I have described myself as an evangelist for yoga. Last April, I wrote about the results I received from incorporating yoga into my fitness regime for the Live in Everett blog. Years of long-distance running had me in chronic pain that only found relief through painkillers and cortisone shots. I was fortunate that the gym I belong to offered a beginning yoga class taught by a charismatic yogi intent on making her practice inspiring and approachable. And it turned out to be life-changing. So when I met Monika Thompson, owner of Fierce Love Yoga at an event recently, I was instantly interested in finding out about her practice. But it was when she told me that her specialty was “curvy girl” yoga, I was intrigued.
Monika’s story is inspirational. When she came to her yoga practice, she was living in a large body, and at that time there was little to no information available on practicing yoga in a bigger body. After 3 years of practice, Monika knew she needed to teach what she had learned. As soon as she completed her yoga teacher training, she enrolled in a Curvy Yoga certification with Anna Guest-Jelley, creator of Curvy Yoga so she could offer better coaching to her students than what she received when she first started her practice. Time and again, she was told that no one would come to a Curvy Yoga class because they would be too embarrassed. But Monika wouldn’t take no for an answer and decided to open her own studio. Fierce Love Yoga was born! And guess what? Those neigh sayers were wrong. People did come! Monika’s space provides the safe, body shaming free zone that women of all shapes, sizes, and ability were craving. Space where they feel welcomed, empowered and encouraged to take their healing to the next phase.
When I was only nine years old, my family and I took a day trip to Snohomish. I declared that day that I would live in Snohomish, and I finally moved here in 2006. I have loved homeschooling my three amazing children in this vibrant community. Yoga saved me when I came to it in a time that my body and spirit were broken. I knew that I had to share the practice with anyone that was interested in the community that I love. It has been my most challenging work and my greatest joy transforming this funky little barn into a temple of healing and transformation.
What is the best piece of advice you were given when you started your business?
My dear friend Rachel told me, “Don’t dilute yourself. Inspire with your story.” I don’t think she thought I was going to take it as far as I did, but I took it to heart and it has really worked for me. The things I thought might keep people away from my yoga studio- my spicy nature, love of skulls, my loathing of the diet industry- all turned into the things that draw my students in! They are part of the WHY people come, instead of the why not. It makes me stupidly happy that I can be myself and help people for a living.
What makes your yoga studio different from the others?
Fierce Love Yoga is a body positive space. We don’t offer weight loss at all. In fact, we don’t even talk about it. I believe that health is independent of weight. We focus on health and wellness and let our bodies figure out what they need to weigh. We welcome all people with all kinds of bodies – I like to call it, “Yoga for Goonies.” If you feel like yoga isn’t for you because you aren’t a wealthy/bendy/Barbie, you’ll probably fit right in with us. What I offer is safe space, a community that feels like family, and a whole lot of fire along with amazing alignment-based yoga.
Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?
As a single mom of three and a business owner, I spend a lot of time thinking about making it all work without running myself into the ground. Finding a balance between work and home is challenging, and I also have to remember to care for myself in there as well. Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by a fierce tribe of women that inspire me. They encourage me to not only go after my dreams with reckless abandon but also remind me to return to myself and rest.
What is you no-fail go-to when you need inspiration?
I have a few answers for this:
- Myself: When I was starting out, I made a visual business plan which was basically a scrapbook. I still read through why I got started. It helps to look at those baby flames of Fierce Love in the making. They keep me burning and stoke my fire when I get tired.
- My students inspire me so much. Every week I get at least one message from someone telling me how their practice, the studio, or something that I’ve said has had a meaningful impact on their lives. I keep them for those days when I need a reminder of the value of what I do.
- Bruce Lee/Frida Kahlo/Marshall Mathers (Eminem)/Maya Angelou- I choose them all because of their indomitable spirits. Bruce for his internal reflection and self-mastery. Frida for her ability to create great beauty from great pain. Marshall because he literally turns adversity into fuel to achieve his dreams. Maya because she not only speaks her truth, she also speaks for those who have no voice.
If you identify as female/femme and want to practice yoga with fierce, real, raw women, hell-bent on shrugging off society’s expectations so they can live at peace in their bodies… then Fierce Love Yoga is your space. A class schedule can be found on the Fierce Love Yoga website. If you know an inspirational fitness or wellness coach, like Lindsey Graves or Tammy Smith, tell me about it in the comment box below.