Updated: Apr 3
Welcome to our second episode! This podcast, hosted by Lisa-Marie Wakenshaw & Alex Rodoni of Prague Yoga Collective & Asanaetc.com.
In this episode, Lisa chats with Betti about their journey with Prague Yoga Collective, building the first studio, meeting Alex, and how it all came together. We also find out much more about Betti as a human, her journey towards moving to Prague, and finding yoga in her life.
Lisa: Hi everyone I'm sitting here with our wonderful Betti - hi Betti.
Betti: Hi guys, hi Lisa
Lisa: It is a beautiful, snowy January day, it's super cold outside and both me and Betti are sitting on each side of Letna with a cup of coffee on our tables I think.
Betti: Right. Slowly finishing.
Lisa: Yea and uh, Betti's here with me today because I'm going to ask her all the questions that will make us find out who is Betti and what she's all about when it doesn't come to yoga or when it comes to yoga also. But But But when it's not about yoga as well, which is quite interesting I think. So if I were to ask you that Betti, if we start there - like, who is Betti? Who is she? If we strip away yoga and yoga teaching and all that stuff, who's Betti?
Betti: Well uh - I'm Betti, I'm 32, I'm single, Hungarian.
Lisa: Are you single!?
Betti: I mean like not married, I guess that's the opposite.
Lisa: Oh okay.
“I love to go out and have a morning coffee, I don't eat sweet things - I'm a movement junkie and I love my family and I love my friends. I like to read a book with a cup of tea in my hand on my couch and I'm into avocados and coconut.” -Betti
Betti: Well um yea - I'm from Hungary. I moved here to Prague about 5 1/2 years ago because of love and then this love transformed into love I guess towards the city, so when the original love ended, there was no question for me to stay or go, I just stayed and then yoga came into life and it's basically the anchor that keeps me here in Prague and I love to be here so it's not like I have to be here because of yoga, it's really a wonderful place to be and gives you a lot of opportunities and a lot of nice people to meet. And yea I love to go out and have a morning coffee, I don't eat sweet things - I'm a movement junkie and I love my family and I love my friends. I like to read a book with a cup of tea in my hand on my couch and I'm into avocados and coconut.
Lisa: Hahaha that's good. That just about describes Betti - straight up. Avocados and coconut. Alright, so so love brought you to Prague. Um I find it or I found it when I moved here, it wasn't love that brought me here, I just sort of ended up here... umm but I fell in love with Prague the first day I was here. I was like this is it. Was it the same for you or were you like ahh it took you awhile?
Betti: Mmm I think the love - this like strong connection love - it was not there from the first day, but from the first day I felt like being home. So when I for example traveled around Asia, it's too harsh to say like cultural shock, but I certainly felt always like I'm an outsider, a tourist who looks around and appreciates all the differences, and when I came here and got to know people and got to know the city I felt like I belong here. Maybe it's also because it's similar to Budapest and we're not so far like culturally or geography-wise from Hungary but there wasn't a single day where I felt like a complete outsider here.
Lisa: That makes sense. So if we move forward a little bit in your story meaning you moved here for love but you weren't teaching yoga at that point right?
Betti: No no no, I was an office worker - not too enthusiastic - but an office worker. I worked also for the same company in Budapest and then I resigned there, came to Prague and I reapplied for the same company and luckily they took me so it made my transition from home to Prague super smooth. And basically, I'm very thankful for this but I'm so happy that I'm not working there anymore. Yea so it was like a year, I think it was a year here in Prague and another 3 years before in Budapest, for I studied economics, my bachelor is in business administration, international commerce and specialized in Italian translation and interpretation for business language for business activities. So not much to do with yoga.
Lisa: Yea. That's like the same for all of us. All of our bachelor's and university studies has not so much to do with yoga. Before I move on in your story I just realized that um you've been in the military as well. Do you want to talk us through that? That's like a funny thing that I always think about Betti, I'm like Oh she's also been in the military, she's a badass.
Betti: Well um, then I was 18 and finished high school, I was really struggling - I didn't know what to do with myself and a long long time ago when I was like a young teenager, my father told me that you should become a lawyer. And I was like yea! I'm gonna become a lawyer! I'm gonna study law and I will be the best lawyer of the country or of the world and then I got older and I realized that it's my father's dream, not my dream and then at the age when you have to choose university I was like yea I put there on the list and I applied for it and they accepted me there but I was like I just don't wanna do this and I'm so happy that I didn't go there but then I was like okay, if not there then what? So then when we had to fill out the application form, I submitted my application to the law faculty to become a sport manager and another university to become an actress so I applied for this national drama college or how's it called? And also the national defense university to become a lieutenant after 4 years. And then yea - to the Japanese faculty, another university because it sounded like exotic. And I got accepted to all these places, but the military was on the top so I went there. And when my father got to know that I was accepted to the law faculty and I went to the military for 3 months, he refused to talk to me.
Lisa: Oh my goodness.
