YSBEC Success Stories: Citizen Yoga


Jennifer Wilson’s yoga journey began as a dancer in California, continued as a yoga student in India and an instructor in Canada, and eventually lead to being the owner of her own studio, Citizen Yoga, located in York Region.

Wilson trained at the highly regarded Himalayan Yoga Valley, learning the intricacies of yoga practice through its teacher-training program. She was successful with her training and became an independent yoga instructor, travelling from studio to studio teaching her craft.

Co-founder Jamielee Smith was also an independent yoga instructor, travelling from studio to studio to teach. Together, Wilson and Smith decided to open Citizen Yoga so that students could come to them and they could continue to share their yoga journey with others.

“My decision to open a studio with a partner was based on continuing to have balance in my life, “ says Wilson, “owning a yoga studio comes with the responsibility to practice what I teach and that is to maintain balance in one’s life. Having a partner has allowed me to make decisions with more confidence, I feel supported and it’s nice to have someone share the risk and reward that comes along with being self-employed. “

That journey to opening and owning a studio was not without its challenges.

“Deciding to open the studio was easy,” says Wilson “the biggest challenge was finding funding. We needed to renovate studio space and figure out our opening costs.”

Luckily, a friend recommended she visit the York Small Business Enterprise Centre where she found the information she was seeking. She received information on finding and securing funding, and even had help revising a business plan and creating a cash flow chart.

“The Business Consultant was always available to assist and had some really great ideas” says Wilson. “We had a huge amount of help from everyone at YSBEC. Helping us complete the cash flow chart was extremely important. We had no idea how to do that!”

Wilson and Smith credit YSBEC with helping them complete a grant program, Starter Company, and acquire the needed renovation and opening funds so that they could begin their new entrepreneurship journey and open Citizen Yoga.

Today, Wilson and Smith have a full schedule sharing their yoga journey with their students. There is a full complement of classes for all levels of students, and they have even introduced a teacher training program with the expectation of having five students graduate in June 2015. They look forward to growing their brand, hiring new teachers, and expanding the teacher-training program.

Citizen Yoga offers yoga classes to people from all across York Region. They offer alignment-based classes that allow students the opportunity to move their bodies in a safe and encouraging way. “Citizen Yoga” refers to the fact that we are all citizens of the earth. Wilson and Smith aspire to inspire students and foster a united community of enthusiastic yoga students.

Wilson’s passion is yoga. As an instructor, she wants to share this passion with her students. At her studio, she and co-founder Smith, encourage their students to go on a journey – one that can take an entire lifetime.

You can learn more about Citizen Yoga and continue following this local York Region success story at citizenyoga.ca

Dianne Stott is a writer of CanadaOne.com, a free resource site for small business owners in Canada.

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