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Lessons From The First Week of Opening a Kundalini Yoga & Meditation Studio

Kundalini Yoga at The Pallas Week 1

Lessons From The First Week of Opening a Kundalini Yoga & Meditation Studio

I recorded this episode exactly one week into opening The Pallas Kundalini Yoga & Meditation studio in Dobbs Ferry, NY. I share my initial takeaways and lessons from the first week – from taking responsibility for everything to setting boundaries to prioritizing my own practice. And of course teaching. Thank you all for being part of this journey with me and for the love and support getting the doors open! – Shakti Sita

“The first sign of a Teacher is that you are contained, you are content, and you are very continuously dependable. Your behavior reflects it.” Yogi Bhajan, August 3, 1996

Show Notes:


Sat Nam this is Shakti Sita. Welcome back to the Crown Yourself podcast. I am one week exactly out from the grand opening, soft opening. It’s really a soft opening of the Pallas Kundalini Yoga and Meditation studio in Westchester, New York Dobbs Ferry to be specific. I mean, I can’t even believe it’s only been a week. I’ve taught 13 classes and I mean, I honestly, I feel like the luckiest person in the whole world. I’m just blown away by these teachings and by this practice and by how people are just finding this space through the bat signal of Kundalini yoga. I literally just meditate and then people show up. I know that sounds a little weird, but it’s not. It absolutely makes sense and it’s really cool to be a witness of it.

I figured I would share some of the takeaways. I’m processing the takeaways from this first week still. I haven’t necessarily had tons of downtime. That’s definitely one of the characteristics of having a studio open for the first week. And I still have my very rigorous Sadhana and part of opening the studio is maintaining and sustaining my practice and everything that I’m able to offer as a teacher is bolt upon that. So that comes as priority number one. And today, I’ve done two and a half hours of my own practice plus taught three classes. It’s been a good day. I have nothing to complain about really. I mean that.

I think there was definitely one day where I was blown out, which if you’ve practiced Kundalini yoga, you know that feeling where it was like I was super, super tired, but I had so much energy moving through my system and it was just like I was just blown out. There’s usually a couple of things that you need. It’s usually just sleep, food, TV, the basics, water. And luckily, based on how my schedule is, I’m able to kind of get a nice chunk of time every few days even though I am teaching every single day. And that’s still deliberate. I want to hit a nice chunk of time of teaching consecutively and see how that impacts my system and my teaching abilities or my ability to stay open as a teacher.

One of the things that I learned quickly in swimming is that you take a day off and you have to start from scratch. We would take Sunday off every week. And actually there was a big piece of me that was like, “Why do we do that? Because it just seems like we have to start from square one on Monday.” We use Sunday as like a recovery day. But anyone who is practicing Kundalini knows that we meditate every single day. And the true depth of our practice is in the meditations that we really do consistently no matter what and we never miss a day.

There’s something to be said about the consecutiveness of doing something and not taking a day off. Actually one could say that’s why I’m such a good worker. I don’t think I’ve taken a day off since the day I graduated college or even before then. I was thinking about that today actually because someone commented on a certain number of skills that I have. I’ve gotten a few comments about being able to do it all. It’s not that I was born this way. I learned it. I taught myself. I hustle my butt off, not in like a burn yourself out way all the time. I have a thirst for learning. I genuinely love learning and there’s a hunger for learning that can’t be taught.

And so for me, part of the reason I know how to do a lot of things is because I don’t take time off. I actually really genuinely enjoy doing and going and learning and seeing and doing, mostly doing because the best way to learn is by doing. And if you’re paying attention, then you know why I’m teaching Kundalini yoga because I’m still learning. I want to see how deep this goes. I’m obsessed with it. And I want to be a true student. And the way to be a student is by doing. And so, anyway, don’t take days off, and if you’re swimming, try not taking Sundays off. I bet it’ll make you faster. I wish I had done that in college. It probably would have worked out way better.

