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Meet Julie Tran Buorn of Rogue Yogi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Tran Buorn.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Julie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am an LA native. A “rare breed” as many people have told me. Without ever living anywhere else, I followed the standard path of going to school, graduating from college (UCLA), and getting a “secure” job. So, I worked as a tech geek doing support in government and corporate environments for nearly a decade.

While I was surrounded by amazing co-workers who were passionate about their craft (like architecture and design), I had zero passion for mine. I couldn’t last much longer working in a cubicle and had to find a way out. When I began to explore more of what was happening in my hometown, I became exposed to so many eclectic influences. Music, art and community. These 3 areas become the core of my 3 passions. I set out to create a side hustle based on this but ended up failing miserably.

After years of trying all sorts of side gigs and small businesses, I found myself in a downward spiral. Life gradually hit rock bottom. So, there was no other solution than to become a better person. I took a yoga teacher training in Manhattan Beach with zero expectation of becoming a teacher. After realizing how the yoga philosophy was helping me become a kinder and more chill person, I decided to become a teacher! But, the odds were against me. Huge percentages of teachers had to work as independent contractors (which meant having to put aside 1/3 of our paychecks for taxes with no health benefits which essentially meant we were making just over minimum wage).

We would also have to be paid a flat fee in some gyms and studios, regardless of the class size. Add to these the fact that I was not like most yoga teachers. I didn’t like wearing mala beads, wanted to stay an omnivore, didn’t like playing Top 40 or songs with pop lyrics in my classes, and didn’t like moving myself or any student through tons of Vinyasas (the sequence of poses leading from downward-facing dog, to plank, to chaturanga, to cobra/upward facing dog and back to downward-facing dog again).

I knew I wanted to empower my students, make an honest income and truly provide the tools for everyone to strengthen all parts of their mind-body. Yoga without the Dogma was my motto from the get-go. That’s where Rogue Yogi was born. After tons of trial and error, talking to anybody and everybody about my idea for teaching yoga in night-clubs, beautiful studios and featuring ambient/deep house/future bass grooves mixed by a live DJ, I co-founded Deep House Yoga.

We sold out events in Downtown LA, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and the brand went on to Denver and Seattle. I even had a spin-off venture doing my own pop-up yoga sessions called “Underground Yoga” and “Silent Disco Flow.”

Now, my husband and I truly went Rogue. We went off the grid to explore the world, to see it as it really is, and let go of as many physical possessions as we could. I now teach Rogue Yoga online, lead Modern Yoga retreats around the world, write reviews of yoga studios and articles on yoga-related topics for a magazine called Shut Up and Yoga, short film documentaries on forward-thinking yoga teachers and remain forever a humble student.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Because I was this brand new yoga teacher, people didn’t know who I was. This idea I had about [what became Deep House Yoga] was solid–but, I just didn’t establish myself well enough for people to jump on board. I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve this vision fast. So, 6 months of searching felt like 6 years.

Along the way, I applied for yoga studios with owners I just didn’t really agree with. I didn’t like their approaches on giving hands-on adjustments to students, their fast-paced sequencing requirements nor did I think they were safe. I wanted to truly work for myself, but I understood that I had to work for studios to get experience and stay “top-of-mind.”

I also got caught up with really unhealthy people when I realized that I deserved way better for my life. After focusing on loving myself, being true to my standards and trusting the growth process, Deep House Yoga happened, my long-time friend became my boyfriend (and now my husband!)

In terms of my personal brand, I had a faint idea of how different my yoga instruction would be. While I was conflicted about teaching for some studios and not making that full-time income I was driving for Uber and Lyft.

Naturally, conversations would come up about “what I really do” as a job. When I mentioned Rogue Yogi, the same question would come up, “But, what makes you DIFFERENT?” It took me waking up one morning in Vietnam with pain in my joints and my hip bone partially popping out of its socket (twice) to pivot my direction, gain clarity on what really made me different and fulfill my role as the Rogue Yogi.

Although most things are smooth sailing now, there’s still the challenge I face when I share content on social media. The teachers and students who are set in the “traditional” way of thinking disagree and tend to repeat the same things they were told in a yoga teacher training. Some get offended and say that this information is not part of the yoga philosophy.

There are many teachers today that are still excessively freaking out over seeing someone practicing “Tree Pose” with one foot resting closely to the standing leg’s knee. (It’s a physical therapy thing called the Stork Test, please look it up and see how similar it is.)

