Darian: Welcome back to the DNC marketing podcast. I'm Darian and it's another beautiful day here in sunny Hawaii. Today on the podcast we have Christina Mattison.
Christina is a certified yoga instructor with over 500 hours of experience. She also recently quit her job as an engineer to pursue entrepreneurship through her passion for teaching yoga.
She recently opened her brand new yoga studio, Rolling Oaks Yoga just in time for COVID to hit. In less than a week, she actually pivoted her entire yoga studio online and is now offering 5 virtual classes a week. She is also the founder of the Yoga Strong Program, a holistic wellness program that empowers women to take ownership of their physical and mental health in order to transform their relationship with themselves through yoga, mindset coaching, and more.
So, Christina, I gave you a little intro in the beginning, but maybe you'd like to tell our audience what drove you to actually start your own business and what made you take your yoga practice from an in-person studio to online?
Christina: Sure! So the shifting of my career, I call it my quarter-life crisis. I was about to turn 30 and I started to really accept the fact that I hated my job. I was very stressed. My anxiety was through the roof. I have chronic anxiety and I was just pretty a hot mess. I wasn't my best self for anyone. Not for my daughter and not for my husband. Finally, I just got to the point where I was like, I hate this job. Why am I still doing it? But you know, my identity was tied to my job. My identity was tied to the career that I had put about 10 years of my life into. I didn't want to leave it behind because of pride and because of my identity and because it was a pretty nice paycheck.
I then started working with a life coach and he was like, okay, yeah, it pays good, but are you happy? Do you live your life with joy? Are you excited to wake up every morning? And I was like, no, no, no. And he's like, why are you sticking in this job that just brings you zero joy, zero fulfillment? Why not unleash this dream that you've had?
In the end, it came down to a lot of mindset and a lot of limiting beliefs that I had been carrying around. And once he helped me to start working through those limiting beliefs and kind of breaking the barriers down, I realized that it was okay for me to quit my job. It was okay for me to leave. Nobody was going to die, our finances were going to be okay.
Finally, I got the push that I needed from both my life coach and my 500-hour teacher training program to just go for it! I handed in my notice in December of last year and it was weird and uncomfortable and it took me weeks to accept it, but once the new year started, it was just so freeing to not have to get up and go do someone else's work. To not have to get up and do something that I didn't love or care about.
Now I'm waking up every day and I actually feel fulfilled by helping people through yoga and getting to do what I love. I'm getting to spend more time with my family, which has been so great!
I’ve just grown so much in the past five months, more than I ever thought I would. It's been really fun to experiment and fail and try things. This leads to your second question about opening up my own studio.
I had been teaching for gyms for the longest time, and getting paid 10-15 bucks a class. It stunk! It wasn't even worth the gas money to get here. So I thought why don't I just try a little pop-up yoga studio? I rented a space, I opened the doors and I was able to pre-sell like over a thousand dollars worth of customers into my yoga studio. At this point I'm like, this is great! Well, then three weeks later, everything closed down… EVERYTHING! All the gyms, all the yoga studios, everything was closed.
I was like, what do I do? Do I just shut it down? I couldn't do that! These people have already paid me for yoga and I want to keep teaching and keep connecting with my students.
So I dug into how to teach yoga online, and it was the most stressful couple of days trying to figure out the technology and trying to figure out how to market classes and get people signed up. After a couple of days of some serious homework, I was able to pivot my whole yoga studio online. I transferred almost all of my customers onto my virtual studio, and I've been teaching five classes a week online ever since.
Darian: Wow, that's an incredible story. Not just because you left your job, which was so comfortable. Right? Even though it was high anxiety, the money was pretty good and you knew what you were doing plus having it tied to your identity. But because you did all this right in time to be hit in a once in a lifetime pandemic!
What are some other obstacles you had to overcome and how did you do that? Like the mindset behind that must have been so challenging.
