Hi friends, it’s hard to believe we’re welcoming another year already, right? What’s even crazier is that Yogaleena is turning 2 years old this month, whoa! I remember our opening party in detail – what I wore, how we set up the studio, and how happy and proud my Dad was walking around topping off everyone’s champagne glass. I went to bed that night with a mix of nerves and hope, still questioning if I’d done the right thing by taking a chance on this little studio or if I had simply watched too many episodes of Shark Tank and lost my mind. As I write this today, I can say with absolutely no hesitation that opening up Yogaleena was the very best decision of my life. But standing at the start line is always nerve-wrecking…which explains why many of us feel more anxious than joyous at the start of a new year. If I could go back in time and chat with the 32 year old me who couldn’t sleep that night back in 2015, I’d give her a hell of a “Thank You” , ask her to take a deep breath, and tell her everything would be ok if she kept five simple yet powerful nuggets of advice in mind. Although they are founded on my journey as a business owner and yoga teacher, I believe they are applicable to any dream, pursuit, and life. As we all huddle at the starting line of a new year with a mix of nerves and hope, I want to say “Thank You” for being part of this beautiful yoga community with me, ask you to take a deep breath, and assure you everything will be ok…and maybe even better than ok if you follow the guidelines below.
1. Stick to your values. Man, this one is way harder to follow than it seems. I opened Yogaleena with the intention of sharing a yoga practice that’s rooted in self discovery, acceptance, and connection, not necessarily on acrobatic yoga poses and sweat. But in a culture that prefers fast-paced movement and quick physical results, I have often questioned my style of teaching and our class offering. Every time someone sounds disappointed when I tell them the studio isn’t heated or someone on ClassPass leaves feedback that my class wasn’t a good enough workout, I feel the urge to change and please. A few deep breaths later, I always come back to the same conclusion: the only way this is going to work is if I stick to my values.
In her latest book Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown talks about the difference between fitting in and belonging: “Fitting in” is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. “Belonging”, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are, it requires us to be who we are.
Ultimately, I am much more concerned with belonging to a community of students who share my vision than with fitting in with studios that offer something that’s also amazing but doesn’t resonate with me. Being clear about that helps me make the right decision for the studio day in and day out.
2. Remember every person counts. When I first started teaching, I had a really hard time with small classes. Where were the masses I was meant to inspire? Was it even worth my time to lead 2 people in a class? The answer is yes, yes it was. Every “private class” I’ve ever taught has led to either a loyal student, a deep friendship, or an opportunity for more business. Sure, you need a lot of students to make a yoga business successful, but you can only get there one person at a time.
3. Find your tribe. Dave once told me that the best part about owning a business was getting to hand-pick who you work with. I couldn’t agree more, and building the amazing team I have at Yogaleena has also proven to be the biggest contributor to our success. Having people who share your vision but respect your individuality, who have your back but can also give it to you straight, and who truly have your best interest at heart – that’s priceless. Surround yourself with people who get you, who value you (imperfections and all), and who truly want you to be the best version of yourself (not a small version of them.)
4. Keep it real. Dave sometimes jokes that I’m like the Howard Stern of the yoga world because I share a lot of personal stuff with my students. It’s not always easy to show people your imperfections, to publicly state that no, everything is NOT fine, but that’s what real connection is based on. If we’re not going to be truthful with each other, than why bother engaging at all? I’m not suggesting you air all your dirty laundry on Facebook, but I think it’s important to speak with integrity, to share your experiences honestly, and to shed the mask so that others will feel comfortable shedding theirs too.
5. Practice non-attachment. One of the key principles of yoga philosophy is that of non-attachment – focusing on the means, not the ends. I believe Yogaleena has flourished because it’s truly a labor of love, one I would happily continue even if I won the lottery and could spend the rest of my days sipping pina coladas from a coconut on a beach. What would you choose to spend your time on if you didn’t need to get anything from it? How deeply could you love the people in your life if you didn’t expect anything in return? And how much happier could you be if you just let go of the superficial things or ideas that tie you down? As you set goals for 2018, make sure the pursuit fulfills you as much or more than then end result.
At Yogaleena, we’re right at the starting line of a crazy new adventure this year: our first ever 200-hour teacher training! It is with the 5 principles above in mind that we’ve created Yogaleena School of Yoga, which will be starting March 1, 2018. With deep reverence for the philosophy underpinning the physical aspect of yoga, this holistic program will integrate Ayurveda, meditation, subtle anatomy, leadership, and creativity into a curriculum that goes above and beyond the 200-hr teacher training requirements established by the Yoga Alliance. Our intention is not only to prepare teachers to guide yoga classes, but to help them uncover their unique voice as leaders within the yoga community and lay the foundation for a life-long journey of self-study, spiritual growth, and service. This is the most exciting, deeply personal and intimate offering I have ever put out there for our community, and I truly can’t wait to dive in with you. Spots are limited to 12 to ensure a personalized experience for all participants. We’ll be hosting a TQ&A (tea + Q&A) on Friday, January 19 at 7pm if you’d like additional details!
Thanks again for being part of this journey with me, it wouldn’t be the same without you. Here’s to a beautiful new year!