“Then I had the chance to work with the Hungarian quick reaction forces. They are the real badass guys, the cream of the Hungarian army.” -Betti
Betti: But yea so this is how I ended up in the army and started my task with a three-month long boot camp which was very interesting and certainly a unique experience and then I had the chance to work with the Hungarian quick reaction forces. They are the real badass guys, the cream of the Hungarian army and we were my group of students as test bunnies so we spent like two weeks there together and we were shooting and flying and riding tanks and helicopters and stuff and it was really cool, but then I had to realize that when we got back to the university from the boot camp that this is really not my field and I just don't like to follow orders and routine and regulation and just blindly nod when I disagree because this guy is above me even though I don't feel any respect towards him because I do not think besides his age that he would deserve the place where he is now so I left.
“I just don't like to follow orders and routine and regulation and just blindly nod when I disagree because this guy is above me.” -Betti
Lisa: Oh you left. Did you? How many months did you stay?
Betti: I spent there a year. And then there was a little loophole and I managed to jump out of the system without any retorsion or how's it called in English so there was no punishment after I just I managed to get out of there and I went to the economic university.
Lisa: Did you have to restart your studies or could you just like....
Betti: Yea yea yea I started from zero, I had no idea you know even in high school, I started literature and history and then in the economic school where I was like oh yea micro-economy and macro-economy and statistics oh my goodness, what is this? It's good that I had to start from zero because I was under zero for sure with my knowledge.
Lisa: Ah ya, that's wonderful. Yea it's a - not a funny backstory but it's like a story about Betti that most people don't know I think and then it's like ah I was in the Army, ah that's cool.
Betti: I think one of the students told me when we were holding one of the asanas so super long at the beginning of the class and then classes and classes later, she came back to me after she got to know that I was in the army, she was like, "I don't understand now why we were not allowed to put down our knees even after 10 breaths there. This is your background!" Like well, maybe.
Lisa: That's why you guys. That's why Betti's classes are notoriously Betti's classes, I think. Cool. So then um you moved to Prague and then you had your office job and then what happened? What made you decide to go down the yoga path?
Betti: Well there are more things too.... Even when I started I knew that this is not my way. I think even on the first day of my office job I was like I was crying when I left the office and I called my friend and I just don't want to do this. Let's have a drink. And we went for a drink and then I stayed there for 4 years. So of course after 4 years I seriously hated it and I was just - at some point I felt that if the 15/16 years old little Betti would see what I'm doing now, she would be so depressed and so sad that I ended up like this. So there was a point when I was like I'm gonna kill the office or kill myself but this cannot go farther like this. So I decided to quit, I finished my rental contract for the apartment, I put my life into boxes and flew to India to have my first yoga teacher training. Because I felt like I have to change and I have to change dramatically. And then why yoga? I was dancing and I'm dancing for more than 2 decades already and then I got injured on one of the dance rehearsals and I couldn't move for 9 months or so. But not move in a way like I couldn't run, I couldn't sit longer than 30 minutes in one spot. I tore that ligament that connects the hamstring to the sit bone and it's a really painful and long recovery if it recovers properly. And then I went to hot yoga when I felt like I must do something and I have to gain back my flexibility and ability to move normally and bring the freedom I'm used to. So I went to hot yoga to do hot yoga and very slowly but it started. It started to do something with my body and I really appreciated it. And then I felt like I want to dig more into this I want to know more about yoga and stuff because it's working! It does work!
Lisa: Yea that's cool. And then you went to your teacher training?
Betti: Yea and then I went to Rishikesh.
Lisa: Rishikesh, yea that's right. And this was a traditional Hatha Yoga 200 hour or?
Betti: It was a 200 Hatha slash Ashtanga.
Lisa: Mmhmm. So how did you find it?
“It's really a transforming experience guys [in Rishikesh]. We were in an ashram for 30 days with the same people eating the same breakfast having the same routine, sharing everything and it just really brings so much more into the body, into the mind.” -Betti
Betti: I was recommended by everyone who was flirting with the idea to become a yoga teacher or has a like a deeper interest in yoga to go there. It's really a transforming experience guys. Like getting out from your normal routine. We were in an ashram for 30 days with the same people eating the same breakfast having the same routine, sharing everything and it just really brings so much more into the body, into the mind. Like I was running and doing stuff before but not on such a level of intensity as there where we woke up everyday 5 o'clock, had a cup of hot water because there was no tea available and so I had a cup of hot water in the morning and from 6-8 we were practicing. At 8 o'clock you were already super hungry and then all the good smells came from the kitchen and then you are not allowed to go down there because your pranayama practice came and we practiced pranayama from 8-9 every day for an hour and for me, besides the practice for the pranayama practice was a mind blowing experience. I always try to describe it in a way that it opened doors that I didn't know existed. Not that they were closed, but I thought that there are just walls and that the doors appeared and those pranayama doors opened up and there is a long long way, a long corridor behind those doors. So yea, that month was something, maybe the most significant month in my life so far.
Lisa: Yea and what year was this? This was just before I met you or?