Christina: Yeah, it was! I had never really done any mindset work before this 500-hour training that I was going through and before I worked with a life coach. I had never challenged myself or my beliefs before. And so not only did I have to overcome beliefs about myself, but I've had to overcome the obstacle of getting comfortable with sales.
As you know, as an entrepreneur, you have to do everything. I don't get to just teach yoga. I'm also the head of the marketing department. I'm also the head of the sales department. I'm also the head of the payments department. You have to do everything yourself.
In the beginning, when you're first starting out before you have the capital to hire on an employee, you have to learn how to do everything from scratch, like building the website, figuring out the technology, etc.
All of these were obstacles for me because I've never been very technologically savvy. I don't know how to code. I don't know how to build a website from scratch. I didn't even know the platforms on which to do that when I was starting out. So I had to do the research, I had to figure out and ask questions, I had to ask other people in the industry, what are you using? Please help me!
Luckily it started to all work out slowly but surely, and my husband has been really helpful. He's currently my website designer. I don't pay him anything, but he's great! He has been helping me along the way and us working together has been such fun.
Even after all that, one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was feeling gross for selling stuff. I had this feeling of “Oh no, if I offer people stuff and I ask for people's money then I'm sleazy and I'm gross!” Honestly, this is something that I'm still working on.
What has helped is my mindset. I’ve started to work my way towards the realization that my yoga offers incredible value to people.
When you realize and recognize the value that you offer and the outcomes that you can produce, you're not selling anything anymore. You're offering a service and you're exchanging energy with people. If I offer my services to someone, they are compensating me with their energy in the form of money. It's a mutually nourishing relationship and coming to that conclusion allowed me to start to get more comfortable with the fact that I deserve to be compensated for my effort and for the space that I hold for people.
It’s about overcoming imposter syndrome. I used to believe that nobody wanted to pay me for what I could do. I had to set the expectation that I deserve to be compensated for my time and money.
There's this weird stigma with yoga teachers that we should only be about giving. whether that’s energy, advice, or additional training for basically free.
So many yoga teachers get burnt out because they don't get paid or they take bottom dollar for their services because they feel yucky asking for money. Now I see that I’m in fact being nourished by the money that I'm being paid. It allows me to give myself better to my students and In turn be able to produce higher services because now I have the financial capital to invest in technology and in a decent website and to reinvest in my business so that my services just keep getting better and better and better.
There are still lots of obstacles that I'm still working through, but I would say the sales and the imposter syndrome were probably the two biggest ones that I had to overcome.
Darian: That is so common! I just got off of a training where I was showing our entrepreneurs how to create an email sequence and the #1 thing they kept saying was “ “But I don’t think my people like to hear from me, they don't want me to ask for money” I'm like, well, is that really true or are you talking to the wrong people? Are you catering to the 3 people who maybe should have unsubscribed from your list a long time ago versus thinking about the future and trying to get the right people on your list? Like you said, that mutual exchange, that mutually nourishing exchange of energy, of compensation, of health. So that's some great insight as well as like the mindset obstacles. So, what specific tasks did you have to learn or ask for help in order to make that happen and how quickly did you have to pull all this together?
Christina: I got the bare bones together within like three days. I mean, that was just the absolute bare bones. Like creating a Facebook group where I post the schedule for the week and then I do it all through zoom. A place for them to register for the class things like that. A lot of like admin type of work.
Actually, I have this funny setup where I've got Zoom on my phone, which is on the other end of the room so they can actually see me demo the poses. And then I have my like tablet over here that has like the screen of all my students so I can see them. It's definitely a little rough around the edges, but it's working. So one of the things that I need to overcome in the next couple of weeks is how do I streamline the process? How do I streamline scheduling and payments?
Right now it's just you sending me your monthly payment at the beginning of the month. So it's a lot of work on the front end! But as you know, in the immediate pivot, it's about what’s working in the short term.
