Sunday, April 9, 2017

Interview and yoga studio tour with Shauna Hylenski

Shauna Hylenski

Professional dancer
Certification in elementary education
Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours
Massage Therapist

Longmont, CO

Opening her own yoga studio on April 10, 2017!
Join her for an entire day of FREE classes on Saturday April 15, 2017!

Shri Studios

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a dancer.
Dancing was a huge part of my life, I started when I was 5. I knew right away that it was the thing I wanted to do all the time, I didn't want to do anything else. By the time I was in high school I didn't have time to be in clubs or get into much trouble, because of dance, which was a good thing. I was dancing every single day, and was teaching at that point. I love working with kids and started teaching kids at the dance studio I was connected with. 
Being able to express myself with movement connected me to who I was. I was also very shy, speaking in front of people was challenging for me. I would blush, which was one of my "big tells" and I didn't hide my feelings very well (I still don't). Blushing would cause me to shut down and not want to put myself out there because everyone could read exactly how I was feeling. But when I danced, I never felt that way. I never felt shy, I never blushed, I never felt embarrassed. I just moved and I just was. 
It was always my dream to dance and teach.

Where did you grow up? 
I grew up in upstate New York, and I went to college for dance in Virginia. My husband and I met in college, he is from the East Coast too.

How did you find your way to Colorado?
My parents were both teachers and would take us on summer trips. The summer when I was 9, my parents took us to Colorado Springs to visit with family friends. I loved it! I told them that when I grew up I was going to live in Colorado and have two dogs, just like you. 
I had forgotten saying that. 
When my husband and I graduated college, we decided to move to Colorado because we thought it would be great. We literally drove out here with a JUST MARRIED sign on the back of our car and all of our belongings packed in the back of an Isuzu Trooper!
When we got married and moved out here and bought this house and got two dogs, she called me and said, "Are you kidding?!" She reminded me of my childhood dreams. 

I read that you lived overseas for many years. Can you tell me more about that time?
We first went to Japan in 2003. Before we moved to Japan, we were living in this house with our two dogs. I had a massage business and my husband was doing programming work. At one point we looked at each other and said that this was an awesome life for us...10 years from now. Let's go do all the things that we've always wanted to do! If we don't go now, it will be harder. I was 28 when we moved to Japan.
We ended up getting connected with an organization called Peppy Kids Club. They are based out of Japan and that's how we decided to move there. We sold a bunch of stuff, packed up the rest, rented out the house, got the dogs to a good friend, and left. 
It was a HUGE culture shock! Thankfully, the organization was great and had an orientation where they taught us how to shop and use the public transportation.
We worked in little one room schools. We'd go to one school for one week, then another school for another week. We would move around quite a bit. We had a blast!

You and your husband took such a big step and moved to another country! Where did that courage come from?
When I was growing up, I knew someone who went and worked overseas as a teacher. It made an imprint on me. I never knew anyone who did that.
I don't like to go and visit a place, I'm not the type of tourist to skim the surface. If I go, I want to know a place and know the culture.
Looking back on that time, it was pretty awesome. Something we had always wanted to do.

After living in Japan for a year, we traveled to South Korea. We love it and decided to move. It was very real, not all all pretty and beautiful everywhere like in Japan. After South Korea, we traveled all through southeast Asia. I went to India by myself, and this was the first time I had traveled alone. I went to study yoga.
I started teaching yoga in Japan, just from my own practice and with the experience of taking classes in the US at yoga workshops. When we were in Japan, there was no-one to teach yoga. I found a community center and they invited me in to teach yoga classes. After doing that, I knew that this is what I wanted to dedicate myself to. 
I went to Thailand for quite some time to study yoga traditions there, I also went to Lao and Malaysia to study, and then I traveled to India. When I was in India I was able to absorb and learn. I was doing a lot of searching, and felt I needed someone to show me who I was. No-one told me who I was, I just kept getting mirrors. They were telling me, "You know who you are." 
You don't need to go to India to discover who you are. Don't get me wrong, it was a great trip and I'm glad I went! But the revelation of answers that I thought I was going to find there was really just with me. I packed it with me.

