Life is a constant exchange, of beauty and wisdom

Why You Need To Know About Social Media For Your Yoga Business, Even If You Don’t Think You’ll Ever Use It

Things used to be much simpler. If you set up a yoga class you might make some posters and/or flyers for your local area, list it in the Yellow Pages or the Free Ads, pop an advert in the local paper.

But nowadays people say you have to be on Twitter. And Facebook, Instagram and Google too. Perhaps you’ve even been told to send out e-newsletters or create You Tube videos? Even worse, someone might have suggested that you take bookings for your yoga class online.

But none of this seems relevant to you because the people that come to your class don’t use Twitter. Or book online.

Or do they?

77% of people in the UK bought something online in the last month. For every person in the UK there are 3.1 devices connected to the internet.

The UK population is the global number one when it comes to online activity! And those who are not using the internet themselves are doing so indirectly – by asking friends and family to research, or buy, online for them.

So maybe your customers are using Google, or Twitter, or Facebook.

For many yoga teachers being ‘online’ is not a priority. Delivering good quality yoga classes to loyal and committed students comes much higher up than working out how to use technology to send a Tweet or build a website. And so it should.

But as times change, faster than ever before, so do the needs of our yoga students. They are going to be searching online for classes near them, and if your class doesn’t appear on Google, then they won’t know it exists.

And we want them to know we exist so that we can share the amazing work that we do. Ironically the more we live our lives online, the more we need yoga!

It’s OK, you don’t necessarily have to become a master of Instagram selfies, or the top hit on You Tube. But you might want to have a mobile friendly website, an email list that doesn’t breach Data Protection rules and a way of reaching your customers on Facebook.

Knowing what is out there for you to use, so you can pick and choose what might help you reach your potential customers is vital to keeping your classes vibrant and alive with students. And you might even find that some of these tools, like e-newsletters and online booking actually reduce the admin workload that you have to deal with on a daily basis, and increase your income at the same time.

Of course it is essential that all this is done with the right attitude and intention, with honesty and integrity.

I call it marketing with ahimsa. Reaching out in the spirit of non-violence. Non-violence to your customer and, very importantly, non-violence to you as a teacher. It’s about finding ways to absorb these new approaches to marketing into your business without it being something you find uncomfortable or difficult.

I’m offering a day workshop of insight into all this on Friday 20 October 2017 at Inside Out Yoga Studio near Wakefield. We’ll look at the main social media networks, and a few key tools that I know will really help your yoga business flourish. But we’ll also be doing some lovely Dru Yoga to help remove any fear that you might have about trying out these things.

Advance Booking can be made online here

Or you can email or call me to ask questions or book over the phone:

Friday 20 October 2017
9:30 – 3:30pm
Inside Out Yoga Studio, Acanthus Golf Centre, Wakefield WF3 1SL
Find out more

purple yoga mats

#VATMESS: Why a new EU VAT law sucks for yoga teachers

Do you sell yoga eBooks or instructional videos online? Guided relaxation downloads? PDF guides to yoga?

If you sell these outside the UK, to people in the EU, then you need to know about a new EU law that is coming into force in January 2015 that will mean you are instantly liable for VATon everything you sellThis could have huge implications for you…

Why it sucks for yoga teachers

One thing that many yoga teachers find difficult is that their income is limited by their physical ability to teach. Whether you run your own sessions or are paid by a studio there is always a finite amount of yoga our bodies, and voices, can manage to teach in a week.

Being able to find extra money through what are known as ‘passive’ income streams, such as pre-recorded beginner’s courses, eBook or PDF how-to guides, can be really important, especially if you are on a teaching-break due to an injury or maternity leave. Often the market for these products is not limited to your locality, or even the UK, which makes them a great way to boost your (often meagre) income.

So what is this new EU VAT Law and how does it affect me?

From January 2015 a new EU VAT law means that anything that is sold digitally, and then downloaded by the purchaser, has to have VAT charged to it, at the rate set by the EU country where the person who is buying the product is currently situated.

There is no threshold so the seller (you) becomes liable to pay VAT after any sale at all, even just a £1 sale. Not only that but you have to pay VAT to the country the customer is in, and as a result you’ll probably have to pay it in the UK too.

VAT? Explain it to me

Currently in the UK if you turnover less than £81,000 a year you do not have to register for VAT.

This means that you do not need to charge VAT on your yoga classes or other services or things you sell if your turnover falls below £81,000 a year – most yoga teachers fall into that category I would think!

VAT is currently set at 20% in the UK so if you are VAT registered you have to either add 20% to all your prices, or lose 20% from your current income. Neither is an ideal scenario, and it is unlikely the benefit of getting VAT back on business purchases would outweigh the losses you would suffer in either income or customer numbers.

Confused? Here is an example

Alice is a yoga teacher living in Leeds, UK. She teaches yoga classes in her local church hall each week but also has an eBook on how yoga can help you deal with grief, which she sells to people all over the world via her website.

