What would it feel like to do what you love for a living? How should you get started? For inspiration and to hear from someone who’s been there and done that, I spoke with Martin Scott, a San Francisco-based yoga instructor and founder of MartinYoga. Martin articulated his unique story about discovering his passion for yoga, opening a yoga studio and what it’s like to do what you love for a living. It was so inspiring! Here is Martin in his own words…
Where did your passion for yoga start? Why did you get into it?
I never knew I wanted to get into yoga, it was never part of the plan. I got started out of curiosity, really. I was going to the gym but it wasn’t working and yoga was becoming popular in the 90’s so i just tried it. I went to a class at Yoga Tree here in SF. I was nervous, it was my first class and I was self-conscious about being a beginner. There was a man at the front of the room and i asked him, “Are you the teacher?” and he simply replied “yes”. He wasn’t very friendly. I enjoyed the class for the movement, the poses, the breathing and mindfulness. Seeking more likable instructors, I tried other classes and soon discovered different yoga practices and teachers. I met students and made friends, it became a lifestyle. Soon after, I found a teacher who I really connected with, Stephanie Snyder. Stephanie was chanting and OM’ing, it felt like church. Before long, i couldn’t be there enough!
What were you doing before yoga?
I was a business manager for wholesale and retail companies. I worked on product distribution and did a lot of excel spreadsheets. I was also a partner in an Interior Design firm and we owned a home furnishings and gift shop together.
What led you to become a yoga teacher and eventually open a studio?
I essentially became a yoga teacher by accident. I’m a goal-oriented person and sought the yoga teaching certification for fun and to learn. Part of earning the certificate was to teach students so i taught my friends. Even after I earned the certificate, my friends still wanted me to teach them. At the same time, my partner was encouraging me to pursue my dreams so in 2009, i pursued yoga teaching opportunities. I went to SportsClub L.A. and taught the early morning class. Thanks to my experience in my day job, i felt like I could speak the language of the corporate clients at SportsClub L.A. so I landed the teaching job. Soon I was teaching but still working and at that time, my partner encouraged me to open a yoga studio. We closed our shop due to the 2008 recession but we still held the lease on the building. Initially, i said “no” to the idea of transitioning the building into a yoga studio but my teacher, Stephanie Snyder, encouraged me to not turn down the opportunity. So, i finally said “yes” and opened the yoga studio. For the first class, I held a fundraiser benefiting a non-profit that helped at-risk youth in under-served communities. The first class was packed but the next class had 1 student. Then 5 students. Then 0. Then 3. So, it took a year before things really took off and became sustainable but along the way, i stuck with the intention, which was to provide a safe, judgement-free space for anyone who had an interest in yoga. This intention was the purpose and mission of yoga and it was, for me, more important than money in the bank.
Any advice to beginners hoping to eventually teach yoga and open their own studio?
I would say just be clear about your intentions. Start small, don’t quit your day job. Be dedicated, even if there’s 1 student, teach the class like it’s 100. It’s about gratitude and humility. Be SO grateful for that 1 student! It’s also about teaching the principles of yoga first and making money second. Also, make sure a yoga studio is the right fit for you and vice versa. Finally, say “yes” to opportunities when starting out… Just show up!
Any final advice for those considering taking the plunge to follow their passions?
Just be open and receptive to what comes your way in life, you never know what’s around the corner. For me, simply being able to teach yoga is the greatest gift that i never knew i wanted!