How her love for yoga led this entrepreneur to healing, home, and a haven for holistic wellness that’s positioned for success.
This is going to sound funny coming from someone who’s happy to own a yoga studio; but, I never wanted to own a yoga studio. I wanted to teach yoga. I love teaching yoga. And how I even found yoga in the first place is where you could say my journey to becoming a teacher—and, eventually, an entrepreneur—began. Today, I am fortunate to be in this place, this haven, where I can provide a space for anyone seeking transformation. Yoga changed my life. And through the humbling, healing practices, I’m able to be more self-aware and make choices that benefit my personal and professional wellbeing.
Loss helped me find peace
I discovered yoga right after I graduated from Virginia Tech. I moved to Washington DC in 2008 and started a career in real estate selling new home construction. Later, I transitioned to digital advertising product development for publishers. I worked for AOL and a smaller start-up, WeddingWire, developing ad products for sale. Little did I know then how all of my business skills and interests were shaping me into the entrepreneur I would become. But, in the middle of all of this growth and change, I lost my grandmother. All of it—my relocation, my busy, budding career, and the loss of someone so important to me—unleashed my anxiety. It was something that had always been with me, but this time, in a new way.
Yoga brought me (and continues to bring me) peace of mind and clarity. It helped me cope by helping me do what was and is best for me, whether it’s being mindful of what I put on my plate, or determining which career changes I make. Practicing yoga enhanced my understanding of self, and the ripple effects continued from there. By day, I would focus on business development, profitability forecasting; all things requiring a deep dive in my analytical mind.. And I balanced it all while practicing yoga and teaching on the side.
To Namaste or go
So, here I am, living and working a full-time job in DC. I was also teaching yoga in the mornings before work and in the evenings. And I really loved doing it. Eventually, I made the transition to teach full time. I found that the more I opened myself up to the opportunity of teaching classes, the more that came my way. It got to a point where I knew I could make a living doing it. Was it going to provide the same financial level I had when I was doing digital advertising? No. But to me, it was a life choice. It was a way of life that I wanted, and that desire led me to make the transition.
For six months, I was a full- time yoga teacher. And in that time, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep the pace. That’s because I was teaching 23 classes in northern Virginia every week, running between Fairfax, Alexandria, and Arlington. I didn’t have a life outside of that. I wanted and needed balance. I was newly married then, and my husband and I talked about moving back to my hometown, Richmond, where we could be closer to my family. When I thought about what it might look like for me to teach here, I realized there wasn’t really a space that was offering hot power yoga, which was my foundation. While I’m trained in and teach other styles of yoga, I really wanted that offering to be a big part of what I was teaching.
A building, a business launch, and a baby
I guess you could say the whole purpose of me opening my own studio was to continue doing what I love and contributing to the community in the way I loved doing it. To do that, first, I had to find a building and I had to do something to build awareness of my soon-to-be-established business.
Before I opened, I hosted pop-up classes around downtown Richmond. I rented conference rooms at the Omni Hotel or the fitness center space at The Locks on the canal and held free classes for anyone who was interested in participating. My goal was to connect with the community and to generate word-of-mouth referrals in the neighborhood.
I also wanted to find a space downtown, someplace where I could bring heated yoga to the area. During my search, I was introduced to someone who was involved in historical renovations and planning to convert an old warehouse in Shockoe Slip. He said it might be a good spot for a yoga studio. When I saw photos of the bare bones space, I knew immediately that was it. The huge windows with all the light pouring in felt like the special healing haven I’d envisioned. It was one of those times when things just happened to fall into place.
In fact, in 2016, EVERYTHING seemed to fall into place. After an aggressive and committed construction schedule kick-started in November 2015 (yes, major construction and remodeling of a multi-floor warehouse started and finished in two months), Humble Haven Yoga opened in January. And, sweetest of all, my son was born in September. Between those two major events, there was a lot happening. I started as a one-woman show. I had teachers but no employees. I taught the majority of scheduled classes plus managed everything else. Accounting. Marketing. Front desk. Housekeeping. And I can honestly say, it was fun. Now, I have 15 teachers and five employees, including a full-time manager and front desk support.
Creating a happy place
I don’t know if every entrepreneur feels this way, but when someone asks me, “How are things going?”my response is, “Good,”said with a careful smile. Even though I want to shout from the rooftops “THIS IS AMAZING! I’m doing what I love every single day,”I still realize I’m dependent on people walking through the door and taking classes.
The biggest compliment that really stops me in my tracks is hearing people say they love coming here. That this is a happy place. A safe place. I get so inspired when they share openly what yoga has done to change their life mentally, emotionally, physically. If the practice of yoga has brought someone more mental peace, greater physical strength, flexibility, whatever it is, I feel lucky to be the person who can hold the space for them to do that. Even those who may not share but keep coming back, that’s just as special to me as the person who says, “I’m no longer taking my anxiety medicine, thanks to yoga.”It’s just as much of a win and inspiring to me.
Making myself a priority
My entire business surrounds promoting personal wellness. Naturally, it’s a priority for me. That’s not to say that I don’t have times where it slips to the bottom of my to do list. When that happens, I suffer more. My body and mind feel out of alignment. When I feel like I am flailing, it is typically because I am out of practice with my normal self-care routine, and it impacts everything.
That’s why I meditate every day, even if it’s just for five minutes. And I practice yoga about five times a week, even if 20 minutes is all I can manage. The longer I practice yoga and the longer I own my business, the fewer breaks I take from personal wellness because it’s necessary for my success.
I strongly believe that to be well, you have to practice wellness. And that starts with self-discovery, which is what yoga is all about. When you are in the practice of gaining deeper self-awareness, you also gain clarity. You can more easily do what’s best for you, from choosing the types of food you eat and the relationships you foster, to achieving your most amazing personal and business goals.
I am the owner of Humble Haven Yoga, a wellness studio offering hot power, restorative, and prenatal yoga classes, personal training, and massage