Alice sells her eBook to a customer who lives in Spain. They pay and download the book in Spain. Alice is now liable to pay VAT on the guide to the Spanish Government.

In order to do this she decides to register with a new system called VAT MOSS to help her deal with the complicated issue of paying VAT in a country she doesn’t live in and can’t speak the language of. But she also has to register for VAT in the UK as a result of signing up to VAT MOSS.

This means she now has to pay VAT of 20% on every booking she takes in her yoga classes, on her yearly retreat and all her workshops to the UK government. And she has to submit quarterly VAT returns to HMRC.

What else do the new rules apply to?

Here are a few things that yoga teachers sell that fall into the new rules

  • Downloads of videos – such as beginners courses or instructional guides to yoga postures
  • Audio downloads – such as guided relaxations or audio guides to yoga postures
  • PDF guides – such as the excellent Illustrated Yoga Asana
  • eBooks

What doesn’t fall into the ‘digital’ category?

If you offer a physical service, or something you have created as a one-off, you are OK. So for example selling yoga classes through an online booking system is fine because the customer comes to you and it is a hands-on exchange. Also if you do a live conference call or webinar to deliver your yoga classes to someone abroad (and it is not sold as a pre-recorded video) then that should be OK too.

Here is the HMRC’s quick guide

Argghhh! What can I do?

If this applies to you (and do take time to make sure it does, it won’t apply to everyone) then people are suggesting there are a few things you can do:

  • Only sell your digital products through a distributor/re-seller – they then pay the VAT but you will get much less for your product than selling directly
  • Stop selling your digital products to EU countries other than the UK
  • Register for VAT in the UK and VAT MOSS (think carefully about this)
  • Make your product free (hmmmm!)

Rachel Andrew has written an excellent article on how this new law will impact small businesses with lots of information on why you might or might not want to register for VAT, and other practical issues which have helped inform this blog. Read it here 

Can we stop it?

I have no idea but we can try! There is a lot of pressure being put on the UK government to ensure that the UK threshold for VAT applies to digital products sold in the EU, therefore removing the whole issue and meaning we can all sink back into Savasana.

Sign here

Thanks to Living Yoga with Stella for raising this issue on Facebook

Disclaimer: I am not a tax expert. The information in this blog has been researched online and all sources linked to above. The situation is very likely to change. For full and proper advice please consult an independent tax advisor and/or the HMRC. 

Edit: Initially I said that VAT returns had to be prepared by an accountant, which they don’t. Phew.

Testimonial from Graham Stones, Broken Yogi

“I recently worked with Lucy Bannister to help me get a little more savvy about how to use social media with my business. I run a service called Broken Yogi which provides treatment and yoga anatomy workshops for Broken Yogis, dancers and keen sports people.

Broken Yogi logo

I love my work but it’s hard running a business yourself, there is always so much to do. I want to spend my time focussed on my actual work which is why, for a long time I had been putting off learning social media. There were a few reasons that were stopping me from learning about it. Firstly I thought that it was going to be a long and difficult process getting to grips with it. Secondly I had been to a number of therapist conferences where there is always someone advertising their expertise on social media but it all seemed like a big financial commitment. Thirdly the people teaching these courses seemed a bit corporate and lacked the authenticity and ethical approach which I felt was so important.

When I met with Lucy there was much more of a personal and friendly approach, like hanging out with a good friend, it  didn’t seem worky or corporate at all. Her friendly and enthusiastic manner make it a joy to work with her and she is clearly very knowledgable and experienced in what she does. I found that her experience as a yoga teacher made the process so much more applicable to what I do, it means that I am not getting lost in unnecessary tangents of  social media. She has a great ability of keeping things focussed and specific to your needs which I greatly appreciate, the sign of a fantastic teacher.

As well as making the process feel more comfortable, working with Lucy gave me clarity of how I could use social media in an authentic and ethical way that fitted my beliefs. She is someone who not only has real professional experience in this field but also understands where we are coming from as yoga teachers and therapists.

I’m always looking to learn from great people and Lucy is definitely on my list of people to go to. Not only did Lucy cover everything I wanted to know but she also knew more about what I wanted than I did. She is exceptionally generous in her knowledge and obviously loves sharing her skills and experience to help people like me. I came away with much more than I thought I would! It really has been a huge help and like all masters she made it all seem so easy.

Social media doesn’t have to be hard, difficult, time consuming or scary, I only wish I’d met Lucy sooner. A lesson with Lucy is like plugging into the Matrix – Don’t waste anymore time, if you’re lucky enough to have found Lucy – use her. I promise you will not regret it and you will get more from it that you can imagine. We all want to hear what you have to say.”

