Natasya graduated with a Diploma in Yoga from Wellpark College of Natural Therapies in 2014 and went straight into teaching 15 classes a week for the next 3 years. In a previous life she was a professional actor both in Malaysia and New Zealand, and for the last 8 years she ran the largest vintage dance school in Auckland, dabbled with crafting vintage fascinators and accessories and continued to perform in children theater shows. But yoga has truly captured her heart and now her focus is solely on growing her physical business The Yoga Pantry as well as her online brand Natasya Yusoff – The Motivational Yogi.
What led you to yoga?
My journey into the yogic world has been a long time coming! In my late teens I moved to Malaysia to work as a professional actor and found a yoga VHS in one of those bargain bins at the supermarket. I can’t remember why exactly I bought it, maybe it was super cheap and I wanted a way to keep fit without having to go to the gym or go running. Anyway, I used that tape for years and really enjoyed it even though I found it super challenging – it was a 90-minute power yoga class called the New Yoga Challenge with Kathy Smith and Rod Stryker. A few years after that while visiting my mum in Christchurch, she showed me a new yoga routine called The Cosmic Fountain of Youth, a series of 3 salutations that worked out the whole body but wasn’t as intense as my good old VHS. So I added that to my repertoire. Over the years that was pretty much all I did, until I added a couple of new DVDs to my workouts.
Fast forward about 15 years into the future and I found myself running a Swing dancing school in Auckland. As I got more involved with dance and as I got older I realised I needed a way to keep my body fit and healthy and for some weird reason a lot of people I knew were starting to do their yoga teacher training and I figured maybe that was something I should do too. So I enrolled in a 1-year diploma course in yogic philosophy and teacher training at Wellpark College, with the intention of maybe creating some kind of program for my dancers. However, as soon as I had finished the course, my partner at the time announced that he had found the perfect space for me to have a yoga studio, and although I thought he was bonkers my curiosity got the better of me and off we went to check it out. Before I knew it I was signing a lease and The Yoga Pantry was born. A lot has happened since then and I have learned so much about yoga, myself and managing a sustainable business on my own.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is probably sticking to one thing and seeing it through to its completion. I’m like a magpie and am easily distracted by shiny new things and ideas. I’m quite a strong Vata personality with a streak of Pitta and not a whole lot of Kapha. I’ve definitely found that my yoga practice helps keep me grounded and focussed on the things that are the most important.
What lights up your soul?
Seeing the transformation in people when they accomplish a new skill or find comfort in their own skin. I have been privileged to see this time and time again in people who find a community through dance, and also witnessing people finding their centre through yoga. I get a bit emotional when I talk to my beginners about this – it really is a special thing to witness.
Also when my cats come to me for a cuddle (haha) and creating something out of nothing – taking an idea and turning it into something tangible.
What has been your career highlight?
I don’t think I can pick any one major thing. I’m really only just getting started on this yoga journey, but when someone comes up to me and tells me that something I have written or said in class has changed the way they looked at things or has transformed or helped them in some way, especially when that feedback comes at moments when I am starting to doubt my own abilities and efforts. Oh and also the moment I realised that I could survive solely on running my yoga business with no need for other forms of side income to top it up!
What advice can you offer for creating a sustainable teaching career?
Be adaptable and be ready to diversify. But most importantly be yourself. Don’t try and “be a yoga teacher”- just be you! Don’t be afraid to try new things and get rid of things that aren’t working.
If you want to make a good living out of this you have to continually be prepared to market yourself and your products. You have to have products – whether that’s a signature course, class, workshop, app, clothing line, or anything else you can dream up. You won’t survive on teaching classes alone – you’ll just burn out. Make sure you give yourself days off to do something completely unrelated to your work.
Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth. I think a lot of the time people think that yoga should be offered for free. You can do that on youtube, but when you are paying for a space and giving up your time to teach a skill you have spent a lot of time and money learning and perfecting, you want clientele who respect that and are willing to pay for your unique service.
Taking it online. I have a whole bunch of online courses that I want to create and market. I’ve just launched a youtube channel for The Yoga Pantry. I need to write more blogs for my personal website natasyayusoff.com, building The Motivational Yogi, and I’d like to one day be invited as a speaker at Awesomeness Fest.