This September, I’m celebrating the studio’s 8th birthday.

I never celebrated milestones or important occasions, but I’m a firm believer that gratitude brings us more things to be grateful for.

How it started

 

Before I opened the studio, I was teaching yoga classes in Norman Park. I hired a couple of local halls and taught yoga five nights a week while working in IT.

When I completed my yoga teacher training, I started teaching my work friends in a park in the city. But mosquitoes, lousy weather and perverts put a stop to that pretty quickly. So I searched for a cheap hall that I could hire to continue teaching my friends. I found the Rosicrucian Temple on Norman Avenue and began teaching there two nights per week. I put a blackboard sign out the front that said $10 Yoga – Tuesdays and Thursdays, and before I knew it, my classes were packed.

I wanted to teach more classes, but that hall wasn’t available, so I found the old Anglican Church Hall on Agnew Street. That proved to be popular too as it had fantastic views over the city at night time.

I was thrilled with my dual life of suited up urban professional by day and barefoot yoga hippie by night.

After six months, the church informed me that they were selling the building and needed to find another venue.

I was devasted and felt like the wind had been knocked from my sails.

I searched and searched to find another suitable hall in the area to no avail.

I was on the verge of giving up.

Then, one day I was walking home from work through Mowbray Park (which I’ve always had an affinity with as I used to live in Stafford St), and I received a message to search for a venue in East Brisbane.

When I got home, I jumped online and saw that the old cinema was for lease. I was familiar with the building as I had also lived in Withington Street in my 20s. I arranged an inspection, and when I saw the studio space, I knew I had to have it.

But it was expensive, and I wasn’t sure if I could afford the rent on a 12-month lease. The bond itself was $15 000.

The signs

 

I desperately wanted to lease the studio, but it was a massive financial risk.

I asked the universe for signs.

Before I tell you about the first sign, I need to give some context. A few years earlier, my husband had bought me a singing bowl for my birthday. I had always wanted one, and I was excited to play it, except it didn’t play.

I googled how to play it and tried and tried, but the stupid thing wouldn’t play, or maybe it was a dud. A few months later, I was at a yoga festival where a man was selling them. Since I didn’t want another dud bowl, I asked him to play it to prove it worked. It made a beautiful sound, so I bought it.

When I took this new singing bowl home, it wouldn’t play. This frustrated me to no end. It wasn’t until I stumbled across an article that said the bowl would only play when the player is ready to receive the sound. I practised it regularly but gave up.

Anyway, after seeing the studio and considering taking on the lease, I had asked the universe for a sign. I had the urge to get my two dud singling bowls out of the cupboard, and low and behold – they both sang for me. I know this meant that I was ready.

I was still nervous about my ability to make enough money to cover the rent. The next night at yoga, about ten people bought a 10 class pass. That was in the days where people paid cash, and I had so much money that night I couldn’t fit it into my wallet.

These were the signs I needed.

Without a plan

 

I quit my job and opened the studio in the space of two weeks. I didn’t have a business plan; I just had the potent mix of naivete, youthful enthusiasm and yoga zeal.

Fortunately, many of my Norman Park yogis followed me to the new studio. And some of them are still part of our community (you know who you are, and I’m so grateful for your support).

My very first class was 10 am on Monday 30 September 2013. It was me, my Mum and my first client.

There were many, many times where no one showed up. But slowly, over the first few weeks and months, we would get 3, 4 0r even five people to class.

Word spread because we were one of the few yoga studios that offered Yin yoga and Yoga for Beginners. Our classes were accessible, and without the mirrors and fancy tricks, we built a down-to-earth atmosphere that felt welcoming to people who didn’t fit the yoga stereotype.

In the first year, we made a $10 000 loss. We made lots of sales, but I didn’t realise how expensive it was to run a business. There was lots of trial and error, but we started making a profit in our second year.

As the studio began to grow, my personal life began to fall apart.

Falling apart

 

2015/16 was a challenging period for me. There were many times that I wanted to close down and run away, but I couldn’t.

My Dad was dying of cancer, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was navigating a messy divorce.

I had so much on my plate, and I resented the responsibility of business ownership. It was tough not to let my personal problems interfere with my business. I also decided, which I later regretted, not to tell our community that I had cancer. Back then, I had trouble accepting support from others. Instead, people just assumed I was on holidays for six months.

In 2017 when I got cancer again, I told our community and was humbled by the outpouring of love and support. I will never forget the people who supported me back then.

