Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhonna Del Rio.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
“May we share your art in the yoga studio?” “Why would anyone want to see it?!” I thought. Who knew that this dialogue would lead me to where I am today?
In 2011, I signed up for a yoga challenge to take 20 classes in 28 days. I planned to write about the experience, but when I went to put pencil to paper, I just stared at it blankly. Slowly, intuitive spiritual expressions of yoga took over and “Yoga and Art Journey” was born.
This journey is about inspiring others to listen to their own whispers of the heart and soul. The collection of sketches was first expressed on 11×11 square recycled coffee filters that I had collected to put together as a journal, or so I had planned to. As a designer, I used to create everything with precise calculations, I planned out carefully, measuring twice or more. It’s the influence of my formal studies and degree in Architecture that I created by physical logic and true measurements. My calculated mind used to take the lead. There was no room for feeling things out.
Throughout the 28 days of the challenge, I noticed my practice and usual tendencies shifting. I started to let go. My mind and body were so exhausted; there was no room for my ego to get in the way of the images that were surfacing as I drew on the recycled coffee filters. My heart took over and I intuitively followed. After I completed the yoga challenge, my teacher encouraged me to share my collected drawings with the yoga studio owner to share how the experience unfolded for me. The owner asked if she could display some of the art in a studio for others to see. Jitters set in and I thought, “Why would anyone want to see them?!?” But I let my intuition take the lead, and I chose to trust the process. Since then the story of this journey grew organically.
Over the last seven years, my art has transformed from a recycled coffee filter to all sizes of paintings on canvases. It has spread from the one yoga studio in Playa Vista, California, to a few neighboring yoga studios, to several other states and now even outside the country. I have also been fortunate enough through word-of-mouth to have done commissions for other people with inspiring journeys of their own. My heart grows with each person that I continue to connect with throughout this journey.
What I found amazing is that at the beginning of Yoga and art journey, the more I shared, the more fear of judgment from others and expectation of myself fell away. I quickly began to focus on service and the thought that I could perhaps help inspire one person with the art pieces kept me moving forward. That one person, rather than the million others who may not, began to matter more to me. With each sharing of the art, my community began to build ripples of love and gratitude, and it gave me the courage to keep following what feels right in my heart. Finding this creative form is like speaking a language that I didn’t know I spoke. In fact, I strongly believe that we all speak it in one creative form or another and we simply need to let go and surrender to what feels right. With this new language, I found a new understanding of our world, a new culture of feeling and thinking, a new instrument to express myself and my soul, and perhaps most valuable of all, a purpose to contribute — a way to connect. Being able to have this tool has gifted me a new lease on life and has helped me through so many unexpected events in my life. Being able to release fear of judgment and expectations during my yoga practice has allowed me to apply that same philosophy to my art and daily living. In doing so, I feel more liberated and more authentic with the way I perceive myself and others.
I have been blessed with various opportunities that involved this journey. One of the most touching moments on this journey thus far was when I received a special message from a dear friend who is today a breast cancer survivor. One day, I received an email with a request that she wanted two specific art pieces in her home that she said had been a part of her personal inspiration during her treatment (she had seen them in my social media). There are simply no words to describe how her message touched my heart and left me in tears. I asked what was it that resonated with her when she looked at the art pieces and in simple heartfelt words she said, “I saw LIFE in your art.” This left me feeling a sense of making a difference in a way I never imagined.
One day, while staring at one of the pieces one day trying to understand where the imagery was coming from, I realized that I was never really drawing nor painting all along, I had only been “feeling” and allowing this feeling to take form. It became clear to me that, I unknowingly had been healing as well in my journey. Through expressing my feelings on and off the mat, my own healing came for many aspects of my life. Regular yoga practice loosens the tightness in the heart and is a portal to allow for these feelings to surface. To me, yoga is not only a means of staying healthy, it is a means of healing forgotten wounds and a path for awakening the soul’s purpose.
My offered advice for those thinking about taking up yoga is to follow that “nudge” and stay in the practice of what makes you “feel.” Explore these feelings, share the good, better and best for the world, and let the fear or judgments and expectations leak away. Whether it is through yoga, running, sewing, painting, climbing, dancing, praying, meditating, gardening — it’s all good. With practice, when we do what we love, we begin to chip away layers of fears, doubts, and emotional wounds. When these wounds fall away from our hearts, we find that what’s left behind is the design of our soul’s clarity, gratitude, love, freedom, and courage to express our very unique true selves!
