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With $5 Classes, Nashville's Small World Yoga Has a Mission to Heal the Community - Yoga Journal

Live Be Yoga: This Nashville Studio Is Showing the Yoga World How to Make $5 Classes Sustainable

With donation-based classes and booming outreach programs, Small World Yoga has a bold business model that can bring healing to a wide range of communities. Here, the Live Be Yoga team sits down with executive director and founder Liz Veyhl to find out how she made it happen.
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Small World Yoga in Nashville

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Jeremy Falk and Aris Seaberg are on a road trip across the country to share real talk with master teachers, explore innovative classes, and so much more—all to illuminate what's in store for the future of yoga. 

Liz Veyhl was an avid runner and a multitalented athlete who grew up playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. She never had any intention of stepping into a yoga class, but when a collegiate yoga teacher’s persistent invitations finally got the best of her, she was instantly hooked. It helped her heal from running injuries, but that wasn't all. “It was the most challenging thing I had done in my whole life, mentally and physically," she recalls.

After 13 years of practicing in Nashville, Veyhl has seen a lot of changes in Music City’s yoga landscape. People used to hesitate engaging with yoga because they wondered if it conflicted with Christianity. Now, churches regularly reach out to Veyhl to hold classes at the request of their congregations.

In fact, with the help of Veyhl, yoga has permeated many pockets of the Nashville community. After seeing a ripple of healing take hold after she volunteered to teach at a women’s recovery center, Veyhl founded her nonprofit Small World Yoga and quickly expanded to offer more outreach programs. When yoga helped a man in prison wean off his arthritis medications, sleep better, and cultivate positive tools to reintegrate into society, it was clear that bringing yoga into these spaces was not only a benefit to those in need, but for their neighbors as well. 

With stories like this, Liz has become inundated with local teachers asking how they can be of service. As a result, her team now stands at more than 100 volunteer teachers who donate their time to an array of outreach programs in the greater Nashville area.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Small World Yoga is funded primarily by foundations, like the Boedecker Foundation. Not only does this level of support allow Small World Yoga to offer free classes, but it also facilitated a move into a studio space. Now that Vehyl's organization has a physical location, it can consistently offer a full schedule of donation-based yoga classes. These donation-based classes make yoga accessible to those in the community who cannot easily afford the standard $15 to $20 studio classes elsewhere. At the same time, donations help maintain a sustainable business model by funding outreach programs and paying teachers a fair market rate. 

Another exciting element in Small World Yoga's portfolio is Music City Yoga Festival, which was started in 2013. The humble nonprofit has raised between $20,000 to $30,000 from each event in the last few years, and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward supporting and growing the organization as a whole. By curating an impressive yoga lineup, people from all over the surrounding areas come together for a day full of fun and flows, which in turn feeds into their mission of helping people heal on the mat. 

Our time with Vehyl demonstrated that Small World Yoga is truly living the prayer Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my actions contribute to the happiness and freedom of all.

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