I’m a rock n roll, smoking, martini drinking, latte-obsessed Hairstylist… or, at least, I used to be…
When you think of a ‘Yoga teacher’, I’m not likely the image that comes to mind. So, how did a rebellious, tattooed, heavy metal lover become a Yoga Teacher?
Allow me to explain:
In 1998, a co-worker suggested that we all register for a Monday morning Yoga class together. Since Monday was my day off, and I’m naturally a night owl, I was less than excited about this morning idea.
Also, I had zero interest in Yoga, sure I had moved my body a lot in my past, I had been both a bodybuilder and a runner, but Yoga seemed a bit ‘woo woo’ for me. It brought to mind images of hippies in white clothing on a commune somewhere, not something I as a rebellious lone wolf could see myself doing.
But, with promises of lattes and door-to-door delivery, I finally caved in.
That first Yoga class completely rocked my world, in all the best ways. I had never felt so relaxed and centred. For the duration of the class, my mind focused on one thing and one thing only… Yoga. As an adrenaline-seeking, type-A personality, this was miraculous. I left the class feeling like I was walking on a cloud. I clearly remember saying to my friends, “I’m going to do Yoga forever.”
And so I kept going to classes long after my friends had moved on to other past times, and my relationship with Yoga deepened. I started going to classes more often and practicing a few of the poses I could remember at home. Yup, Yoga had begun to seep into my bones. I was hooked. Gradually, my practice of Yoga began to create changes, not just in how I felt in my physical body, but how I saw the world around me, myself, and my life outside of my Yoga practice.
Let’s fast forward to 2000 – I was now not only a successful hairstylist, but also a hair color expert and platform artist. I was making amazing money. I was traveling around the country, teaching hairstylists what the new latest and greatest in hair color and color techniques were.
From the outside, I looked like I had it all. I got treated like a Rock Star, wined, dined, stage, mics, models, music etc. I was in a position most hairstylists dream of.
While I loved my time on the road, it was really high stress and hard on me physically and mentally. And all the while I had a closet philosopher hiding in me, I was always reading Yoga and Meditation books on the road.
When I did get back to the salon and worked with my clients, I felt less than inspired. It was impossible to let my creative juices flow when every second girl in my chair wanted the same boring blond highlights that I could do in my sleep.
I wasn’t getting the same creative high I did on the road. I also just didn’t feel like I was contributing to the world in any real positive way. I mean, sure, I was making people ‘pretty’, but even that had lost its importance.
I was helping people feel better about their appearance, but what about the inside? I was starting to feel like my job indirectly made people feel ‘not enough’, just like the marketing I hated from major beauty companies. “You’re not pretty enough or good enough without _____.”
I began to feel a disconnect between my Yoga and my livelihood. I wanted to help heal our world, to contribute, make a difference. I had been an activist on and off for years, but now I felt called to do more. Now I wanted to help people feel beautiful from the inside out. I knew how much peace Yoga had brought me, and I wanted to share that peace with the world.
I also knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up my hairstylist lifestyle forever. Being on the road, the drinking, the smoking, the crazy amount of espresso I consumed to keep going day to day, was taking its toll on my body and my spirit.
I was starting to develop work-related injuries and had to cut back my hours at the salon, so I knew it was just a matter of time until I had to find something else to do for my livelihood.
I did a lot of soul-searching and realized what I loved most about my current career was the teaching. I truly came alive when I was teaching or learning (two sides of the same coin). I realized I could keep my love of teaching and just change what I was teaching. I could teach Yoga, something that truly spoke to my heart.
But in order to do this, I had to overcome many obstacles:
- The voice in my head telling me I was living the dream, that I had it all and had no right to be so unhappy.
- The fear of going back to school.
- The HUGE cut in income from my Platform Artist ‘Rock Star’ life to humble Yoga teacher.
- The guilt of leaving my clients some of which had been with me for over a decade.
- The confused and less than supportive questions from friends or family (the naysayers).
- Massive lifestyle changes; the espresso, drinking to excess and smoking clearly had to go.
- I had a truckload of debt load due to my medical issues from doing hair. While payments were affordable with my current salary, they would not be while I was starting out as a new teacher.
But I knew I had to make a change, so I signed up for Yoga teacher training and went to ‘Yoga school’ while still doing hair so I could work my way through school.
In 2004, I graduated from my first teacher training and, with the help and encouragement of my fella, I went for it! I ran eyes on the horizon and jumped, and found my wings on the way down.
But it wasn’t without big sacrifice…
Due to the staggering debt I had incurred from medical bills, I had to declare personal bankruptcy (one of the hardest but best decisions I ever made). I swallowed my pride, got a part-time job in a coffee shop working for minimum wage, and started looking for teaching gigs. It took 2.5 years, two jobs and six days/week before I was able to quit my ‘joe job’ and just teach Yoga.
I now have been teaching Yoga and Meditation since 2004 (fist pump). I get to create and hold space for my clients to heal and recharge their batteries. I get to inspire change every day. I truly believe I am helping to create a more peaceful world one student and one breath at a time.
I am so honored and grateful to be doing what I love and living ‘on purpose’.
And now, I’m doing it all over again. I recently moved from Calgary to Victoria BC, where I had been teaching full time. I gave up my clientele and my safety net moved provinces and returned to school to study Chinese Medicine and Yoga Therapy.
So, I am rebuilding from scratch again. Being a Yoga entrepreneur is not always easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
P.S I’m still a purple haired, heavy music-loving rebel, only now I drink Kombucha and OM a lot