which had been recommended to me by Matts, from da Matteo in Gothenburg. The barista at Solde then recommended a third roaster I should visit in town. Yes, they told me to go to their competition. This is so inspiring.

coffee machine solde coffee malmo sweden

The coffee family, at Solde in Malmö.

At Lilla, I met the owner, and we talked about their expansion plans, and the amount of care their roaster puts into his craft. Filip, their roaster, was out for lunch so we didn’t meet, but I learned that he has been to Ethiopia with USAid to learn more about their growing process, has brought their Brazilian farmer to Malmö to meet the customers who consume his beans, and helps organise the Cup Of Excellence award.

He also teaches baristas from other coffee shops how to make great coffee. Some of the bigger chains in Sweden send their baristas to Lilla to learn the craft, so they can serve their customers better coffee.

Yes, that’s right. He trains the baristas from the Swedish equivalent of Starbucks, his direct competition, so that everyone has better coffee.

Yoga Is As Yoga Does

If yoga studio owners could set aside their capitalist mind-set and practice their yoga a bit more in their business lives, it seems to me we would all benefit. Take your passion, your love for yoga, and apply it to every action.

half timbered building malmo sweden

Lovely half-timbered office in Malmö.

Yoga is a practice you can bring to everything. We talk of taking yoga off the mat and into our lives. I would love to see studios take it off the mat and into their studio.

Instead of competing for the existing yogis out there, wouldn’t it make sense to work together to bring new people to yoga? This is how we spread the joy yoga brings, not by jealously holding on to what we’ve already got.

The more your students experience, the more they will learn what they like. If you provide them with excellent teachers and teachings, they will keep coming back to you. And then they will tell their friends, who will become your new customers.

And so on…  

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  1. Comment by stone

    stone September 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    When you two get back to LA I want to try one of Stephen’s Yoga classes. I’m still a newbie though.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 6, 2013 at 1:40 am

      You might have to wait a while :). There are lots of great teachers I can recommend if you’re looking for one. Great to hear from you!

  2. Comment by Taina

    Taina August 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Very inspirational and well said Stephen!

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen September 13, 2013 at 1:04 am

      Thanks Taina. Come hang out in Berlin. We are here for another couple of weeks.

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