Empowerment, Inspiration, Yoga

Lessons in Life, Business and Yoga

There’s something I’ve been meaning to open up about on here (and in life). Not only to get it out of my own system and release the energy, but because I know there are other people that have been there.  Acknowledging this is like trying to roll a bowling ball up a hill with your tongue.

So. Fucking. Hard.

The last weekend in August, I took a road trip to P-town, MA with my former housemate for the bachelorette party of our other housemate. It was so much fun and such a celebration of love + friendship.  In a drunken profession of heterosexual love I confessed to her that somewhere along the way, I had lost myself, but it was ok, I was coming back to life again.  (I realized this quite some time ago,  but she was the very first person I admitted it to, out loud).   Her only response was… “well I’m glad you’re back, it’s about fucking time, I missed you.”  Then there were tears -big, fat, juicy, drunk tears.

People that have known me for years know that I am a little mouthy, a little bossy and a little sassy. I’m fiercely loyal, ridiculously stubborn and 9 times out of 10 my volume is dialed up as far as it will go [in public].  For the past few years the ‘me volume‘ has been buffered. I transformed into something that wasn’t authentically me. How did it happen? How did I get there?

The Bhagavad Gita says do another’s dharma to your detriment. I experienced this first hand.  I chose to follow the dharma of another.  In the process I lost my voice. The essence of what was truly me; type-a, over-achiever, energizer, volume on high, f bombs and all.

When I was asked to join Live. Breathe. Grow., I was over the moon excited about it.  While my heath + yoga coaching practice was blossoming, I was lonely and totally tired of chugging along on my own. (Lesson Number 1: always have a support system in place – you need a support posse that has your back). The excitement of launching a new company was infectious. I was drunk on the innovation of new ideas and the creativity of designing business organization.  I couldn’t help but to fall in love with the ideas of what could be and I didn’t think twice about sending out an e-blast to 2000 subscribers telling them I was closing up shop.

I walked into the partnership in love and friendship (Lesson Number 2: never take your legal thinking cap off and always enter into partnership agreements).  I didn’t have the start up financial investment to be an equal partner, but we were friends so ‘on paper’ it was 50/50. Subconsciously, the unequal footing tamed my opinion. It was always her company, I was just jumping on board. I deferred at all times to her opinion. I quieted my voice. It was her dream, I was just along for the ride. In failing to be truly open, I became more like my business partner and a little less like myself. I dialed my volume down.  Instead of fighting for the sparkle and spotlight (something as an only child I have done all my life) I was content to walk in another’s shadow. I felt less like me. I was embarrassed to have effervescent opinions which lead me to feel dreadfully inadequate. The irony was, I was selling t-shirts that inspired and empowered women to:

Stand in your personal power and strength. Honor your voice, that source of intuitive wisdom that shines like a beacon on light inside you. Have the courage to decide how to live your own life. Go inside to find your guide, then harness your energy to shine your light outward. Be confident in who you are and tell the world I AM ME. Live. Breathe. Grow. …into who you are meant to be.

The LBG Manifesto is gorgeous. It’s soft and supportive. It wraps its arms around you and lifts you up with compassion. It’s purely Nancy and perfect for her company.

It’s not purely Terra. Purely Terra is loufulld.
Determined.
Audacious.
Gold Sparkled.
Fierce.
Visionary.
She doesn’t coddle you, she tells you to walk it off [wings. talk. hustle!]. If there’s a theme song in the background, it probably came from Yo MTV Raps. She doesn’t need to be reminded of her personal power, because she’s already fucking there. Or at least she was before she gave up her own path to do another’s dharma.  

When Nancy told me she didn’t want to do it anymore, that she wanted to let it all go and turn LBG into a blog, I was devastated.  I told her I would take over, work on buying her out and continue down the path we had forged together. And I tried. But nothing, and I mean nothing worked out. The Universe tossed out red flag after red flag and I kept ignoring them, volleying back ideas to keep her on board and to keep LBG alive. (Lesson Number 3: Ignoring the Universe is a really fucking bad idea).  I was heartbroken and frustrated. Tired of trying to balance two people on a unicycle, I finally gave up and walked away.

I immediately threw myself into a Masters to PhD. program that I wasn’t jumping up and down about. I needed to fill time and space. I was totally and utterly lost.  I had completely forgotten what I was like to be me outside of LBG. In following another’s dharma I lost my own identity.  If I wasn’t one of the owners of LBG, what was I?  Without LBG I had no fucking clue.  A lawyer? A yoga teacher? Life Coach? Health Coach? Entrepreneur? [LBG Terra would never say fuck in a blog].

