AM is a complete experience—an asana studio, meditation studio, 365 program, teAM and community events. It's yoga for the people. Anywhere and everywhere. And that's exactly what co-owners Ashley Yost and Mali Jane wanted.
What prompted your decision to become an entrepreneur?
We know with all our being that we are meant to share this practice with everyone, everywhere—to help break down barriers to a daily practice and teach others the power of meditation and yoga. We have spent the last year and a half teaching classes in various places in Grand Rapids, for the community. While it was great, we knew we needed to build a permanent home where we can share daily yoga and meditation. Hence the studio, and becoming entrepreneurs.
What have you done to create and grow a successful business?
Luckily, we recognized very early that what we love—teaching yoga and meditation—needed to be supported by more than just us. The class schedule in itself is a tall order: seven days a week, averaging five classes a day. We aligned ourselves with those who also love this practice, but knew and could do things we couldn't. These people support us and make it possible to fine-tune our teaching on a daily basis. We have our yoga mentors and our business mentors. As it turns out, we love the business as much as the yoga.
Just as we know we can't be in business without others, we also know that our dual teaching method is an integral part of the practice. Therefore, we designed a teacher training and have 11 teachers that offer guidance in the studio.
Above all else, we stay true to our mission to be the best we can be and to offer that to the community. We have a teAM approach that allows companies and organizations to bring the practice on-site to their employees. Practicing this way has literally transformed workplace culture to be more inclusive and creative. We also have Community Clubs that are donation-based classes and take place in interesting and fun places like the patio at Donkey Taqueria or the Grand Rapids Ballet stage, along with Blue 35 and Switchback. Our studio is also for the community, and we have opened it up to local artists to display their works to a pop-up audience once a month on a Friday evening.
Meditation has also been a core component of our practice. It is the single greatest gift you can give yourself and those around you. Again, we are trying to break down barriers and misconceptions, so we recently did an online, three-day meditation challenge where over 300 people were able to experience meditation from the comfort of their own home. We plan to launch a meditation pod cast series as well.
What is the greatest or most interesting lesson you've learned so far?
That anything is possible when you have the support of others.
What are a few of your favorite things about being an entrepreneur?
- To have the freedom to share the practice fully as we were taught by our teachers.
- To create jobs and a space for people to come and just be exactly as they are.
- Being able to do what we love every day as our "job."
- That we have a platform to be able to help out the community.
What sets you and your business apart from others?
We practice every day. Literally every day. This isn't usually the case for many who open studios or teach. We are committed to our own practice, which then shifts our students' practice. We took yoga out of the studio in big ways to not just talk about how we love community, but to actually put it into action. We're energetic in the fact that we're dynamic, interactive, living, breathing and practicing. With our dual method of teaching, you become completely immersed in a dynamic yoga experience—being taught with both hands and words, as well as having two present sets of eyes there to support you.
We teach what we teach because we have personally experienced the change that a daily practice makes in our bodies and minds—in our LIVES. Because of this, our teaching style fosters a dialogue-style practice rather than dictation, allowing us to create a freeform practice based on our own experience.
We have listened and heard the barriers that keep people from what they need—whether it be yoga, meditation or pranayama. Our goal is to remove these barriers and make it accessible to everyone. Give the practice back to the people, rather than some elite, exclusive club. We're here with you.
What advice would you offer those who ponder following their dreams?
Take up a yoga practice.
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. They don't stop at "no"—and they persevere through risks and rewards. When West Michigan Woman sought nominations of local woman entrepreneurs to feature as our cover story, the response was outstanding—as are the women our readers selected. All are in the earlier stages of their endeavors. All have a story to tell. To read the published article introducing these women, click here.