So anyway, for this first week, I just jotted down a quick little acronym as a nod to my favorite yogi, Lara Heimann, who loves acronyms. Being a PT, she constantly uses acronyms. And the acronym that came to mind was just FIRSTT because it’s my first week and there’s a newness and it’s fresh. And I kind of want this recorded because I want to remember what that first week was like. And I actually haven’t had that much time to write. That’s been one of the things that I had to deprioritize. And I write very often every single day. I’ve still been writing, just not like writing, if that makes sense.

So anyway, the F stands for the element of fire, meaning go, do, create. There’s things that need to be done and you have to do them. So if you’re thinking about opening a yoga studio or any kind of studio or anything, the fire element is very much alive during the first week. It’s on you. It’s your child, and you have to do the thing, and you have to be the one that shows up. And even if you have people helping you, it’s still yours. So, I’ve had trouble motivating others to clean the studio and I had a very strong realization that, you know who changes the baby’s diaper? Mom. Mom changes the baby’s diaper. And this has nothing to do with that. Yogi Bhajan says, “If you work, you’re a clerk and you’re not an executive unless you’ve been able to basically delegate to other people.”

And maybe that’s true. Maybe I am just a clerk, but that said, I’m also a new mom, and maybe I just need to change the baby’s diaper myself. And so a fire element. Just be ready to do it all. And the thing that I know from creating a lot of different businesses and working on a lot of different startups is that the best leaders are the ones who know how to do every single job. No one can pull a fast one on you as a leader who knows how to do every job because they know when you’re BS-ing them basically because you know how to do it, and it makes you a really strong leader because you also know when you’re delegating tasks that are really difficult or that aren’t that fun because you know exactly what they entail. It’s a very, very, very important thing to be able to do. I think before you delegate, you must know how to do each job. Otherwise you just put yourself in a very vulnerable position where if you lose someone and then you can’t do the job, then that’s tough.

I wrote down another F because there’s no rules with this. The other one is friends, and wow, the friends in my life, I am speechless by how they’ve shown up in so much love and support and through words, through actions and just the energy of love. And I’m just so grateful. So thank you to all of my dear, dear friends. I am so lucky to have you in my life. And to be able to do something like this with support is just profound.

I is imagine the best. So this is important because you have to have it. Any good business owner has a really, really, really good imagination. There’s that picture on the internet of what Amazon looked like before it was Amazon. It was like a cardboard sign that just said Amazon on it, and it looks like it’s in a garage maybe or just some dingy office building. And there’s an imagination there though that leaders have and they have to have. You always have to be in the energy of envisioning and imagining the best to be what’s going on. And part of the imagination is you’re holding the vibration of the thing that you’re heading towards.

So one of the practices that my teacher Guru Jagat has emphasized very strongly is that if a student doesn’t show up, if the room’s empty, you teach anyway. And this is something that Yogi Bhajan did and some of his best lectures were given to a completely empty room. And we also know that the room is actually never empty. There’s plenty of energies moving through and around. And so you teach anyway. Let’s see. I had 13 classes this week and three of them were my greatest fan club, the unseen realm. And man, they were cheering. It was good. It was great. And I know it’s working because I’m having dreams and I have dozens of people in the room in these dreams. That wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t holding a strong enough vision of that.

And the classes that been full have been profound and amazing, but they’ve all been great. I love every single one of them. I’m not kidding you. I have enjoyed every, every single class. So far, so good, guys. So something that Yogi Bhajan says, he says, “You can either go after 200 million things and you’ll never get what you are running after or you can just be there, vibrate and let things come to you. Be the powerhouse. Be the magnet.”

I get that. I think a lot of us do. And so part of prioritizing my own practice and part of teaching to an empty room is creating that magnet, creating that vacuum, vibrating at the thing, at the frequency of what I’m holding [inaudible 00:12:56] and energetically, not necessarily in reality. The studio for the first time is now in reality. But up until right now it’s just been hanging out in my aura. I’ve just been pulling the items out of it and putting them into physical form. The same exact thing is happening with this. And again, just by how people are finding this studio, it’s unbelievable. You couldn’t teach this in marketing because it’s not normal marketing. And I think Teej has some pretty good stories about this because people, well basically be like, “Yogi Bhajan showed up in my dream and told me that I need to come to your class today.” I think that’s like the best marketing of all time. So that’s the dam I’m going for and it’s been fun.