I think a lot of the time people are afraid to put out something that's imperfect. I know I am! I'm so afraid to put out something that's imperfect because I'm a perfectionist, that's just part of my personality. So for me, it was; “Do I keep offering yoga in perfectly or do I stop offering yoga and try to spend all this time trying to make it perfect? In the meantime, I’ll probably lose my customers because there's this big gap in service.”
So I put out something that was imperfect, that was rough around the edges, that was not the most well-oiled machine. But it's out there. My students are responding well and now I have the ability and the flexibility and the capital to start looking into how I can streamline further and make it easier on myself to save some time. You have to continually make improvements to the process.
Darian: I think that's brilliant! We tell people that all the time to get it 80% right, then tweak the other 20%. Even things that we've done we realized that we spent all this time and all this money creating but then it was time for feedback and suddenly we're like, Oh, we didn't consider these things. So. now we have to put some time and money and energy into changing it.
So if we had just gotten 80% of the way there and then incorporated that feedback, it would have been even better with less work on our part. That is always the case because feedback is the most important part of that process.
Christina: Yes. Oh my gosh, that's so true! Like right now, I'm going through that process with my Yoga Strong Program. The beta program launches like within the next week and it's a beta. So that means it's not perfect. And guess what? It's not quite done yet either, but I have people already enrolled in the program because I know what it's going to look like.
These people that are already enrolled are going to help me build it, help me make it what people actually need versus what I think they need just in my brain, you know?
I mean, of course, I've done a significant amount of market research but at the same time, if I can use the beta program students to actually help me build out and flesh out the program and make it better. One, I'm going to have a really good program on the other side.
Two, they're going to have the best testimonials because they're going to know that I tailored the program to exactly what is needed in their lives today. I can do that because I’m building it as I’m going. I have the outline, I have the bare bones of it and then I'm building the rest of the body as we move along. I’d rather build it this way than risk putting in the time and money upfront and then nobody buying it.
Darian: Absolutely! Plus, I'm sure your engineering background has to do with a lot of this thought process. I mean you have to come up with all of these different things in order to pivot on a dime and think creatively, right? So, how much of your engineering background has played into what you're doing now?
Christina: I would say that my heat transfer classes don't factor in that much to what I'm doing haha, but the critical thinking that I had to use during my years of engineering helped. Being able to understand the scientific process like experimentation, tweaking, and experimenting again has kind of factored into it.
To be honest, I think the work ethic has kind of factored into it as well because the engineering program that I went to was not easy. You just had to scrap your way through it and pull those late nights and spend hours in your teacher's office when you didn't quite understand.
I think between the critical thinking that I developed and the work ethic and the study habits that I developed during my college years and then my years serving as an engineer in the military created a very strong work ethic, a very I will get it done one way or the other mindset.
That’s what helped me say “I'm not going to give up on this! I'm going to keep trying and experimenting and I’m going to make it work!”. That’s how my engineering helped me excel as an entrepreneur.
Darian: I didn't even realize that you were an engineer in the military. I think that leads us really well into what's different about your life now versus when you were in the military? Also, do you think engineering helps you teach yoga in a way that’s more science and alignment-based?
Christina: So, as you know, there are so many flavors of yoga teachers out there and people are going to find the flavor of yoga that really resonates with them. For me, I do appreciate the philosophy and the foundation of yoga. Some people may call it the woo woo stuff but I most resonate with the science behind yoga. Things like:
Maybe that's a carryover from my nerdy days as an engineer, but I just love the cause and effect aspect so much. Like if I do this and I feel this, this is the outcome. So my teaching is focused more on your alignment, about exactly which muscles are firing and where your bones are in space and that you're maintaining proper engagement so that we're not just moving carelessly through these poses. I want to ensure that we're actually moving safely and intentionally from pose to pose.
I believe that there should be a point to it all. You’ll see it in the way I intentionally sequence things. I don't just string a bunch of poses together. Every single class that I teach has a very specific intention, whether it's focusing on a particular muscle group or stabilizing certain joints.
