By guest author, Sophie George

My yoga journey didn’t start that long ago – only around 2 and a half years ago in fact. But I’ve loved every part of it and yoga has become an integral aspect of my life. I truly believe I see the mental and physical benefits of yoga every day.

I took up yoga while at university studying economics and management. If you had told the 18-year-old me that 6 months after graduation I’d have my own yoga studio, I certainly wouldn’t have believed you.

It’s been a tough journey getting to where we are now, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Firefly Yoga has been open for 8 months now and business is growing strong. We’ve weathered some storms – including storm Emma AKA The Beast from the East – but we’ve had amazing moments teaching yoga to a variety of people and in a range of different places.

I’ve learnt a lot not only about yoga, but about running a business and certainly more about electrical circuits than I ever thought I would – a story for another day!

My journey has taught me three things that I wish everyone knew and that I had realized sooner.

1. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
3. Give it all you’ve got

The Beginning

After the Christmas of my 3 rd year at university, my house-mate told me about ‘Hot House Yoga’ studio, and we decided to give it a try when we returned from Christmas break.

We instantly loved it! Although, having only done a few yoga sessions on holiday before, exercising in the 40-degree (C) heat was certainly a new and challenging experience. We went back the following week and soon ended up going twice a week.

One of the main benefits for me was spending time with like-minded people, and in our case, interacting with the locals from our university town, not just other students. Generally, just being in a room with a great vibe and energy was something new and motivating for me.

When I first started out I didn’t know much about the benefits of yoga, although I certainly started to experience them early on and soon found quite a few studies to support the health and psychological benefits. I think there Is one overarching benefit to yoga that isn’t documented enough, like-minded friends!

It’s often said you need to surround yourselves with like-minded individuals. Yoga classes are the perfect place to find those people and surround yourself with them 1, 2 or maybe more times a week. Every person there is on a journey to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga is not competitive, you don’t have to hold the pose longer than the person next to you. Instead be proud of your achievement and your journey and take inspiration from others. I often get messages from prospective yogis who are worried that people will be looking at and judging them.

I always tell people wholeheartedly that this is not the case for two reasons:

First, I’ve never met a yogi who I didn’t like. Everyone is nice!

Second, no one ever looks around at what others are doing.

Everyone is always concentrating on themselves – you can trust me on this one. As the teacher, I’m the only one doing the looking and observing.

Lesson 1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Plunge.

Whether it’s trying a yoga class, starting yoga teacher training or something bigger, like applying for you dream job or starting a business. You only regret the things you don’t do after all.

For the rest of my 3rd year at university I continued to attend yoga regularly, and I really missed it during the holidays. As I returned for my fourth and final year, I began to consider “what’s next?”. I applied for a few graduate schemes, but my heart wasn’t in it. I’ve had so many different career aspirations and looking back on them all (vet, psychologist, & pharmacist to name but a few) I saw a common theme. I always wanted to be in a job where I helped
and worked with people. I’d also always wanted to run my own business, but considered that to be an aspiration for the future.

Then one day, while at yoga and lying in Savasana I thought ‘I could do this’. ‘I could have my own yoga studio and teach yoga!’ This little thought would go on to change everything.

The birth of Firefly Yoga

This was the start of my yoga teacher journey. I discussed the idea with my boyfriend – who, along with my mum, sister and granddad, have been my support system throughout the whole process – and decided to go for it. I knew it was meant for me. I researched yoga teacher training courses and found one I liked. After talking to the team and drumming up a final surge of courage I signed up. Which leads me to my next lesson.

Lesson 2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.

It’s okay to rely on your friends and family for help and support. That’s what friendship and love is all about. Just make sure you return the favor when their time comes.

I completed my 3 yoga teaching certificates (L3 yoga Diploma, Hot Yoga Certificate and Certificate in Freestyle Fitness Yoga) in around 9 months, all whilst finishing my final year of university. It was tough at times, especially traveling from my remote university town in Scotland to trainings in Birmingham and Manchester. But my love of yoga and desire to teach as my career kept me going.

Once I graduated and returned home I got to work on my business plan and began viewing units for a potential studio venue. I was also offered 2 teaching jobs, which were a great way to get teaching experience while working on my plans for the studio.

On 18th November 2017 Firefly Yoga studio opened. It was slow going at the start and I began to have doubts. Then after Christmas, business boomed and we’ve continued to grow ever since. We’ve now been open for just over 8 months and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful to be able to do what I love every single day. I have met some of the most amazing and lovely people through my classes. I have also achieved the aims I set out for myself – yoga classes that are accessible to everyone in terms of both price and time, and to make a difference in their lives.

I also wanted to create a community through the studio. It makes me so happy when I see this in action. Whether it be the 3 times I have to say ‘Let’s get started’ because people are so busy talking to their yoga friends, or when I hear people finding out about other opportunities in our area through people they’ve met in class. Which is where my final lesson comes in.

Lesson 3 – Give it All You got!

Again, this applies to your yoga class or other fitness regimes – in that hour or however long your practice is, give it your all and get the most out of the time!

Whatever you’re doing, work hard, do your absolute best and good things will come. It certainly hasn’t been all plain sailing, but it’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t wait to see how my little business will continue to grow and develop.

Author Bio

Sophie George Is Founder & Owner of Firefly Yoga Studio. She teaches Yoga classes 6 days a week in the valleys of South Wales. Seeing the benefits of yoga in her personal life she made it her aim to spread the joy of yoga to all those that seek it.