I didn’t have the answers. I retreated. I severed ties and let go of my network. I broke up with Yoga, the one thing used to bring me me clarity and peace.  I struggled. I cried daily. I flew into fits of rage and bitterness.  My once open and vibrant personality became dim and introverted. Finally, with guidance I learned to surrender. The only thing that brought me back was letting go. Letting go of the business, letting go of the partnership, letting go of the networks, letting go of the  friendship. (Lesson Number 4: Sometimes you have to surrender and let go to move forward).

Eventually a few friends coaxed me back into my yoga practice. I found a studio that didn’t know me as a teacher or that I was associated with LBG (Let me tell you, that was NOT easy, I had to wait until a new studio opened up). And in yoga, I found myself (yet again). I’ve put my own shoes on (they’re gold Sparkle Toms). And most importantly, I’ve tapped back into that thing that makes me, me. For the first time in over a year, I actually feel alive, confident, and happy —all at the same time.  It’s amazing how once you let go, clarity is instantaneous.

Nancy decided not to turn Live. Breathe. Grow. into a blog and it continues to grow.  I still feel awkward when people ask – my voice is there, but my heart is still raw.  Mostly I just say we were heading in two different directions. She continues on her path, and I’ve hopped back on mine.

Doing another’s dharma was to my detriment – I lost friendships, time, two businesses, a vibrant teaching practice and the most detrimental – my voice.  Through it all I gained clarity and now I know my true dharma, to help yoginis, energy workers, peace makers and earth keepers live abundant lives.

I can’t wait for The Darshana Collective to launch.
It’s coming soon….

The Darshana Collective
The Darshana Collective
Branding, Business, Yoga

Branding: Getting Authentic with Just One Word

I usually update my blog on Mondays or Tuesdays.  There’s no hidden social media secret to this choice,  I just like to let my words marinate over the week. It gives me 6 days to think about the comments posted and how to address them in the next post if I need to.

Last week Two weeks ago I chit chatted about Yoga or a New Coach Bag.  I also said I would follow up the post next week talking about conversion and how to create a sales culture without feeling like a total slime ball.  Then I went and posted something else two days later and Monday was a holiday and blah blah blah. Long story short, my blog schedule is totally jacked!  I have been derailed!!

So rather than whine over my own undoing on Wednesday I sat down on my lunch break and thought about yoga + sales culture. Yoga + Business and Yoga + Profit.  I have a lot to say about all of it, and unless you’re new around here, you know I’m not usually at a loss for words.  But sales. Fuck. I just can’t stutter it out right now.

Wanna know why?  Because it all starts with branding.  I can’t talk about sales culture until I talk about branding {and mission + vision + values and all the other big picture creative dreaming things that make me jizz}.

Your Brand *ahem* right.

It ALL comes back to branding… And I haven’t blogged about branding at all!!  The irony of all of this is that I am currently in the middle of the visual branding for my new gig, The Darshana Collective. Going through this process has created light bulb explosions of insight.

And I definitely want to talk to you guys about it – but it’s going to take a while for me to collect my thoughts, reflect on them and then process them back out to you. It’ will be juicy though, I promise.

So.

Before we talk conversion (as I promised nearly two weeks ago and so woefully let you down)  I want to start digging into branding.   Not your logo, not your color palette, your BRANDING. Whether you want to or not, you have a brand. It’s experienced through the eyes and mind of your students, members and clients. Your brand is more than your logo and color palette. It’s the sum of all your parts. The great stuff, the ugly pieces and the juicy bits. It’s the personality of your biz and that personality is what attracts people to you.

If you can tap into your personality, you will build your brand.  Try to come up with one adjective for your business, and then begin to build your brand from there.  Make sure everything you do to brand your business relates back to that word – your logo, your copy, your voice, your mission. Everything. The more it relates back to your one word, the more authentic your brand will be.

Lets play make believe and put this little idea into practice.

You on a yoga studio. You’re totally type A. You’re determined. You’re confident. You’re bold and you’re ready to change the world yesterday. Your chosen word is fierce.  At your studio, you have two types of ideal students.  The first are men. They’re coming to yoga because even though their CrossFit training has them ripped their quads are in knots, the IT band is ready to pop and they’re looking for just a little bit of peace.  The second are women. They’re feeling a little lost a little run down. They come to your studio to practice yoga because they want to feel empowered, confident and bold. They want the prowess of their youth.

It wouldn’t be in line with your brand (personality) to develop a logo based upon a water lily, utilizing a color palette of soft greens, pinks and yellows. A word like fierce deserves a powerful logo – a tiger in bold colors.  Your messaging should be powerful, bold and determined.  It should reflect your personality and speak to your PRFs!

Your brand a reflection of YOU, make it authentic. <~~~ TWEET IT!

