We had the good fortune of connecting with Carmen Curtis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carmen, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
As the founder of a leading aerial yoga brand, AIReal Yoga™, what most people do not realize is that aerial yoga is for everyBody, all levels, all ages. AIReal Yoga™ is safer and more accessible than traditional floor yoga. This shocks most people. Slowly in the mainstream people are realizing that all body shapes and ages can do yoga, but most people still think “aerial yoga” is just for the young, fit and crazy. Why I love Aerial Yoga and why I am so passionate about sharing it and teaching it, is because it makes yoga accessible. It can make yoga easier, safer and yes it can make it more fun too. But, ultimately it can make yoga poses available to everyone at every level, therefore an opportunity for more people to find wellness physically and mentally. As a Founder I have to keep learning and growing, studying and sharing. As a thought leader for aerial yoga, I have to be ahead of the game, as I teach students, I teach teachers, I teach teachers to teach other teachers, and I help people open business and studios.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
On the pulldown menu.. it is asking what type of business I am… it was hard to choose, as there was business, practice, firm, employee, professional, artist, creative and other. Ultimately, I play all of those roles. I am ever changing and evolving and open to new possibilities. I think one of the reasons for my success is because of this. In every moment I am trying to do my best, I am working hard and challenging myself as I work to be at my highest place (at my highest self) and give everything I can. I’m not a perfectionist, but I like to do well and work to achieve my goals. I want to feel like I’ve done everything that I could to give my best effort I do not want to make excuses I want to feel like I’ve given it my all in every moment with everything I do. I’ve also learned over the years that “working” is not bad. That you have to “work” if you want to be successful. The greatest artist, the most talented people, the most successful, the most famous …they have all worked their butt off to get there and continue to work their butt off to stay there. Having the honor to choreograph the aerial acts for Beyoncé in her world formation tour, I got to work with The Queen, this amazing superstar. I had to go in early every day, stay late every day, we worked really hard to make this the best tour ever and it was the best and it won tour of the year. But to be able to see someone at the highest level, the queen, Beyonce’, work just as hard in every moment at everything she does just proves that wherever you are at in life or wherever your business is at, there is always work and its because you dream big and you know you can make it happen and you know that its YOU that can make it happen. I feel like “work” is Not a negative thing, it is a gift to work, it is a gift to go after your goals, it is a gift to do what you love. As long as you love what you do and believe in what you do. One of the biggest blessing I’ve had is that I get to do what I love, therefore my “work” is being in love with life and doing my best with the things I love. Loving your work is going to make you excellent and successful, once you find out what you love, then work doesn’t become this bad thing, work becomes something that you are proud of, that you love, and that you want to do. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy and trust me there will be times you will whine and complain…but the true gift is loving what you do and enjoying the process, enjoying the work, working towards achieving all of your goals and knowing that you gave your best effort. A quote from Miss Val’s mentor, the great coach John Wooden, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
I’ve also learned the power of gratitude. Taking time each day to be grateful for the little things even if it’s a hard day, trying to find something that I am grateful for or that I appreciate allows me to realize how lucky I am and how blessed I am and how much I already have. Once that feeling of gratitude overwhelms me, I feel revived and ready to trust in the process and the moment. I’ve also learned that it’s important to have coping tools, especially for the hard times or when I am tired or fearful. Having tools to get me out of a negative space, as negative energy and negative thoughts can spiral and project more negativity. Learning tools to help you cope is essential, for me I have my personal practice doing AIReal Yoga, walking meditations and writing down affirmations. When I feel overwhelmed, or there seems to be too many things to do, or I feel like I can’t get to everything…then I know it is time to reflect inward… its time to go for a walk on the beach and sea glass hunt, or get in my aerial yoga hammock and get into a flow… and let my mind calm. When I start to feel competitive or I’m not good enough, then I go and get out a giant piece of paper and sharpen my pencils and write down my dreams and my goals and do a dream board. Having these tools and finding the things that help keep me afloat is essential especially as a business owner, teacher and founder. Most of the time people are looking to me for answers, asking me what to do, asking me for reassurance, asking me for assistance, putting a lot of pressure on me to know everything, know what to do, or how to guide