I remember so clearly the day I knew I was going to open a yoga studio. I was one week into my practice and this little voice told me, "Open a yoga studio in Stockton." At the time I was not connected to the Stockton community. As a matter of fact, as a kid I was told never to go to Stockton. :) However, the voice inside of me was strong and distinct and I had every intention of listening. It took me 4 years to make my first real move in that direction. I practiced yoga relentlessly for years taking countless workshops, reading books, and seeking the truth about yoga.
Finally in the fall of 2006 I took the plunge by quitting my job and attending Bikram's Teacher Training. I got home from training in November and within a week God's plans for me began unfolding as I met my business mentor and started writing my business plan. Denise Ost, a local Stocktonian, served as my mentor and Community Business Bank of Stockton loaned me my start-up cash.
I remember the first time I saw 2341 Pacific Ave. I thought to myself, "This place is huge--it's too big for me!" I was coaxed by several people to take the risk. "Build it and they will come," one of my close friends said to me. At the time I was married. My husband, his family, and my entire family(!) provided much of the labor to build the studio as Bob Leonard Construction oversaw the project. People coming to the studio today may not realize that I helped tear down and rebuild the studio with my bare hands. I spent my Thanksgiving holiday in 2007 demoing the front lobby, more days loading a massive pile of old debris, and months assisting in building walls and sealing ducts. I went to Home Depot countless times while working long, long days to build the studio in just 5 months!! It was extremely hard work and only God could have made it happen so fast.
On Friday, April 11th of 2008 I opened my doors. My first class at 6am had 9 people in it. The studio opened offering 21 classes a week. In no time at all my passion for yoga paid off. People started to flood through the doors and there I was, a proud hot yoga studio owner in Stockton, CA!
I almost wish it was as simple as that but of course it was not. Little did I know that God had more plans for me. The plan was never to simply own a yoga studio--I had much to learn as a studio owner. I learned some massive interpersonal lessons, with a variety of people, which would deeply humble me, teach me to be compassionate, and show me what real yoga is.
Most of you do not realize that I almost lost our studio several times. The internal pressure of surviving a second studio, lease issues, a changing market, and personal growth polished me in a way that only experience can. More people than I can mention here saved my ass along the way and like so many times before, the community, YOU, helped me through! You trusted me, you were patient with me, you put your resources into the studio when I really needed it, and we made it work together. There have been so many twists and turns in the last ten years that cannot all be expressed here, but please know that I am so grateful to you, I am so proud that we have made it this far, but above all I am so happy that I got to learn so many lessons through owning a yoga studio with YOU.
What started with a few instructors has rooted into meaningful and lasting bonds resembling a real family. These bonds now reach far beyond my comprehension. At some point the studio was no longer mine, but ours as I simply became the steward of something that was much bigger than me.
True You has been built on loyalty and excellence. I have pushed our teachers to be their very best in very direct ways. The strong ones survived my style and have come to serve you in incredible ways, taking deep pride in their own excellence and representing the True You brand. I could not be more proud of them!! (crying right now) We are very loyal to each other and we take great pride in providing you the best service possible on any given day. A special Thank You to all the teachers, past and present!
Today True You is a staple in Stockton. It has become an important part of the fabric of the Stockton community. True You is a place people come to have a good time and feel the warmth and light the building has to offer. I t's a place people rely on in times of trouble. It's a soft place to land after a hard day's work and a fierce place to be when you need to sweat and feel amazing. You don't have to tell anyone what's going on with you, but somehow coming to True You will provide you the strength you need and the answers to your questions. In the beginning and in the end all the glory goes to God. I thank God for every experience I have had over the last ten years and one more time I want to Thank You.
My goal is that as many people as possible in our area practice yoga so that we can feel amazing every damn day. At our Gratitude Festival on April 28th I am going to announce a Thank You gift. Please come to the festival to enjoy our community, have a lot of fun, and receive our gift of gratitude.
I love you so much! Namaste