Leadership and Yoga Teacher Training

If you don’t feel a little nervous every time you are called upon to be a leader, then you’re just not doing it right. Leadership is challenging. Leadership is about making change. Leadership is uncomfortable. Most people never really put themselves out there because they are afraid no one will follow, or worse they are afraid of being judged. If you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll get the job done and you won’t be criticized, but you’ll never really live your passion and purpose. To do that, you have to take a risk and know that the consequences of possible disapproval or even failure are worth it.

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When I started Snip-its, I kind of felt like I had no fear. I was so naive and optimistic, I just thought everything would magically fall into place. A lot went really well at Snip-its, but of course there were also a bunch of challenges. I didn’t know too much about leadership and influence back then, but I can tell you looking back now that stepping up and rising above being a manager to true leadership was really a challenge for me. I was so deathly afraid of criticism, I was paralyzed from taking action. I had passion, but I didn’t have the grit. It’s crazy to think about it now and realize how silly and over-sensitive I was to let the sting of disapproval that lasts maybe a day or two keep me from letting my brightest light shine.

As crazy as it sounds, what really turned things around for me was yoga teacher training. Who would have thought learning to teach a fitness class would actually teach me about so much more? I enrolled in yoga teacher training in 2016 knowing that I wanted to open a yoga studio. (I should point out that I opened 50+ hair salons without getting my cosmetology license, but I figured for my next venture it might be a good idea to get my teacher’s certificate.) I thought it would be a good way to plug into the yoga community and learn about the industry. Little did I know that teacher training would require me to dig deep, soul search, and find my authentic voice. Yes, I learned how to cue yoga poses, but as I’ve now figured out, yoga is not about touching your toes; it’s about what you learn on the way down.

It was teacher training that taught me that my words are my currency, and the words I choose matter. It was teacher training that taught me that nerves are good, and if you’re not a little uncomfortable, you’re not pushing yourself. It was teacher training that taught me to find my voice and know that I am enough. Seriously, this is life-changing stuff - invaluable lessons!

Teaching yoga, for me, is a way to connect with people, a way to inspire people, and a way to tap into my own leadership qualities that translate into every aspect of my life. I am a better mom, a better entrepreneur, and of course a better yogi for it. When I teach yoga, I am at my best. The studio is my stage and I am there to provide inspiration, perspiration, and transformation every time I teach. Nothing makes me happier or more fulfilled than hearing from one of my yogis after class that my words and the intention I set for class really resonated and made a positive impact. I try to really speak from my heart and share something of myself, and in the spirit of generosity, I find that we all are more alike than we are different.

Owning a yoga studio, I have this platform to spread the positivity and optimism I have learned from yoga. It is a gift as well as a responsibility. Yes, I’m nervous but I’m not afraid. I will push forward spreading my message and impacting my little corner of the world in a positive way. I may get judged negatively, but I’ve grown to be OK with that. In fact, I’d rather put myself out there and have people hate what I’m doing, than take the easy way out and settle for mediocrity. Go big or go home, as they say.

When I teach my first cohort of yoga teacher trainees this fall, I am nervous and excited to share my perspective on leadership and influence. We’ll do lots of yoga for sure, but more importantly we’ll open our hearts and our minds, find our authentic voices, and let our brightest lights shine.

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Joanna Meiseles is the founder of Turbo 26 Studio, a new concept in yoga at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. Turbo 26 offers fast-flow heated yoga classes in 26-minute stackable intervals. Designed to deliver inspiring fitness-focused classes, Turbo 26 is demystifying yoga and making the benefits accessible to anyone willing to challenge their body and open their mind.

Prior to Turbo 26, Joanna created Snip-its, a franchised chain of hair salons for children. After building Snip-its to more than 60 locations in the US, Joanna put her skill and franchise expertise to work as a strategy consultant at iFranchise Group, the world's premier franchise consulting firm. A lifelong avid yogi, Joanna is now putting her energy into Turbo 26, a concept that she hopes to grow into a successful franchise across Northern California and then across the country.