See below the transcript from the first episode of our Podcast.
You can listen to this episode on Spotify at HERE.
Hello and welcome to episode one of this podcast. I am your host, Annika Saigi, and I thought today for the first episode, we can do a quick intro as well as answer a question I get asked quite often, how do I do it? And maybe if you listen till the end, I'll make a big announcement that's sort of buzzing over on social media as well.
Okay, so who do I identify as? I'm 31-years-old. I identify as a mother to Maya, who is two-years-old. My mother is an immigrant from Thailand and my father is an immigrant from Hungary. I was born in Melbourne, then moved to Sydney at an early age... and Sydney as in Western Sydney. So the three yoga studios at the moment are located in St. Marys, Blacktown and Mount Druitt. I have lived in all three of these suburbs.
When I was in school, I always thought I would leave Western Sydney and go live overseas and do all of those wild things. Even though I do love to travel, I also really love Western Sydney, it's such an honor to bring the sacred teachings of yoga to Western Sydney.
So I guess that means I also identify as a westie!
Growing up, I always had a strong work ethic and I always knew deep down I was a creative, yet I wasn't really that great at art or music or anything like that. I would enroll and all to the subjects and love doing it, but I just couldn't channel my creativity in that way. So, as all teenagers do, I lose the plot and discover lots of naughty things.
I came back from that and I figured out that I wanted to do movement. I actually always wanted to do some sort of form of movement, but because my mum is an immigrant from Thailand, she believed that things like dancing were pretty much just for “sluts”. So I guess I wasn't allowed to do that. I had a couple of boyfriends as well, who were also like, "No, you can't do this and that." And then yeah, once I left those guys, I was like, "Hmm, I'm going to try that dancing thing I wanted to do."
So I took up pole dancing, and that was so fun, however, they also had some circus equipment there. So I jumped on the circus equipment and that's where I fell in love. It was just incredible for me to be hanging from the rings and the trapeze and the silks. I loved it so much. however, it was a super expensive hobby. I used to spend around $250 a week on this, so I thought the only way I can make this sustainable is to teach it. So even though I was doing really well in my management role at the time, I decided that I was going to focus on becoming a teacher. Which I did.
So I started teaching circus and I knew I wanted to offer something a little bit more to my students, what do I choose? Pilates or Yoga?
I loved to travel, my father was a gypsy, and has traveled to like over 60 countries or something. So I decided to do my yoga teacher training in India. With only four hours of Bikram yoga under my belt.
So yeah, went over to India, did my 200-hour teacher training. From there came back and started teaching yoga to my circus students. I wanted to go back to India of course, so I did. I did another 300-hour teacher training, then came back to Western Sydney and started teaching community classes out of Colyton neighborhood center.
I did that for three months lugging in all the props. From incense, to tea, to the cushions, the blocks, the yoga mats, the signage, everything to make this community hall a yoga studio. I did that for three months and then I decided, "Hmm, this isn't sustainable. I need to find my own space." So I looked around close to home and found the St Marys studio, which at the time, was such a bargin.
I'll let you guys on a little secret. I pay $324 a week rent for the St Marys studio. I know, right? That's so freaking cheap for 100sqm of commercial retail space.
I remember inspecting that space and them telling me the price and I was like, " What about council approval? And just insurance and all that stuff?” (I am insured, don't get me wrong). I remember speaking to the agent about all my concerns, thinking it would be really hard to have a bricks and mortar yoga studio. And he was just like, "Beg for forgiveness, not permission." And I was like, "Hmm. Yeah, I dig that."
I think of that advice every single time I open a new studio. Beg for forgiveness, not permission. Such good advice when you're going into commercial leasing sometimes.
I say that and have only been in commercial real estate now for three and a half years, so maybe best not to take my advice, but that's just going with my thing about winging it, hey.
So yeah, opened the St Marys studio and then from there, of course... Oh by the way, This whole time, by the way, I was, I am dating the man of my dreams, Aaron. He has always supported all my crazy ideas. I feel like he is someone who's going to be around for a while. Someone I definitely see in my future. And this is because he lets me be my ultimate self, which is such a gift. I've been with some pretty shit guys. So yeah, if you find a guy who lets you be your ultimate self that's pretty cool. Or girl or whatever you're into.
So yeah, of course in my first, maybe my second, first, I don't know. Of course, my first year of having my own bricks and mortar yoga studio, I fall pregnant.
