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Meet Brent Laffoon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brent Laffoon.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Brent. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
It started when I was 34 years old. I’d spent the last ten years pursuing my dream of being a writer, and things weren’t going well. I was broke, I wasn’t happy in my job or relationship, my lower back and knees were starting to hurt. I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Then one day I went to a yoga class, and the teacher told me I had “an amazing practice,” which was strange because I’d never been to a yoga class before.

But I really enjoyed it, and when the class was over I felt better than I’d felt in as long as I could remember, so I went back the next week, and again it felt amazing, and the week after that I went back again, this time with a friend, who also told me I had “an amazing practice” and suggested that maybe I should teach yoga. I thought she was nuts. Teach yoga? I’d been to three classes. But a few days later I had a dream that I was teaching yoga, and for whatever reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I woke up.

So I googled “yoga teacher certification.” I didn’t even know the term “Teacher Training” existed. But the first thing that came up was a month-long intensive Teacher Training in Bali, and the more I read about it, the louder I could hear my gut shouting “Go!” So I went, and whether it was luck or some kind of divine intervention from the yoga gods, it turned out to be a fantastic training. I learned an incredible amount – not only about yoga but about myself. I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me, and I was excited to share it.

So when the training was over, I came home to LA and started teaching, first to friends in my living room until eventually, I managed to convince a studio to hire me. From there one thing led to another. I got hired to teach at other studios, I found a few private clients, I led a retreat… it all happened pretty quickly. It hadn’t even been six months since taking my first class that I started teaching, and about a year after that I was teaching full time, which was a little bit of a head spinner. In my mind, I was still a writer, but here I was teaching yoga and really loving it.

Everything about practicing and teaching yoga felt good – amazing, really – so at some point I just decided to give myself to it and it’s been my life ever since. Now it’s eight years later, and in addition to teaching regular classes and working with clients in LA, I lead teacher trainings, retreats and workshops all over the world, which has allowed me to connect and become friends with all kinds of wonderful people from all over. It’s wild. Every time I think it can’t get any better, somehow how it does.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always struggles. Every day. Some are bigger than others, but they never go away. Injuries, miscommunications, insecurities, balancing work with all the other dimensions of life, not to mention planning the logistics for retreats in countries you’ve never visited and making sure all the people who have entrusted you with their well-being are not only safe but happy and having a good experience… it’s all part of the package. But it’s all good. One of the most valuable things yoga has taught me is about learning to see obstacles not only as opportunities but as gifts. For me, seeing everything as a gift reminds me that no matter how hard or confusing or painful a thing might be, there’s always a lesson inside.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I teach yoga. That encompasses many things. In addition to teaching group classes and working privately with clients, I also lead Teacher Trainings, workshops, and retreats, as well as create content for online platforms. Within all that, though, what I really do – or at least what I try to do – is help people. Sometimes that means teaching them postures or meditation, sometimes it means listening to their dilemmas, other times it means offering guidance. A lot of people have told me that I’m as much of a life coach as I am a yoga teacher, but to me, it’s all yoga, which in many ways is ultimately about making a positive change in your life. Postures, breathwork, and meditation are probably the most common ways to practice yoga, but they’re far from the only ways.

As far as what I’m most proud of, there are a lot of things. I work hard in my personal practice, and I’m proud of the good health I enjoy as a result. I’m proud of turning my life around when it was headed in a not-great direction and building a successful business from scratch. I’m proud of how I conduct myself, of how I walk the talk, so to speak, and I’m especially proud of my retreats, which are a ton of work to organize but they’ve all been a lot of fun and extremely rewarding experiences. The thing I’m most proud of though is the approach I’ve developed to teaching, which many consider to be non-traditional. Because of this, I’ve ended up teaching and sharing yoga with a lot of people who thought yoga wasn’t for them. That feels amazing, to be able to plant seeds in people who were otherwise resistant or skeptical and watch them grow.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Enthusiasm is key. You have to love what you do, because if you don’t, even if you make a bunch of money and have all kinds  of influence or power or whatever, your mental and physical health will suffer and you won’t be happy, and what kind of success is that?

Determination is also a must. Setbacks and hurdles are inevitable. And some of them can and mostly likely will be crushing. You have to have something, some inner fire to get you through the hard times.

Of course, I think it goes without saying that hard work is essential. Nobody becomes successful without it. At the same time, I think it’s important to know when to be patient. Yoga has helped me tremendously with this. I used to get very frustrated with things didn’t go the way I hoped or wanted. Now I just breath and it tends not to rattle me. Turns out this is a very helpful quality when a big part of what you do involves teaching others how to stay cool.

Beyond that, two things that I think have really helped me are staying curious and open-minded. I tend to question everything, which often leads me to different understandings of things than a lot other people might have. It brings me a lot of joy to be able to share the things I’ve discovered with others, especially when they can take those things and build on them with their own process. To me, success is all about being able to share the things you love while staying open to new possibilities and as much as possible enjoying the things other people love that they have to share with you.

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Image Credit:
DeWitt Jones, Rie Rasmussen, Kai Franz

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