I’ve been teaching yoga for a while… started when I was 17 and it was always the gig I had on the side. When I graduated college I had no clue what to do with my life. I was just meandering through life hoping something nice, like a lottery win or a cushy job with a six-figure salary, would fall in to my lap! (Which: no.) So after one of my weekly yoga classes, I’d mentioned needing to find a “real job” and one of my yogis happened to work at an investment firm. She REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted me to come by for an interview, and I reluctantly agreed. Partially because my mom would be super annoyed if I didn’t, and partly because I figured I had nothing to lose since I’d never get hired based on the fact that I knew nothing about investing and had no interest in working there 😉
Turns out, I got the job! I remember thinking, “Wow, cool! Wait, oh shit…” haha. But hey, it paid me well, I had fantastic benefits, and I learned more about financial markets and the world economy than I ever did in school… and that knowledge still serves me extremely well to this day. Yet somehow, I still hated it. I LOATHED going to work in the morning and Sunday evenings were usually spent in tears as I racked my brain for ANY other alternative. It was a serious struggle to wake up and know that I was about to spend nine to ten hours of my day doing work I didn’t care about while generally hating my life.
Shortly after christmas in the second year I worked there at around 10am, we all got an email telling us there was a young woman in our office (no older than 30 and newly married) who was killed in a car accident on her way to work. She was hit at an intersection and died instantly.
Let me just say that for me, any story like this just tears my soul apart. I’m super sensitive to this stuff as it is, but this time, it really hit home with more force than ever. It took everything inside me to not burst in to tears at work that day, and for weeks after that I was haunted by the same question:
if this was my last day on earth, is this what I’d want to spend my time doing?
It’s morbid, I know, but I was really worried about leaving this world while doing something I didn’t even remotely enjoy with people who I liked but certainly didn’t LOVE.
I knew I had to make a change and would have gone almost anywhere. So I applied for countless analyst positions at different firms, looked in to working in a restaurant again, and even got offered a teaching position in the English department at a local high school (a story for another day ;)). But I always kept coming back to the same thing: the only thing I really loved to do and looked forward to no matter what kind of day I had was teaching yoga. An entrepreneur himself, The Frenchman had been down a similar road years before and really encouraged me to go for it; honestly, without him, I might still be counting the minutes to 6pm every day ;)! So I took a deep breath, put in my two weeks notice so that my last day would be January 5th, and I prepared to start down the road of building Bad Yogi with The Frenchman at my side.
That was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. Even though I hated my job, it wasn’t easy to walk away from a healthy, stable income, a 401k, regular bonuses, health insurance and guaranteed upward mobility. So suffice it to say, when I started teaching full-time, I struggled. I was teaching 18 classes a week, driving as far as 40 miles from home to teach wherever I could, and pushing my body to the point of failure, just to get close to making almost half of what I did at the firm. And no benefits. Or insurance. Or savings. But don’t feel too bad for me— I really enjoyed my classes 🙂
Fast-forward through lots of butt-busting, some yoga challenges, more butt-busting, travel, filming, travel, filming, filming, filming, travel, and a dash more butt-busting…
… and The Frenchman and I ended up on a plane to Berlin to film for MyYogaPro exactly one year and one month to the day that I left my job. It was definitely one of those moments that had me feeling extra grateful to have had the support to follow my gut.
That was just one event on the journey that brings us together now. Bad Yogi started as an inside joke I had with myself (the best kind, lol) and now is something that really means something to so many people. I’m embarrassed to admit that I totally used to pretend to like green juice and kombucha and kale and all the stuff that’s stereotypically “yogic,” because I felt so out of place otherwise. My experience with the yoga community was always bittersweet: i loved the practice, but the people I’ve interacted with have often been exclusive, judgmental, and cut from a cloth that I didn’t come from. I knew I couldn’t be alone, so I set out to build a new community. One for those of us who love yoga but don’t fit the mold we’ve been told is “correct.” In Bad Yogi classes, you won’t hear much Sanskrit, I totally forgive you if you don’t know your asana from your elbow, and I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone, from the kale-loving vegan to the prize-winning deer hunter. I don’t care if you’re a devout practitioner or a cursing, SUV-driving, cigarette-smoking asshole, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because you’re welcome here.
Bad Yogi is bringing yoga to people who wouldn’t have tried it before because of all the pretense that comes with it. We’re re-introducing yoga to people who were turned off by it once before but felt compelled to try it again. Bad Yogi isn’t just a punchline; it’s this huge extended yoga family that’s accepting and inclusive and stands up for making yoga appealing again. I want us to bring Bad Yogi to every corner of the world and grow this community to be bigger than we can even imagine.
Let’s do this, bad yogi army.
Spread the good word 😉 Our 10-Day Instagram Challenge Starts 1/1/15.
Over to you: Any similar stories out there? Love hearing them!