So I didn't know I was pregnant for the first nine weeks. I actually been on the pill for 15 years. Stopped taking the pill because I wanted to like reset my body. Slept with Aaron that night and then didn't sleep with him for a while, because I was so sick. And I was like, "No way I can't be pregnant, I'm just having really bad gas or bloating or something." After nine weeks, went to the doctor and yeah, I was very pregnant. So, that was interesting. I remember being at the doctors and crying and screaming in fear, because I thought I had to give everything up to become a mother. My mom sort of told me, as I was growing up, that once you have a kid, life is kind of over. And that always stuck with me, but I guess now I'm just proving her wrong.
So in falling pregnant, rather than giving everything up, which I initially thought I would have to do, it actually gave me laser focus. So first I was able to unapologetically give up everything that was no longer serving me. And then from there, really decide that, "Yes, I do love having this yoga studio and I want to keep doing it." So when Maya was two weeks old, we opened the Blacktown studio. That was totally wild. I was running on coffee and adrenaline. And so was Aaron. I really enjoyed that time because I sort of thrive in fight-or-flight. I don't think Aaron enjoyed it so much, but we did it. And then after that we opened the Mount Druitt studio. And then after that COVID happened and you know, we had to close, but in that time we had then created our online platform.
I've always wanted to do one, but COVID really made sh*t happen. So I worked my ass off, to figure out how to edit videos and upload them and all that stuff. That was actually a crazy, crazy hard time. Not just because it was difficult to figure out how to use Adobe Premiere Pro, but because it was a lot of time suddenly away from my family. To sort of keep the business afloat. But we did keep it afloat.
So we opened again, once we could. And then from there, what do you do after COVID? Open another studio. So this one was our fourth studio called Maya Movement. Maya has always been my biggest inspiration. So I really, really wanted to name a studio after her. I would actually call Nin Yoga, Maya Yoga if I can. but Nin Yoga has kind of stuck.
P.S, Nin is my high school nickname, for those wondering. It doesn't mean Nine Inch Nails. So yeah, my high school nickname was Annini and then Ninni and then it went to Nin. I feel a little bit weird sharing that, because I feel like I'm putting myself on a pedestal, which really am not. I just wanted a quick, easy to remember name and that just is the one that seemed to flow. But yeah, anyway, back to Maya movement. So over to Maya Movement, which has all the circus stuff which I love, as well as all the movements. So like weights, calisthenics, handstands. As I did train CrossFit for a little bit of time as well. And I wanted Maya Movement to be a space that still embodied the yogic philosophy and way of moving through these poses. So still listening to your body and being kind to yourself.
So let's take a recap. Three and a half years later, we have a baby, three yoga studios, and one movement studio. So how do I do it? Hmm. This is going to be a tricky one to answer, but I'll just wing it once again. The first thing that comes to mind is that I would really love to give thanks to the teachings of yoga. Something I constantly remind students in class, is that the only constant in this life is change, just like the breath. And if you ever want to start your own business, one thing you're going to need to get used to is the constant change and learning to pivot, sometimes on the spot, and very much often when you're not ready.
Another skill I feel like I learned from yoga is to trust my gut. So this is a huge one. When I first decided I wanted to open a yoga studio, I remember I had a meeting with all my beautiful friends, and we came to the realization that I wasn't ready just yet to do it. However, I continued to go with my gut, and I found a place literally two weeks later and did it anyway.
Not to say that the friends were not looking out for me, they definitely were, and they always continue to be my biggest cheerleaders, and I'm so thankful for them. I'm just trying to make the point that the feeling in my gut was so freaking strong. I tried to find reasons to tell myself that I wasn't worthy or not ready, but it was so strong and I did it anyway.
Another hot tip as to how I do it, I just do it. So literally, you just do the thing. You just start. Like this podcast, I woke up this morning I was like, "I'm going to do the podcast today." And you just do the thing.
And how do I just do the thing? It sounds so easy, right?
I know it's not.
I do the thing by having acceptance that I am going to make mistakes. We are all going to make mistakes. Mistakes are a thing and mistakes are a learning process and we just need to accept that they are going to happen and it's going to be all good. There are a few other things I'd like to mention, but these are the three that are really important. Fall in love with change, trust your gut and accept that mistakes are going to happen.
Another teaching from yoga that I would love to share: Something we discuss is that there is no perfect Asana. Asana means in yoga, yogic seat. So like a yoga posture. So the poses that we do. Yeah, so we discussed that no Asana is perfect.
