ADDRESS: 511 NW 11th St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Subbappa Ribeiro
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 7
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1
WHAT THEY SELL: Iyengar yoga classes, private therapeutic yoga sessions, and yoga products (e.g., mats, bolsters, blocks, yoga DVDs)
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Subbappa utilizes research-based practices in all his classes. Trained by the founder, B.K.S. Iyengar, Subbappa emphasizes correct alignment and sequencing of the postures. He makes every attempt to meet the individual needs of his clients by offering breathing exercises, physical postures and philosophy grounded in practical applications. His classes create a small learning community that supports health of the heart, body, and mind.
When and why did you decide to start your business? I began teaching yoga in 1987 and received training in Iyengar yoga in Pune, India, beginning in 1991. I have more than 20 years of experience in the therapeutic application of yoga, so when my wife became employed at OSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, I decided to convert our detached garage into a yoga studio so that I could create a quiet sanctuary within a community atmosphere.
Tell us more about your products and services. I teach clients with various ailments including chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, depression, respiratory disorders and neuromuscular disease. I use a variety of specialized equipment like yoga ropes, bricks, bolsters and blankets, so that my clients can get a full range of motion to alleviate their symptoms and hopefully have a better quality of life. Many of my clients are over 50 years in age, thus the yoga props assist all ages in practicing the yoga postures. In my general classes, though, I work with all ages – from children as young as 4 years old through seniors as mature as 70 years old plus. In collaboration with the Mind Spa at OSU, I have provided consultation on yoga therapy and created a yoga DVD series. Finally, I also volunteer my studio for conducting adult, teen, and child meditation courses in collaboration with the Oregon Vipassana Meditation Trust.
What does being featured as the local Business of the Week mean to you? I’m very happy to be featured in the Business of the Week program because it means that more people will be able to hear about my business and will entertain the idea of coming in for a session or series.
Do you fill an unusual niche? I specialize in integrating yoga postures, pranayama (breathing), meditation, yoga sutras and philosophy in asanas as guided by B.K.S. Iyengarji. I offer much more than just breathing and physical exercises; I try to get to know the client so that I can get them to reach their optimum health goals through physical postures, breathing, and mental well-being. In my opinion, the two main keys for optimum health are awareness of breath and diet. If these are both kept in good condition, then a person is well on their way to optimum health.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? Since Corvallis is a small town, getting new clients is difficult because there are so many options in Corvallis for yoga classes. I usually rely on word of mouth. I also volunteer every weekend to teach children yoga, and I offer various support to the schools by teaching yoga concepts in K-5 classes, at school fairs, and for the past two years have donated a percentage of yoga class sales to local school PTA boards. I am a co-sponsor for the Crossroads International Film Festival, and I advertise through the Heart of the Valley children’s choir.
What does the future look like for local independent business owners? In Corvallis, there are more than 100 yoga instructors. So I would have to say it looks a bit difficult for future local independent business owners, at least yoga instructors. I feel that it’s important for me to know my clients on a personal basis so that we are able to better communicate, and I can better serve my clients’ needs. In Corvallis, being a local independent yoga instructor is not easy. Since I don’t market my business as other businesses do, my tactic of building relationships in the community generates a slower flow of clients, which impacts my business.
What do you like most about being a local independent owner? It gives me the freedom to choose what I would like to teach and the flexibility to select what is best for each individual client. I also like to collaborate with other institutions, and thus I currently teach students at Linn Benton Community College in Albany.
What have you done to reduce your business’ impact on the environment? I have converted my garage into a studio, thus reducing the carbon footprint I would have left if I had built a studio on the outskirts of town. Many of my students also walk or bike to class because my business is conveniently located. Finally, yoga teaches mindfulness and caring for self, others, and the environment.
Can you give us your one-sentence take away for your business? Be aware of your breathing and body; it sustains, protects, and prolongs life.
(Interview and article by Ciana Ginochio – August 25, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).