Yoga Pass - Founder Cate Peterson

Yoga Pass founder Cate PetersonCate Peterson is the founder of  the Yoga Pass. Cate tells us how Yoga Pass works, how students can save money and the opportunities for smaller yoga studios to attract more students. Yoga Pass

Cate is a true “earth angel” who is busy leading initiatives that support yoga and the community.

If you haven’t heard about her initiative to divert preloved yoga mats from land fill via recycle and reuse then please listen to episode #14.


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Yoga Teacher Podcasts - show notesShow Notes: If you prefer to read rather than listen to the audio, the show notes are below.

Bettina: Hi and welcome to Yoga Teacher Podcasts. I’m your  host Bettina Mitchell bringing you interviews with revered yoga teachers of our time. Get ready to inspire your inner guru. Today I am with Cate Peterson who is the founder of Yoga Pass. Regular listeners have already met Cate when we spoke about LovEarth mats. Cate welcome back to Yoga Teacher Podcasts.


Cate: Thank you very much

Bettina: Great to talk to you again. This time we’re talking about Yoga Pass. What is Yoga Pass?

Cate: That’s a good question. [Laughs] Yoga Pass is an initiative that we started probably we being myself and Alex Grant from Find Yoga ( Have you actually done a podcast with Alex?

Bettina: I did on … on the Spirit Festival last year.

Cate: Oh, okay, alright so Alex and myself we … we dreamed it up some five years ago. On it’s the way of encouraging the entire populous of Australia and New Zealand to do some yoga. So it’s an initiative to try and get the other however many percentage of people that haven’t yet come to yoga to come try yoga. The research shows that depends on which research you listen to. But if you listen to most optimistic research, would saying that 12% of Australians practice yoga. And if you listen to most pessimistic research who are saying 1.8%. So some are between 1.8% and 12% people of are doing yoga around Australia and it seems to not enough.

Bettina: This would be more … more studies on … who … what … who is doing yoga because it’s been a while since the Australian study of yoga was conducted.

Cate: It’s definitely has and I mean, that’s been a good six years I don’t know I think something like that. So they are kind of tack it on to Australian Bureau of Statics studies as well. But then they are looking at it as a sport, which you know, most of us to in to yoga would agree it’s not really a sport. Some of us would disagree anyway yeah so it depends which direction they look at it. If they look at it some people who have done studies around natural therapy and that’s where the 12 % is coming in. So I am not sure what the treat is that. I do know there are lot more people could be doing it.

Bettina: That’s right. It certainly the application is from for many and varied people so good for you. So Yoga Pass how does a work?

Cate: Okay, now so the mechanism is this, so we are … we are trying to marry the studio out there, with general marketing strategies to the population of people who haven’t yet done yoga. So, there is at present on Yoga Pass we represent close to 500 studios around Australia. 

Bettina: Okay.

Cate: And any studio or any teacher actually who is doing it in their own garage can join for free and it’s always going to be free. We’d like to get as many people on there as we can. So there is that population of people would have joined it as a studio or as a teacher and then we go out and we approach charities and we approached deal sites as we did last year we’re never going that again. But we do a lot of marketing kind of strategies and giveaways like face cream and optimum cat food I don’t know what. Anything we can think of this going to approach a difference group of people then would normally be approached by yoga studios or have an interest in yoga studios. This year big initiative, the one that we are really going to work on is approaching GP’s. So we are going to launch an initiative to encourage GP’s to start referring to yoga teachers for all manner of ill. Be it headache, belly aches, depression, postural issues, bad backs etc… all the things that we know as yoga teachers yoga is just so fantastic at dealing with and you know, there is a varied level of understanding from GP’s about what yoga is. And how to refer out there to yoga studios. So that’s what will be concentrating on in terms of targeting the market this year.

Bettina: Very good, so just to recap on that, so basically it’s a marketing vehicle is it for yoga studios to reach out to the population that may not necessary be deciding on the new year’s resolution I must do yoga.

Cate: That’s the one you got it. That’s exactly it in a nutshell. It’s  to make people, who haven’t really thought about yoga to consider as an option. Yoga Pass is set up in such way that it’s really … really palatable to the general public. So if you look at our website in some way, it looks fairly un-lotusy this is not kind of floral bits and the things that we the yoga teachers get attracted to it has a very clean look. And it makes choosing the yoga studio really … really easy. So what happens if somebody goes on to the Yoga Pass website. They click on purchase the Yoga Pass or they are directed to a specific page if they are in a competition or whatever. And then they can purchased or acquired a 10 class, 5 class, 2 class or 1 class yoga pass. Now they are very cheap and reasonable those passes because they are introductory passes, which means that if they were to buy 10 class pass it would only be a $100 so $10 a class. Now that’s very appealing to a lot of people, that … that deal thing. And it is only an introductory pass, so the studios agree to accept anywhere between one and 10 yoga passes. Most studios will accept 1, 2 or 3 yoga passes and when somebody comes to the studio or the teacher with the Yoga Pass it’s handed over. It’s payment for the class then that studio teacher can log-on to our website and reclaim $5. So what’s happening in that process is that somebody, who wouldn’t have found their way to your yoga studio, turns up and you are given $5. And then your job is to try and get encouragement to stay, and do lot’s more yoga. Yeah so we were trying to whet the appetite of the populas for yoga.

