While hiking through the woods earlier this week, nose-breathing (thank you James Nestor), I started listening to a new audio book. This one focused on business – specifically the business of yoga. This isn’t my first kick at the proverbial can as far as owning and operating a yoga studio, however the business world has drastically changed in the last 15 years and as an eager student I’m all ears when it comes to learning and implementing tools and practices designed to support whatever endeavour one might be embarking upon.
Anticipating that the book would begin with the standardized approach of develop a business plan, assess financials needs, solidify insurance and other legal requirements, I was caught off guard when the author asked me to reflect on and define the ways that I present myself as a yoga teacher to the world. She further went and asked if how I presented myself was aligned with the core values that I abide by in my personal practices and whether those align with my professional intentions. Great questions.
As I continued on my hike, I paused the book and in the sanctuary of the woods, took to pondering the purpose behind my business. Why did I decide to open another yoga studio? And what are the core values that I believe are the root of my personal practices which ultimately nourish the foundation of my business?
The first word that came to mind was FLEXIBILITY. In my pervious careers, if there was one thing I knew for certain it was that a Monday to Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm job that had me tied to a desk, was not my thing. It made me felt trapped, like a caged bird with its wings clipped. I needed freedom. In order for me to function at my best, I need to be able to adjust my schedule to the rhythms and needs of my body, mind, family and career. For example, being able to drop off and pick up my son every day for school is extremely important to me. So too is being able to go for a hike first thing in the quiet of early morning, or to find my yoga mat mid-day. I do have to be cautious though because sometimes too much flexibility invokes an attitude that is undisciplined and rather disorderly.
Here’s where I need STRENGTH. In my opinion, to feel and be strong is more than just being able to pick up and carry 100lbs without buckling. I would define the quality of strength I strive to cultivate in my life, is one of quiet tenacity. Something that helps me keep my shit together. Something that isn’t too rigid and suffocating, but a strength that helps me feel held together like an intricately intertwined web of purposefully cultivated mindset and practices to support my ever-changing body, mind and emotional needs. No small task. Interestingly though, my asana practice has helped me to more clearly define and access this idea of resilience. It’s a constant practice and I am still learning to recognize when I am pushed to my limits and to stop and take refuge before buckling under the pressures that come from both inside and out.
Then, it hit me, and I realize that in order for me to both cultivate and sustain strength and flexibility in my life, I need SPACE. This is something that has been considerably lacking in the last number of years. The last time I whole-heartedly dedicated some much needed space for myself was when I attended a 10-day retreat at Kripalu in 2013. I was 8 months pregnant at the time so technically I wasn’t even alone then. And yes, my regular yoga and meditation practices drop hints of expansiveness in my days, they don’t compare to the healing that takes place with an immersion of self-care alone time where I can read, study, practice and breath the richness of history and philosophy of yoga and Ayurveda. Time to start planning some…
As I plodded along the trail with my dog up ahead, I half laughed at myself and the repeated excuses I’ve used to avoid making space for myself. And that sucks because when I do carve out dedicated me-time, I literally light up! Ideas and projects flood over me and I get excited and motivated to CREATE things. And I love creating, making and watching something manifest in form. More so, I love to SHARE. I can’t take whatever I have learned with me when my time has come, so I share from a place of my own perspective and understanding.
And that, my friends, is an ADVENTURE all on its own – the rush of adrenaline, mixed with equal parts fear and exhiliration of the unknown. I’ve been on a few radical adventures of my own, both near and far. But as of late I have let the heaviness of pandemic restrictions and regulations take the fun out of this venture I call life and business.
As I reach the clearing of my turn around point on the trail, I stop and recap that which I have pondered. After a few moments pause, and playful tussle with my pup, I press play and turn to head back the way I came. In my ears I hear author and narrator Amy Ippoliti say:
“You can only be as good a teacher as you are a student.”
As a yoga teacher, business owner and woman walking through this life in her own earthly adventure, my mission is this:
By way of studying, embodying, creating, and teaching the practices of Yoga and Ayurveda so as to enrich and support my own drive and action, it is my mission to inspire others to awaken to and adopt ways to compassionately attend to the multi-dimensional aspects of the unique human design that they are while courageously embracing the adventure all of life has to offer.
Ready to go on an adventure?