We've covered a lot of ground since we returned to the USA from Mexico in August. We've spent time in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, a month in Florida -- and then on the run from Hurricane Irma we unexpectedly journeyed North to Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and back down to North Carolina for the past month. Oh yeah, and in the midst of all this Josh also flew to San Diego to do one-on-one consulting sessions at the Mindbody Bold Conference and the kids and I flew back to Victoria and Calgary for a week to visit family. No wonder we haven't had any time to blog about our adventures! It's starting to feel like we need a vacation from all this traveling!
With impeccable timing, we're now headed back to Florida to park the Earthroamer and fly to Mexico for One Fire Hot Yoga Festival. We're planning to stay put for 10 days in Puerto Morelos and enjoy sand, sun, beach, and yoga. Grandma and Grandpa are even flying from Red Deer to meet us and help with the kids while Josh and I take in yoga classes and run some continuing education sessions for hot yoga teachers and yoga business seminars at the festival.
In preparation for this event, we were interviewed by our friends at One Fire, which got us to thinking about our yoga journey -- from trying class for the first time, to going to Teacher Training, to building our studio, to taking our passion to a larger scale on the road and getting involved with incredible yoga community-building events like this one!
Q: Where are you based out of? town + studio?
A: Jenna: We owned Bikram Yoga Red Deer in Alberta, Canada from 2010-2015, but then we decided to sell it (and pretty much everything else) to travel full time with our kids. So now we're nomads and travel around teaching yoga at different studios. We've been all over Canada, USA, and are now in Mexico.
A: Josh: Haha we live in our Earthroamer, so wherever you meet us is where we're currently living.
Q: When and where did you first stumble into hot yoga?
A: Jenna: 2007 at Feel Hot Yoga/Bikram Yoga Kingston in Kingston, Ontario.
A: Josh: Bikram Yoga Victoria in 2009
Q: Do you remember your first class? Did someone bring you or did you venture out on your own?
A: Jenna: I had been practicing yoga on and off for a few years before I went to my first Bikram Yoga class. I was doing my Masters at the time and went with my friend Lauren, who almost ditched me and left after about 20 minutes in the hot room. I’d played competitive sports growing up, so I enjoyed the challenge, but that first class felt like the hardest thing I'd ever done in my life! When class was over, I remember thinking that I never knew it was possible to feel so good naturally.
A: Josh: My previous yoga experiences were not that awesome. The thought of adding heat seemed insane. So I only agreed to go with Jenna on a day that I happened to forget my shorts. She said we should run to Lululemon to buy a pair. I only agreed because I was sure there was no chance that we would make it downtown to buy shorts and back to the studio on foot in time for the last class of the day. I've never seen Jenna run so fast. Most of class was a blur. What I do remember is that Jenna sold me out and made me practice on the opposite side of the room! To help the situation, the teacher made sure to point out not only that I was new, but that my wife refused to practice beside me. It wasn't until the end of class that I realized 2 things: 1) I was laying in savasana the opposite direction of everyone else in class and 2) the good looking uber fit yoga teacher was actually 65 years old!
Q: What made you go to teacher training?
A: Jenna: I went to teacher training for purely selfish reasons! I had struggled with depression in my teens, and even though my life seemed fine on the outside, I had been self-medicating to feel better for years. When I started practicing hot yoga, I had just recently moved across the country to go to grad school and ended a messy long-term relationship with a guy, and with drugs and alcohol. It was time for a change. After a few months of almost daily practice, I knew that I had never felt so good -- happy, healthy, and emotionally balanced -- in my life. The yoga taught me to like myself, love myself and start taking care of myself. I felt in control of my own happiness. I knew I had to go to teacher training so that I would continue to do this yoga every day and keep feeling like the best version of myself.
A: Josh: My son. Although I thought I might go one day, Jenna and I were moving to Columbia, so I thought it would happen years in the future. But when we found out she was pregnant, and I imagined telling my mother in law that her first grandchild was going to live in a different hemisphere, we decided to speed up our plans to open a yoga studio instead. I thought: Jenna probably won't want to teach ALL the classes pregnant and/or breastfeeding, so I'd better go to teacher training. I literally showed up the day it was starting with only a backpack containing a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and a money order to pay for training. Luckily they let me in!
