1. Today you are running a successful retreat business. What would you say was the most challenging parts getting there?
I was used to always being in the background and promoting other people, but there was always a little questioning inside me about my creativity, I wasn’t good enough to play an instrument, to sing or as a photographer, so I was wondering what my purpose, my art was? So naturally, when I moved to Costa Rica my first idea was to promote yoga teachers and help them organize and promote their retreats as a host at Montezuma Yoga. The first teacher who led a retreat at my place was Elena Brower, my teacher back in New York before I moved, and she then encouraged me to become a teacher too. It was scary because all of a sudden I couldn’t hide anymore behind other people and needed to find my own voice, at the same time it was beautiful because I loved teaching from the first moment and realized that finally, I had found my way of being creative and expressing myself.
I had a beautiful balance of teaching classes and hosting retreats and like that met a lot of really great teachers who I was fortunate to practice with in my studio! I hosted teacher trainings as well and could participate and continue my education, which was great since I was so removed from any other studios where I could have studied. When I started in 2001 there was not a lot of yoga happening yet in Costa Rica, so the community was relatively small, and that was wonderful because we supported each other and had a great exchange.
2. What makes Montezuma Yoga special? What is your approach?
Yoga to me was always about community. We don’t have to do it all alone. We realise other people have similar stories, challenges, and dreams when we share with each other. Whenever I was in a tough place myself, I would go to yoga classes and leave feeling better, grounded, connected and with a sense of hope and faith that things will work out. Montezuma Yoga offers this kind of sanctuary to the people who live here or pass through as they travel. It’s very authentic and personal, we have a lot of single travellers coming through and enjoying a place to feel home and inspired and to meet other people. All our teachers are very skilled and teach from the heart; you can tell that we love what we do and I think people can feel this energy. It’s not the fanciest shala, but it has a lot of heart and feels real. The sounds of the jungle and ocean and the monkeys and birds add their own magic and Sylvester, our yogi cat, who always hangs out in the middle of the studio gives it also a sense of home.
3.What’s your personal secret to success?
Consistency and Clarity.
But then with the yoga, my personal journey became clearer to me, and it really helped me to develop the trust and courage to follow my heart. Once I had a clear vision, I just kept doing all the little steps to move forward towards that vision. I kept up my studies and practice, I asked for support when I needed it and found inspiration from other teachers. I kept a consistency at the studio so that people could rely on me. The first 10 years I did it all alone, and I was there every day, no matter if one student would show up or 20. When I doubt myself or when I feel I am getting stuck I reach out to my teachers or go on a retreat to get new inspiration and energy. I think I have a pretty clear style and am good at holding space for others to be themselves. People receive a lot of personal attention and care and appreciate this connection, it’s about putting love also in small details that is making a difference, and it’s never just been a business for me.
4. You have more than 10k fans and over 100 positive reviews on Tripadvisor. Where do you get your knowledge in online marketing?
I have some friends who started marketing courses for yoga teachers and have learned a lot from them. It’s a lot of trial and error still, but I think these days it’s important to accept this as a part of our business. I see a lot of other teachers struggling with their online presence, and I understand it because we all get into a place of “who am I to tell my story” and keeping ourselves small. But
and then it becomes really fun. I am grateful to the people who inspired me on my journey, so if I can be that person for somebody else, why not share a bit of my story and my tools.
5. Do you have three personal marketing tips you would like to share?