“Let go and be free. The soul dreams what the mind cannot see. A gift for you, a whisper of truth. Yoga and Art Journey.” (poem by Delfina Ure)
Has it been a smooth road?
To say that there were some unexpected turns on this journey does not do justice to the new level of faith, courage, and compassion I know I gained from having gone through them.
In 2014, I was faced with divorce. I had to put a closure to a relationship of 17 years. That is another story in itself. What I will say for now is that the art that I had been creating for a few years had not only been healing my past wounds but has been training me all along to root deeper to prepare for this unknown storm ahead of me. I had been planting seeds of strength, courage, and faith all along that would come to rescue me when it felt like my world was coming apart. They say that sometimes when we feel our world is coming apart it is, in fact, coming together. I had to hold on to this notion that although my marriage was ending, my other relationships — firstly with my daughter, my extended family, my friends and my art — did not need to falter. I harvested the fruit of the art pieces that had matured over the years, giving me deeper faith and the perseverance needed to overcome life’s big challenges. Yoga and Art Journey kept me afloat in my faith, both spiritually and emotionally.
One of the struggles in the process was the decision to continue on the path of art or not. I had been a stay-at-home-mom for several years and was invested in growing Yoga and Art Journey. I was reassured in a life of not having to be away from my daughter working in an office setting while I pursued this new-found purpose — a deeper calling as I still believe it to be to this day. After months of treading this decision, the divorce finalized. I found myself at a fork in the road: do I go back to work in architecture full-time in an office and affectedly cut quality time with my daughter during this huge transition for her as well and put Yoga and Art Journey completely aside or do I take the leap of faith and follow through on my dream? And here we are today. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, investing in what felt right in my heart. And, reminding myself of the saying my grandmother always told me “Find a way!”
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Yoga and Art Journey story. Tell us more about the business.
It’s hard for me to call it a business because it’s really more of a journey of finding ways to provide for the essentials to live a healthy, fun and balanced life for my daughter and I. As I mentioned, I decided to stay the path of creating art instead of going back to architecture full-time where my ambition and goals had faded out.
The irony of stepping away from architecture and investing more in my art is that over the last four years since the divorce, somehow along the way something in me grew this new appreciation for architecture. I found opportunities doing small design-only projects without the need to go in full-time in an office setting. I only take projects I can handle from home, allowing me to still be with my daughter as much as I was before the divorce. I knew that the other biggest investment I could make was not to lose any quality time with her. So, I continue to work mostly from home, doing home designs and paintings and on the side, I offer Feng Shui consultation. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I have been certified and active for more than 10 years. Most of my clients are by word-of-mouth.
What I am most proud of is that it has kept me mindful of where, with who, and how much of my time should be spent in each nature of service. I fuse all my professional skills, heart and intuitive nature in all that I do. I relate to all my buyers and clients the way I relate to myself — always sealing it with respect, heart, and gratitude. Whenever my daughter asks what I do for a living, I always say, ‘I do what I love! I do a lot of different things, but everything I do, I really do love!’
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In the next few years, as more people are able to find ways spiritually to go inward and heal deep wounds, I imagine a growing population in the healing industry at a steady pace. I plan to have finished a book project that I have been working on with my talented writer and book designer for the last nearly two years. We finished the mock-up print to review and will continue to pursue this dream to have the story of Yoga and Art Journey experienced through a book. I imagine and dream about this book being gifted and finding a home in every yoga studio lobby, international retreats, yogis’ coffee and night tables, patient rooms, wellness hotels, and all other healing spaces. The book will showcase all of the original coffee filter pieces that will invite the viewer to listen and hear what resonates with them uniquely. Creating their own healing journey and perhaps a story to share one day too.
- Website: www.rhonnadelrio.com
- Phone: 310-570-8112
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @yogaandartjourney
- Facebook: Yoga and Art Journey
Delfina Ure, Sonalii Castillo, Justine Sto. Tomas