Sophie | From PR Girl to Yoga Mama
BY ELENI MERAKI
"You can. End of story."
I was born and raised in France by pretty nomadic parents, so I got used to moving a lot from a very young age. My father was a magistrate & my mother a teacher. As you can picture, I grew up in a house of rules! I studied International Marketing in France and the UK, with not much conviction, but opening roads to my love for foreign languages and travels. My "official" career started in London, in Public Relations. I actually had no clue what PR was all about, but finding the countless interactions with people from all walks of life rather appealing. I ended up working in this high flying PR world for about 15 years, in Paris and travelling across the world for a variety of clients and projects.
5 THINGS ABOUT
RELENTLESSLY OPTIMISTIC | SPIRITUAL JUNKIE | HAPPY GYPSY | YOGA MAMA | ENDLESS WONDERER ABOUT LIFE
LEAP OF FAITH
It was in 2013 when I freaked out about my life. On paper it was perfect; glamorous meetings across the globe, beautiful events, great money, a rewarding boss and company, cool friends and living in Paris! Who doesn't love Paris, right?
However, I was so bored and felt totally empty. Was this all there was? Was this my life for the rest of my life?
The process was about a full year of endless boredom and feeling pretty depressed until I decided to follow the Eat-Pray-Love plan, wondering if indeed, you can follow your guts? The question left for me was "where do I go?".
I was supposed to head to Buenos Aires, a place I was checking out for a potential move and my new life. But as life has its own way of leading you, my plans got re-arranged and I ended up visiting Sifnos. An island I had been going to a lot over the past 10 years and always had been my hideaway paradise. As I stayed for some time on the island and started chatting away with locals there, I had to embrace the fact this was where I really belonged.
It didn't make any sense and it was very irrational. People around me questioned my choice as I truly had no idea what I was going to do on a tiny Greek island, disconnected from all.
I landed on Sifnos with two suitcases and no proper plan.
I loved yoga and have been practicing it for years. I started when it was still the India-hippie-thing to do and not mainstream at all yet. When I moved to Sifnos I realised how much I wanted to share this discipline and much more of my personal aspirations and inspirations on my path less-travelled.
This was the birth of The Yoga Mama Club. I bring together all things I find valuable and share the lifestyle I love. I'm not a teacher myself but I'm the curator of Yoga Weeks & Weekends in my favorite places & cities in the world. I organize the entire package and make sure the retreats are in beautiful hotels or houses, with inspiring teachers, great food and most importantly with likeminded and likespirited people. The Yoga Mama Club is my tribe.
I believe that ideas need to be tested and launched. I'm the kind of person who acts and thinks later, for better or worse.
I picked up my phone after thinking of curating these yoga weeks and called my favorite teacher in Paris, Adriano Nogueira (brazilian sunshine and super yoga star). As it goes, his plan for Crete had just been cancelled so he gave me my chance to organise his next yoga retreat. I took him and his group to Ibiza. And that's just how I got started.
Business plans and the proper set up came in the process and was more based on my learning curve organizing those yoga weeks. Through practice I understood what did and didn't work - not from a meticulous plan as such.
Communication and PR being my field, I worked on a website and my network to sustain the development of activities as it slowly turned into a business.
All the money I had on the side would serve to release the pressure of having to make money straight away in order to survive. I didn't have a budget or plan on business investments as this was clearly an organic, intuitive path more than a carefully prepared one. I was also aware of the simplicity of a service-based business I was intending to have - for which you don't need any hard investmenst. Your work and time is your investment.
I am making enough money to feel safe, do whatever I want to do and have time to enjoy my life. My definition of being super rich. I am lucky enough to be approached for freelance PR projects that I can easily combine with my Yoga Mama Club business. It all works out great. Regardless of what I do, I'm always very clear about two aspects I would not compromise on:
1. Making money for the time and dedication I put into something; meaning finding a balance to be rewarded for my work.
2. Learning from each event I do and assess afterwards how I can make it even better; price/services wise as well as where I'd need to invest in (advertising, social media, website, photography etc).
THE TOUGH TIMES
Pitfalls never came where I was expecting them. The truth is that I haven't experience tough times as such. Maybe because of my relentless optimism or maybe because I believe that any obstacle is an agent for growth.
My only recurring difficulty was more about the Greek patriarchal society, and having to stand my ground as a 40-year-old woman, happily-non-married and without kids. I hear often that they'll pray for me in church for a husband. Also the endless questioning of how on earth I made the decision to move out of Paris. Cause no-one should leave Paris, right? Driving an old Jeep is also not a woman's car apparently. Haha.
Honestly, if I had known how easy things would be when you "follow your heart" I would have done it so much earlier! The main difficulty is how to focus and make the best use of all the freedom and space I created for myself. Which of course I understand sounds like a huge difficulty many would happily exchange their difficulties for. However, great freedom does come with a great responsibility I believe. This freedom has pushed me to think more thoroughly about how I can create meaning in my own and in other people's life.
5 INSIDER TIPS
Listening to your most innate inner feeling is a promise to the nicest rewards. You need faith and you need to trust yourself. Your inner guidance is the most powerful tool you can dream of. In anything you do.
Keep the connection with good friends back home to keep the feeling that you're close. A virtual aperitif through Skype works very well!
Start the day with morning meditations, affirmations and a practice for grounding. This has literally changed my life. I do it totally my style: sitting down on my cushions with my espresso & cigarette! For me, this is a moment of reflection on how I feel and what I want to achieve that day. All before the phones are turned on and the day triggers in. It does wonders to properly connect with yourself. No kidding.
Think of what truly makes a home, a home for you. Last year alone I counted having slept in 70 different beds around the world. The importance of grounding and feeling at home wherever I am is a big and central question in my gypsy life. I always carry a couple of drawings from my niece, nephew & godchild, Palo Santo wood to clean energies, and start creating my little corner / temple space anywhere I go. Even if it's just for one night.
Come & experience a Yoga Mama week. We organize one at the end of September in Sifnos and it would be great to welcome you in my tribe! For more information and to contact me, visit my website.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER. GET €100 DISCOUNT ON THE NEXT YOGA MAMA RETREAT WEEK WITH YOUR SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE: GUTSANDTALES. FOR MORE INFO AND BOOKINGS, CLICK HERE.
PHOToGRAPHY CREDITS: SOFIA KONST
WRITTEN BY ELENI MERAKI
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales and calls Athens, Greece her home. She enjoys roaming different world - literally and metaphorically. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur on a mission; to empower as many as possible to live and be authentic, passionate and pure.
Click here to read Eleni's Tale.