In another life, I think I would have been a physical therapist cause I'm just fascinated by the body and how it moves and how it functions. Um, and, and another thing that I really care about when I teach is that making sure I'm fitting yoga to everybody because people's bodies are so different.
They've experienced different injuries, or maybe their anatomy is different. So I really take care during my teachings to ensure that I'm making it doable for every ability and for every body's anatomy. I want people to really have their own experience and not feel like they have to follow this robotic sequence of poses. Instead, they're doing what actually feels good to them.
Darian: That's incredibly interesting! I love me some woo, so feel free to go into a little bit of that too! But the reason I do yoga is because I sit at a desk a lot. Even in my military job, I sit at a desk and that is so hard on my body. Then I'm expected to be physically ready to do a physical test at a moment's notice.
That means that I've gotta be running consistently, doing my sit-ups, doing my push-ups, making sure I'm eating right. To go from Sedentary 12+ hrs a day to that can be really hard on my body.
What, what was it that drew you to yoga in the first place? You talked a little bit about anxiety and I have personal stories with that too, but I would really love to hear how yoga came into your life?
Christina: I was deployed to the Middle East and I was working a really stressful job. I was in charge of construction management for a very large base. And man, I had a one-star (a general) down my neck on the status of construction projects. So as you can imagine I was just really stressed! My anxiety was through the roof and I didn't have a very good fitness routine. I was kind of all over the place. I would run two miles one day then I'd pick up some heavy stuff the next. But none of it has intention or reason, there was no end goal in mind.
So my roommate at the time dragged me to this yoga class. I was like “Oh, yoga is so boring, I don't want to do it!” but I went and Thank God I went!
I became addicted! It was this Vinyasa style (hot yoga) class and it was HOT because the air conditioner was broken in the gym! Afterward, I laid on the floor in a pile of my own sweat thinking about how amazing and exhausted I felt, but also how good I felt!
So I kept going back and I kept going back and I started building strength in ways that I didn't even know that I could. My pushups were always really terrible, but suddenly I was nearly maxing them out!
My core started to like wake up and, you know, I had less pain, I had less low back pain, shoulder pain and generally, I just felt better! I knew every week that I was going to have that opportunity to just shut everything else out, get on my mat, and show up for myself. By the end I was going to be a hot, sweaty mess and, but I was going to feel just totally blissful.
So I just got addicted and it became my passion. I just had to know more. I wanted to know everything there was to know about yoga. At the time, the only way to learn more was to do a teacher training. So, I came back from my deployment and I signed up for a teacher training program on a whim.
It was literally just to learn more about yoga, to learn more about the poses and the anatomy and the physiology and the mental stuff. Well low and behold, a year later I was a certified Yoga Instructor.
Even though I became an instructor I put it on the back burner and assumed it was always just going to be my little side hustle. I loved it, but figured it would always just be a hobby.
That actually goes back to the conversation about me being miserable in my job, loving teaching yoga and wanting to do more of it, but not being able to because of my work and family obligations.
I literally only could teach once a week and that's all I had time for. Now I have plenty of time to teach, and I don't have to rush out of bed every morning. I can have my cup of coffee at home and, and spend time with my daughter and not have to run out the door to daycare.
I work from home now, which is a blessing because it's so different, and also so fun! I'm so much happier than I ever was working my traditional 9-5 job. It’s rewarding to have the opportunity to do what I want and as much as I want. Being able to really kind of flex my muscles and stretch myself far outside of my comfort zone.
Darian: Incredible! Plus with the pandemic and everything, a lot of people have higher anxiety levels or are experiencing anxiety for the first time. That’s something that I've dealt with for years, which has definitely increased during the pandemic. Every time I start to feel the weight of my job or the anxiety of COVID start to build up I know I need to take a break, have some me time and do some yoga. Afterward, I immediately feel better! I'm more productive and capable to go about my day, and happier around my kiddo and husband.
