Updated at 15:40,13-12-2017

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Dmitriy Kazakevich,UDF.BY. Pictures taken by the author

Tatiana Storchevaya, an entrepreneur from Vitebsk, has proved that self-improvement is a salable commodity at the Belarusian market. She made a successful business and used the crisis to grow and realize her dream.

As soon as you enter the center of yoga and fitness Open World, you immerse into a quiet nirvana. The perfect moment for listening to relaxing music with eyes closed while Tatiana Storchevaya, head of the center, is discussing the project of another, new yoga studio to be opened at the end of March.

We start our conversation with Tatiana right in the studio hall. Sparkling eyes of girls around, Yoga magazines lying next to the administrator, numerous certificates on the wall, a colorful carpet depicting Buddha at the end of the corridor. Schedule of classes: yoga for the pregnant, yoga for children, yoga-23, Hatha-yoga, yoga-pilates, aerobics, skyjumping and even hip-hop.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the hall of Open World yoga and fitness center



Crisis is the time for change

How comes that in Vitebsk, at the height of crisis when some big enterprises are on the brink of redundancies and bankruptcy, the owner of a yoga and fitness center is deciding to expand?

Well, thats the question Im asking myself as well. I dont feel crisis. Only financially, perhaps, but I dont react to it. I feel this is the time for change


It all started in the 80s, when Tatiana, a schoolgirl then, went to the famous Vitebsk trampolining school. She had very good results and a prospect of becoming a pro.

But after school Tatiana went to the philological faculty of the Vitebsk pedagogical institute (today Vitebsk State University of Masherov). Soon after she got married and had a daughter, Dasha. But the marriage fell apart and a single mother had to give a thought on how to feed herself and her daughter. She took advantage of her sports contacts.

Aerobics was very popular then and female trampoline gymnasts tried to become trainers in clubs. They really knew how to jump! Tatiana was also offered a job.

My friend would say: you come in the evening, hold a class and earn some money. In the end, for 10 years I worked for 5 clubs at the same time. Just for a living.


During her work at clubs the future yoga businesswoman received the second highest degree. In sports, this time. Everything seemed to run smoothly.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth



How yoga impacts thoughts and life

In the early 00s, when Tatiana was visiting her mother, she accidentally bought a brochure on recreational yoga to read during the trip.

She looked through, read it, tried several simple postures (asanas) and was surprised by the effect: she got a feeling of lightness and serenity! Stress relieved and emotions unfolded. Thats how the change in her life began.

Those blocks of energy started to go out. And when energy is moving freely, body and mind feel relief. And thoughts change. The perception of life changes. And you start living differently.


Gradually she implemented yoga elements into her aerobics classes. At the same time, she took part in seminars and trainings, trips to gurus and Himalayan Yoga Academy.

And 4 years ago Tatiana Storchevaya, YOGA23 (IN) instructor, started the first yoga school Open World in Vitebsk.

She talks ironically of herself as a businessperson: It just happened so.

You are writing about business, and when people ask me about business, I feel its not about me

Feeling is the key word. Inner feeling and inner essence that always knows what its doing inspired Tatiana to start a new life in 2012. Though the mind was saying: what are you doing? You wont make it! You have no money

I cant, Ill fail these are intrigues of mind. It comes from childhood. Theres no self-confidence, theres always some stress. But yoga clears your mind. And you relax and start thinking creatively.


Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the yoga room



Way to the start

The head of the yoga studio admits that she even didnt have a business plan. Though she knew well what to do, as the experience of working in many clubs helped her.

I knew everything. I knew the best trainers in the city and they came to work for me and brought their clients. So there was no difficulty in finding the team and the customers. We opened really quickly and started to work.


At first, there were many causes to go back. The rent price in the new building at Prospekt Stroiteley in Vitebsk, where the studio is currently located, was unbearably high. Tatiana says that she made a deal with herself then: if they dont lower the price, I will refuse! And they did, and then did it again and again. The inner essence paved the way forward.