Okay, next, R. R as in responsible. You are responsible for everything. This just goes back to the fire and you need to be the mom or this is what I’ve learned that I need to just be the mother here of this whole situation. And part of being responsible is being able to own up to the things that aren’t going right or that aren’t working and taking responsibility for hiring the wrong person or scheduling a class at the wrong time or the million things that go wrong, “are all of my responsibility.” There’s no one to shirk it off on. So that is a very sobering thing for a lot of anytime that there’s like actual, it’s your responsibility. You can’t shirk that on anyone. That’s why people don’t want to be business owners by the way, because it is your responsibility.

And the people that I see just kicking butt, shout out to my neighbor Becca, who owns barre3 just around the corner from the studio. She is just such a powerhouse of a entrepreneur. And she teaches and she runs a studio and she manages 17 employees or something. I mean, it’s amazing. The way she runs that place is phenomenal. And she is a great example of someone who’s just responsible. She’s just responsible for her space. She takes responsibility for everything that’s going on. And it’s so amazing to have people like her in my life and I’m just so grateful.

Another one for R because, again, there’s no rules here. R as real. Real as keep it real. So, I’m not trying to put on a show. I’m keeping it real, meaning I’m keeping it true to the teachings. I know what I’m offering and I’m not going to stray from that and I’m not going to be looped into what some willy nilly thing. This is Kundalini yoga and that’s what I’m offering. And so I’m teaching the teachings as they’re taught. And then I’m keeping it real with myself. So I’m not trying to play the teacher, go into the teacher voice and like, “Here we are, class.”

And then also I’m trying to keep it real on social media as well, which is very hard because everyone just has their own interpretation of whatever they see no matter what. But I am. I’m trying to keep it as real as I can and I’m hoping that I can produce more video content that will help contextualize some of the things that I’m putting out there. Because often the reason things don’t come across as genuine or real or whatever is because they’re taken out of context. So contextualizing is definitely a goal soon.

Another thing that Yogi Bhajan says, he says, “The first sign of a teacher is that you are contained, you are content, and you are very continuously dependable, and your behavior reflects it.” Very continuously dependable. So there you go. R for responsible. Dependable is another word for it. It’s just not letting yourself down and not letting others down and not participating in a let down. It’s a beautiful way to try to live and to strive for being.

S stands for steady goes it and sleep, oh, and set boundaries. So lots of S’s. Steady goes it. This is a little long game ,and a lot of the entrepreneurial businesses that I’ve been a part of in the startup realm, one of the things that they just completely lacked was a steadiness. It was very much like let’s launch this and sell and move on with our lives and buy a yacht and go sail around the Mediterranean. But S is not for sail around the Mediterranean. It is actually for steadiness and that steadiness is something that everyone is looking for. You’re looking for in yourself. You’re looking for it in others. You’re looking for it in companies. You’re looking for it everywhere. Steadiness and reliability and and that kind of cadence and rhythm of someone who’s just in it, it’s so attractive and so amazing. And we all hit it from time to time. And of course I’m just trying to up my percentage of time that I’m in that steadiness.

Sleep. Sleep is super important. Sleep when you can kind of like having a baby. So I guess S should also be for Sadhana. But I feel like that’s just a given, given everything I’ve already said about Sadhana. But sleep and Sadhana, they always go hand-in-hand for me, meaning it wakes me up from sleep and then I go back to sleep. So get up for Sadhana and then get some sleep. And if I am teaching in the middle of the day, if I have time to sneak a quick 11 minute gong nap in, that’s been helpful. I don’t think I’ve used the gong though. I think I actually slept to some mantras. But those 11 minute naps are really, really helpful, and especially for women. So if you find your eyelids starting to feel tired, try taking an 11 minute nap, put on a mantra or put on a gong track and see how you feel in 11 minutes. And it’s been great for this week.

