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Meet Kate Allen of Be The Change Yoga in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Allen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kate. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After I developed a social conscious in college, I could never unseen the suffering and disparities present in the world around me. For a while I was unsure of how to tackle the large-scale social, political, economic injustices but I eventually decided to focus on public health as the way I would organize my efforts to change the world.

I’ve always been passionate about indigenous wisdom and believe that the teachings of our ancestors provide a means of correcting the ills of the modern world. While in graduate school at Tulane, I spent 8 weeks in Guatemala studying indigenous Mayan linguistics and cosmology, as well as time in Taiwan learning about the integration of Chinese Medicine in their health systems, however it was my personal Yoga practice that unlocked the key to my life’s purpose.

While studying disease trends and the underlying risk factors associated with the chronic disease epidemic, it became clear to me that Yoga is indeed the solution to our modern forms of suffering, as it provides tools for self-reflection, self-refinement and self-empowerment. I soon became a yoga therapist and this has been my path ever since.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Opening a brick and mortar yoga studio has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. It requires so much work to birth something of that magnitude into existence and for the first few years there was really no work / life balance because you have to completely immerse yourself into it. It’s truly a labor of love but… every day is exciting, exhilarating, powerful and has reinforced my life’s purpose.

One of the biggest struggles we faced involved switching our business model from independent contractors to employees; which forced us to move away from a pure donation-based studio model into a membership model. That was a big, expensive transition and was very painful to work with the EDD for those 2 years (I lost a lot of hair and many nights sleep over it!) It teaches you that the only thing constant is change and you have to keep your eyes wide open, let go of the emotions, try to understand the situation clearly, choose the best option in each moment and then detach from the results.

Please tell us about Be the Change Yoga.
Our studio Be the Change Yoga was the first donation-based yoga studio in Orange County. We pride ourselves on making yoga accessible to all community members, as well as integrating self-care tools into all our classes so that our students can improve health, wellbeing and relationships off the mat. Our studio is not heated and our largest classes are Beginners, Gentle and Therapeutic, while still offering Flow and Advanced classes. It’s truly yoga for Everybody, not just the hyper-flexible and super fit.

We are home to OC’s first and only Yoga Therapist Training. We are training yoga therapists to become the next generation of public health educators. We also train our students to teach in Spanish, so we can bring therapeutic yoga practices into all sectors of our community. We have developed relationships with hospitals and health systems to integrative yoga therapy programs into both primary care applications and mental health centers. We current collaborate with Hoag Hospital’s Center for Healthy Living, UCI, Serve the People Clinic and Live Healthy OC.

I’m most proud of two things:

  1. Staying true to our values: we opened a non-heated, large-scale, therapeutic, spiritual and philosophically-based studio within a landscape where hot yoga and the emphasis on the physical is the norm. Since we didn’t bend into the hot yoga trend and stayed true to our roots, we’ve emerged as the leader of yoga therapy in OC; which has opened up many opportunities for our company and our teachers.
  2. Our ability to dream big: my business partner, Allison Prince, and I continue to evolve our company based upon the needs of the community and the larger yoga therapy field. Once one program is in place, we soon build out another one. Both she and my husband joke with me that I need to stop building programs / trainings / companies but there is always something new on the horizon that needs to be brought into existence 🙂 Right now I’m launching a non-profit arm of our yoga therapy company AlcheMe Yoga Therapy and building out a Yoga Promotors training to train Spanish-speaking community members to become yoga teachers / health promotors.

I’m really excited about the Yoga Promotores program, as it works on many levels. It improves the student’s personal health by allowing them to dive into the teachings of yoga in a culturally appropriate way. Personal transformation ripples out into their relationships and in turn, uplifts the community – getting more community members excited about yoga, as well as dispelling myths about what yoga really is. In addition, this program offers a means of economic advancement, as graduates are able to earn a living teaching yoga at non-profits and community-based organizations.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?

Maintaining a personal self-care practice. We have to prioritize ways to keep ourselves anchored; which means tools to keep our bodies are healthy, our minds are stable, spending time in nature, eating energizing foods, creating nourishing environmental conditions, good music, good people and lots of love and laughs. When we get the inside right, everything else gets much easier!

When we are anchored into our best self, we can tap into our inner wisdom. We are able to listen to that little voice inside ourselves that tells us which way to turn. When we learn to live in this state, anything is possible and our dreams become our reality.

When we don’t take care of ourselves and our minds become stressed, agitated, exhausted, we make bad decisions and life becomes overwhelming and everything becomes much more difficult.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Mitchell Manz Photography

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