Making the Most Out of it in Life!

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of you Rogue Yogis! Here's to all of those who served, and all of their families that stood right by their choice to serve. Cheers to everyone taking this weekend to explore and relax. *This is where I toast a glass of wine to all the BBQs going off everywhere!*

For the hubby and I, we were supposed to spend this weekend (and more) in Maui. It would've been my first time, as I've never been to Hawaii nor any of its islands. We had planned this trip over a month ago--well, my hubby's company planned the trip. The initial location was actually Mexico, but concerns over the Zica virus grew to the point of moving the destination to Maui.

Excitement built up to the day before our flight. I arranged for substitute yoga teachers for my classes at various yoga studios, which wasn't easy for Memorial Day Weekend!

We talked about the hikes, the snorkeling, the food, the food and the food. We even had time-blocked everything so we could get enough time to explore, nap and enjoy everything.

One thing we didn't talk about was the weather.

After he checked the weather, he found out that it would be thunder storming the entire week. We wouldn't be able to hike. Trails everywhere would be muddy. With an assortment of other reasons beyond our control, we made the decision not go to to Maui. No hiking, no exploring, no food.

This is where the old me would have sulked in a cave somewhere, whining about the situation. A lot of people would feel disappointed or attached to something like this. Totally understandable. But, what if you could focus on the new opportunity instead of the old one? What can happen when you seize the moment and get creative?

All this yoga and meditation practice, along with being so busy with Rogue Yogi, and having such a strong desire to explore, there wasn't much time or energy put into the negative. Standing behind my best friend, the love of my life, I wanted him to get a taste of Hawaii without us having to fly anywhere! Fun was still going to stay on our agenda. Exploring, hiking and FOOD were not going to budge, and that's just how we want it!

So, we grabbed our yogi puppycats, Franklin and Bowie, our camping gear, and our meal prep before we headed up north.  Bowie the Traveling Yoga Cat                                                                           Bowie the Traveling Yoga Cat

Poor Franklin. He is taking a bit longer to feel accustomed to riding in a car, despite being in many drives for the past few years. Hiding in his carrier, he couldn't come out to join Bowie in the furry excitement. Bowie the traveling Turkish Angora likes to perch on top of the dashboard, stare out the windshield, transfer to my lap, meow his commentary on the world outside, then transfer to his daddy's lap to do the same. We are a family of Wanderlusts.
According to the dictionary, the definition of "wanderlust" is:
 1. a strong desire to travel.

It's fucking awesome to have Wanderlust. So equally amazing to have a life partner that has it, too. Maybe it's contagious! What if we gave it to each other?! Then, we gave it to the cat! If so, then I am not complaining! This is something many of us in this world have. Why not drive somewhere to get inspired by something new?

On his agenda: Muir Beach, Muir Woods, the Zen Center SF, Samuel P. Taylor Park

On my agenda: Spam Musubi, Hawaiian water (100% from Hawaii!), Tuna Poke Bowl with Brown Rice, and Japanese Shabu-Shabu (aka Japanese "hot pot"). Mind you, the last meal isn't Hawaiian, but they have a connection somehow, so I'll take it. Also, we just love eating Shabu-Shabu on camping trips. More on that in another post, because I can keep talking about cooking and food for days. You can read about our camping and Hawaiian cooking ideas here!

flowers, muir beach, camping, traveling, flowers

Together, we made a solid plan to go off-the-grid, get away from the city life, and take all the nature in. What was really cool was that our first stop at Muir Beach had so much modernity to its physical structure. The man-made bridges and walkways on the sand had such clean lines. Our eyes couldn't help but follow the horizontal slats all the way out into the hills. Muir Woods also had equally modern mini-bridges in its park. If you're into architecture and design, these spots would be great for you to visit.

Julie the Rogue Yogi practices Tree Pose (Vrksasana) on the Muir Beach Bridge


Next up, the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center SF. Funny enough, we weren't in San Francisco at this point, but the nearby water is technically considered the SF bay, and the main Zen Center hub is in SF. Such a sanctuary. Signs directed us down a woodsy path that passed by the "conference" building. Billowy smoke puffed out of its chimney with scents of fresh wood. Private and shared rooms with large windows got our curiosity going. There were interesting architectural designs of the single rooms. It almost looked like an octagonal pagoda, with each room having a window facing outward.

A lake nearby rippled in the wind (it really was a windy day). Behind it, the farm and garden. Several small Buddha statues adorned the garden. Tags and snippets of paper tied to branches fluttered with the heavy winds. Maybe they were prayer flags from the little Buddhas. Surrounded by tall bamboo trees, these statues looked like they were right at home.

Meditative Buddha Statue Quiets His Mind


Nurseries full of baby kale, lettuce, and various plants struck our eyes with deep burgundy and green colors. Volunteers roamed about this area. Some were watering the plants. Others were tending to wheelbarrows. We guessed that these volunteers were doing this as part of their meditation experience. Being of service to be selfless, to quiet their minds, to give good karma.

zen center, farm, nursery, meditation, peaceful, garden

The Zen Center had a separate Tea Room. Next to it was a huge and rustic bell with words of peace and friendship.

Coming from an urban background, this was definitely a big contrast from the city life. Normally, there would be a yoga studio or my tiny-ass den to meditate in. This expansive space of lush greenery set the tone for some deep relaxation.