Bettina: Okay, so for yoga studio it’s free, however they agree to take a lesser class fee at that they might normally take, however they are getting people turning up who may not have be making their way to their yoga studios. So it’s getting new clientele from a very different … different market place.  

Cate:      Absolutely and if somebody has already been your studio they cannot use the Yoga Pass and that’s written on the pass, on the print out, on the website, on the everything and that they are not allowed to. So it happened very … very rarely I think in five years we had three misdemeanor which is pretty impressive considering the number of yoga passes that we have distributed, which is well over a 100, 000 passes. So you know, that’s not bad. I think people most people who attracted to yoga are not attracted to being naughty.

Bettina: Alright, yes if I bought 10 classes. I would need to use that an introduction to 10 different studios would that be right? Not use my 10 classes at one studio.

Cate: Yes and no, many studios choose to accept 3, 4, 5 because they know that is somebody comes along for that period of time that they will establish brand loyalty with that person. So that’s actually not a bad idea and a lot of studios are doing it anyway on their own they have you know, during $20 a month deals just to get the people in the door, and really committed to their practice. So Yoga Pass can be used that way. So a lot of studios are accepting you know, 5 to10 yoga passes. So when somebody purchases a Yoga Pass. And they choose to just go to one studio that’s doing that or they might try to classes here and three classes, and one class here. And to get a smallest part which is really what we hope feel good because we all know for any of us. One type of yoga is going to more appropriate for us  than another, so for one person Satchidananda might be more appropriate than Bikram. So yin yoga might be better for them and Kundalini or whatever it’s going to be and we feel really … really strongly that people need to be given that opportunity to try and to understand, that there is all these types of yoga out there, before they make a decision to which pathway they want to follow. So we both found Alex and I have both have the experience, and I am sure any other yoga teachers is listening is had that where somebody you are talking to somebody at party and they said I tried yoga once, but it wasn’t for me. This is like what, you know, you try that one class. There are million other teachers out there doing all kinds of different things please try again. So that’s what one of the big motivation we had behind establishing yoga pass.

Bettina: Well that’s very good so there is benefits in here both a studio and the student. So the students gets to try before they, long term commit and they can it’s like you say you know, it’s a smorgasborg you can go out and try all sorts of different yoga. What a great way to introduce a friend to yoga, to ask them to put their toe in the water and try some different … different styles because I know like you say not every studio or not every style suits everybody I took my sister to a Bikram class and she didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day [laughs]

Cate: You need to try before you buy with yoga because it is such a varied kind of thing.

Bettina: Also say and I like the benefit for the studio because if the studio. If it’s a marketing tool and that was a bit I didn’t really understand I can see clearly the benefit for the student but for the for the studio the you know, you are doing all the leg work around marketing and tapping into areas that they might not have thought about and just being part of Yoga Pass would they sort of start to learn some techniques, around  marketing?

Cate: If they wanted to, they could. So let me say, first of all the leg work that we are doing is quite extensive. So we have got ourselves out there with Go Do and Red Balloon and Club Life Style and Presidential Card and Gift all these incentive sites that have a huge reach across Australia. So we are putting the product out there or putting Yoga out there and trying to encourage people to getting into that way. I mean we are doing all these product launches too. So we do Asar computers and Nivea and I think up and coming is Apple and etc … you know, there is a lot of things happening out there. As a small studio there is no way that you’ve got the time to get across that or have the money to put yourself out there that far because we have all banded together, we can do that. So that’s kind of it’s much more appealing to bigger organizations and charities across Australia. So yeah it’s marketing tool, now in regards to that question of getting involved with Yoga Pass does it increase your marketing savvy. Yes and no there is we’ve got a whole back section now. So when you join Yoga Pass which again it’s a free than you even access to the back end of your listing on Yoga Pass which is called the studio portal. And in that studio portal there’s lots of different ideas for increasing your marketing capability. There is a lot of different options and we all be launching that this week, so exciting to all the people they are already part of Yoga Pass and it’s so exciting.

Bettina: Well, I know you are very busy and you are so committed and passionate about this, I really commend you for that. I know you are going to get on the road and bit of road show and get out to see the studios to inform them of this opportunity, what’s the plan there?

