It's all in the family for Health Yoga Life
Four siblings running a business together could be a recipe for disaster, but for the Bielkus sisters of Health Yoga Life, it couldn't be more natural. The foursome founded the Beacon Hill studio in 2011, and they've gained a devoted following of yogis thanks to their focus on the mentally and spiritually healing powers of yoga. We spoke with Vyda Bielkus about the journey that led her to a career in yoga and what sets Health Yoga Life apart from its competitors.
What inspired you to focus on yoga, specifically? I actually worked in high-tech first, and then after a few years of that I realized quite quickly that there was a disconnect. I realized I wanted to get out in the world and help serve people, and have more opportunities to help people find health and overall wellness in their lives. I thought, if I want to help people do that then I’ll have that in my own life as well. So that’s what put me on the path of creating a career in yoga, because I realized that I would have a little more self-care while offering that to other people as well.
How does Health Yoga Life differ from other yoga studios? We offer coaching, which really helps people deal with their problems off the mat, whether that’s professional changes, or if they’ve had a recent health diagnosis. The coaching helps people on and off their mats with their ability to lead happier and healthier lives. I started Health Yoga Life with my three sisters and we’re using and sharing techniques that were helping us in our lives—we’re really just average women, and we found success in the time periods of our lives that were really challenging ... and we’re really excited to be able to share what we know works well. A lot of people want to make a change but don’t know how to go about it, and our coaching helps with that.
You focus a lot on self-love and self-transformation. How does yoga facilitate that? Yoga is a very individual process and a lot of people come to yoga first off because they’re looking for certain benefits—maybe the doctor said it would help them out with stress, or they want to gain strength or balance. But as you begin, you make space to explore your own mind, and yoga opens up the opportunity for more self-awareness and internal reflecting, which is not something we have in our lives that are spent on the computer or with family or friends. But once you start to train a little, you’re able to make choices to reach your full potential, and that’s where self-love and self-care start to be prioritized over the negative self-talk or the ways that we limit ourselves from happiness. Yoga provides the ability to quiet the mind and actually listen to your needs.
On the HYL website it says you merge yoga and the “Emotional Responsibility Method.” Can you elaborate on what that means? The Emotional Responsibility Method is a coaching method we developed in order to help people move away from emotional reactivity where we are reacting and looking outside of ourselves and blaming others or our circumstances. We teach people to take responsibility for the way we spend our time or the choices that we make. Traditional coaching is focused on goal-setting, but with goal-setting, you’re setting yourself up for potential failure if you don’t reach that goal. Look at New Year’s Resolutions—how many of us actually reach those goals? Not many. The Emotional Responsibility Method helps us make small changes that can have a big impact going forward.
Could you tell me about the TLC (Total Life Change) plan, and who it’s geared toward? What we have found with the TLC plan is if we couple yoga and coaching, you’re really able to think about lasting change. It’s really geared toward anyone who’s looking to make a big change—in a relationship, or to have a better quality of life, or perhaps they’re not so sure what they want to do or how they want to change but they’re looking for something different in their life. With yoga, you’re able to focus on improving your body, and you’re able to have more inner observation. Couple that with coaching and you can make the right choices based on that observation and you’ll be able to better yourself. We’ve had recovering addicts, or people who have struggled with eating disorders, or anxiety issues. In today’s world, those are some of the more prominent challenges that we all face. And what we feel is that these are not things to be scared or ashamed of. We’re not broken. We’re whole, and we have the power within us to feel better. Right now, if you see yourself dropping your New Year’s resolutions, well, maybe there’s something to look at there and the Total Life Change plan will help you do that.
What would you want readers who have a casual interest in yoga to know about HYL’s program? I always say to people, everyone has their first day of yoga. And if you’ve heard about it and you’re curious, you should absolutely come. But you can’t make a decision on yoga based on that first day. You want to give yourself a good 10 to 12 classes, try different teachers, see which ones land with you. Our studio has been open for about two years and we have a very welcoming and inclusive community. Because it’s run by us four sisters, we really have a familial feel. We remember our first days doing yoga and what it was like, so I encourage people to try it. You don’t have to do anything with coaching, either—you can just do the yoga. If you’re coming to a class for the first time, get there a little early, and tell the teacher that you’re new so they’ll pay a little extra attention to you. I know it can be intimidating at first, but just try it.