Didn’t some famous business guy once say “the next conversation you have could change your life”? I can’t help but think about that when I recall my transition from being an out-of-work administrative assistant to this full-on career I cherish as a yoga teacher.
This particular life-changing conversation I had was with a fierce little business lady named Julie Buckner in a trailer in a parking lot in Valley Village, Los Angeles. It was this conversation, and this pivotal person giving me a chance, that blew the lid off life as I knew it and opened up a whole new world to me.
Back in 2010 I had done a yoga teacher training but I had little to show for it. I knew I dug the philosophy but I didn’t really vibe with the yoga scene in LA. I wasn’t against it, just not really at home in it. It felt kind of like I was peeking through a hole from the other side of the fence at it.
Even my teacher trainer had said in my final teaching evaluation “you aren’t like us, we’re blue and you’re red. You’re different.” I wasn’t so invested in the yoga poses. I owned no yoga gear. I generally practiced in pajama pants and my boyfriend’s undershirts. I didn’t exactly fit in.
When Preparation Meets Opportunity
But there was something about the philosophy of yoga that I got. And I got it way before I’d found the words for it.
I got it when I was six playing in puddles in the field in Vermont. I got it when I was 16 driving an old pickup truck down a winding road listening to Janis Joplin. I got it when I was 20, sitting out on my balcony overlooking Hollywood drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette, knocking the ash into an old tuna can. I got it.
But back to that fateful conversation – my magnanimous yoga teacher friend Clio had told Julie she should consider hiring me to teach the Basics classes at this brand new giant yoga studio in Valley Village.
Since the studio was under construction they had made a makeshift office in a trailer in the parking lot. And Julie agreed to meet me one afternoon to talk about me teaching there.
The trailer dipped down as I hoisted myself up the collapsable stairs. Inside was Julie and her assistant Kelly and a blond lady who had been on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I sat down and started talking about life with Julie.
I don’t really remember exactly what we talked about. I had such little experience teaching yoga, we couldn’t have talked about that. I think we just talked about life. And we made sense to each other. She got me. She somehow trusted that I had something to teach. So she gave me four Basics classes in prime time slots.
The Coming Together
The first day the studio opened there were three students in my class (and one of them was Julie’s mom). But within four months there were 20 students. I remember that day well. I came home after the class and knelt down with my forehead on the floor and thanked God over and over and over.
It seemed like a miracle that I got to do this for a living, that students were coming back, that it was actually working out. A few months later the class was maxing out with up to 60 students.
At that time I also started teaching at a couple other smaller studios, but they didn’t take the way InYoga did. Something magic was happening in those Basics classes in the valley.
They caught all these wonderful local characters, from 16 to 80 years old. They were each an event where we moved and laughed and cried and felt our humanness together. The sum was so much greater than the parts.
I still wasn’t that good at teaching yoga poses (I remember being halfway through class privately wracking my brain Ariel, just think of a yoga pose, just think of a yoga pose to teach them). But it didn’t matter. There was a spirit that filled that space, that community. It came through me, and it made my life feel so complete, so meaningful.
One day as I drove home I recall thinking, I can die now. I’ve experienced something so wonderful in these classes, that it’s okay if I die. It was that beautiful.
A Dream Come True
I only taught there a year before moving back East. But I honestly don’t know where my life would’ve gone if Julie hadn’t given me that chance. It granted me the gift of some of the most stunning moments of my life. It let me discover my calling.
InYoga closed last weekend after seven years in business. Something about money and leases or something typical like that. Julie and Kelly and the studio manager Erin worked there the whole time. They were even each yoga teachers themselves by the end.
Thank you to these three awesome ladies, and to Clio, and to that incredible community in Valley Village. It’s in me forever. It was a dream come true.
And yes, the next conversation you have could most certainly change your life. Especially if someone is willing to take a chance on you. How utterly exciting…
*Please share any life-changing conversations you’d had below… or perhaps a moment when someone took a chance on you?
(photo of the teachers and staff from that first year at InYoga. I’m in purple pants on the left)