Set boundaries. Yeah. Boundaries are good. Boundaries, meaning in a lot of ways you have to have your clear boundaries with your students and how long you’re willing to chat and all that stuff. Also, boundaries with your staff or people who are helping you out and what your expectations and where your limitations are. And then also boundaries with yourself. Meaning, here’s what I know I’m going to be able to do today and this is it. If I go past this point, fine. So for me, a boundary that I have is I’m not cooking dinner. It’s the first week I’m opening this thing. Dinner is de prioritized. I have looked at my list of things, and I can’t cook in the middle of all of this. So that’s a boundary that I’ve just had to set and it’s working. Not that I haven’t eaten, I’ve eaten plenty. But for the first week, that’s what’s going on.

It’s also setting boundaries with people that you’re willing to engage with and just deciding how you want to handle customers who aren’t happy or who are really happy. There’s the whole spectrum, guys. It’s really great actually. I think my percentage is spot on. Thirty-three percent of people are going to love you. Thirty-three percent of people are going to be whatever, super mildly indifferent. And then 33% of people are probably going to hate you or just not be into you. You’re not their thing. And that’s fine. It’s the rule of threes.

I had one person tell me that that’s not for her. And I’m like, “That’s great. Good. Bye.” Onward. That’s the thing. We don’t have to focus on that. And actually Gary Vee just said something pretty interesting about that. He’s like, “If you don’t like the negative comments or the negative feedback, it’s because you’re giving too much weight to the positive feedback.” That’s a really astute yogic observation. So, you don’t get too excited about the positive and you also don’t get too excited about the negative. You maybe don’t even get excited. It’s just you’re doing your thing.

And actually that’s been one of the things that’s been really refreshing for me about this new role, I guess you could call it a role, is that I feel very good. I feel good just leaning on like, “No, this is what I’m doing and I’m going to do it rain or shine, customers, no customers. I don’t care. I’m doing it come whatever. And the door is open, and I’d love for people to join me and I know people will and they have. But it’s like whatever. I’m doing my thing, this is my thing. That’s that.” When you’re doing your thing, you can’t really be bothered or swayed because it’s your thing. Okay. Ah, okay.

So T, I wrote “Tell people.” You should tell people. You should tell people you’re open. It’s marketing 101. You should tell people. So after you imagine and visualize and have that vision of what’s coming and what’s happening energetically, you do actually have to tell people. So, put it out on Instagram. Put it out on social media. And I think there’s this little energetic bubble of fear that a lot of us have potentially from past lives of being persecuted for sharing our voices. But I view it as my responsibility to just let people know. I’m not trying to convince anyone to come in, but my responsibility is to let people know that the studio exists. And so I hope to get better about that part of it is actually telling people. That goes hand in hand with being seen, which it can be scary. S is not for scary. S is for steady. So telling people.

And then the final T, because it’s first with two T’s, is teach. And so teaching, it’s profound. And that’s why I’m doing it. And so constantly teaching no matter what and always being a student in the process of that is everything that this is built upon and it’s such a beautiful thing to experience, and I feel really, really, really lucky. I know I said that already. But I’ve learned things from my classes. It’s fascinating. It’s utterly fascinating. I’ve come home and I’m like, “Wow, that was really interesting observation.” things that are coming out of my mouth. I’m like, “Aha! Didn’t even think of that.”

There was one that I had. Oh, I was trying to compare. I was talking about why we’re working with the breath. So we’re talking about the importance of our voice and why we have to love our own sound current and how powerful that is. And then I was like, “And that’s what we’re working on today.” But then I was like, “Wait a second, we’re not doing any mantra. Why did I just say that?” I had this very deep breath work prepared. And then it just dropped in. I saw it and it was like, “Oh, because the more prana we move, the more projection our voice has. So that’s actually a major part of our voice and our sound current is how much prana we have in our body.” And I had this realization because I was learning all about speakers, which apparently like the bigger the speaker, the more it moves, and the more air a speaker moves, the louder it can project.

