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Meet Shionta Jones of Shades of Health, LLC in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shionta Jones.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve practiced as a Hematology-Oncology nurse for 11+ years and I am also a certified yoga teacher from Southern Maryland. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Hampton University in 2008 and started my career at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. During the first year of my career, I gained 40 pounds from stress eating and was diagnosed with borderline diabetes and my cholesterol was very high. These findings were serious to me because I know the demands on the body, mind and spirit when diagnosed with these diseases. I was introduced to yoga by a fellow nurse in the form of Bikram in 2010, but I resisted it for two years for personal reasons. My first deep connection to the breath and movement was in 2012 at Inspirit Yoga Studio in Orlando, FL. I faced many challenges during my yoga journey, from learning how to balance being a full-time nurse to changes in my weight and not feeling welcomed in caucasian owned yoga studios. During this time, a major shift took place and motivated me to do better. I was born a runner but had lost touch with the exercise, so I started running more with the support of Black Girls Run Organization. Not only did I incorporate exercise to reverse my diagnoses but also I transitioned into eating and living a more plant based lifestyle. My initial approach to the practice of yoga helped my physical body and mind counter fatigue and stress, without realizing how spiritual the practice could be. I wanted to learn more about this practice and share it with the world, so I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Inspirit Yoga Studio in 2015. The program requirements included eight months of training and 21 hours every other weekend.

My ‘heart work’ experiences as a Hematology-Oncology nurse kindled my passion for yoga even more through the opportunities of teaching my patients and their family members, as well as team members of various hospital facilities. Growing in knowledge and skill with my students and beginning to realize how important alignment is not only on the mat but also in life off the mat inspired me to learn even more. I completed Yoga Collective’s Advanced 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training in March 2018 with an emphasis on Anatomy & Physiology, Application of Psychology to yoga, holistic health, tantric philosophy, Sanskrit and history of yoga. My advanced teacher training requirements included 13 months of training, 21 hours every other weekend and 30 hours of extracurricular yoga related activities.

During my training and after this time, my passion for service afforded me the opportunity to work with every ‘body’ type including students that have cancer, rare genetic conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, acute and chronic pain, mental imbalances, anxiety, and depression. I have worked with UF Health Cancer Center of Orlando Integrative Medicine team, Northside Hospital, Georgia Tech’s Horizon Enrichment program for children, The Black Nurses Association, The Wellness Sanctuary Inc., Black Women Who Plan and Create, the Dirty South Yoga Festival & Black Girls Run Organization.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has not been smooth as a Nurse Entrepreneur for many reasons. Let’s start with the obvious, just like any entrepreneur we usually take on a great deal of risk because starting a company always comes with the possibility of financial loss. I actually had intentions of officially starting my business three years prior to the official start date in 2016, however, I was faced with a very challenging personal circumstance that put me in major debt. Because of the support of family and friends and long hours of working in a clinical setting to get back on my feet, I was able to focus on identifying a problem not only in the healthcare field but also in my community. The Integrative Medicine department that I was exposed to lacked representation of minority yoga teachers, coordinators, and administrators. Which resulted in a false perception of who was a yoga teacher, meditation guider, healer, etc. Shades of Health was created shortly after teaching yoga to the District 9 Girls Scouts in Orlando. A student approaches me before class to ask what our agenda was for the day and replied after an explanation that “black people don’t do yoga.” As you can imagine this statement struck a nerve and also made me reflect on my own lens and experience. I immediately said to myself that if I could work long shifts, tough situations and the drive to help others heal then I could accomplish anything. My mindset started to shift and I realized that money was just a piece of my business journey, not the end-all.

Nurses learn to be extremely organized because someone’s life depends on it and in this case I knew that the well-being of my community did as well. I reached out to minority yoga teachers, coaches and wellness leaders from all over the world via social media and asked for their help to show the world that we exist and do the work too. There was push back to what other people would perceive, some people didn’t respond to me and others were not all in. I feel blessed that over a few months 30 women of the 100 I reached out to helped me create Shades of Health. After several months of creating the movement, men started to inquire and became an added bonus to keeping track of many moving pieces. What I learned from this experience is to identify my target market and also study my competition because sadly it exists in the wellness industry. Also, I know that challenges will be put on my path, but my skills at finding ways to overcome them is hard to match.

Please tell us about Shades of Health, LLC.
Shades of Health inspires transformation in the heart & mind and collaborates with wellness creatives to give rise to abundance in the community. This movement started many friendships and partnerships that continue to thrive today. Six years and counting Shades of Health continues to host yoga workshops, offers scholarships to aspiring yoga teachers to pursue yoga teacher training and donates to the National MPS Society for families and children who are challenged with rare genetic conditions.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Getting back up after many falls gave me the strength to look inside. Not at my appearance or what was in plain sight to see but inside my heart and mind of who I need to be in this life. Whether I ran, walked, or sat still, believing in my goals helped me achieve them all and inspired me to reach higher heights. Through every dark and light moment, I realize what I had been hoping is my purpose and legacy for teaching yoga continues being lived every day. Inspiring others to feel in the heart and creating space where they were once stuck in the body or uncertain in the mind brings me joy. Life was exactly what it needed to be and every situation encountered brought me to where I am right now. Community changes lives and wanting to improve the world we live in is a direct reflection within me.

Pricing:

  • Ball Therapy 45 minutes $60.00
  • Foundation Yoga 45 minutes $60.00
  • Foundation Yoga 60 minutes $75.00
  • Alignment Based Yoga 45 minutes $60.00
  • Alignment Based Yoga 60 minutes $75.00
  • Yin Yoga 75 minutes $75.00
  • Public Speaking, Conferences and Group Sessions email shadesofhealth13@gmail.com

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jack Parada, Kate McLean, David Funderburk & Luguzy Atkins

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