We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Porter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erika, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m not sure I would have described myself as a risk taker in my 20s. But after working in the world after college for the last 12 years, I have come to realize just how much of a risk taker I actually am. I didn’t grow up in a traditional household. Meaning, my parents didn’t get a job and keep it for 40 years with all the benefits and retire and move to Florida. They tried that because that is just what their generation did, but it didn’t work out that way. They may see that as a failure in some aspects, but I actually appreciate that I saw a different way of doing things. I also do not feel the pressure to follow those traditional standards. So really, to be very frank, I didn’t choose the entrepreneur life on purpose. I just fell into it because I don’t particularly like working under traditional conditions. I like the freedom that I get with creating my own path. I tried a cubicle job or two and it just didn’t fit. I remember telling my supervisor that I was looking for other work casually because my promotion hadn’t come through and it just didn’t make any sense for me to stick around. I wasn’t threatening, I was just very comfortable with finding something else. That same day my promotion and raise went through. I didn’t see me quitting as a risk because I knew I had multiple other avenues I could pursue. The thread through all of my work in the last 12 years has been my yoga teaching. I have gotten to see that build and remain a staple in my life. I am now at the point where I host 5 yoga retreats a year, partner with studios and other creative spaces to create events and workshops, maintain a Patreon for my community, and have begun to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I know there is much more to come for me. I am taking risks everyday by putting the comforts of a traditional career path, like PTO, a 401K, and health benefits to the side, or at least taking on the cost myself, to have the limitless possibilities that comes with creating something of my own.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Under the title “Erika Porter Yoga” I am currently teaching yoga, hosting retreats and events, and pursuing a doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. I have a strong passion to help keep people out of pain. I have been teaching yoga since 2010 and slowly and steadily grown into the teacher I am today. Yoga has such a vast history in wellness. From teaching the physical postures and breath to people I have seen the massive effect it not only has on the physical body, but the mental and emotional body as well. I could go on and on about it, but ultimately, yoga has changed my life. I was 22 years old when I started teaching. I was terrified to speak in front of people, but ultimately felt like the lessons to be learned from yoga outweighed my fears. I was hoping it would be an easy career path for me, but it proved to be difficult. The fact is, 12 years ago you didn’t get paid that well to teach it. There was, and still is in a lot of cases, this general understanding that you would do it for free or for pennies, just because you loved it. As idyllic as that sounds, turns out it doesn’t pay the bills! And on an energetic level, it’s not a proper exchange of energy and can lead to resentment and feeling undervalued. Traditional yoga teachers didn’t usually get paid in money, but would typically receive room and board to teach. Over time I have learned to ask for what I deserve and to walk away from situations where I do not feel properly supported. The modern world has started to catch on. There are more corporate yoga jobs and more and more people getting into yoga everyday. Yoga unions are being established all over the world to help teachers understand their rights. I also came to realize that putting more of my energy into events, workshops, and retreats would be not only more financially profitable, but more fulfilling as well! I still see a lot of growth ahead of me, but at this point I have landed in a place I’m not sure I ever truly expected to be. My passion for this is strong, I do not think I would have kept going if it wasn’t. Just in the last couple of years I have started to see the fruits of my labor. The thread through it all is my desire to help people get in touch with their most authentic self, in body, mind, and spirit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I would, of course, take them to the yoga studio I teach at – Hola Yoga! I would also probably take them on some outdoor adventures if the weather was nice. 45 minutes west of Nashville is the Piney River. This is by far my favorite spot to kayak. Around two hours east of here is a whole bunch of waterfalls, so we may hit one of those up as well. In town we may go hike at Percy Warner park, eat out at Five Points Pizza, brunch at Cafe Roze, and see a live music at The 5 Spot or Basement East.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate this to my longtime yoga teacher and friend, Cassie O’Sullivan. She is no longer with us, but I think about her all the time. She has been my most influential yoga teacher to date. As a spinal care yoga teacher, she taught me the importance of slowing down and listening to the body. She taught me how to teach to students with injury and create space for individuality in the yoga world. She also taught me the importance of showing patience and compassion not only to my students, but also to myself. She never tolerated me putting myself down and it very drastically changed the way I think. I am forever grateful to her.
Individual shots of me by Chris Scruggs (@theotherchrisscruggs) Group class shots (3 at the end): Kailee Rose (@kaileerosephotovideo)