The ability to adapt and move with what arises is one of the greatest teachings of yoga as we learn to become more flexible in body and mind. Letting go of how we want to feel or how we think something should appear is one of the key themes Clara often asks her student in class: to let go and be with what is. When we let go and allow ourselves to open to receive new ideas this may provide access to a wider range of experiences, relationships, and concepts to shape the realities we share. In a previous post on Ayurvedic Medicine, we discussed the unique energies that make up our world and the importance of cultivating a lifestyle that strives for balance. The aim of Ayurvedic Medicine and the practice of yoga is to move with the fluidity and flux of the universe as we adapt to change in this weird and wonderful world we live in!
Adapting to change is a key factor in growing and thriving in work and our work relationships. When we’re faced with discordance and discover ripples of discontent rather than giving up or surrendering to obstacles we might use this as an opportunity to learn and grow past our current state. The power of adaptability was beautifully expressed when Clara went into labour last week a full three weeks early. It was untimed and unexpected, as many of life’s major turn-of-events (sometimes) seem to be. Clara’s business model thrives on her super power of moving with the unexpected rhythms of the universe. Clara creates, adapts, and receives based on what’s happening moment-to-moment while she honours her goals and the necessary guidelines that keep her business alive.
Clara and I discussed some of the tactics she’s used as she adapts and moves through pivotal shifts in her career as a yoga instructor, business owner, and digital media presence. Below are some of the highlights from the #PracticeWithClara Morning Gathering that illuminates the importance of going with the flow and adapting swiftly to change to grow a business.
The Will to Change and Soften
Move toward the people, places, and projects where you feel good about yourself and thrive. When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more energy and abundance to give to the project and those around us. Change occurs when we least expect it and, more often, when we’re unhappy or discontent with where we currently are. Keep moving toward the areas where you feel supported, challenged, and alive; the creative fires inside will continue to spit out the flames when you and your team feel good about what you’re creating.
When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more confidence in ourselves and encounter setbacks as opportunities to shift what we’re doing and learn something new. Resistance becomes our greatest teacher. When we move past resistance and simply be with what is, we may begin to see where we need to let go in order to keep moving forward.
For seventeen years, decade Clara has taught yoga in studios, retreat centres, and outdoor events, in countries all over the world, planning and executing experiences for yoga by herself and with other yoga teachers and enthusiasts. Clara knew that there would be setbacks, including but not limited to: low registration for retreats, last minute cancellations (for plane tickets and accommodations), conflicting opinions with studio owners or co-hosts, and disgruntled guests for a myriad of reasons. For every story that seduces and inspires, there’s a story of defeat where things didn’t go as expected and plans were changed beyond human control. One of the things that allowed Clara to stick it out through the periods of discomfort and tough-love lessons, was her passion for her craft and confidence in what she provided for her community, peers, and guests.
From New York city teaching public yoga classes, to launching the #PracticeWithClara Community apps and online yoga platform, Clara’s built a business where she gets to do what she loves (with long hours, no shortcuts) and works alongside her life partner, Alejandro Arce, who manages the business and marketing for the #PracticeWithClara community.
In our talk last week Clara shared some of her key learnings in how to build a business organically and adapt to the swift and surprising kicks from the world we’re all treated to time and time again.
Clara’s Advice to Yoga Teachers:
Do what works for YOU (and be in LOVE with what you do!)
Everyone has their own management style and workflow so what works for one person will not work for everyone. No one way is better than any other way, it’s about finding a process that serves and making realistic goals to pave a little outline for the path we want to take. Seek advice and ask all the questions, but be willing to examine your own work habits (including work/life balance) and how you prefer to interact with your community, peers, and colleagues, before writing a guidebook for how things ‘should’ be done.
Provide clear and constructive feedback
The feedback style of the #PracticeWithClara team is very straightforward. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to pivot quickly, try new things, and keep building momentum. Through clear and constructive feedback we’re able to quickly assess and readdress the things that propel us forward or hold us back. Learning how to give feedback that’s meaningful and productive, with a clear call-to-action is valuable. It develops critical thinking skills and communication skills that we could benefit from in our work or intimate relationships.
