• Chelsea Smith

Supporting Creativity

Freebird Yoga recently attended Makers & Shakers, a growing community of women entrepreneurs based in Chico. What makes this community so special is it’s commitment to open and honest collaboration and support. Turning traditional business philosophy of dog eat dog competition on its head, Makers & Shakers promotes the idea that there is enough room for all and instead of competing let’s collaborate.

Spending time with this group of women, totaling 80 at their last meeting, it became apparent how hard these women work to keep their businesses alive. Small business women entrepreneurs aren’t just that, they’re also a combination of mothers and wives, and people who have other jobs. What’s more, many of these women were beginning their role as entrepreneurs. Meaning they were having to learn as they go. This takes massive courage to step into the unknown and set yourself up to sink or swim. This post is dedicated to these women and I’m going to discuss managing and nurturing your creative fire.

The hard reality is that we are not built with an endless supply of energy and burnout is a real fear that many small business entrepreneurs face. Especially for those women juggling multiple roles and jobs. I speak from experience. During my time as a PhD student I let myself get swept up in the tornado of work that comes with being in a PhD program. My whole identity became my work and I had to learn the hard way that if you let all of you become one thing (work) you’re setting yourself up for a fall. My burnout came in stages. Colds at first, migraines a little later, and then things like vertigo, skin rashes, crazy high anxiety, and depression. While all of these burnout symptoms popped up one by one my reaction was, “if I just work a little harder I’ll be able to rest later.”

Except I never rested. It wasn’t until I was laying in bed crying because I couldn’t muster up the energy to even get my feet on the floor that I inadvertently blurted out "I hate what I'm doing!" When these words left my mouth it was the first time I really felt how much I hated my career and how dead I felt inside. The energy and drive that  I thought would always be with me was tapped. I was empty, beyond empty, I was in energetic debt and my body was paying the toll. I was forced to make a change.

Fast forward five years I no longer work in academia. The massive burnout I experienced taught me I wasn’t meant to work in this field even if I was good at it. It took too much energy from me and didn’t refuel my fire. But I did learn a very important lesson... when it comes to nursing something you want to create, like a business, whether you love it or not we all need a way to effectively and efficiently let our mind and body reset and refuel. We’re talking about self care and how essential it is for those who have multiple roles to play and rely on their ability to execute ideas and create.

For those small business entrepreneurs setting sail, you will face obstacles. Most small businesses struggle with a finite amount of funding and that means you rely on your creative and clever self to find new solutions for success. I suggest that you start to see your creativity as an economic energy system, input vs output, and yoga is here to help build your creative input.

In the midst of dealing with my massive burnout I had yoga to rely on. I’d been working in the yoga industry as a side gig to my academic career for about 10 years. I’m not a single lineage kinda yogi. I think each style of yoga offers something unique. My background as an integrative researcher, meaning I designed projects that used genetics, biochemistry, anthropology and archaeology, rolled over into me combining styles of yoga that provided therapeutic or refueling techniques. When I was offered to lead my first restorative class I used it as an opportunity to try a restorative style that I designed specifically to negate burnout and fuel our creative fire.

My style of restorative yoga targets specific systems in the body that play a crucial role in maintaining your body’s energy. In yoga we refer to body energy as prana, in Chinese medicine it called chi/Qi, and in more modern holistic modalities we say energy. Any which way you look at it this energy is your creative fire. It’s what allows you the ability to create in every way that humans can create. Having my creative fire stripped away because I didn’t know how to manage it was a kind of gift. A painful gift, but it sent me down a path that would later blossom into my passion. A passion based on refueling. The irony of this development still makes my head spin.

So for the women who are Makers & Shakers, and who have the courage to step into the unknown, to take a chance on their ability to create something amazing without the guarantee of success. I say protect and nurture your creative fire! It is the energy that fuels your gift to the world. If you are struggling with the effects of burnout or want to learn how to keep your fire alive and roaring check out my restorative class coming to Freebird Yoga this March. It’s made for women like you 😘

New Location TBA!
Chico, CA 


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