Christina: That's so true. You know, it’s like a battle because so often we just white knuckle it and muscle through it and our body is saying “Stop! Stop! You need to relax! You need to get up from your desk! You need to just breathe! You need to go do something else!” We're like “No, I'm fine!”
What people don’t understand is that taking some time to be present and staying in tune with your breath can help so much! The science of breathing is amazing. The effect that it can immediately have on the body just by slowing down and actually focusing on your breath can be life-changing!
It's something that we do so naturally that we take it for granted. Thank God our body breathes for us or we’d never take a deep breath! Using yoga to focus on your breathing is amazing! It’s incredible the effect that it can have on the body.
I mean, what do we say when we're anxious? What do we say to a friend when we're anxious? Take a deep breath. And that's exactly what we do in yoga. We take a deep breath and then we take it out and then we do it again and again and again. And by the end of a 30 - 60 minute practice, you feel so much better than you did in the beginning because your body has just released. There is less stress and less tension. We've been stretching, we've been moving. We’ve been getting those feel-good chemicals going in the brain. That's why at the end of a yoga practice you feel so wonderful because of the movement, the breathing, and the presence. You’re not running from the past or fixating and worrying over the future.
Darian: I couldn't agree more! I know you've got more that you want to share that’s going to immediately help them. So can you walk them through the things you've brought?
Christina: The first thing that I have is an ebook called “5 Simple Ways To Infuse Yoga Into Your Workday”. Within the ebook, there's a link to a yoga class. There are also some tips on how to be more mindful throughout the day. It may not seem like much but when you actually think about it, how often do you take time during the day to just stop what you're doing and take 60 seconds of deep breaths? How about NEVER! So, this ebook explains 5 different ways that you can incorporate more movement, more breathing, and more mindfulness into your workday in a way that's not overwhelming.
The second one is really cool! It's an invitation to my 7 day Yoga Strong Challenge. When you sign up for it, you’ll get 7 days worth of short yoga instructional videos. It's especially great for beginners that don’t really want to do a full hour of yoga. It’s more like a 10-minute yoga-inspired workout.
You're going to get a little bit of an arm workout, a little bit of a leg workout, the booty workout is fire! The great thing about these videos is that they are quick little snippets that can literally fit in at any point in your day. You don't need any special props or equipment and it's totally doable for everybody. It's going to challenge you, but you're going to feel good afterward.
It's basically a little intro into the kind of style of classes that I teach and it's very similar to what I offer in my Yoga Strong Program. Plus, you get a little sneak peek inside my 8-week Holistic program through the challenge as well.
Darian: Awesome, I'm super excited! I'm definitely gonna check this out as a huge yoga fan that wants to get my hands on yoga anywhere I can. I'm excited and I hope everybody else is excited too! Can you tell us about where people can learn more about you, the yoga program, and any special events you've got coming up?
Christina: You can find me at christinamattisonyoga.com. On my website, I have a link to my virtual studio. So if you want to try a class, I'd love to give you a class for FREE! Just mention that you’re from the DNC Marketing Podcast and I’ll hook you up with a free intro class so you can check it out and see what it's all about. There's a link to my live studio Facebook business page where you can check out the schedule, and see the different classes that I offer. You can also find me on Instagram @rollingoaksyoga. I post yoga tips and some videos or little tutorials from time to time and then you can find me on my personal Facebook profile by searching Christina Mattison Yoga.
Darian: Awesome! You guys, this is so exciting and it's going to be so helpful. I really hope you take advantage because there are so many free resources, which is just crazy and awesome and exciting. Definitely go and do a little bit of yoga, lower that anxiety level, and get rid of that body pain!
Thank you so much, Christina. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise with us. I would love to do this again soon.
I want to also thank our followers. I hope you guys came away with some new ways to help you relax and to be more mindful. Remember to Like, Share and Review/Comment and tell us what you thought so that we can build our podcast and reach more people and help them grow their business.
Until next time, this is Darian with DNC marketing.
“A positive mind leads to positive vibes and a positive life.”