Despite the discounted price, the rent was still very expensive as the total area was 370 sq. m. It took $18,000 to start. And Tatiana found it: borrowing from good people, her own savings, loans By the way shes paid all her loans back already.
Today 8 trainers and 2 administrators work for Open World yoga and fitness center. Around 300 people visit the studio monthly. A subscription for 8 one-hour classes costs $25 per month. 8 ninety-minute classes cost $32.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the yoga room

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the yoga room



Why Belarusians need yoga

Demand for nirvana never plunge, Tatiana says. Even in times of crisis.

What aspect of yoga attracts people from Vitebsk and Belarus in general? I think, its all about lightness. When a person leaves the yoga room and says: well, Im starting to fly!...


But the peoples main purpose is physical health. Tatiana tells us a story of a woman whom doctors instructed to always walk with a stick (issues with knee joints). After 5 months of attending the classes she approached the boss of the studio and said: Today I was running for a trolleybus, Tania, can you imagine! Recently this woman went to India.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the hall of the studio



Rebirth of fitness

Last autumn the attendance of fitness classes started to decrease significantly. A reason for alarm and panic. There was a thought to give up fitness and hold yoga classes only, but Tatiana, who is an experienced and vibration sensitive yogi, felt that this change is happening inside people. She noticed that clients were getting more interested in their internal state and feelings. They could not get enough with just jumping.

This is how new types of smart fitness emerged in the studio fitness on trampolines (skyjumping) and aerial fitness on slings (pilates).

Its still too early to talk about results, but theres energy in it. Theres an impulse. And where theres energy, there's success.


During the crisis the Open World fitness got smarter and managed to survive.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

In the fitness room



A new studio. I want to be useful

Open World studio has two separate rooms for yoga and fitness. Tatiana does not like such mixture of genres and energies. During a long period of time time shes been dreaming of separating them, of opening a pure yoga studio. She wants to create a studio with unique atmosphere, meditative music, herbal tea and smart books on soft sofas.

Strangely, this opportunity emerged as soon as crisis began. I dont know how it happens. You just have an intention and opportunities appear. It may sound trivial, but I want to be useful! When you practice yoga you not only purify yourself, you also purify your environment. And then you come to an idea of purifying the city


Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Statuette on the administrators desk

The new yoga studio Prana is opening in the city center close to the Dvinas embankment on the first floor of the brand new building. The rent rate is higher than in the current studio but the area is twice as little. This will cut down the costs.

Prana will have a modest hall, two change rooms, shower room and a restroom. Only the necessary things. But the classroom will be even larger than in the Open World. Tatiana is investing $15,000-16,000 into this project.

She is not saying anything about the new centers estimated profitability, but knows what to do and that everything will be alright.

I even do not have a car. Not because I cant afford it. I just dont have it in my worlds scheme. Though money is important. But my priorities are as follows: seminars and trainings come first, and sometimes they are very expensive.


A new cozy and authentic yoga studio is the main goal. And whats next? Tatiana smiles and says she will see. Theres lot of knowledge and information to think over. Theres a feeling of movement and change. Probably, this works more efficiently than any business plan.

I can express it in my language: I have a clear feeling that energy is changing. A lot of light is coming into the world. This light squeezes peoples aggression and thats why lots of aggression comes out. But gradually we are getting better and lighter. Its what I feel.



Three asanas for entrepreneurs

Finally, Tatiana shows us three simple asanas that will be useful for those who are thinking about starting their own business. Yoga recommends to trust your inner essence and to never be afraid.

Hearing the name of the first asana Warriors Pose, we ask: Are you a warrior? Yes, perhaps. But in first place Im a woman, of course smiles Tatiana. By the way, her daughter Dasha has grown up and studies in Vilnius to be a journalist, and she also practices yoga.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Virabhadrasana. Warriors Pose. Strengthens your will and nourishes internal sources of confidence and energy.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Shalabhasana. Locust Pose. A magic remedy against depression.

Money for Nirvana, or How a yoga businesswoman from Vitebsk turned crisis into growth

Astavakrasana. Eight angled Pose. Looks difficult, but easy to perform. It teaches that we have lots of abilities, and we create difficulties and barriers only by ourselves.