When I take someone’s class, and the instructor is almost yelling at the students to “go deeper” into their ligaments, and I don’t… there tends to be some tension between me and the teacher, the teacher is thrown off by me staying in my mid-range of motion, and I end up feeling like I’m the only one, but it’s the only body I have. I’m not willing to injure it any further.

Rogue Yogi – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The business name “Rogue Yogi” kind of speaks for itself. I provide modern yoga instruction that’s sustainable and inclusive for all body types, ages, and health goals. So, this kind of yoga is not about telling you exactly how to place your heel in relation to your other heel. It’s not about taking away your choice or deciding that your pose is “incorrect” because it doesn’t make a straight line. Because the human body wasn’t built to make strict lines.

The human body was designed to move in all directions. What I teach is not really geared towards those who want to achieve hyper bendy poses for social media. I’ve become hyper flexible and at-risk for a hip replacement because of that previous goal. So, I’m not about encouraging it anymore. Rogue Yogi is about nourishing every part of your mind-body with micro-movements, macro-movements, acts of self-love and open-ended questions that only you can answer. Because it’s your body and no one else can feel or be as intimate with it as you.

That’s the spiritual benefit from educating yourself. Despite the entire philosophy of yoga being about equanimity, peaceful living and becoming one with our spirit, the current yoga studio scene markets the sequence of poses as a fitness modality. An ass-kicking 60-90 minute session to put sweat equity into. So, I provide basic exercise science, movement knowledge and put it into easy-to-understand terms so people can make the best choices for themselves when they get onto the mat.

If people are extremely busy and only do yogasana every day, there can be a huge physical imbalance due to a few things: 1. The repetitive motion strengthens the same parts of your body 2. The lack of strength-building in the areas next to them can make them sleepy and weaker 3. Lack of variety and diversity in frequency and external load. Too much of anything is just too much.

4. Not moving most of the day, then cramming all of the intense movement into 1-2 hours instead of sprinkling it out through the day. It’s surprising how many yoga teacher trainings are not yet adopting this information, because the “traditional” way of practicing yoga poses just doesn’t pertain to the modern way of living. (The sitting for hours at a desk, in a car, the lack of movement throughout the day that’s compressed into 1-2 hours of intense exercise.) At the end of the day, I still love the spiritual benefits of yoga. I don’t believe it’s about telling someone “Hey, just stop practicing yoga if it’s hurting you.”

I believe it’s about educating someone so they can practice with safety, sustainability and a heightened sense of awareness. Because of my experience with physical therapists, somatics instructors and interviewing forward-thinking movement professionals from around the world (like Trina Altman, Dr. Garrett Neill, Diane Bruni, Kolya Udalov, Tara Eden and so many more), and because we have been traveling for so long, I’ve developed my own style of strength-training with yogasana using anchored resistance bands.

The entire set of handles, stirrups, and bands fit into a small bag that fits in my backpack. They have resistance qualities like a normal resistance band, but they go a step further with resistance QUANTITY that you can stack together to add more external load. It doesn’t look like it can out-do a dumb-bell, but it can.

Not only can I practice my physical therapy everywhere, I can also progress into essential strength-training without needing a gym or a rack of weights. What I’m teaching is shifting the way other yoga teachers are approaching their practice. It humbles me to get such positive feedback on how I’ve helped teachers teach more safely and empower their own students even more.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is being able to film a forward-thinking yoga teacher in their element, tell their story on how they’ve disrupted the yoga “script” and sharing it with the world. It’s being able to take a class in whatever country we explore, and learning at least one new thing from that teacher. It’s seeing how much my students have discovered about themselves in just one session with me. It’s knowing in my spirit that what I’m teaching will continually grow as much as I am.

It’s stepping outside of my comfort and questioning the things that don’t make sense, all the while embracing that I don’t know what I don’t know. But, as long as I can keep creating artistically, scientifically and spiritually with fun then I know I’m staying on purpose. That’s success.

Pricing:

  • Dare to Begin Yoga (Again), an Online Mini-Course ($17)

Contact Info:

  • Website: https://rogue.yoga
  • Email: julie@rogue.yoga
  • Instagram: rogue.yogi
  • Facebook: julietranyoga


Image Credit:
Yoway Buorn

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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