Q & A with Sarah Nelson, RYT – Yoga with Sarah Nelson
as shared with Jaime Krueger, Founder, Fill Up Your Cup
“For too long, I let my fear of failure and not being good enough hold me back from pursuing my dreams and living a more fulfilled life. I’ve learned that being brave and confident doesn’t mean having no fear or being perfect at something, it’s acknowledging that the fear is there or that you’re not perfect, and making the choice to do the thing anyway with your best effort.”-Sarah Nelson, RYT
For the first edition of ‘Feature Friday’ in the Fill Up Your Cup community, Sarah Nelson shares with us her passion for Forrest Yoga and how it has shaped her business and her life. While she has only been in business since September 2016, she has been practicing yoga much longer. I had the pleasure of taking a class with Sarah recently and there is no mistaking she has found her calling, and I think you’ll find her just as inspiring as I do! Fun fact: she is the ONLY registered Forrest Yoga teacher in Michigan! Here’s a peek into Sarah’s world and the amazing gifts and talents she offers to our local communities…
Q: What services do you provide?
Sarah: “I am a certified Forrest Yoga and trauma-informed yoga teacher, and I provide yoga instruction in many forms: public studio classes, private 1-on-1 sessions, private group sessions, and on-site corporate classes.”
Q: What motivated you to start your business?
Sarah: “It’s no exaggeration to say that yoga completely changed my life. It helped me evolve from feeling lost, disconnected, and unhappy to feeling more alive and connected to myself (mind, body, and spirit!) with more clarity in my life purpose than I ever have before. I still learn and grow every single time I step on my mat. It’s so much more than the postures; it’s an ongoing journey toward becoming my best self that’s exciting and fun – and definitely hard work. I never really planned to become a yoga teacher, but once I recognized all the magic that was happening in my own life, I knew I had to go to teacher training so that I could not only uplevel my own internal work, but learn how to share this amazing practice with others. After 700+ hours (and counting) of teaching yoga, I know in my heart I’m on the right path.”
Q: Did you have a mentor or someone who encouraged you to start teaching?
Sarah: “I have had so many mentors and influences on this path. The yoga teacher that introduced me to Forrest Yoga in Pittsburgh, Leigh Ann Handel Cutright, who guided my practice through the early years of my personal evolution and encouraged me to take the leap to go to teacher training with Ana Forrest in 2016. Keri Kenney, owner of Alignment 8 Yoga & Cycle, was the first one to take a chance on me as a brand new teacher, and her abundant unconditional support, trust, and belief in my abilities has been incredibly valuable to me as I’ve further branched out on my own. Lastly, I have two wonderful sounding boards for business decisions and advice on difficult teaching situations: my friend and fellow yoga teacher Becca Cutright, and my husband Chris.”
Q: How have you positively impacted your community as a result of your teaching?
Sarah: “I’ve guided countless people in my classes to learn how to not only breathe and move mindfully, but to become wiser, kinder, stronger, more connected and intuitive versions of themselves. My goal is to make my classes welcoming and accessible for everyone regardless of experience, age, gender, race, size, ability, injury, or personal history so that everyone feels seen and cared for during their practice, whether it’s one person or twenty. Outside of my regular classes, I’ve also had the opportunity to give back to the wider community in a few different ways. I have linked my passion for animal welfare to my work by launching annual Cats on Yoga Mats events in Midland. Last summer, I also had the chance to volunteer to teach a couple of outdoor yoga classes for the inaugural Out-land-ish festival. I am also in the process of initiating a future volunteer project working directly with a local organization with the goal of bringing yoga to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity or means to access it.”
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
Sarah: “We have a pledge we each take as Forrest Yoga teachers: to do our part in “mending the hoop of the people”, and that’s what it’s all about for me. It makes me feel proud to do what I do when I observe my students growing stronger and more confident, making breakthroughs, learning how to heal themselves – physically and otherwise – and feeling more at home in their own bodies and minds. When my students share the impact that their yoga practice has made in their lives, I feel in alignment with that pledge as well as my life purpose.”
Q: What is a challenge you’ve encountered in your business and how did you overcome it?
Sarah: “It has certainly been a challenge to be the only person in Michigan who teaches the style of yoga that I do, not only because it means I’m a one-woman force but also because it means I don’t have other Forrest teachers here to turn to for my own practice. I do a lot of independent work and self-study, and fielding plenty of questions like “Is your class held in the woods? Isn’t it too cold?” (spoiler alert: nope! Forrest Yoga has nothing to do with trees!), and getting people past their uncertainty of trying something new and unfamiliar. It takes a lot of bravery to get out of your comfort zone, and for a lot of people taking the first step in rolling out that yoga mat is huge! To overcome that potential for fear, I try to get the word out every chance I get on what Forrest Yoga is all about, and I strive to make my classes a safe and empowering space for people to explore that unknown territory – whether it’s just a new style of yoga for them or their first time ever practicing – and see for themselves if my class is the right fit for them.”
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given in business or in life?
Sarah: “To stop making decisions based on fear and to make lots of mistakes! For too long, I let my fear of failure and not being good enough hold me back from pursuing my dreams and living a more fulfilled life. I’ve learned that being brave and confident doesn’t mean having no fear or being perfect at something, it’s acknowledging that the fear is there or that you’re not perfect, and making the choice to do the thing anyway with your best effort. Being willing to make lots of mistakes is essential in business and in life, because it’s not failure, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. No mud, no lotus – or as my teacher Ana says: “take your s#*% and turn it into fertilizer!” 🙂
Q: What encouragement would you offer a woman who is pursuing a dream of hers?
Sarah: “Don’t wait until the “right” time or until you feel like what you want to offer is completely “perfect”. That voice inside that says what you know/have/do/are isn’t enough is a liar; you ARE enough, just as you are. Take one step towards your goal, even if it scares you, and then take another and another. You’ll inevitably make plenty of mistakes, and that’s ok! You’ll learn, grow, and become even better in the process. Make NOW the time that you make yourself and your dreams a priority, and let your beautiful unique light shine bright! When you make room in your life and heart for what you truly desire for yourself, and do the work to create and nurture it, the universe will respond in its own time with abundance.”
Q: What is your favorite inspirational or motivational quote?
Sarah: “Learning to ask the question – ‘What part of this can I do?’ – changed my life that day and every day I remember to ask.” – Ana Forrest, from her book, Fierce Medicine. This is a potent tool for when you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the voice that says “I can’t”, both on the yoga mat and in your life.
Q: Where can we find more information about your classes and locations?
Sarah: Anyone who is interested in connecting with me on social media can find me on Facebook and Instagram as @sarahnelsonyoga. My full class schedule, descriptions, and booking details can be found at tinyurl.com/sarahnelsonyoga
Thank you Sarah, for being an amazing light and inspiration for the community!