Just start with authenticity.  Let go of the fake.  Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why do you do it? What do you want people to know about you? What are the key messages you want people to know about your biz?  Let go of trying to advertise and be something you’re not.  Dig in to what makes you + your studio tick.

Figure out your one word.

Branding, Business, Yoga

Yogini Stylin + Geeky Virgo Post-it Notes

Today I was wasting precious morning moments on Facebook.  (Yes, it’s a time sucker, but it’s also an integral part of growing your business, and this social media junkie loves it).  I  am a member of a ton of Facebook Groups (probably too many) but I am pretty active in a couple of yoga ones. Some I use for networking + marketing, some I use for masterminding + collaboration and some I use for learning + continued education.  Today in one of my Yoga Mastermind groups a fellow yogini asked:

What about you sets you apart from other yogis? What do you do/not do, think/not, or feel/not that is less than typical? Anything? ((Here’s a lighthearted one from me, just to provide an example: I do very few -if any at all- sun salutes in my personal practice.))

It really got me thinking – what about me makes me different?

So I made a little list in my head. (Ok. I lied. I actually wrote out the on pen + post it. I am a Virgo and we do this a lot, lists + organization is a turn on.  We’re weird, but you couldn’t live without us. You’re lucky I didn’t color code the post-it!)

Virgos dig lists + post-its
Virgos dig lists + post-its
  • I don’t look like most yoga teachers.
  • Most of my yoga is practiced off the mat.
  • I  am influenced by many but don’t subscribe to any one guru’s philosophy.
  • I am influenced by many but don’t practice any one style (ie Bikram, Ashtanga, Kripalu, Jivamukti) I’ve developed,  practice and teach my own style, Darshana Yoga.
  • Music and intuition are integral to my style of asana practice at home and in studio.
  • I am a little silly, a little organized, and usually more sassy than fluffy.
  • I am touchy-feely. You will receive multiple hands-on adjustments, massage and pressure points in my class (if you don’t object).
  • I teach classes to evoke emotion and hopefully transformation. You’re not coming to church when you attend my classes, but you’re definitely getting more than just a little exercise, breathing and stretching.

Then I responded:

As far as my studio teaching is concerned, I don’t look like your average teacher.  I am known for my very non-yogic, quirky play lists (ie: Tribe Called Quest followed by Tony Bennett), tailoring my classes to musical themes (ie: all song about sunshine in a solstice class, all songs with the word “heart” in a valentines day class etc.) and mixing Yin style of sinking into postures with Soul Sweat . It’s really all about connecting the breath + movement with the music whether it’s upbeat or mellow – to create transformation of some kind for me. I spend a LOT of time on play lists. If the music changes, I may just have you SINK into virabhadrasana ii for 10 even 20 counts. And nope. I am not a trained dancer.

 How the heck did I develop my style of teaching? Why do students try my classes? And why do they come back? It all boils down to one thing, personality.  I bring my authentic personality to everything I do whether it’s teaching yoga, negotiating a contract or running a business. Who you are is essential to your success. We can certainly ‘fake it until we make it’ but we cant pretend to be someone we’re not.  Developing your voice as a teacher is the essence of what attracts students to your class.

(knowing WTF you’re doing and keeping students safe is also a bonus)

If you’re a new teacher or even a seasoned teacher that is struggling with class numbers, take a look at how you live your life and interact with people (friends + family) off the mat. Is it drastically different than how you teach (and speak) on the mat?  Why? How can you take your yoga off the mat and what can you do to infuse your on the mat with your off the mat personality? Your students want to be guided in an authentic way. They will see straight through you if you rely on the personality or words of someone else (or even your own favorite teacher).

Find your Inner-Superstar
Find your Inner-Superstar

Developing the signature style of your voice isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Teaching metaphors are an art form.  Developing them takes practice.  I’ve heard a few teachers of a certain style of yoga use  “puff your kidneys” and “blossom your buttocks.”  Seriously. I snorted typing that last one, do you think I could personally get away with using it in class? NEVER. I’d end up in a fit of laughter or go off on a 5 minute tangent about my flowering asshole. (We all know I secretly have the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy). Totes not cool.

The point is, that language wouldn’t be authentic to me. I didn’t come up with the metaphor. I can’t really relate to puffing my kidneys (they filter, they don’t breathe!) and I would never use the word buttocks.  Yeah Dave wouldn’t have the following he does if he didnt gush about how much he loves chocolate + wine and every so often craves a Parliament Light after a few cocktails. Can you imagine Snatam Kaur talking about wanting a smoke ever in this lifetime, let alone after a few cocktails?  Preposterous! Think about, connect with and develop your own yoga script. Use imagery, descriptive words and music that you’re comfortable with.

Just be you.