Everything that I have read about you seems to have a similar message...empowering students to help them find their own true nature.
Yes, it is one of my main missions.
So often people will dim their own light and look to others to validate or show them who they are. Or look for a teacher to teach them all they need to know. The role of a teacher is not to orchestrate the unlocking, it is to slide the key. You give the tools and the student will know that they will be there when they are ready to use them. I feel really driven to share that with people.
I love to hold up the mirror that so many of my teachers held for me, "See you, you are here, know how amazing you are."

You have built this beautiful studio on your property, and are inviting the community in to your space which is part of your home. How does that feel and what does home mean to you?
We've lived so many different places and I have never been very attached to a place that I must return to as a home. I have always been more connected to the people that are with me. My husband and I create home wherever we are because we weren't anywhere for a long time. 
I had a home based massage practice in 2005, and I loved it. I loved sharing my home with my clients and to be able to connect with people felt so special.
So having my yoga studio at our home feels perfect. I'm really so glad I decided to go this route, rather than rent a commercial space. This studio is for other people to enjoy this space of connection, to awaken this light inside of themselves, understand this truth of who they really are, and ultimately allow this transformation to effect not just themselves but then send it out there. 

Can you talk about the meaning behind the name Shri Studios?
For a long time I was connected to the name Yoga Tribe, it is what I used when I was teaching in South Korea. I had the corner market on the English speaking yoga teacher thing, I taught to a lot of ex-pats. I ended up working out of my own apartment because working out of a studio there was too complicated. Yoga Tribe was a name that I carried with me.
As I grew my own practice, I realized that the name Yoga Tribe felt too limiting because I want to incorporate other movement and meditation. So I tried to cut the tethers to that name, which had been with me for a long time, and be open to other ideas. 
The word shri is connected to the goddess Saraswati. She embodies an intention of grace and light, she also represents an abundance of wealth that she can unlock within us. She brings with her a clarity of focus, when you invite an abundance into your life then there needs to be a clarity of what it is that you are inviting. 
The name of my studio was a total shower moment. My email for many years was shrishauna. One day I was playing with words when thinking about a studio name and said to myself, "Shri. What about shri?!" My husband is my sounding board and so I called him right away. He loved it! He thought we needed something else besides just shri, "How about Shri Studios?" I loved it! He was on it and registered the domain right away! 
There is flexibility with the name that I love. Many of my yoga teachers are shortening the name and saying, "I'm teaching at Shri. Come see me at Shri." I love that!

In moments of self doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I first connect in my body and breath. 
The last few months have been really challenging, getting ready to open a new business. Challenge, navigate. Challenge, navigate. 
When I'm at my best, I feel the thing that connects me and allows me to widen is connecting into my body and breath. I'll move my body in a way that reminds me there is physical connection, and reminds me that I'm not all in my head. At the very least, I'll take a few deep breaths. Expanding my perspectives.
I'm 41 and my perspective is wider than it used to be. As I've gotten older, the things that used to really freak me out don't bother me as much. I don't get freaked out as much anymore. Through my life experiences I can see that it is temporary. Challenges don't completely pull the rug out from under me anymore.
My husband is so great for that too, he is super pragmatic and not so emotional. He can help me break it down into logical steps, and take things out of a heightened emotional state (if that is what is going on). My sister is so helpful too, she and I are really close. She lives in New Jersey, we talk on the phone and she is really helpful in sorting out what is happening. My daughter is an amazing spirit, she is probably the most grounded person in this family. She is really beautiful and fantastic and loving. She will just be there for you if you need it.
I'm feeling so lucky and blessed to have all of those resources. My first line of defense are those resources. 

I've noticed that whenever you talk about your husband you get this special sparkle in your eye.
He is amazing. He made this! [points to studio] When I think about it I get teary. He has spent every weekend working here. He is the kind of guy who doesn't get emotional about stuff and doesn't spend his time on things he doesn't think is worthwhile. 
There have times when I really doubt what I'm doing here, starting this business. Then I think that he wouldn't be spending this much time if he didn't believe in me. He has been promoting me to do this since we lived in Korea. I tried to start at a community center there, but it didn't work out and the idea got shelved. When we came back to Colorado, I was working at 7 different studios. He kept encouraging me to do this, open my own studio. I had doubt about running the business and finances and PNL sheets. He said we can hire people to help, but I need to follow this.
Yeah, that guy. We've been together since I was 18 years old. We've gone through so much life together. Sometimes we make each other nuts, but we just know each other so well. 

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that 
inspires you to do what you love?

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi 
"Wherever you go, there you are." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

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