FROM BLACK ENTERPRISE — What started as a way to achieve parental acceptance, has blossomed into yogapreneur, Dianne Bondy’s successful business, Dianne Bondy Yoga. Having struggled with body image for years, the East Side Yoga Studio founder has learned self-acceptance through the discipline of Yoga, inadvertently inspiring countless others to practice. After practicing for over 25 years, she’s developed a propensity for infusing spirituality into each pose.
In addition to running the studio, Bondy manages to find time to pen a column for the Elephant Journal, organize yoga retreats and train future Yoga teachers. When she says she wants to “help raise the vibration of the world,” we believe she is doing just that, making her an ideal pick for Blackenterprise.com’ s Yogaprenuer Series.
What was the impetus behind venturing into the health and fitness industry as an entrepreneur?
I always loved being physical and my parents really encouraged it as we were growing up. As a person with a weight issue, I needed to move. I quickly found that I was not alone in my feelings about my body image so I decided to share movement by teaching fitness. I was a group fitness instructor and personal trainer before finding my true love, Yoga.
How has business been going for you?
Very well, but I work extremely hard at it. It’s not without effort but the effort makes it very worthwhile and stimulating. I love sharing Yoga with my students. I also enjoy the business of marketing and getting to know the best ways to encourage people to invest in their health.
What resources did you use to start and grow your business?
I started very small. I ran combined fitness and Yoga classes in my church basement. I used my own savings to start my business. I started with 12 students and 3 classes and grew slowly. I do have a university degree and some training in business, which helped. I have since gone on to study with Yoga professionals on both teaching Yoga and building your Yoga business.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during difficult economic times?
Of course, attrition is always a problem in any service-based industry. I do keep my pricing competitive. I also offer help and incentives for those who need financial aid.
How has yoga changed your life?
It has made me so strong; strong in my spirituality, stronger in making connections with others and myself. It has also made me more observant, more focused, more compassionate, more loving and more aware of the flavors of life. Yoga has changed the way I look at the world. It has taught me how to find happiness.
What are some of the challenges you face being an African-Canadian in the Yoga space?
My largest hurdle is the media stereotype of Yoga, which currently is young, slim, flexible and white. I am youngish, big and black. People of color are underrepresented in Yoga. I would love to see more people of color, men and larger bodies on the mat. The problem is in attracting more diversity to Yoga.