You know those women who just have their life together? Who kick your ass in your cycling class every single time? Who have just the right outfit for everything? Who juggle a blossoming career, a social life to boot and still find time to travel to places only the depths of your Pinterest board could conjure?
These queens are our weekly inspiration and this week’s WWL is no exception: Rebecca Weible founded Yo! Yoga Studio, an NYC original that’s an up-and-coming hotspot in our sister city. She’s a yogi with a vision- a boss lady with ambition, and an inspiration that simply won’t take no for an answer when it comes to following her dreams. Rebecca, take it away (and let some of that motivation rub off on us, whydontchya?)!
You’re the mastermind behind Yo Yoga!- what made you want to create your own yoga studio?
I wanted to create a calm, peaceful space where people felt like they could relax and recharge. Owning a yoga studio seemed like a way I could give back and bring something positive and healthy into the world. And after working in the corporate world for a few years it also didn’t sound like a bad idea for my own work environment to be a calm and happy place!
What makes you so passionate about yoga in the first place?
I’ve always enjoyed being active and healthy but yoga is about the mind as well as the body. You can’t control the craziness of life or the world around you but yoga encourages you to seek out peace and begin to cultivate that sense of calm regardless of what else is happening.
How has your yoga practice changed since you began practicing in college?
When I began practicing I wanted to learn to do everything correctly but I also wanted to try every pose and push myself in every class. I didn’t even try restorative yoga or gentle classes until I was about to start teacher training and realized I needed to branch out. Now, I’ve learned how to listen to my body each day and each moment of class and I still push myself and try new things when it feels right, of course, but I also understand the importance of the quieter side of yoga and have learned to really mellow out and enjoy a practice that is about relaxing and passive work for the body.
What makes Yo Yoga! different from other yoga studios in New York?
We have a private outdoor roof deck where we hold classes in the spring, summer and fall. We’re also the first yoga studio in the city to offer regular Sound Off yoga and meditation classes – these classes use Sound Off Experience bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones throughout the class to block out the city sounds or the loud breather next to you so all you can hear is the instructor guiding you through class and a mesmerizing playlist to allow for total focus. Additionally, we have a laid-back, friendly vibe so that anyone who comes into the studio feels comfortable practicing with us regardless of how long they’ve been doing yoga, how old they are or what they’re wearing. Yo Yoga! also specializes in restorative yoga.
How long did it take to turn your idea of the studio into the finished product that we know is Yo Yoga! today?
Short answer, about 4 years. Longer answer, I began thinking about opening a studio in college, right after I began practicing yoga. For whatever reason, it seemed like something that I would do later in life but after a few years of office work, I began to wonder why I couldn’t just go ahead and do it and decided to get certified to be an instructor. I am 500 hour certified and worked full time while I was training so it took just under a year to complete my certification. I taught yoga on the side for a year after that. In that year I also began to make plans for the studio, looking at spaces, putting together a business plan. We found a space, renovated it ourselves over the course of about 2 months and then we opened! I would say it took about a year from opening for us to get a handle on running a business and to find Yo Yoga!’s voice and personality.
What tips do you have for others who are trying to turn their side hustle into their full time gig?
When your dream becomes a reality, it becomes exactly that: reality. And realistically, anything that is a full time job and your main source of income is going to be stressful at times, especially in the beginning, and there are going to be times when, like any job, you don’t want to be there or you don’t want to deal with a problem. Doing something you love and are passionate about does give you greater job satisfaction and make you happier day to day but running a business is hard work and it’s not going to be fun every single moment.
Your studio also offers Paddleboard Yoga Excursions- are you able to travel often for work?
Travel has come up a few times over the years and this past year I’ve started focusing on offering more yoga retreats. In 2016 I led a retreat in the Catskill mountains in NY and kicked off 2017 with a Costa Rica retreat in late January. We’ll be returning to Costa Rica next January and I’ll be leading a yoga and wine retreat on the North Fork of Long Island over Labor Day weekend. My hope is to continue planning retreats regularly offering at least 3 per year.
What has been your biggest challenge in founding your own yoga studio? And your biggest reward?
Learning how to run a business was the biggest challenge. I learned how to run a business by just doing it so in the first 3 years, everything was a lesson. The biggest reward is that my business is still here, has grown and has become a community. I’ve had students that have been here since we first opened and when they tell me how much they love the space and comment on the growth and changes we’ve made I feel like every lesson was worth learning.
How do you stay motivated to workout consistently (especially when you’re so busy running your own studio)?
It’s hard to teach a good class (much less 10 good classes every week) if you’re exhausted or out of shape – not to mention that it’s easy to injure yourself teaching if you’re out of shape – so that helps motivate me to stay healthy and fit. I continue to take yoga classes to learn from other teachers and keep my teaching fresh and I like to go to spin classes to add in some cardio – which makes it easier to talk while you’re demonstrating a tough yoga sequence! On a more superficial note, having to wear tight yoga clothes every day in front of a room full of people who are staring right at you and your body is also pretty motivating to keep everything in shape.
If you could pass along some advice to yourself as you were just starting your journey to building your own studio knowing what you do now- what advice would you give?
Know the value of what you are offering and don’t sell yourself short. Run numbers on your overhead as well as how much your time and effort are worth when you are setting your price.
Between running your own studio, maintaining a social life and personal life- how do you keep everything organized? How did you master your excellent time management skills?
I have a pretty set schedule of when I teach and when I’m at the studio and I always take Sunday completely off. This ensures that I have time for a social life and personal time and makes it easy for me to plan out that part of my life. It also makes it easier for me to add more work into my schedule as needed without overdoing it. The first few years we were open, I had to work constantly and Yo Yoga! always came first before my social and personal life. I would take one full day off each week (if I could!) and would take off a full weekend when I reached a point of being completely burned out. In the 4th year of owning Yo Yoga!, I was able to find a little more work/life balance and began scaling back the amount of hours and number of classes I taught in a week. Having worked myself so hard the first few years helped me to perfect the schedule I have now.
What’s next for Yo Yoga! And Rebecca Weible?
In addition to offering more retreats I hope to expand Yo Yoga! to more locations.