the company. Most of the time I do know how to lead and quide, but in those times I do not is when I step out to find my balance and re-group, as it is essential for me as a business owner and leader to guide by example and to keep clear, calm and positive. My success comes from finding the balance and knowing when I’m at my limit, knowing when to reach out for help (and asking), and knowing the tools to get me back on track. I know that my expertise and my experiences that I’ve been through have given me the opportunities to do incredible things. I have led an incredible life unlike most. Using my knowledge and experiences by giving back as a leader, a guide, a teacher, an influencer, a creative, a mother and forever a student. It is a gift (not work) to share and teach so many. I have been lucky to have been lead and taught by amazing mentors and teachers. One of my other great mentors is my Kundalini teacher Gurmukh. In Kundalini we say a chant (mantra) at the beginning of each class. We say it 3 times, representing the past, present and future. It has taught me about honoring my teachers, my teachers teachers, myself as a teacher and my students as my teachers. “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” (also called the adi mantra) this mantra is beautiful and empowering, especially for the teachers, as it helps remind us to thank those that have taught us and thank those that you are teaching. It helps to remove competition and ego, thus allowing for pure and open sharing and teaching without the ego and without fear or competition. The mantra also recognizes that everything is one and also means “I bow ( I pause and reflect) to the All-That-Is.” This helps me stay linked to my great teachers and proud to be a teacher and lucky to learn from my students. I believe every thing that I have been through has prepared me for this sweet moment and everything to come, so I “work”to be of service and be here in this moment with open arm.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have been lucky to travel the world and live in so many different cool and amazing places, working and performing around the globe. Once I had children my husband and I went to our favorite place of all Ventura, California. I get so excited to share Ventura with my friends when they visit. Ventura is an amazing city and has such an amazing community, I feel so lucky to live here. First thing, we would go to the beach, then surfing and paddle boarding, probably spending most of our time at the beach as it’s my favorite place to be. Then a hike to the botanical gardens to see the city and ocean views. I also love being home so taking time at home to cook to create space to talk story and reminisce. Some of my other favorite local things to share with my guests is downtown Ventura, I love the small beach town local vibe, shop on Main street. Of course stop into Bettys Belts for some sea glass jewelry ( I am an avid collector of sea glass, crazy avid). My fav sushi is Bonsai Marina on California St., favorite gelato is at Palermo, fav lunch and wine is Paradise Pantry. Then if we have time, road trip to my favorite garden of all, LotusLand! I can spend all day there. Then of course we would go hang at my studio, The Aerial Studio. It is a playground of fun, freedom and wellness for kids and adults of all ages. We have aerial silks, hammocks, AIReal Yoga, trampolines and a studio to film and record…who knows what we will create ….
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my coach from UCLA, Miss Val, Valorie Kondos – Field was the head coach at UCLA gymnastics where I received a full ride gymnastics scholarship. She ignited a huge transformation in my life, a shift from being a competitive athlete to being a strong female mentor and role model. Competing with myself to be my best self, and helping others, lifting them up to be their best selves. She showed me the importance of purpose and helped me find my own purpose. She would say, “life is a dance…make the leap of faith and choose your own path to greatness”. She made me believe in my self and my greatness. I learned to live without regret, instead living in the moment and using my experiences wether good or bad as opportunities to grow, learn and educate. She inspired me to live with purpose, to be of service, and to share my wisdom and knowledge with others. She’s been an amazing mentor to me and has helped guide me as I create community and a circle of trust for my brand, my teachers, my students and my studios. Miss Val encourages me to work to lift them up, educate them and support them without fear or competition. Fearlessly lifting others up has a ripple effect creating a ripple of love and compassion and empathy for one another and our communities. My husband, Gregg Curtis, also deserves a shoutout. Gregg lives without fear, always in the moment and always pushing me to new places and new levels. He lives very spontaneous, always exploring and creating new opportunities for growth and expansion. He follows his heart, his passions and his dreams, as he believes anything is possible and is willing to take risks and try to make his dreams come to life. His support and belief in my passion has helped me thrive and his fearlessness has inspired me to do more and be more then I had ever imagined possible.
Instagram: @airealyoga or @carmencurtis1
Linkedin: Carmen Curtis
Other: Pinterest @airealyoga TikTok @airealyoga
Nosim Art (Jennifer Renee) – photographer of some LIT Life Yoga – one of the studio (group shot)