What brought me to the mat kept me there and helped me find my true meaning of success.
I was studying for the bar exam for the second time and hit a wall. I couldn’t convince myself (or my ego for that matter) that being a lawyer was really that important to me anymore. I mean, I really wanted to be something, someone important, but every time I sat down to study, my stomach did a somersault. Something just was not right, and no it was not irritable bowel syndrome. I did the prep courses before, I sat for the exam before, I survived it. Heck, I survived failing it and the embarrassment that came with not being on the list! I had moved on and was ready for another try, or so I thought.
This time was different. The terror of sitting for the test had a hold of me and I needed help shaking it. I ran full speed to Vinyasa and haven’t looked back. The mat gave me the structure I needed on the outside, however things were happening internally that I knew nothing about. But yoga is a package deal; as you open it up, well, things can get sweaty.
My practice, because it speaks to you even when you are not listening, told me that I needed the courage to face the parts of myself that I didn’t understand and didn’t care to. Without my explicit permission, I was being confronted by the part of me that was satisfied living in the dark spaces of my mind; the part of me that was terrified of failing again. SO I listened to a voice in my gut, a small whisper that said,
“Grow. Go ahead you can do it! I am here for you”.
“You will be fine”.
“You will survive and you will grow”.
Well, at least the mat was there and my teachers were amazing. I was not prepared for yoga busting in with a spotlight, opening my heart to the possibility of love and living life with passion. And then things got really interesting.
I failed the bar exam again but, this time, on purpose. I needed to get accustomed to facing my fears, not arguing in court. I knew that the law was no longer my calling, so when I met the distressed owner of a yoga studio who was looking to relinquish ownership, the only route that made sense on a very deep level, was the yogic route. I mean, yoga got me through some pretty dark days.
So, I convinced my husband that we could make it work and we bought a yoga business in a down economy and in a community that was just warming up to the prior owner. Neither of us knew the first thing about running a yoga business, not to mention we had less than a month to turn things around. You know what they say,
“Leap and the net will appear”.
“Trust your inner voice”.
“If you listen, the universe will guide you”.
Well, I must have been chanting when my inner voice was yelling, “RUN the other way”! And I guess MY universe has a dry sense of humor. Because "they" didn't tell me that the net was that new-age-biodegradable-disintegrates-upon-contact-perfect-for-the-environment-yogic net. Yeah, the one that still requires one to wear a parachute, bungee cord, and retractable wings. After all, this is business! On my way down, I lamented, “Don't the yogis get the hemp netting"? I mean, after all, we are changing the world- one d-dog at a time".
Why, you ask, would a seemingly intelligent woman walk into such a mess? For the love of yoga. Period. This is where it gets mushy. Yoga it is my salvation. Yoga is the reason I show up every day (well almost every day) for myself and my family. I know that I am not the only woman in the world who would voluntarily stop breathing for a few hours, then wake up refreshed - and get back to folding the laundry. The kids would laugh and say, “Mommy is playing possum again”. And my Hubby would say, “Honey, how long are you going to be dead? These kids are driving me crazy”! Yoga is MY life support. Let's be honest, we all could use a ventilator every now and then. The truth is, yoga means everything to me, including my beautifully honed breath! It was my choice. I walked with pride and much esteem, down the crunchy, wear yoga pants everywhere (and I do mean EVERYWHERE), smile at the -'s in my bank account, OHM-ing all the way to the poor house, you must be crazy, what the he@# were you thinking, or smoking for that matter, wait, you do what now?, route. I walked it with love for the process and even more love for the yoga.
We learned pretty quickly that having sustainable streams of revenue is more important than loving the idea of helping people. It takes more than heart to make any business succeed, it takes expertise. And with yoga, it goes a bit further, it takes foresight. Successful studio owners plan for the unexpected; like when a key teacher leaves and takes ALL of her clients with her. When that happens without a solid business model, you are pretty much _______ (fill in the blank according to your degree of enlightenment. I've been using a six letter word that begins with F). The downs weren't so bad. Who am I kidding, they were worse than bad- they were karmic. There was night after night of trying to figure out what we were doing wrong. It was a trial by fire and we were unrepresented.
But then, there were the ups, like when a 70 + year old student rocked a heated Vinyasa class like a champ (I love you, Meredith!). Or when my favorite teacher in the world sat down and traced my daughter’s foot on paper. And even when we had our 2nd (or 3rd, I lost count), "Grand Re-opening" and it rained so hard that nearly the entire town flooded, (that must have been the reason that just about NO ONE showed up), I got the yummiest massage ever!
In all seriousness, we dove in, headstand first, and the rest was lunacy. We experienced all of the ups and downs (my always husband keeps a bungee cord in his back pocket) of owning a Yoga business and the growing pains that came along with it. I was accustomed to success and considered myself one, in my own right. I had faced my fears while my husband finished doing battle (at least for a while) with cancer, all while raising 3 children, in a new state, with no family. I was the poster child for capable. I knew how to succeed - but not this time; at least, not by society’s standards. Reality hit me like a ton of blocks, (you see, yoga is kind):
Success is an inward inquiry.
Real success can't be quantified. Real success knows when to scream, “UNCLE”. Less than a year in, we closed our doors and -even in a yogic high- everyone knows that a failed business is akin to a failed marriage or at least one that is in need of life supporting measures. So we figured we’d do just that; give our business some CPR. It sounds cliché but for real, yoga changed my life. It gave me the courage to follow my passion, not a dream, just a passion and get in the yoga business. I had no regret; even as we moved out of our beautiful mill space (a move I told myself would be temporary). There is still a part of me that feels we’ll be back, better for the trip and even stronger than we could have both imagined.
Thanks to yoga my glass is half full, all is well, and everything is as it should be..... While there is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow pose, I found enlightenment, an even better consolation prize. Follow us on this journey and let's see where it leads. At the very least, we can have a few laughs along the way.
Yours in Yoga (pants that is)