We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaina Curtis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I was a young dancer I thought I would inevitably own a dance studio. After spending half my life in the restaurant industry I’d toyed with the idea of opening a late night lounge with live entertainment. I often ended up in management or leadership positions at whatever jobs I held.
For a long time though, I identified myself as a dancer. That was it. I moved out to L.A. in my mid-twenties to continue working towards my dream and after about a year of being here I was in a car accident.
I’d dealt with anxiety and depression for much of my life and it grew rapidly after that car accident. When I tried to get back into dancing it was clear I hadn’t healed. I had debilitating muscle spasms at my first audition back and I quit. It’s hard to look back on that moment but I’m grateful for all the hurt, struggle, and redemption that eventually followed.
The injury and emotional instability led me back to yoga and I dug deep. I didn’t want to be attached to a temporary identity and I didn’t want to be controlled by my anxiety. I had already learned meditation and explored yoga but now I was on a path to living a life that functioned around these practices. I wanted to heal and yoga became my medicine.
I started teaching yoga around town and most recently managed Electric Soul Yoga in Studio City.
It’s crazy, I’d spent almost a year considering buying a yoga studio. I didn’t feel quite ready to take the leap near the end of 2019 so I decided to let it go for a bit. A few months later I watched as every single yoga studio I’d ever associated with – at least all the brick and mortar spaces – closed their doors due to lockdown restrictions.
Everything had changed in an instant and I missed my people so I decided to get my gentle yoga classes online. Eva, the owner of Heal and Soul Yoga in Encino, had given me the greenlight to contact my students from Heal and Soul and from there I was off and running. After months of zoom classes, shifting my offerings, and figuring out what we were going to build, I officially launched Shaina Curtis Yoga & Wellness as a virtual studio near the end of 2020. I’m incredibly excited to build a business and brand based on my own values that are rooted in progressive growth.
I’ve learned that healing is a continuous process. I became a yoga teacher and opened my business because I want people to have a space to come to where they can allow healing to happen in whatever way they require. I help facilitate the process but my ultimate goal is that you figure out what you need, when you need it and learn to trust and honor that – not just in class but also in your day to day life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a forever student. Yoga is not just the physical practice we see on Instagram and magazine covers. It’s a life path. It’s a practice of questioning norms and digging into our habits and conditionings. That means studying philosophy, practicing introspection, helping wherever I can, and of course I spend time maintaining my own meditation and movement practice too.
I’m dancing again and have included that in my offerings so I spend time planning playlists and dance classes.
I have a lot of clientele over 65 so I consistently study anatomy and physiology. I want the physical practice to be helpful and not harmful. It’s really important to me that classes are approachable and accessible. I write content for my social media, emails, and website and I recently rolled out a video library which required video editing, lighting, sound, and class planning.
I’m a one woman show and I’m learning how to run my business. That keeps me very busy and very grateful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definitely start with a walk to grab a coffee and vegan pastry at M Street Coffee. The surrounding neighborhood is beautiful for a stroll. Take a hike, it’s something I don’t do enough here, and cool off with a treat from Magpie’s Softserve (that I do often). It’s incredibly easy to find delicious vegan fare in Los Angeles and I recommend giving it a whirl. Food is my favorite way to explore any city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out a million people but I’m eternally grateful for the support I’ve received from my parents when I did crazy things like fly across the country on a whim for an audition or quit my job to move to LA alone. Thank goodness for my mom’s support and encouragement during my first yoga teacher training. And my second. And my third. My teaching nature comes from her. My dad saved my life countless times by just sitting across from me telling me it was alright while I was having panic attacks as a teenager. He always reminds me that I’m a leader and a creator.
I’ll shout out my coworker, Michele, at the Omni Hotel who told me I just HAD to go to the Chopra Center at La Costa Resort because I’d love their yoga. I did go, and I did love their yoga and I signed up for my first teacher training there within a few months of my first visit.
My yoga teacher Rina Jakubowicz gets a big shout out for telling me exactly what I needed to hear in a Kids Yoga Teacher Training which inspired me to quit bartending and led me further down this path. I went to work for her husband Eric Paskel at Electric Soul Yoga where I learned to teach upbeat, Vedanta driven classes and learned the ins and outs of running a yoga studio.
Eva Monarrez was the first yoga studio owner that gave me a chance after my first training. I rode my bike to her studio, Heal and Soul Yoga, and basically told her I had no experience teaching but I had a certificate and knew I could do it. She told me what I needed to do and reminded me that a certificate does not a teacher make. She did give me a chance though and because of her trust and generosity I had a strong foundation for beginning my online classes.
My partner Amir is my backbone when I start to question myself or feel like I’m falling and I continue to learn from him every single day.
Katie McGhie, Rad Pine Creative