In 2019 I started a business with the goal to support myself by helping others, to make a difference and still get paid.
Me, myself, and I launched an in home private yoga business servicing busy New Yorkers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and sometimes Queens. The goal was to bring the teachings of yoga to NYC changemakers; the CEOS, the hedge fund guys, and yes even the Upper East Side moms. The thought was to insert yoga into the lives of the rich and famous thinking yoga worked like trickle down economics.
This May, my business turned one year old and as I sit and reflect on not only my first year in business but also a World completely flipped on its head, I realize I may have been teaching my clients yoga but my clients were teaching me about life.
The universe always has mysterious ways of teaching us the lessons we need most but not always in the ways we want. Owning a business is a humbling experience, to say the least, and I can truly say this year more than ever I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through it all I learned some major life lessons, meet some incredible people, and learned that triumphs and failures come when you least expect them. Below is an ode to a client I love and the lessons he taught me.
Dan was my first client ever, he wrote me my first check, he trusted me blindly when I said “I’m starting my own business”.
Dan has a wife, two beautiful children, and a West Village brownstone. He’s the kind of guy who managed to find success in New York without losing his soul, something I thought was rarity at the time. Dan writes plays, ordaines weddings, walks old ladies home after Temple, and does yoga with me twice a week. You never think bad things happen to a person like Dan. Which is why I was shocked when Dan casually mentioned his college age son was home from school after getting diagnosed with cancer.
Dan heard the news while he was in the Bahamas ordaining a destination wedding. The news accompanied by a warm rain shower (Dan always likes to set the scene). As Dan’s son started treatment and we shifted around his yoga lessons so he could be with his son during chemo, he never lost his wit, his charm, or his sense of humour. When I asked Dan what he was getting his kids for Hannakah excitement ran across his face,
“I found these great journals with zodiac signs on them”, not thinking much about it I replied “Oh really? What’s your son’s sign?” Dan paused “Evan’s a Scorpio but I got him the one that said Cancer.”
I will never forget the long silence as I lifted my head to meet Dan’s eyes as we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. Dan’s the kind of person who won’t let fear get in the way of anything. He never let anyone doubt his son’s recovery; he sat in hospitals, got second opinions and medical marajuna, as he continued to walk old ladies home, write plays, and take yoga lessons. I’d never seen strength like that. I’d never seen love like that. I’d never seen someone stand in the face of fear and laugh. Luckily Dan’s son recovered, went back to school, and started his life again. But I will never forget the struggle I was privileged to see. I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone smile at fear.
Right now is a scary time. I’m scared, my clients are scared, my family and friends are scared. Right now it’s easy to let fear drive our actions. But in times like these I think of Dan. I think of how much bravery it takes to meet fear head on and still have a kind heart. At a time when basically everything is out of our control, it can be a radical act to rise above our fear and choose a more empowered emotion.
As self-starters and business owners we sit with fear a lot, forgetting what we’ve built and the people who support us. I started a business thinking I would help people and now realize my clients are the people helping me. With uncertainty in the air I try to remind myself we can all be Dan’s. We can show up for someone or something even if we had to throw our 2020 business plans out the window. Now I realize showing up with a kind heart is probably the only business plan we needed anyway. Call the people who have supported you, tell them thank you, help them, but most importantly let them help you.
Content courtesy of Alli Bradley, founder of Private Yoga Soho, based in New York City.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, ALLI BRADLEY
Alli began practicing Yoga and Reiki as an extension of her BFA in Dance Performance and quickly found her passion within these ancient practices. Her multidisciplinary background in Yoga, dance, somatics, and energy healing ground her work in curated individualized practices. Currently she is a NYC-based private Yoga instructor and founder of Private Yoga Soho.
Her mission is to bring movement and expression to people throughout all walks of life. To learn more about her work visit www.privateyogasoho.com
Keep up with Alli on Instagram: @privateyogasoho