Picking up the pieces

 

I had long periods off work during those years. I had eight surgeries in 3 years and had plenty of time for reflecting, healing and personal growth. They were some pretty dark times, and I found that the only way out was in.  While I couldn’t practice physically, I went deep into meditation, emotional healing and learning about the subconscious mind.

As I made my return to teaching, something shifted in me. I was less interested in teaching people how to stretch their muscles and became much more interested in holding space for people to heal their deeper emotional wounds. At this point, I began teaching courses and workshops on mental and emotional health, meditation, and how to apply yoga principles off the mat.

Creating courses and programs that facilitated more profound healing was the work that really lit me up. Through my own life experiences and healing journey, I was able to help support others in healing their deeper wounds.

Post-traumatic growth

 

I’m so grateful to my past self for facing her mental demons, confronting her emotional pain and healing her wounds instead of running away. I can honestly say that getting a cancer diagnosis was one of the best things that happened to me because it made me take the wheel of my life instead of riding passively in the passenger seat.

I took my health seriously instead of taking it for granted.

Life turned around for me when I began to priorities my wellbeing over everything else.

I have bounced back higher because I took the time to heal my body and my heart, mind, and soul.

The COVID rollercoaster

 

The studio was going from strength to strength when COVID hit. COVID forced me to really practice what I preach. I stayed in my lane, minded my own business and used meditation and intuition to guide me through the turbulence.

While it feels like the worst of COVID is over, I will continue to use my tools to navigate uncertainty and help others do the same.

I’m pleased to say we have renewed the lease, and we’re committed to continuing our mission to teach people how to create their own calm.

8 is a lucky number

 

Eight is supposed to be a lucky number. And while I like the idea of luck on my side, I know that I make my own luck.

I’ve learned so much about business, yoga, people and myself over the last eight years.

I share these lessons with you as they apply to all areas of life, not just business.

My biggest lessons from 8 years in business

1. Communicate my struggles

 

I used to think I had to present an image that everything was fine and that I had it all together. I didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable.

This put a lot of pressure on me.

I kept my community in the dark when I had cancer, and it upset me when people said things like, “you’re always on holidays, don’t you ever work?” The reality was my life was so hard that I had nothing left to give, let alone hold space for others. In hindsight, if I’d shared my struggles, it may have helped or inspired someone else, and it would have helped me to feel less misunderstood.

2. Make decisions from a neutral place

 

Making rash decisions when we’re emotionally charged is a bad idea. Making decisions when we’re angry, fearful or upset is a recipe for disaster. I learned the hard way to clear my emotions first before making a decision. This is something that I now teach, as it’s a painful lesson to learn.

3. Consistency trumps perfection every time

 

It’s not easy to be consistent when no one shows up for class. It’s not easy to send weekly newsletters that no one reads. It’s not easy to keep putting yourself out there. But consistency is the only way to success. It’s the small daily actions done consistently over time that lead to significant results. It’s not one thing that made a difference, but a bunch of little things done well for an extended period that compounds.

Consistency applies to all areas of our lives – health, relationships, career, finances, and even meditation practice. Forget perfection; focus on consistency instead.

4. Boundaries don’t make me a bitch or a bad yogi

 

We teach people how to treat us, and if we have no boundaries, we create an expectation that any behaviour is acceptable. It hasn’t been easy to set and uphold boundaries over the years, but they work and teach people what to expect. Boundaries are how we protect our energy and mental health.

5. Mindset is everything

 

My state of mind is my best asset, and there is a direct relationship between the quality of my thoughts and the studio’s success.

Our state of mind influences how we feel. When we feel good, we make good decisions and take action. When we feel bad, we make poor decisions and will either fail to act or react poorly. Our state of mind directly influences the quality of our lives.

Meditation is the tool I use to manage my mindset, look after my mind and think clearly. If you asked me what the secret to my success is, I would say it’s daily meditation.

Everything changes

 

I’m not the same person that I was eight years ago, and neither are you.

It’s thought that every seven years, every cell in our body is replaced by a new one.

Our body, our mind, our thoughts and our feelings are constantly changing.

We are going to change anyway; we may as well change consciously.

I had no idea how much my life would change since my very first yoga class 15 years ago. Little did I know that yoga would be the catalyst to turn my life around.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m not worried about it.

I know that I can do hard things.

I know how to start over. I know how to pick myself up after a fall.

And I know how to reach for support.

If you’ve ever been to the studio, attended a class, read a blog post or liked a post on social media, I’m ever so grateful for your support.

 

Keep calm,

 

Monica