Hire someone who’s confident in what they do
Hiring someone who’s capable and confident in what they bring to your business enables you to refine your focus as you create something that really resonates with your community. It creates a sense of trust between you and the other person as the relationship develops with all members pitching in and equally contributing to what’s being created. It also allows for the communication to flow and feedback to be delivered with a bit more ease. When you create an environment where individuals feel supported and safe in sharing their opinions, they’ll feel more at ease in voicing their ideas and bringing new content to the business. You can’t be the best at all of the parts in your business as it grows, so developing relationships with people you know you can trust for their skills is key to manage your workload and lifestyle balance.
Don’t force it, go with what arises
Don’t try to force anything, go with what arises day-by-day. Clara’s business model evolved over a decade as she kept adding to her business over the years. There was no rush to a specific point or create in ways she wasn’t ready for. It all came naturally. The mentorship program, where Clara provides feedback to aspiring yoga teachers, evolved naturally when a student asked for her advice. The launch of the iPhone and Android apps naturally evolved from Clara’s online web platform from an idea of Alejandro. Copying what others are doing is just that: copying something that’s already been done. Make space to explore and for new ideas to emerge, and be open and willing to receive what arises; you never know, a comment from a student may inspire something totally unique to the industry!
Soften the story
Getting caught up in a specific story or idea may hinder your ability to move forward and see all the other possibilities to be explored. When we create narratives around a particular subject and drive so hard toward a set list of goals, there’s less room to shift and see what else may be swimming in the sea of potential. Be willing to shift your to-do list. Be open to adapting to new events as they arise. Allow yourself some space to listen to those around you and see how your ideas and incentives land before driving full-force into what you initially set out to do. Sometimes, when we soften the story, new endings emerge that may be better suited to what we’re trying to achieve.
Seek Inspiration and Guidance
I undertook a mentorship program with Clara after completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, of which I also took with Clara. I seek inspiration from a variety of teachers in my local community and abroad, but felt strongly about aligning with a teacher who could gently encourage me into the world of yoga, multifaceted as it is in movement, philosophy, and business management. Clara was a teacher I felt I could trust, had practiced with for over a year, and shared a lot of my same values and passions (which included philosophy and reading). To this day I am grateful for my decision to seek out a mentor and learn from Clara as the experience shaped my teaching experience and how I create and contribute to the yoga community in Vancouver, BC.
Why You Might Seek a Mentorship:
You’re going to miss your mishaps
Whenever I get really excited and dive head-first into a new project, be it professional or personal, I develop rose-coloured goggles for whatever it is I’m creating. Be it a new yoga sequence I can’t wait to teach a class or a poem I feel captures beauty. In dedicating unmeasured time, passion, and effort into a project, I become attached to my final product and may miss potential points where my message is convoluted or confused. This happens a lot, this inability to critically analyze my own work due to my closeness to it. Having a second opinion, and someone who can’t point out where you’re wrong/confused/mistaken, is essential to creating a finished product that truly resonates with your audience. This is where feedback from someone with the experience and expertise in your field will help you develop and grow your craft/business/product.
Develop your signature style
Growing a business or passion project requires a lot of patience and persistence. The beads of wisdom Clara served in my initial years of teaching helped me develop my teaching style, connect to local studio owners, and discern how I wanted to speak to my passions through yoga (weave in philosophy and literature). Without guidance, my temperament would have gone in fresh out of my YTT, in a time where my methods lacked creativity, consideration, and confidence. With Clara’s ongoing insight and feedback, I was able to grow into my voice and honour the space in the room that I shared with students. Instead of the insecurities and fumbles we make as new teachers, I was able to enter the community with a little more clarity around who I was and what I wanted to create with my students.
Go With the Flow and Let It Go
Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She’s the deity one would call upon when seeking insight, learning something new, or looking for inspiration. Saraswati is a combination of the Sanskrit word, saras which means “pooling water” and vati which means “she who possesses”. She’s associated with rivers and lakes, with the fluidity and flow associated with the element water. One of the ways you may invite a more fluid energy into your life is to practice with more vinyasa-flow style and emphasis on breath. Clara has two offerings this week that honour Saraswati and the practice of letting go:
NEW CLASSES THIS WEEK
Join Clara for a Saraswati-themed vinyasa yoga class. This class is fluid and powerful, connecting you to the essence of the Goddess as you breathe.
A meditation for Saraswati to inspire something new or harness the knowledge to gain the momentum to move forwards.
And if you have questions or want to be a part of our discussions, you can join the #PracticeWithClara Community!