And so I had this huge aha of, “Oh my God, we are just big speakers. So we need a lot of air so that we can move a lot of sound. And if we want to live with a lot of sound, we need a lot of air. So we need to do pranayam if we want to sound really good.” I mean, whoa. And so this is all just dropping in the middle of a class, coming out of my mouth. I’m like wow. But it’s crazy cause then even at the end of class, I didn’t remember it. I had to actually be… There was some point that I was making, and it was there, and then I don’t remember it. What was I saying about the speaker and then, yeah, that was really, really cool. That was really cool.

Yogi Bhajan says, he says, “Folks, when I teach a class, I sometimes ask my staff to transcribe a lecture of mine and send it to me. I want to see what I’ve taught. It looks good.” He’s in a trance. He’s a channel. He’s an open vehicle for this energy to come through. And so, if you learn something in your own class, that’s a very great day. It is. It’s a good day, and this is a great day. I feel really blessed and really lucky to be here and to be alive. If you are thinking about opening a studio, take note of what my first week was like. The main thing is that you have to know why you’re doing it. Why do you want to teach? Why do you want to open a studio? For me, I’m doing this because I need to. I practice every day because I need to, and I’m genuinely curious about this and I want to see, I want to learn, I want to experience more. So that’s why I’m doing it. And so I can do this until I run out of money.

I would definitely say make sure you have some savings if you’re going to open up a space. Things do, in my case, did end up costing much more than I originally jotted out on a napkin. Know why you’re doing it. That’s all. If it’s for a very deep reason, you’re going to be fine. And if it’s because you think it’s the cool thing to do, then that… I thought being a news producer was cool. It sucks. I’m sure that there’s people who do it, who it is their calling, but man, that is a rough job. That is just tough. And given this news cycle right now, I don’t envy that career. This is definitely my path as it is right now lying out before me, brick by brick or track by track and that’s all I can do. That’s all I can follow and that’s all any of us can do. So keep following that, the train tracks, as the train is coming. You’re the train, and you can’t see more than about two feet ahead of you, but just make sure they’re your tracks and that’s it.

Let’s see. Am I leaving? I’m trying to challenge myself. Am I leaving anything hard out? Yeah, I mean other than trying to navigate who’s cleaning the studio, that was an interesting one. And my mats aren’t holding up as well as I was anticipating them too, which is a little bit of a bummer. But, no, I don’t think there’s really anything else crazy. I mean it’s just been really nice, and now I need to figure out where to go from here. It’s more like, okay, what’s next? Because now I have some workshops coming up. So I’m doing full moons. Solar eclipse is coming up. Solstice is coming up.

I’m going to do something for New Year’s, which is really exciting. Calling it Prana Party at the Pallas and a New Year’s meditation celebration. So good times. And Westchester guys, this is a big deal. Dan and I used to have to go to the city for New Year’s and now we’ve created our own New Year’s finally. This feels great because there’s many weird New Year’s of trying to figure out what to do, and it’s a great alternative. It’s a whole different way of celebrating.

I also want to figure out a ribbon cutting type of situation to signify that I’m officially open once I’ve had a couple of weeks under my belt, and yeah. Let’s see what else. Staples is like your best friend if you don’t have your own printer, even if you do. I’ve been making everything. I’ve been making my flyers on little business cards, which is it’s great because you print 250 of them and it’s 10 bucks or something. Definitely recommend that if you’re not going green. And then I put the schedule on the back, but some people can’t read it because it’s a little tiny. So, little things, little things like that. But on the whole, I just feel insanely, insanely blessed and grateful. #blessed. Thank you all for your support and listening to this podcast. I am planning to have some amazing interviews coming up in the next few weeks. Just bear with me as I focus on my new child and changing its diaper. Lots of love to you, guys, and talk soon. Satnam.

Shakti Sita