Q: What's your favorite thing(s) about teaching?
A: Jenna: It doesn't matter what's going on in life outside the hot room, as soon as I go in and start teaching nothing else matters. And it's the same with practicing. I always leave the yoga room feeling more grounded, clear, and optimistic than when I went in. It's not possible to do yoga and not feel better afterward. I love the students who come in to the studio grumpy, glare all through class, and then leave with the biggest smile on their faces!
A: Josh: Getting to talk for 90 minutes without interruption. But seriously, seeing people change for the better in ways neither they nor I expected.
Q: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while you were practicing? teaching?
A: Jenna: Two guys showed up for their first time at the last class of the evening. I thought they were acting a little strange, and that maybe I smelled alcohol as they walked into the change room, but I couldn't be sure. I had one of our most experienced teachers on that night and I was practicing, so I thought, let's see how this plays out. I kept a close eye on our new students. The coordination required for Pranayama breathing put their class off to a bad start. I saw them start to lean against the wall during Half Moon. I was amazed when they made it to Party Time. When we got to the Standing Bow Pulling line "Mama give me money," one of the new guys started singing "Money, money, money, money, MONEY!" like in the scene from Jerry Maguire! Not only could he not grab his foot, but our new friend fell into the back wall, and the whole class erupted with laughter. Clearly, they were just barely sober enough to make it past the front desk, but they did considerably well, even with their added challenge.
A: Josh: Fart.
Q: Do you have other (non-hot yoga) passions?
A: Jenna: Our current nomadic lifestyle is my biggest passion because we get to travel to awesome locations, spend all our time together as a family, be outdoors exploring constantly, be entrepreneurs, and stay completely open to all possibilities. Honestly, between traveling full time, kid wrangling, lining up teaching gigs and trying to maintain a yoga practice, sometimes it seems like there's not much time for normal hobbies! I've always loved writing, travel, and healthy living, but now I'm also interested in alternative education for our kids and minimalist living.
A: Josh: I try to just be passionate about life. Right now I'm the most passionate about yoga business, entrepreneurship, alternative living, overland traveling, and I love downhill biking.
Q: If money wasn't an issue, what would you spend the next year of your life doing?
A: Jenna: We’re already doing it! When we sold everything to travel, we made the decision not to let scarcity thinking get in the way of our dreams. When we opened our yoga studio, owning a yoga studio was our dream, even though at the time we had no idea how we were going to afford it. 5 years later, we decided to focus on a different dream – traveling with our kids and teaching and consulting at lots of different studios – and we just went for it. There’s so much abundance and opportunity; doing what you’re excited about is more important than worrying about money.
A: Josh: Already doing it. Money is only an issue if you make it one.
Q:What is the name of the class/classses/workshops you'll be teaching at One Fire? Tell us what they're about.
A: Jenna: Josh will be doing a lecture on yoga business based on his experience mentoring studio owners all over the world, and together we’ll be running a continuing education workshop for hot yoga teachers called “Back to Basics.” During our travels to different studios, we've encountered so many teachers who have incredible yoga teaching skills and passion, but their classes fail to reach their full potential because they've forgotten (or never implemented) some of the basic principles of teaching hot yoga. We’ll use our experience running a yoga studio and implementing a teacher mentoring program to go over some of the essential principles of developing as a teacher, giving feedback and mentoring, and teaching students with injuries or special cases.
A: Josh: We'll be running a continuing education class for traditional hot yoga teachers. I'll also be doing lectures called "Applying Yogic Principles to Business: How to Sell Yoga" and a Yoga Cafe on "The Future of the Yoga Industry." Managing and owning yoga studios, training sales staff, and traveling full time and business coaching at yoga studios has allowed us to experience a wide variety of how the yoga industry operates. The challenges of running a yoga business or being a yogapreneur have never been greater than now. But the excuses have never been easier either. The vast majority of studios and yogapreneurs aren't even employing the standard best practices for wellness business, let alone anything that would be considered cutting edge. Even the most fundamental things, like how to sell a yoga pass, are more often than not, sub-optimal. It's our obligation as yoga teachers and studio owners to proliferate the power of our product and actually practice our yoga. If yoga is everything, then it must include the best business practices as well.