We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Menard Schmahl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Balance is everything in yoga, as it is in life. The joy is found in the constant ebb and flow. It was through yoga that I found increased balance in my life. As I found my center growing stronger, I learned to trust and rely on the tiny adjustments my body would make to keep me upright. Those tiny adjustments to the body in yoga are the same changes you make in your life to find balance. Throughout the past few years, my life and business have simultaneously made many tiny adjustments. After having our boy four years ago, I had to make changes to meet the demands of motherhood as a business owner. I learned to trust the small shifts I needed to stay authentic to my core principles, as well as what I needed to heal my body after childbirth. I turned to the balance that I learned in yoga to find strength in saying no to additional classes, late nights and weekends, shifting my mindset from quantity to quality and accepting that saying no was not failure or falling, but the next step in strengthening my life’s core – Learning that has been invaluable this year! The pandemic has challenged me further; again seeking balance in life. The shifts in the quarantine had me bouncing from live classes, to online, and back again. With a toddler and husband at home, and all of us on top of each other, teaching became a challenge that sometimes felt dizzying and definitely out of balance. I’ve always said, training the body trains the mind. So armed with my mantra, I once again made tiny adjustments to bring balance to my life, centering myself and above all learning to laugh when I fall off balance.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love to learn. I’m a big yoga nerd. Haven’t read a book that isn’t about early childhood development or yoga in years. My obvious passion is in teaching the how and why. Memorizing shapes, Sanskrit, studying philosophy just to quote to my students isn’t me. Teaching how to make the shapes, why the name of the pose is important, the relevance of ancient philosophy in today’s world–that’s what sparks the light in my teaching. That’s what comes across in my class. I get excited when I see someone “get it’. I used to apologize for my excitement, now I embrace it. I’ve leaned into my inner nerd, and as I have, my teaching has gotten stronger. We accumulate the tools to gracefully navigate the human experience in a sacred and authentic way on the mat. Inner strength, presence, mindfulness, and letting go are the same characteristics that help ground and balance in times of chaos. I want this to come across when I teach class or a private session. Before I step into teach, I pause and honor that I am of service. The experience is about what arises in the student. How they process the practice is perfect only for them. To let go of the outcome, and step fully into my authentic voice, my love of learning and the art of teaching is my lesson and my brand.
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.
For this Midwest girl, living on the West Coast is all about living outside. Beach day starts with Phanny’s breakfast burrito or Uncle Bill’s Pancake house. After a few hours playing in the sand, nothing hits the spot like a beer and a Lobster Roll from Captain Kidd’s or a Poke bowl from Jus’ Poke. Exploring the gorgeous grounds of the South Coast Botanical Gardens always makes my heart so happy. Rakken Ramen does the same for my tummy. Sunset from Tony’s on the Redondo Pier is magnificent (beware their rum punch!) and Dominque’s has the best watermelon calamari salad. We’ll walk down to the Rivera Village on Fridays for window shopping, running into friends and HT Grill’s Happy Hour. Proud Bird is the coolest for the aviation nerd in us all, and has a fantastic outdoor playground. The view from the Point Vicente Lighthouse gives me chills, but the kiddo prefers climbing trees in the adjacent park. If we feel like a long drive, we’ll head up the coast to Gladstone’s or Neptune’s Net in Malibu. After all that, a special relaxing treat is in order. Call the sitter, and book a massage at Trilogy Spa in Manhattan Beach. Living on the west coast is all about living.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Community, tribe or village: We all know nothing is possible without help and support As an independent business owner, I’m used to going it alone. As a stubborn introvert, I’m used to turning down help. My husband and I promised to encourage, embolden and embrace all the stuff that comes with being a partner. There is nothing without his love. There is no growth without his gentle nudges or the way he calls me on my BS. He reminds me daily that everything is possible and it’s just on the other side of fear. Shoutout to The Mammas: Five brilliant independent and strong women who’s sons were all born within months of ours, that have been my rocks and rockstars. Loving and loud voices of support–from tears to the perfect profanity laced GIF that arrives at the perfect moment during a toddler meltdown. We’ve done goat yoga, had spontaneous car dance parties, cried, drank wine and laughed together. They helped me practice my first class via Zoom, dropped by groceries, and asked “What can I do?” in a tone that I heard. In a tone that I honored. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, trusting that others want to support me is a challenge. Shoutout to The Kula: My community of Yogis. Studio owners, managers, teachers and students who educate and inspire me. Centered, grounded practitioners doing their best to cultivate loving kindness in an authentic and real way. Most working hard to keep their own families healthy and businesses open, while simultaneously holding space, and hope for peace.
Shelly Daugherty Photography, Meagan Hurst Photography