Following Passion & Adapting in Business - Shayah's Story!
"It all seemed like a dream... spending my days enjoying dreamy rooftop pools in Thailand, and world famous co-working spaces in Bali"
Let's Start at the Beginning
When I first began practicing yoga in 2010, I was overwhelmingly drawn to the beauty and elegance of the physical practice. I loved how strong my body felt when flowing on the mat and how centered my mind became when focusing on my breath. Over time I began to realize there was more to yoga than simply moving your body on a mat and I was eager to learn more.
In 2015, I decided to embark on a journey to India to complete my first yoga teacher training and expand my knowledge of a yogic lifestyle. I quickly became fully immersed in the culture and philosophy of yoga and thrown into the beautiful balance of movement and stillness (as well as honking horns, cows, and no personal space!).
In India, yoga is still a very sacred practice which incorporates all eight limbs of the philosophy, opposed to westernized countries where we primarily focus on the physical aspects of yoga only. I began to understand and see how beautiful and therapeutic the lesser known limbs of yoga can be and realized the need for them at home in Canada with all of our chronic lifestyle diseases. I wanted to not only bring these teachings home for myself, but share them with others.
"Yoga has helped me to see every day as an opportunity to live more mindfully, consciously, fearlessly, and healthily.”
Since then, I have taken a number of yoga and meditation teacher trainings and practiced with hundreds of people around the world. Many students came to me with hopes of learning inversions, but soon realized that the heart of the practice and the real growth comes not from the movement but from the stillness and wisdom that already exists within.
One of the eight limbs of yoga includes ahimsa, which means to practice non-violence. This is where vegan and vegetarianism connects with the yogic tradition, to treat all sentient beings with kindness and compassion, to love yourself as you love others, and visa versa. So, I decided to adopt a plant-based diet and started watching documentaries and following blogs that promoted this type of lifestyle and dietary preference. Naturally, all of my friends and family would say... “oh my gosh, where are you going to get your protein from!?”
Along with my friends and family, a lot of my yoga students started asking me about a plant-based diet and if it was healthy or sustainable, but I didn’t have many answers for them besides my own opinion and what I learned from a few books and documentaries, so I decided to go back to school!
2016 is when I started my education with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) where I studied to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and I specialized in plant-based nutrition. I studied at the London ON branch and absolutely loved the program. I highly recommend it.
I graduated from CSNN in 2018 and felt like I needed a little more support with my process of consulting clients/students, so I then took Stephanie Long's Launch Your Nutrition Biz program. I LOVED her program so much and highly recommend it to Nutritionists, Dietitians, and Wellness entrepreneurs wanting more confidence working 1:1 with clients and setting up their business - If you are interested in her program you can use my code SHAYAH at checkout for 20% off!
I finally felt ready to coach my yoga students into more of a holistic and plan-based diet, and began to do just that!
Once I realized yoga & nutrition coaching could actually provide a decent income for me, I wanted SO badly to make this my full-time work. But even with all my training and experience in the wellness industry, the one thing I never really got prepared for was how to be my own boss. I didn’t know how to start and run a business but I did know two things:
1) I wanted to make a living teaching and sharing my passions (yoga + nutrition), and
2) I wanted to create location independence in my life (to travel more often or live abroad)
I knew this second part meant working online in some capacity but I had no idea how this would manifest. I started reading books, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries and YouTube videos of successful people doing the things that I wanted to do. I took all of their tips and advice to heart and I started implementing the strategies, routines and processes into my life that they claimed helped them to become successful.
During this time, I learned a lot about myself. I also learned the importance of branding, and how to optimize my social media accounts and leverage them for business. I learned how to build and manage my own website, best SEO practices, copy-writing techniques, and email marketing strategies. I created an online store and sold digital products that I made such as recipe books and yoga videos.
Within 6 months I began to do all of my wellness coaching online which gave me the freedom to quit my full-time job and move down south to Central America with my fiance (he was also working on building his own online business and recently quit his full-time job as well). We ended up living in Nicaragua for 7 months where I also led my very first yoga and wellness retreat, which was an absolute dream come true.
After Nicaragua, we moved to Thailand for 3 months, then lived in Bali for 2 months, and then lived in Vietnam for 6 months, then back to Central America where we're now living in Guatemala.
"I was literally living my dream life! Something that I used to spend time visualizing actually became my reality".
Learning and Applying New Skills
Not only was I happy living in a tropical environment and teaching my passions of yoga and nutrition, but I also grew quite fond of the tech side of my business. I really enjoyed working on my website and designing sales pages for my digital product launches, and developing different marketing strategies.
The more I began to thrive with my wellness business online, the more I had peers in the industry reaching out to me asking how I do my email marketing, how I built my website and created digital products, how to structure my services... I was happy to provide advice but most of them were too busy with clients or their full time jobs to learn these things themselves, so they actually wanted to hire me to do it for them!
They wanted to hire me instead of a virtual assistant because I get what they do and fully understand the industry and why they are in business. I get the fact that they want to spend less time working on automating, configuring, and managing their awesome business and more energy doing the amazing work they love that helps people - because I've been there done that! My experience with web design, digital marketing, and social media management coupled with my in-depth knowledge of the health and wellness industry made me the perfect missing piece to support their business virtually.
Moving with the flow
There was a moment in time when I considered refusing these requests for help – because after all, I’m a yoga & nutrition coach not a virtual assistant, and I spent all this time to figure it out for myself so maybe they should do the same. Right?
All the while I was trying to manifest more income into my life, and you know what they say about mysterious opportunities presenting themselves...
So, I reminded myself that who I am and what I do is constantly evolving and expanding.
Not only do I LOVE doing this techy and design work, I still felt like I was indirectly helping people. Instead of working one-on-one with my wellness clients, I’ve learned that I can help even more people by collaborating with and supporting other wellness professionals in growing their businesses.
Fast forward to July 2019 and Virtuwell Balance was born! I’ve become passionate about helping wellness entrepreneurs grow their businesses online, maximize their time, and improve their bottom line all while focusing their energy on what they love to do.
I’m so grateful that I learned to be gracious and flexible enough in my business to listen to demand and make changes as I go. Moving with the flow and following the path of least resistance ended up being the path of my greatest joy. I now know that there is truly no end to what I can create and manifest in my life, and same goes for you!
This is all to say that, despite feeling lost and a little in the dark about what your future looks like, as long as you stick to your values, align with what you love, and don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re making a stupid decision, you will absolutely get there. Wherever “there” might be for you.