We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m a big risk-taker. I always have been. For me, risks equal rewards, whether I “succeed” or “fail.” I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I would say the first big risk I took was in 2005 when I packed up everything I owned and moved to California without knowing a single person or having a job. I just knew, even though I loved Wisconsin very much, that it was time to spread my wings and try something new. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There were definitely a lot of sleepless nights and many tears, but after I settled in, found a great job, and met some awesome people that risk became one of the greatest rewards of my life. I’m still here and loving every second of it. I would say the second big risk I took was in 2015. Well, it started years before that. I had been really sick with an autoimmune disease called Lupus. It tore through my life and destroyed everything in its path. I had to drop out of college, which was really painful for me. Shortly after that, my doctor put me on permanent disability and I had to say goodbye to my job. I can honestly say that was my rock bottom. I had lost so much, at no fault of my own, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Or so I thought. Being able to nurse my illness full time was a gift in disguise. I quickly realized that the Western treatment plan I’d been utilizing wasn’t actually working at all, it was only making me worse. I dove headfirst into full research mode and taught myself everything I could about inflammation and autoimmune diseases. I learned that pretty much everything I was doing was wrong; my diet, stress levels, spending way too much time in the sun (photosensitivity), high impact exercises (damage to inflamed joints and muscles), and more. So I took matters into my own hands. For 3 years I weaved Eastern medicine into my Western treatment plan and put myself into remission. I practiced yoga regularly, added meditation into my daily routine, changed my diet completely, built a strong mindfulness practice, and weaned myself off all of my meds that were causing horrible side effects. That’s when I took my next big risk. Instead of going back to a stable office job I started my own business. YogiNest was another risk equals reward experience for me. For the first time in my life, I truly loved my career. This company not only allows me to help others who are struggling with chronic ailments through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, but I also get to continue to nurture my health and wellness by utilizing the same modalities I teach to clients every single day. See the thing is, even if someday I’m not in California anymore, or I’m not doing YogiNest anymore, those risks will always equal rewards to me because I tried. I put myself out there. I put everything on the line and followed my dreams. I rarely look back and wonder what if this, or what if that, because when I really want something I do what I need to do to take that risk and make it a reality. Even if it doesn’t work out it’s okay, because I tried. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” — T.S. Eliot
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I wouldn’t have YogiNest if it weren’t for the struggles I’ve experienced in my life. It may sound strange, but I’m so thankful for all the painful lessons that have been placed before me. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I have YogiNest because a chronic illness almost destroyed my life and when it didn’t I decided to take all the lessons I learned and turn them into a business that could help others conquer whatever challenges were placed before them. I think this is what sets YogiNest apart from other businesses in the same category. I fell hard, and I fell far, but I chose not to let it keep me down. When I sit across from a client who is struggling I feel every ounce of their pain. I understand them and what they’re going through and then we come up with an actionable plan to help them pull themselves out of the same rut I was in all those years ago. There’s an intimacy in working with clients one-on-one that you don’t get from public classes. My clients become family to me, and me to them. It’s truly special and very powerful. Starting this business was not easy. It was terrifying actually. What was I doing? No health insurance, 401K, disability, vacation pay, sick pay. It feels so unstable, and at times it is. The lesson I’ve learned is that nothing worth having comes easy. Though I’m grateful for all the experiences and friends I made while working office jobs it didn’t fill me with passion, happiness, challenges, or fulfillment. I was bored. YogiNest can be very stressful but it also fills my heart with so much joy & happiness. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing a client say, you’ve changed my life. That’s why I wake up and work so hard to make YogiNest a successful business every day, year after year. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are incredibly powerful modalities. I feel so lucky to get to share their magic with the world.
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 LOVE being a tour guide for my friends and family. Los Angeles is so much fun and there’s so much to see and do. My staples are always a drive through either Malibu Canyon or Topanga Canyon to get to one of the beautiful beaches that crawl up and down the coast, Griffith Observatory, the Venice Beach Canals, and the Mulholland Drive scenic overlook. You can’t skip Hollywood Blvd., where all the stars line the sidewalks, Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre (home of the Academy Awards), and so much more. It’s so, so, so touristy but it’s also a part of the city that feels so important to Hollywood’s history. The food in Los Angeles is absolutely incredible, and since I’m vegan and Los Angeles is a playground for vegans I take all my non-vegan friends and family to all the best spots in LA, I’m sure they love that. My favorites are; Satdha, Shojin, Mohawk Bend, Bulan, Ramen Hood (located at Grand Central Market which is also a great tourist attraction), Vegatinos, Cena, Donut Friend, Cinnaholic, Jewel, Elf, Hinterhof, Meals by Genet and SO many more. I truly could go on and on, this is one of my favorite things about living in LA, all the amazing food! There are also incredible coffee shops but I know a total of zero things about good coffee so I rely fully on my boyfriend Neel to guide our guests through this experience. I’d also like to add that there are so many incredible things to do just a short drive from Los Angeles and this is another thing I love about living here. You can hop in a car and drive to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Ojai, Big Bear, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, and all of these places have incredible food, drinks, and attractions. I love taking my visitors on short road trips when they visit. Los Angeles is the best!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people, books, and experiences deserve credit and recognition for guiding me closer to my dreams. Two people come to mind when I think about my risk-taking story. Carmen Fitzgibbon was my mentor during my teacher training at YogaWorks and continued to be my mentor once my certification was complete. There’s grace and dedication behind the way she teaches and she inspired me to stay true to who I am and the way I want to teach, even if it doesn’t fit into the norm. I’d also like to shoutout my boyfriend Neel. He was the one who pushed me to teach full-time after I completed my certification. He made me feel like I had what it took. He made me trust that I had something special to offer the world, and it lit a fire in me, it gave me that extra push I needed to move fully forward with my decision. There are so many people, friends, and family, that were integral to my story, my journey, and my dream. I find myself being inspired by entrepreneurs whose lives crumbled beneath them but refused to let it destroy them and took all those painful lessons and turned them into something beautiful, something that could greatly improve someone else’s life. I’m so grateful for all the people, books, and stories that have molded me into who I am today.
Heidi Zumbrun & Jessica Czarnecki