None of it is perfect. I am not perfect. They are not perfect. And that person on social media is definitely not perfect either. So thank you yoga once again, for teaching me acceptance. One thing I'm working on at the moment is the acceptance of the growth of the studios. So they're growing fast. There's four studios at the moment and we haven't been open four years, however, I just feel often a deep shame. I don't know what the word is, but I feel like maybe I haven't earned all this abundance within the business. I know, right? It's totally crazy to even say out loud. Maybe it's just the case of imposter syndrome, but I do often... Well, when I open a new studio, I feel like embarrassed almost to tell people. But that's just one side of me, another side of me is like, "Yeah, I'm freaking doing this."
I love opening more studios because I do it for the community. I just love growing this community in Western Sydney. I don't know if we ever go beyond Western Sydney, who knows, but every single one of the students in the spaces are just so incredible. They've all each touched my heart. And I just, I don't know, it's great. I'm so blessed to have this community because as the business continues to grow, there's a weird loneliness that sort of comes with it as well. When you're own boss, you have no one to really answer to, which is awesome in a way, but also very quiet. So a lot of trusting the gut once again. So thank you to the community for helping me feel less lonely. You guys are so fun to hang out with in this space. And together let's fall in love with change, trust our guts and accept that there will be mistakes.
Finally, our announcement, which I promised at the beginning of the episode. So on social media, we had six choices. The first one is, we are starting a podcast, which I decided to do because I thought that'd be funny. I hope you enjoyed listening. The second was we are adopting a studio dog. The third is we're opening a new studio. The fourth is I'm pregnant. The fifth is that Brianna, our community manager, and epic awesome yoga teacher is pregnant. And six is that Nin Yoga is starting its own retreat. Well, we got lots of awesome feedback. And it looks like heaps of you want a Nin Yoga retreat.
It's not that, but you really inspired me to work on this goal. And it's not a studio dog, because no one lives in the studio and we can't have a dog. But there's quite a few teachers who do bring their dogs to class. So let me know if you need to find out who those teachers are or if you would like to bring your own dog. And Brianna is not pregnant. And unfortunately I am also not pregnant. I know most of you guys were really hoping this, and I know beautiful Maya would love a little brother or sister as well. And it's not off the cards, but I'm not pregnant in this current moment. And Hey, maybe I'll never be pregnant again maybe I will be, who freaking knows. Let's just leave that to the universe, hey. So the final option that was left, yes, we are opening a new studio. One in the Penrith region.
So specifically in Jamisontown. I just signed the lease officially on Monday. Just paid a hefty bond, and from here, the yoga teacher training will come out of this site as well as all the workshops. And I'll be teaching some classes in there, as well as all our other regular teachers. So I've kind of always stayed away from Penrith, initially. I do have some I don't know if it's, I guess it's trauma. I have some situations that happened to me on the road when I was getting my learner's license. I've been physically abused in the car in Penrith, as well as having to go to court from someone punching my windscreen so much that their blood was all over it. So two really serious road rage accidents. Not accidents, incidents, have happened to me in Penrith. And that's a huge reason why I sort of stayed away from that area.
However, Jamisontown, which is sort of the other side is so freaking chill. So I used to work at AMF Penrith (now Zone Bowling), which is just around the corner. I've also gone to Sydney Pole a few times, which is just around the corner as well. We get our shirts printed around the corner from there, and there's an incredible netball court, which I plan to start roller skating in, as well as an awesome playground that Maya loves. So Jamisontown, I am so totally okay with. It's the other side of Penrith, I freak out on. I actually can't drive down that part. Aaron often has to do the driving for me when we want to go to Penrith shops, which I also avoid a lot of the time, because that place is just wild. So yeah, Nin Yoga, Penrith! :)
Our lease officially begins on the 1st of March. We need to do a whole lot of cleaning. And then once that's done, the yoga teacher trainees will all move into there. And I will play some classes onto the schedule and then we will begin, and be a living and breathing studio.
So this will be our fifth studio. That's so crazy. So definitely the right move. My gut is telling me it's the right move when I first inspected this space. So I wasn't, by the way, just a disclaimer, other than St Marys, all the other studios including Maya Movement, Blacktown, Mount Druitt, and Penrith all came about by opportunity. So you don't...well, I never picked the right time to open a new studio. The studio presents itself to me and I make a choice in that moment. So I just wanted to clarify that, because it does feel a little soon since I opened Maya Movement, but I love doing this and I am finally being okay with admitting that I am good at opening studios.
We know a whole lot of our community already live really close or in the Penrith region. So this is for you guys and for all the new yogis that we are to meet as well. And I think that's all for today, let's wrap it up. So thank you so much for listening and to each of you for being on this journey with me. I can never thank you all enough. Here is to Nin Yoga, Penrith, and all the future studios where we can share yoga and movement mindfully together. Thank you for listening.