We work so hard sometimes (or all the time for us work-a-holics). It can be easy to let a lot of time pass by before we realize we need a break. When we finally take that break and breathe deep, we can clear some space from our heads and open up some room for creative ideas. At least, that's what my road-tripping meditation did for me. In the end, we didn't need to go to Hawaii to get this benefit. We didn't need to go far at all.

Check out this experimental short video I made on "hearing zen". Looking forward to seeing how these videos will evolve over time. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

-Rogue Yogi



The Current State of the Yoga Teaching Industry

Some days you win, some days you don't! I have taught Beach Yoga to over 70 people, Deep House Yoga to over 100 people, and to-date I must have taught classes to thousands of students. This fact isn't to toot my own horn or anything, because I still have days when I show up to an empty yoga studio.



The current state of the yoga business industry is really different than what it was a decade ago. My mentors didn't have Instagram or Facebook. They didn't operate studios that did all of the marketing and kept most of the profits. Their studios collected rent from individual instructors who could have been extremely new to teaching, or could have been veterans who already amassed an immense student following. Every teacher was responsible for his/her own marketing, but could keep all of the profits, teach class in any desired way, and make a really great living.

Now, this type of studio is part of the 1% of yoga business models. The rest are owned by a private owner. Some are seasoned yoga teachers. Some are avid yoga students. (The rest are both. I'll leave that for another post!)

The owner hires a manager to do all of the marketing. Classes are listed in various platforms, such as ClassPass, Groupon, Meetup, Zenrez, MindBody, MoveWith and probably several others that I am not yet aware of. Then, there's the social media avenues: the Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+...

In a sea of yoga studios in San Francisco and East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda), there is indeed a lot of hustle that has to happen. How else do you make your yoga teaching stand out in this realm?

Various Yoga Studios in SF

As an entrepreneur, I didn't want to work for someone's studio. Call it stubbornness or determination. After deciding to try out this "old-school" business model of paying rent, creating my own Groupons, Meetups, and trying a few "yoga and fitness" startups, things weren't moving so fast. There weren't many students coming to class. Energy had to be spread out between working a bunch of part-time jobs, marketing for the class, and simply figuring out how the hell to survive in San Francisco. I had just moved up from Los Angeles with a plan to teach yoga for various startups in the tech scene, to grow the Rogue Yogi platform, and to just get the fuck out of my comfort zone. Living in LA all of my life led me to one of those "stubborn" moments of needing a change.

Juggling all of these things didn't result in much progress for this old-school style studio. Working for these random part-time gigs became tiring. Working hard without working smart is what happened.

Eventually, I swallowed my pride. I remember crying to my husband (my then-boyfriend) about the huge epiphany that I was not a big shot teacher. Not a rock star. Not an Instagram personality with 80K followers. How would anyone know who I am if I'm not physically showing up to places where tons of students would naturally go?

So, I bit the bullet. Applied to yoga studios. Applied to well-known studios. Applied to not-so-well-known ones. Rejected. Declined. "Not what we're looking for," one said. No responses from others. Some only hired teachers from within. Teachers that paid specifically for that studio's teacher training even though they had already paid over $3K to get certified in the first place. Some hired me but expected me to do all of the marketing. Some hired me, but weren't intending to be boutique yoga studios, so there would be a max of 3 students attending. Owners from so-and-so studio wanted no spirituality or chanting. Managers from this-and-that studio wanted the opposite. There were studios that I had to drive over 45 minutes to get to. Such an equally long drive in the middle of the night to come back home.

Every yoga business owner had their own vision for what type of experience they wanted their students to have. The majority of them wanted one thing: a kick-ass fitness class.

SIDENOTE: If you're one of those Rogue Yogis that just want to get your ass kicked in yoga, that's totally cool. As a Rogue Yogi, you take what you want from practicing, and you leave what you don't. For those of you that want a lot of chanting and singing with mala beads, that's dope, too. For me, I'm not the kind of teacher that does the chanting and singing, nor am I into the mala beads. I could go to someone else's class for that experience. I'm the kind that likes to give a sufficient amount of alignment cues, take you through a steady pace of flow, give you real talk about the shit that happens on your mat that happens to be the same shit that happens in your world, and give you the freedom to be yourself during each and every pose I'm guiding you through.

I don't want to just kick your ass is what I'm saying. It is amazing that a sweaty yoga class could help you lose weight (if that is your focus), or tone your body and strengthen your core. There's also some amazing components of yoga that deal with quieting your mind, helping you become less reactive when someone does something stupid in your experience, and keeping your entire self as healthy and balanced as possible.

So, knowing this about my style of teaching, and knowing that every existing studio has their own requirements on how to teach, hopefully you can see the dilemma that is the current state of the yoga teaching industry.

How does someone like me be able to teach for someone else's studio? How do I get paid far less for doing zero marketing but teaching a fully packed room, but also get paid the same amount for doing my own marketing and teaching to a few students at the "old-school" studio?

The main question is: how can I make great income doing something that I truly love? How do I make enough to disprove the stereotype that yoga teachers have to drive all over the place, to teach at 6am, to forego eating in order to teach classes back to back?

Is this a case of having to prove your worth? To pay your dues? To run through the yoga teaching gauntlet for X amount of time before you earn your street cred and garner your following?

-Rogue Yogi Out