Cate: Okay, well on the 23rd of January, were are doing the first road show, which is up to Lighting Ridge the opal place in New South Wales. So we are going to going all through New England tablelands and all the way up to Dubbo and Burke. So that’s exciting because you know, like often as a rural teacher you are out of the circus. And I have found over the last five years of trying to talk to people by email it just doesn’t work, you know, it’s much better to sit down over tea. So we are taking the whole idea out there and we are going to be showing them that whole back in that I was just referring to which is the possibility of allowing people to book classes on line when they go to yoga website or your Yoga Pass listing which increases, I think they’re saying 22%  increase in people coming to the studio because they can book when they are out there doing web surfing. So and that really helps teachers to draw students to their studio. The other thing that we are offering on that back end is to be able to sell their own class passes because we used to be able to reimburse yoga passes at $10 a pass. Now there is a long reason why we can’t do that anymore, we can now and reimburse at $5 pass and we are very aware that … that’s not a lot of money. So we came up with the ideas helping studios and sell their own passes. So say you have a 10 class passes available at your studio for $160, then what people can now do is click on to your yoga passes listing and buy that $160 bucks 10 class pass. And then they are instantly sent an email they can print out a piece of paper that has your studios name and this is 10 class pass and they can bring that in to use for your classes. So it’s a really good little ideas that we had. It’s very we try to keep the cost really low for yoga studios so its only 6% of the total cost goes to Yoga Pass for doing that, so that covers our bank fee charges, shopping chart charges, tax charges etc. etc. And it also really help the studio because they don’t have to sit behind the desk and write out that card. Yeah so that’s one thing that we are doing, and I think that’s going to work really well for a lot of yoga studio who haven’t got … got to the point where they have actually got a shopping cart attached to their website.

Bettina: And we have mention the website a couple of times. So we will put it in show notes of course for this and the area they kept referring to there is some you will see on the menu bar. There is the studio area and that’s where you sign up isn’t it.

Cate: Well it’s kind of a long list of options for yoga studios and that’s completely again voluntary you don’t have to do any of it. It’s all there on offer. So basically at any stay under my studio you can go in there and you can change the picture or change your blurb or change contact details at any time on your listing. You can decide to sell my passes, which is as I said say you’ve got 7 different pass options including single passes, even you can put those all up for a sale on your listing. You can well if you get a yoga pass, you can claim that Yoga Pass online. So and then you can see your, whole claim history as well now so …

Bettina: Okay

Cate: You can establish an online booking system for your yoga studio, which is I think we are working with a really lovely guy from New Zealand doing that, and it’s called Easy Bookings, and to he is just so down to earth and fantastic, and I think quite reasonable and what he is offering. So if people don’t already have an online booking system. They can established that or if they do have an online booking system then they can just put in URL and that all appear on their listing, and then we are move in to the area that you and I talked about last time, which is stocking LovEarth maps and collecting pre loved mats for us send one to charity. And there is also an option, of establishing a loyalty program for your studio. We have been working with Simon Lowe, he is the genius, he has been working in loyalty programs in big business for a long time that he just established loyalty work form the last 12 months and they are working with small business. So it’s a very um … very realistically priced loyalty program that helps your students to be encouraged to come back … back and back to your studio and order to him, quite it’s an order to get more engaged in your different programs and different products. So it’s thickens the experience of using your studio for your existing students. And then last but not least as a running of the Off the Mat programs, which is a whole different topic area.

Bettina: Yeah so that really interesting and the listeners if you are not sure Off the Mat and really this is targeted to you yoga studio and its of course and yoga teacher to get involved. Off the Mat we spoke to Marianne Elliott in a previous podcast. So please go back to that episode and have a listen to that one about off the mat but you’ve really taken the rains here Cate, and gone ahead and done the training for Off the Mat. And there is big plans for 2013 I here.

Cate: Yes, absolutely so you know, like the big thing with Yoga Pass is to try and to make yoga more universally practice in Australia. Its very much being seen by the mass media and by people as a physical discipline to tighten your abs or getting rid of your headache. Off the mat is a program that you and I got kind of interested in at the beginning of last year and it’s brilliant program for helping yoga communities move their practice in to being a service. So meaning that, it help people establish within the yoga community a point of action within their community for people who are in need, so targeting what our community actually needs to have happened like what how could we be of most use and how could we use all this new found mental and physical health of ours.

Bettina: Sounds fantastic

Cate: Yes I will be talking to everybody, who wants to listen all these needs a lot of chatting face to face and so that’s what I am going to be devoting the year to.

Bettina: Iif out listeners want to find out little bit more about the Off the Mat program um … and Yoga Pass and to find out when you will be in their city, how do they get in contact with you?

Cate: I would absolutely love them to get in contact with me by sending me an email to

Bettina: Well that’s sounds good. Well I have just congratulate you and put behind you all the energy that I can offer so that you can, spread wings around the country and tell people about Yoga Pass and Off the Mat because I think that’s fun and exciting as well as rewarding. If anyone can provide some support and opportunity for Cate to get the word out there please get in contact with Cate. Okay I am going wrap it up there we could talk for hours but I want to thank you very much and I look forward to seeing you in my home town of Melbourne.

Cate: Bettina Thank you so much for all your words of support and thanks for giving the opportunity to chat and happy 2013.

Bettina: Yeah, like wise all the best take care Namaste …

Bettina: I am really always enjoying speaking to Cate Peterson. She is so inspirational such a dynamo so much stuff going on, that real true Seva yoga work.

Please leave your comments below…..




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