Today’s spotlight is on Bendi Bobbi Yoga and the creative force behind the brand, Ms. Barbara “Bobbi” Shields. Yoga is growing as a viable holistic alternative within the fitness/wellness area and Bobbi began her practice as just that – an alternative. Along the way it became a passion for her and now she’s on her way to teaching classes and building her brand. I am excited to highlight this brand and this amazing woman, especially since she’s my best friend of 20 years. I hope you’ll find inspiration in what you read and, if you haven’t already, I hope you give yoga a try. Remember it’s Mental Health Awareness Month and yoga incorporates the body, mind, and spirit. Be kind to yourself…and SUPPORT!
How did you begin practicing yoga?
I first started practicing yoga in 2013 because I was having lower back pains from lifting patients while working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). At the time, I just knew I needed to stretch! I started off doing just basic stretching after work. A friend suggested that I try yoga because “yoga is basically stretching, right???” LOL. So, I tried it! It worked wonders! Not only did I not have the lower back pain, but I was calmer and felt healthier overall.
At what point did yoga move from something you did to a passion?
Yoga became a passion when I looked it up on Instagram. At first, I was just doing the Jillian Michaels Yoga Level 1 & 2 on YouTube. I decided to look up “#yoga” on Instagram and man….WOW! There were so many different styles and poses that I had no idea even existed. I got into a daily practice, thanks to the IG yoga challenges! Once I did more research about the true meaning and the purposes of the various yoga poses, I was amazed! I began to see a change in my outlook on life, how I responded to various circumstances, and my overall demeanor. I began reading about meditation and the yoga sutras and I’ve been hooked ever since 🙂
What are some of your hopes and dreams for Bendi Bobbi?
My hope for Bendi Bobbi Yoga is to reach as many people as possible and expose them to the benefits of the true practice of yoga. I love how my practice has transformed my way of thinking! My dream is to bring the practice of yoga to people of color. I feel that we, as a people, haven’t been exposed to the true benefits of yoga! If Bendi Bobbi Yoga can help to enlighten even one person, my goal has been accomplished 💜.
What’s been the greatest lesson you have learned in the process to become a certified yoga instructor?
My greatest lesson is that we are ALL students of yoga. Before I began my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), I believed that there was an end point or a “finish line” and when I reached it, I would be the ultimate yogi! NOT.SO. There is no end point in yoga….in fact, yoga isn’t even about BECOMING anything….it’s about learning to BE.
If there is one myth in particular about yoga that you’d like to dispel, which would it be?
That everyone can’t do yoga. Everyone….I’ll say it again, EVERYONE….can do yoga! Yoga is for all shapes, colors, genders, and ages! You don’t have to be a particular size or color to participate! It isn’t just for women. Some of the most amazing yogis that I know are men! Also, yoga is NOT a religion. Again, folks…it is not a religion! Yoga is about finding your inner peace and strengthening yourself….learning that you are powerful, strong, and amazing! And, as we all know, that concept is one that can be applied regardless of religious affiliation :).
There seems to be a growing acceptance of yoga among people of color, especially women of color. How important do you believe holistic practices like yoga can be in communities of color?
It can have a huge impact! Yoga can not only increase flexibility and allow your body to make some pretty cool shapes and get into different poses, it can also greatly improve your health! Communities of color often deal with a higher level of stress which can lead to a host of health problems and complicate existing conditions. We also have greater chances of conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. A dedicated yoga practice, along with changes in the daily diet, can assist in reducing the chances of these conditions while providing a much-needed stress reliever! Simple yoga concepts, such as pranayama (breathing techniques), can be incredibly helpful in calming the mind and refocusing the body. It is my hope that I can bring these techniques to MY people.
Your educational background is in health care and healthy living in the more “traditional” sense (a Bachelors in Dietetics, a Masters in Health Administration, and a Masters in Business Administration). Do you believe that you’ll be able to incorporate some of those aspects into what you are planning to offer through Bendi Bobbi?
Absolutely. Before I began YTT, I thought that yoga would be an excellent addition to my formal education. Now that I am a month from finishing YTT, I realize that it’s the other way around! Finding the Self and staying true to the Self is the journey of yoga. Once on that journey, everything else falls in line! I have found that my TRUE focus should be finding myself and helping others to do the same through yoga. I will definitely use my education in dietetics to encourage others to live a healthier lifestyle (i.e. healthy eating) and my masters to build the Bendi Bobbi Yoga brand! But as for my teaching, my yoga texts will be the most valuable. “By taking the journey to find yourself, you will see where everything else fits in.”
Your entrepreneurial journey is still in the early stages. What is the best piece of advice you have received so far?
“Focus on Bendi” -Andrea Dashiell, CEO, HoneeCakes Bakery
——Andrea has been one of my biggest supporters from day 1! I often pick her brain about the best ways to develop my business and brand. Initially, I tried to keep up with other yogis….wondering why they were doing things differently and wondering if I would be as successful in my teaching…Andrea reminded me that I cannot give 100% to MY brand if I’m focused on others! From that day, I’ve used that as my motivation to bring me back to center when my mind wanders 🙂
Where do you see the Bendi Bobbi brand in ten years?
Wow…in 10 years….I would like to have my RYT-500 certification! I would love to travel to bring yoga across the nation. I would love to see Bendi Bobbi Yoga not just in the DMV area, but abroad.
Bendi Bobbi is now available for beginner and intermediate personal yoga sessions. How can people find out more information?
Email me at BendiBobbi@gmail.com! They can follow me @BendiBobbi on IG and “Bendi Bobbi Yoga” on Facebook. They can now search for Bendi Bobbi Yoga on http://www.schedulicity.com to schedule sessions as well. The website will be up soon and will feature detailed information about the benefits of yoga as well as tutorial videos for home practice!
What ways can people learn more about what Bendi Bobbi is doing (listserv, newsletter, social media, etc.)?
When the website is completed, I will be sending out correspondence (i.e. a newsletter including where I will be teaching when I’m traveling). Currently, everyone can check out my social media pages!