Rishi Yoga: A New Chapter

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.12″]

It may sound strange to say that I’m as happy and excited about the future now that I just sold Rishi Yoga than I was when I opened my studio in June 2014. Not even five years later, and I’m selling the studio I put so much love and work into? That’s the question I’ve been hearing for months, while the ownership transfer process was going on, so here’s a little bit of background on why and how I made the decision to sell Rishi Yoga and focus on just teaching my classes (at Rishi Yoga, of course).

The first thing to get out of the way is: This is a good thing! A great thing, really! I’ve been hearing reactions that range from shock to tears to disbelief to the occasional sigh of relief (the latter coming mostly from people who have owned small businesses). See, I never really wanted to own a business, or run one, or (gasp!) manage people. If you asked me five years ago what my worst punishment would be, being a business person and manager would have been in the top five, and I’m not kidding.

So why in the world did I open a yoga studio then?! I woke up in the middle of the night on my 36th birthday and just had the thought that I must open my own studio. I know, it sounds airy fairy, but it’s the way things started. I knew better than to ignore that call, not that it would have been possible to ignore it. When I was 30, about six months after I started a regular yoga practice, I had a similarly crazy and intense thought that seemed to come out of nowhere and practically forced me to become a yoga teacher, which I did, about a year later. Becoming a yogi and then a yoga teacher had been the most transformative and grace-infused experience I had in my life, so how could I have shut down the inner voice that told me to open my own studio? By that time, I had learned the hard way that trusting my intuition would certainly behoove me.

There was no way going around it: I had to create a yoga studio that would fit my standards of what a yoga studio should be. Because otherwise, I wasn’t going to teach at a studio at all; not because of the way the existing studios were but because of the way I am. I wanted a place that would offer warmth, compassion and friendship without the annoying new-age spiritual-sounding platitudes that more often than not turn out to be a lot of talk and not so much walk. I wanted a place where all of us, teachers and students (is there really a difference?) can be real, raw if we have to be, honest with ourselves and one another, and laugh and cry without fear of being judged or overlooked. I wanted my fellow teachers to be nothing like the run of the mill Instagram yoga Barbies and wannabe celebrities, but to genuinely care about people first, and be badass yoga teachers second. I wanted to create a place that would draw in people, students and teachers alike, who are tired of looking outside of themselves for themselves (and that’s not a typo). I wanted a studio that treated yoga like the sacred, inward looking practice that it is, rather than a new exercise fad. I knew I wasn’t going to have a trendy yoga studio, and that was exactly the point.

I have to express my endless gratitude for my husband, Daniel, my best friend and biggest supporter, without whom this whole yoga studio thing would have been much harder or, might as well be honest, impossible to pull off. Here we were, two introverts and semi-hermits, neither of whom wanted to run a business or manage people…But my heart said I had to and his beautiful heart said he had to carry me through it all.

I’m so very proud of what Rishi Yoga has become. Sometimes it takes leaving town for a week and coming back to really be reminded of the enormous amount of love that’s packed in that little space. That love doesn’t come from me or any one particular person or thing in there, but from all of us who have been baring our souls on our mats in there for the last five years, infusing the space with realness and truth. There is definitely no other place I want to go to teach my classes.

Just like the urge to become a yoga teacher, and then the knowing I just had to open a studio, it became perfectly clear to me one day during last summer that it was time to let go of the business side of things and focus on my love for and dedication to teaching. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the business side of things didn’t wear me out…not because it was hard work but because I never wanted to spend my days doing that sort of stuff. And I didn’t want my frustration with the business aspect to affect my love for teaching yoga, so the answer was obvious. Lucky for me, the perfect person, Carol O’Brien, just came into the picture at the right time. I know Carol and her husband, Eric, will do a much better job as owners and managers than I did (that won’t take much!), while maintaining the vibe that has become the signature of Rishi Yoga.

Back to my point that this is not just a good thing, but a really great thing: How can I not be overjoyed now that I get to simplify my life by just teaching yoga, and do that in the studio that not only feels like home but IS home to me? I may have just found a way to have my cake and eat it too!

Some of the common questions I have been asked in the last six months now seem almost silly to answer, but I will do it anyway.

“Aren’t you scared the studio will change?” No. I don’t live in fear and have been actually working hard to undo fear in my mind. I do get scared by rattlesnakes, but that’s a separate point : )

“Are you going to teach yoga elsewhere?” No way. I don’t want to be owner because I don’t want the owner’s responsibilities, not because I don’t like Rishi Yoga. I love Rishi Yoga! But I think that’s clear already.

“Will you stop teaching yoga?” Not for as long as I can physically show up to teach my classes, and that’s looking pretty good for the foreseeable future!

Thank you ALL for being my teachers in the last five years (or longer). I could write another (way too long) post about how grateful I am for having made so many friends in Reno, pretty much all of whom I have met through my yoga teaching. May we all continue to grow in love and gratitude for ourselves and for one another.


  1. Candace Chang says:

    Congratulations, Jelena! I am so proud of all you have achieved over the years I have known you, all the while being the best and most challenging yoga teacher I have ever had the privilege of learning from. I miss you and hope I can visit Reno soon. Best of luck in letting your baby Rishi grow up!

  2. Amber Lloyd says:

    Love this and love you!

  3. Channéll says:

    Beautiful. I’m so happy for you! The irony of becoming a business owner, then just wanting to get back to the root and passion! Look at what you created. I admire your decision and transparency. Sending love, Xo.

    Yay Carol!

  4. Nettie Oliverio says:

    Jelena, so many blessings for your courageous choice – exactly reflecting your vision and your caregiving to all, including yourself. Congratulations! And much love.

  5. Karen Lilleyman says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for establishing such a special place, and being such an inspiration xxx

  6. Norma says:

    Jelena, so proud of you. I can totally relate on needing/wanting to make a big change. I would like to do so myself. Our souls always let us know when it’s time. So glad you heeded the call. Your future will now unfurl in a new and stronger direction, of that I am sure.

  7. Carole Chouinard says:

    Jelena, you’re right to follow your heart’s direction. I wish you, Carol, and all that is Rishi Yoga only the best. It is such an important place to me and to so many others. Thank you for giving the Rishi community such a strong foundation. Peace & love to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *