Years in Tampa Bay
What do you do?
I teach primarily kids’ yoga. I work in Title 1 schools, teaching kids mindfulness. I also am a marine biologist. I teach yoga, mindfulness and other enrichment activities to fifth-graders in Title 1 schools through a grant. I also teach children in foster care, and I lead mindful parenting classes. Day to day, I do a lot of behind-the-scenes content, promoting Facebook and things like that to get my content ready so I can go out and deliver it to those who are open to it.
Why do you do it?
I have had a lot of anxiety, depression in my life, especially as a kid. I wish somebody would’ve taught me these tools of stress management. So learning how to be in my body, to love myself, to breathe, to not take anything personally, and to learn emotional intelligence. My life would’ve been so different if I would’ve learned these things. My passion is to teach kids while they’re open and receptive that they have a choice in their lives, in their emotions. We’re not really taught emotional intelligence in this country, so my mission is to bring that to children so they can grow up learning how to deal with and manage their anxiety, depression and anger so we’ll all be a little happier.
What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)
Teaching yoga. I worked in marine science, and the only way to get ahead was to get a master’s or a PhD, so there was a lot of competition, so I decided to try something different. I thought about nursing, and then somebody mentioned, “Why don’t you teach yoga?” My very first yoga teacher did her teacher training in India, and I decided to follow in her footsteps. I fell into kids’ yoga, and started teaching that as my niche, and it’s been really great, actually. Turns out I’m really good at it.
What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?
A lot of people think teaching yoga and mindfulness is associated with religion. What I teach is really about self-awareness and stress management. Another misconception is that you have to be flexible to do yoga, which is not true. We teach ourselves how to be flexible, not only in our bodies but with our thought processes. The other misconception about meditation is that we need to clear our mind. That’s impossible. We don’t have control over the thoughts that come into our mind, but what we teach is that we do have control over what we do with those thoughts that come into our mind.
What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?
Because I’m a single person, doing all this myself. Trying to get the word out, trying to market myself, flyers and reaching people is really hard. We generally don’t have a business background, and we have a hard time charging what we’re worth, so marketing is probably my biggest challenge. In the trenches, dealing with all the different behaviors with children, especially in the difficult schools. They have so much trauma in their lives, so trying to figure out how to best meet the children where they’re at and give them what they need has been a big challenge.
What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?
I recently hired a business coach, and kind of the best piece of advice I got was, I was learning how my emotional chaos kind of thwarted my business efforts. She told me that if I have a meeting, say, with a company or a school, I would never just blow it off to do something different. So if I make a meeting with myself to get something done, why would I blow that off for lunch with somebody? To treat myself with as much respect as I would an outside person whom I was going to meet.
Teaching in the Title 1 schools with fifth-graders one hour, once a week is not enough to make a significant change in their behavior when they have so many other outside factors, and nobody else reinforcing the tools of mindfulness. I had an elementary school recently commission me to make audio, guided meditation recordings for their morning announcements. I’m hoping to put together that for other schools to use as well, and package with that a couple of workshops to train the school teachers themselves on how they can practice mindfulness. Give them some tools and tricks to help reinforce these mindfulness practices in their classrooms, and then also so they can create their own “calm down” corner.
Why St. Pete?
I came to St. Pete because of a man, my former husband. I love St. Pete, I love the people who are here. The single greatest thing that I loved about St. Pete was Jannus Landing, because I love live music. That has definitely made me stay here. I love how eclectic we are here. The people are amazing; a lot of like-minded folks.