Very rarely does the entrepreneurial path—or any path—take us in the direction we expect. Frustrating setbacks, unexpected breakthroughs and unanticipated turns and opportunities mark the success of every entrepreneur. Mary Haberski, an LA-based corporate and private yoga instructor, is no exception.
A 15-year yoga practitioner, Mary moved to Los Angeles from Chicago with the intention of pursuing yoga as a full-time career. In 2013, she began to more fully develop the spiritual side of her yoga practice after completing a yoga teacher-training course in India. It was upon returning to Los Angeles after her time in India that she began to see how her yoga practice and business was going to develop.
“I moved out to California with the intention to be a yoga instructor, but to be honest I had a picture of it being a certain way; me traveling internationally, doing retreats…but it’s kind of taken a life form of its own,” Mary said about moving West. “I’m just trying to keep up with where it’s taking me.”
Mary offers both public and private yoga instruction, working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, private schools and private clients in varying capacities. And while this is a market with a lot of potential and a place she fits very well, it wasn’t how she originally saw herself working in the Los Angeles yoga community.
“I never planned to work with children, but up until now I’ve worked with thousands of children teaching yoga and meditation,” Mary said specifically about her work with LAUSD and private schools. “I thought I would be a powerflow vinyasa teacher, and now I work with children and sometimes elderly people. My heart is a little more geared towards people who don’t believe yoga is available to them…It’s not what I had envisioned for myself but it’s been going in that direction.”
The Los Angeles yoga market is highly saturated, something that Mary says can be a roadblock to making a consistent living. In some ways though, this has worked in Mary’s favor and has allowed her to find the places that most benefit from what she has to offer as a teacher.
“What I have come to find is that I’m not a studio teacher,” Mary explained. “I prefer working with smaller groups and individuals because I can physically touch people and part of my teaching is to be in more detailed alignment and use my gifts as a healer with hands-on healing through massage and pressure points.”
And, aside from the closer relationships she is able to develop with her clients as a non-studio instructor, she appreciates the sincerity of the clients that don’t “fit in” with the mainstream LA yoga scene. “I feel that when I’m working with kids and the elderly, while there can be resistance, there isn’t as much of an ego behind it,” Mary explained.
Since 2013, Mary has been able to create a yoga business away from the yoga studios and suggested the saturation of the LA yoga industry as an unlikely asset in defining what she has to offer.
“As a teacher no one can offer what you have to offer,” Mary explained. “Spirit moves through each of us in a unique way, especially those of us who are teachers and healers….I don’t believe that we can ever have too many teachers. People just need to start branching out into other communities and other places.”
Yoga by nature is a splendid teacher, reminding us to be patient, flexible and accepting of what comes. Yoga as a practice and a lifestyle embodies that of the entrepreneurial spirit, cultivating awareness, acceptance and an ever-changing balance of giving and receiving.
In both her business and in her life, Mary has embodied the essence of both yoga and entrepreneurship in a way that other aspiring entrepreneurs should seek to emulate. When asked what advice she would offer aspiring entrepreneurs, Mary offered some very down to Earth guidance.
“Until you are comfortable on the financial aspect solely from doing your work, don’t quit your day job. It will add more pressure, more stress and in reality stifle your creativity,” Mary said emphatically. “Don’t think you are deterring from your dreams because you are doing something else (for income). It’s actually the opposite. The universe responds to your action with more for you.”
Despite the spiritual nature of Mary’s work and lifestyle, she notes some very definite and down-to-earth lessons for aspiring female entrepreneurs.
“As women, we have to fight harder for more money and more of our value to remind ourselves that we are valuable and we are worthy of a higher price point,” said Mary, a sentiment felt by women at every professional level. “We need to expect more from ourselves. Because nobody is going to offer that to you if you don’t ask. You have to be able to ask for what you know you are worth.”
Mary admitted that this was a difficult lesson to learn, but she has benefited noticeably since putting it into practice. “Whatever it is that you are doing, nobody will do it like you do it,” she continued. “You will have doubt and worry and you will want to quit. That’s normal. You have to be patient with yourself. Go easy on yourself (and) don’t get caught up in the unicorn story. It’s rare that someone is an instant success….More than likely you will have to do a lot of work to get to where you want to go so you can become the person you need to be.”