"As it is in yoga, so it is in life. Embrace what is, have faith, add a bit of creative ingenuity and this brings Reflections to where it is today, symmetrically aligned with its practice."
By Christine Lucas
Paula Tursi, founder of Reflections Center for Conscious Living & Yoga, worked for years traveling as an international yoga teacher. Owning a studio was the farthest thing from her free-spirited mind.
In 2009, Paula was at a pivotal point in her personal life and the country was in a recession. As she puts it, "I needed to find something to bury myself in". She saw the opportunity within the weakened economy and she made the leap.
The first few years were very challenging, as with any new business. It became clear that yoga classes alone would not sustain the studio. She needed to think outside of the box.
"Reflections and I both evolved from simply teaching yoga to living more consciously in all aspects of life... Honestly, I had no plan B and, yet, here we sit, 7 years later".
Q. Can you tell us about your skills and level of expertise?
By trade, I am a teacher and counselor. My expertise is in counseling people on how to find more conscious ways to live and my work is heavily influenced by the teachings of the yoga sutras, Jungian Psychology and hypnosis.
Q. When you "reflect" back on your process of building the Center what were some of the key components in it's growth process?
In the early days, Reflections was a bit of a wild place. We were an 'after hours, conscious meeting place. My favorite event was the fundraiser for Haiti. I had just gotten back from India and headed straight to the studio, it was 10 pm and people where singing and dancing everywhere. I thought, "this place is pretty god damn cool". It was a real big moment for me.
I'm also proud to say Body Local got their start at Reflections, having used our upstairs studio as an office. Body Local has a big place in my heart, two guys with a lot of love, passion and drive!
Q. What were the most challenging aspects and what did you learn from them?
The nuts and bolts of business I find very challenging. I have a lot of creativity but not so much practicality. It has been good for me to make friends with the numbers. I have had to make some hard choices based on income. You might love an idea or a person but your studio is real estate and each hour has to turn a profit so the whole thing can exist. I fought this for a long time. I felt like I was selling out. Well, I did until I realized that if something wasn't working it was depleting energy from the space. Now, I try to help people re-frame things so it better fits who they are and that it also fits the community.
Also, it makes no sense to have someone in a job that doesn't suit them. Someone might say: well, they are not good for the job. I feel like if they love the studio I will find a job that is good for them and they will become a wonderful asset. It works 99% of the time!
Q. Is the center as you envisioned it to be?
The center is so much bigger in spirit then I ever could of dreamt.
I always say Reflections has a mind of its own and I simply serve and sign the checks. I'm very proud of what it has become. I'm a listener by trade. I want to serve the community so I hear what they say and try to implement it within our basic philosophy -- and that seems to guide the studio pretty well. It's important to know who you are and also be open-minded. Fixed ideas are a killer but so is not being clear about who you want to be. Its a delicate balance.
My work is influenced by the studio and the studio is a reflection of my life.
I wanted it to be a place without pretense. We open our doors to everyone with a curious mind and loving heart.
True story: one day, in the old space, we had a Rabbi giving a blessing in one room, a tranny in full make-up and heels shooting a video on acceptance by teaching a yoga class to people of different physical sizes in another and faith healer upstairs! It's not your typical studio, so it's not for everyone. Those who get it stick around for the long haul.
Q. What advice would offer to young yoga studio entrepreneurs?
It's very hard work and you end up teaching much less than you would expect. If you love teaching, think twice about opening a studio. You will have to share your hours with the business. On the other had it's a beautiful thing to see a studio grow. If you have a vision you want to put out in the world it's possible, but not easy. Perhaps try sharing space first.
Q. How has the journey of running this business reflect in your personal life today?
When I find something that really works for me personally, I try to get it to happen at the studio.
Q. What's next in terms of Reflections business endeavors?
These days we are adding more kids and parenting classes since I'm a new mom. We are also about to launch an in-depth 300-hour Teacher Training program that I'm excited about. On my bigger wish list, I hope to have a second location on a sandy beach. How cool would it be to have all these wonderful teachers and experts doing their thing in Costa Rica!