July 30, 2023

Where I share my learnings, experiences, and celebrations in hopes of uplifting yours! May my ceiling be your floor.

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From 2015 it’s been one heck of a journey! 🥂Here’s to 2019 and all the new intentions it’ll bring!

Welcome to Instagram:

The first time I hit “sign up” on Instagram was back in 2014, I was working as a manager for lululemon at the time and signed up in order to research potential ambassadors for our store. I entered ‘yoga’ in the search and an on slew of amazing super-yogis came up. They were posing in ways I had never before seen or heard of! The gates opened to a brand new yoga world and my motivation to learn these poses was sparked then and there. By winter of 2015 I decided to sign-up for my first YTT to learn more (for myself; at the time, teaching was the last thing I wanted to do – funny how things change right?!). This YTT was a special one, it featured a handful of super-yogis from around the world to be guest instructors: Dylan Werner, Matt Giordano, and Phillip Askew (who btw I continued to privately study with post-training) to name a few. Not only did I learn different methods and philosophies from the training, I learned that taking photos and videos of your practice could provide invaluable insight. And that’s where it started.

I would randomly prop my phone up in shoes, against blocks, windows, anywhere and hit record. Review the video and screenshot poses. Here’s an example below:

In the beginning my instagram was a simple diary of my practice, recording some of the milestones that I thought were once so impossible (like the headstand split my friend popped into right in front of us below!)

Kasey, Dennis, MK, Caroline, Tom, Jenny, Erik

My First “Insta-Shoot”

After one year of using my iPhone to record my practice, a friend introduced me to the yoga-photography God of our area: David Tufino. A little back story on me and photography: before Instagram, I hated to be photographed and if I saw a camera, I’d start running in the opposite direction (I was the difficult one on group trips when it came to documenting 😂) Why? because I thought I was ugly. That is 100% the truth, and while many people might disagree, it’s how I felt and there was no changing it (more on this in a future post). I had been a big fan of David and his work for a year now, and having tested out the low resolution video selfies, I was ready to test the waters of a real camera. The first time we met, I asked “Am I good enough to be photographed by you?” he looked at me like I was crazy and said OF COURSE! He assured me not to worry.

He tells me where to sit, what kind of pose to do, gives a few cues. I get into position and a minute later: snap snap snap snap snap snap snap snap (like 100 snaps/min):

David: “take a look”

Me: runs over to camera “OMG! WOW! I look beautiful!”

I look beautiful – I dont think I’d ever said that about any picture before.

30 minutes into the shoot that “I look beautiful” turned into “I feel beautiful”

I had never before seen myself in that light (or those angles). Some might call it vanity, but to feel beautiful and comfortable in your skin (especially after a lifetime of insecurities) is LIBERATING, and it’s a feeling I hope everyone gets to embrace and experience. I was hooked! For the next year I continued to shoot with David and upped my iPhone selfie game (I even bought a tripod and a remote timer). My IG following started to grow and take off. I started to network and play in ‘challenges’ and my yoga practice grew.

I Want to Fly

I quit my job summer in 2016 and said goodbye to science and medicine and fully committed to teaching yoga. It was one of the hardest thing to let go. My boss/professor/mentor took my friend and I on a trip to Barcelona (yup he’s that amazing of a boss).

The travel bug bit, and it bit hard! By Fall of 2016 I signed up for my first yoga retreat in Tuscany with my mentor Phillip Askew. It was the most transformational experience ever and left a big hole in my bank account ($4k+) – no regrets. Having gone to high school in Asia, I’m no stranger to travel, but the experience of traveling with a group of yogis (some of who I’ve never met) in a new country was unparalleled! Where I had my doubts about the cost of a yoga retreat, I left understanding it and wanting more. So I kept going, exchanging teaching services for either a comped fee or reduced price. In the first year of saying goodbye to a 9-5 I had visited: Barcelona, turks&caicos, Italy, Costa Rica, Greece, and Bali.

I was exhausted, nearly broke, but more AWOKE than ever. My eyes were open to beyond my NJ life, there was no turning back. My instagram page became a collection of beautiful photos, impressive poses, and bucket list places. It was the “look at me! look at all the cool and beautiful things I can do” era of my page (PS there is nothing wrong with this, and I still love taking beautiful images of myself doing yoga in random places). I like to think that when I’m 80 and practicing pigeon pose, I’ll be able to look back and think “cool, that was me at one point” 😆. These photos became a collection of little milestones and amazing memories.

I Want to Give

New Years of 2018 was a scary time for me. I thought 2017 was so amazing, 2018 is bound to be horrible. I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know where I was going. My page looked beautiful but I didn’t know why I was working so hard to create it. I thought “What am I doing?! and for what?!” Real shift happened in 2018, I went from “hey look at what I’ve achieved” to” hey, let me give back” it was also the year where I grew out of seeking approval. I grew to do my own thing, to be comfortable in my own skin even if that brought out discomfort in others, to speak in my own voice and create my own reality. I started making tutorials, wore (or didn’t wear) whatever I wanted, and told stories with my content. And it felt good! So good! I felt a sense of purpose. I continued to create beautiful pictures and to document new milestones in my practice, but I added the intention of giving back whether it be entertainment, stories, or knowledge.

The Year of Action

2019 I find myself as scared as I was for 2018. 2018 was such an amazing year, what will 2019 be? I can’t predict the future, but I can give it an intention. And I’ve given it the intention to ACT. As far as I’ve grown over these past 5 years, I still experience plenty of fear and doubt (I am after all human), but all I can do is try. Try my best and take it from there. So what’s on my list?

  • To dive back into my practice (it’s taken a backseat since I’ve started increasing travel)
  • To teach more
  • To open an online studio (starts this week!)
  • To become a mentor to a group of mentees
  • To clear and renew my physical space
  • To do what I love but to be financially stable
  • To eat healthier and cook my meals
  • To explore new movement disciplines and how to integrate them into yoga
  • To travel to new destinations
  • To plan my wedding 😆
  • To connect more (newsletter feature coming soon)
  • To share my stories, thoughts, and experiences with 0 filter (hi blog 👋🏻)

No more waiting, no more hesitating there’s no better time than Now, and so here we go: one foot in front of the other, here’s my first step. My voice, my thoughts opened up to you in a no-filter way with no care of numbers.

Happy New Year to everyone, Im grateful to you all, thank you for being on this journey with me. Let’s continue to grow together and see where 2019 leads!

All the love,

Janice Liou

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