Hello fellow aspiring yogis and yoginis! I’m thrilled to be guest writing here on Art in Practice, not only because Mara and I have been friends since the tender age of 13, but because what she writes about, and the message behind her blog has become an important part of my life. (And by life, I mean my small business, called Stark Skincare if you’re curious, which has become one and the same, for better or worse.) Here’s my story. If you work for yourself, you’ll relate.
Recently, an article of mine was featured on a how-to website for the how-to folks; basically a small business and crafter’s website that helps creators with the many facets of running a small business. Basically, I talked about how yoga may be saving my business... from myself.
I think any small business owner, or self-employed person knows that feeling of panic, fear and uncertainty that comes with not having a steady pay check or a clear future. We fear that perhaps we’re making a huge mistake, that we should find other sources of income even if it means our core business takes a backseat. We compromise our ultimate goals for short-term, more “reasonable” ones. We’re afraid that the sacrifices we make won’t pay off in the end. We freak. We stress. We become horribly unproductive.
This winter, I did just that. I freaked out.
Now, you have to understand that Stark is my baby. It is an extension of my self, my outlet for creativity and it is my passion. It literally consumes me and certainly not always in a good way. When I freaked out this winter, as I am apt to do time and again, especially as my business grows and reveals a whole new set of challenges, I didn’t deal with it in the best possible way. I’m not saying I went off the deep end, but I didn’t do anything to help myself in that time of need, despite knowing that I didn’t feel good physically. I had put on weight, I felt sluggish despite my good diet and restful sleep, my brain was clouded, confused and all over the place. I was always heading in 5 different directions at once, rarely completing a single task at a time. Plus, my skin broke out which is nothing short of a small tragedy when you’re business is skincare! I went on this way for weeks and weeks, even though I knew exactly what my body needed. Yoga.
I ignored my urge to stretch, breathe and reconnect with myself because I didn’t see how it could benefit Stark, my business. I saw the value in yoga, I saw the value in being a more relaxed, balanced person but somehow checked the “n/a” box. Yoga even kinda “suits” my lifestyle as an organic skincare product-making vegetarian. However, I saw yoga as an unnecessary distraction. Silly, I know.
There are times that, whatever our craft may be, we need to take time to step back from it. We know that attachment with anything in this life will never result in something positive; the trouble is prying yourself away from something you have become so entangled in, that you don’t know what part belongs to what anymore. I was making this situation with Stark Skincare worse when I would wake up at the crack of dawn, brew my coffee, and get straight to work... many days without a plan, without direction, just meddling in details that aren’t (that) important. I felt it was the best I could do, completely forgoing taking care of myself. I didn’t feel like I was the real priority, which is contradictory because without me, my business does not exist.
Thankfully, my rut was broken. Right around the same time that Montreal was experiencing a non-stop rain that cleansed the streets of winter grime and the first buds were appearing on the naked, grey trees, I felt a rebirth in myself. Something just clicked one day (or snapped...it may have been a snap), and I unrolled my yoga mat and played a 20 minute “awakening” video. Then, I played another (a hip opening sequence I believe), and another (power yoga!!!). An hour into my first yoga practice in ages, I could have wept with joy. My body was tingling, my hamstrings were burning, and a winter of stress and sitting at a computer melted from my body. I could have kicked myself for having been too stubborn to do this months earlier, but I was feeling a juicy warmth in my body and a calmness in my mind I hadn’t felt in ages.
For about 3 weeks I have been doing yoga every single day, and I feel amazing. My body is slowly becoming recognizable to me once again, my mind feels sharp and my creativity and productivity are at an all-time high. I’m sleeping even better than before (sometimes a little too well, but at least I don’t wakeup exhausted at 3 am now!), and tasks that I hadn’t been able to quite accomplish before are actually getting done! Most importantly, I’m not as idle as I was this winter. If I’m not really actually doing something, then I’ll choose to actively not do anything, or choose to do an activity I really want to participate in, like cooking or going for a walk.
Do I only have yoga to thank for this? I’m not sure. It’s isn’t just whipping out my mat and doing some sun salutations that have gotten me back on track, but the time and effort that I put into reconnecting with my body and mind. I hadn’t even realized how disconnected I was until I began to reconnect! This complete escape and release back into myself has allowed me to gain new perspective of myself, my direction and ultimately, my business. So, I can thank yoga for being the perfect vehicle to invest some time in creating and recreating myself at this present moment. I will try not to worry about whether yoga will always feel so beneficial to myself as a business owner, because I know my practice will change, I know it will take my body, my mind, and by extension my business, in new paths.
Jessica Lafleur is the Montreal-based creator of Stark Skincare. She is a yoga practitioner and creative professional exta-ordinaire!