Graham Stones
Physical therapist and Yoga teacher


Stay Safe Online – Why You Need to Change all Your Passwords Now

One of the things that puts people off using online services is security. There are scare stories and hoaxes all the time but real security breaches are actually quite rare.

However in the last week a genuine threat was discovered and it effects a number of commonly used services – such as Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, Instagram and many more – it is so far reaching it means it will impact on everyone. The name given to it is Heartbleed

The likelihood that your password, or personal data, has fallen into the wrong hands is small but it is advisable to start changing all your passwords straight away. Some services who have fixed the problem will email you to tell you to change your password this so if that happens don’t ignore it. Particularly if you use these services for your yoga business.

When you do change your passwords try to not use the same one for everything – it is important to use secure passwords rather than ones you can easily remember.

I use a service called Last Pass – it saves all your passwords for you and generates new secure passwords you can use so you don’t have to think new ones up all the time. And it can do security checks for you so you can check if any of the websites or services you used have been compromised by security problems like Heartbleed. It’s very simple. And I really can’t recommend it enough.

If you need help with any of this or have any questions about it please get in touch – leave a comment below or email me on

Create an online client registration form for yoga classes with Google Forms

Do you need your clients to give you information about themselves prior to coming to a yoga class or a therapy treatment? A really easy way to do this is to create an online form that sits on your website, so your new client can easily find it and send you the details you need without lots of emails or paper changing hands.

I have experimented with a few ways to do this but have found Google Forms to be a neat and free way to do it.

How do you create a Google Form?

  1. You need a Google account – if you don’t have one they are free and easy to set up. Go to and create a sensible username (you might use this more in the future and regret using something silly!) and set a password (make sure it is secure, you are going to be collecting personal data)
  2. Go to your Google Drive
  3. Click ‘Create’ and select Form
  4. Choose a template – keep it simple if you are adding it to your website so the designs don’t clash
  5. Start by adding a name for your form
  6. Then add in a title that your clients will see and a short description explaining what the form is for
  7. Add your fields – you can add text fields for name, address etc., multiple choice fields for things such as health conditions, checkboxes for yes and no answers and paragraphs for questions with longer, narrative answers
  8. You can set some questions to have required answers so have a think about what you absolutely need to know and what is just desirable, this will help your client fill in the form and not get frustrated if they don’t have an answer for everything, but also ensure the crucial information is not skipped over
  9. Preview your form and check that it works – make up a dummy client and fill in the answers so you know they make sense – and submit the form
  10. Return to the form and click on Responses (which should now show a 1 next to it). ‘View responses’ and it should offer to let you see them in a spreadsheet, which you should say yes to. From now on it will save all your responses in this spreadsheet, which is saved in your Google Drive and can be accessed independently to your form
  11. Go to the menu and chose File and then ‘Embed my form’, copy the code and paste that it into the HTML view of a new page of your website
  12. Publish your page on your website
  13. Bingo – you have a fully functioning form on your website. And if you need to update it, all you have to do is edit the Google Form and it will automatically update on your website
  14. Finally a note about data – when collecting personal data from clients you must abide by the Data Collection Act

Good luck with building your form.

If you do get stuck, which I am sure you won’t, or feel you’d rather get someone else to do it for you, then get in touch. I can build your form, and depending on how your website is built and hosted, add it to your site for you.

Prices start at just £20 for a basic form.

Email if you’d like to find out more.

Why Should a Yoga Teacher Have a Facebook Page?

Unless you are very lucky and have classes that fill themselves, you will be familiar with the need to market your yoga business to new students. Having a presence on the internet is a good way to do this, especially if you are teaching in a big city where it is harder to use word of mouth to advertise.

But being online isn’t just about marketing your classes, it is also about presenting yourself to the world in the same way you do in person – as a Yogi. You want new and existing students to be able to access information, wisdom and advice as well as just find out where you hold your classes.

I am a web editor by day and I spend a lot of time thinking carefully about how to present my place of work in the best possible light online. The irony of course is that when I get home at night, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer – I would much rather use the time to practice yoga.

So how can you maximise your time so you spend less on the computer and more on the mat?

Here a few tips to get you started:

  • Update your Facebook page regularly. You can upload photos, videos, links and inspiring quotes. You can also connect to other Yogis around the world, as well as your existing and potential students
  • Think carefully about what you write. The things you put on your facebook page (and your own personal profile if you have one) can be seen by many people so be aware of how you are communicating. Try to be positive and uplifting and you will see this has a great impact on others
  • Use your website as a resource. If you use the internet to find inspiration from other Yogis and well-being practitioners, make sure you show this on your website. Link to other people’s websites and share their photos, videos and blogs. Just make sure you always ask permission and credit people properly

If you want to talk more, get in touch. I offer one-to-one and small group sessions for yoga teachers and well-being practitioners on how to get started and making the best of your online presence, as well as copy writing and editing to help you get the words from your head and onto the screen.

Email me on or leave me a message at