Betti: Yea I think it was 3 years ago.
Lisa: Mmhmm. Because I met you, I met Betti in…
Betti: 4 years ago. It's been 4 years already.
Lisa: 4 years ago. Have we been here? I've been here almost 4 years as well. Goodness. Time's just running really quickly these days. Anyway, I met you in a yoga studio called Yoga Blue Art which is at JZP - Jirio z Podebrad.
Betti: That's right.
Lisa: And I think that was fairly recent after you finished your training, right?
Betti: Yea, I think we met there maybe twice.
Betti: Once before I actually left - oh wait, I know - I remember now because after my teacher training, I was travelling and teaching in Asia and then I came back home for a short period and then I flew back to China for another job. And first, I think, when I met you, it was in that gap.
Lisa: Yea. Yea yea.
Betti: When I came back from the training. And I think we went to a class where we both were students. And we started to chat in the changing room afterwards.
Betti: I remember because you had problems with your wrists and that was the first question I asked you, like I saw your practice that you have a really strong practice, but what happened to your wrists? Because you were doing your chaturangas on your fists.
Betti: And this was our first conversation topic.
Lisa: Ah yes, I'd forgotten about that pain. It's easy how we forget about when we're injured, right? Yea that's right because I had just moved to Prague and I lived just around the corner from that yoga studio so I was like oh okay, I'll just go to this studio because it's there.
Betti: I think after you also left, right? For the summer.
Lisa: Yea we were travelling back & forth.
Betti: And then I also went to China and then when we met again, it was in the autumn, August/September when we both got back to the city.
Betti: That's the time when I started to teach.
Lisa: Yea and you started to teach here in Prague just around the time that I started. Because I think when you were away I met Alex as well at this same studio because she was already teaching there a couple of times a week and she had one of the only classes there that was in English, so I went to that and then me & Alex connected over the fact that we had done a training at the same place in India. Not at the same time, but at the same place with the same teachers. And we, she was going to go away - I think back in the day she used to go back to California for a few months every year and she was going to go back for a few months and she needed somebody to cover her classes when she was away so that was sort of a natural introduction for me into teaching in Prague.
Betti: Aha. I didn't know that.
Lisa: Yea so I got to... You didn't?
Betti: I mean I knew that Yoga Blue Art is our melting pot like connection point, but I didn't know that you came to sub her basically.
Lisa: I did. That was my first sort of introduction to teaching here which was a nice foot in I think. Into the industry here. And yea so I - I think I started in September and you started teaching in August or something like that here in Prague. So I did her classes at Yoga Blue Art. And then what happened? Betti.
"Life turned a little crazy because if you start to be a full-time yoga teacher, and starting from zero with English, it's like you really have to run up and down in the city to earn enough money to maintain or sustain yourself.” - Betti
Betti: Well um, then life turned a little crazy because if you start to be a full-time yoga teacher, and starting from zero with English, it's like you really have to run up and down in the city to earn enough money to maintain or sustain yourself. So it was a really crazy period, like 5 classes a day and then Prague 4 to Prague 6 and then from Prague 6 back to Prague 2 and then from Prague 2 home for an hour to Prague 7 and then back down somewhere to the outskirts of the city and in the end, you ended out the day with 500Kc in your pocket.
"It was a little insane, but I think the dedication was really strong and the motivation that I will do this - I'm going to make it! I'm not going back to the office! No way.” - Betti
Betti: It was a little insane, but I think the dedication was really strong and the motivation that I will do this - I'm going to make it! I'm not going back to the office! No way. So I think that was like the strong drive. And I loved it. I still love teaching - I keep loving it since the first time I started.
Betti: And then we started to hangout.
Lisa: Mmhmm. Yea. That's a big question for yoga teachers, like this fact that I've never stopped loving teaching. I always love teaching, there's just periods of time in teaching, in my teaching career at least where it's really fun to teach 5 classes a day and then after about 3 or 4 months of that you sort of run straight into a wall. And you're just like I can't do this anymore. And then you teach less and then you start teaching more and then you do the same thing to yourself and then you teach less. I don't know, how do you do with that?
“Now if I imagine myself again teaching 5 classes [daily], I don't think I could handle it at this point. But I think if I started now again from zero, I would do the same thing because I learned so much - I learned so so much during that time about myself, about teaching, and about everything.” - Betti
Betti: Yea, now if I imagine myself again teaching 5 classes, I don't think I could handle it at this point. Because of the experience behind, because of knowing that it's pointless and this is not the way how you can figure out your like sustainable regime or like how you can maintain your mental and physical health. It's not a good way. But I think if I started now again from zero, I would do the same thing because I learned so much - I learned so so much during that time about myself, about teaching, and about everything. And ya, there are the ups & downs, there are the little longer burnout and there are some of those micro burnouts, right? When you're just like not willing to get out of your bed in that morning for that morning class. But then it always helps me, like I'm walking and I'm still like half asleep heading towards the studio to think about that I have a beautiful job. This is wonderful. I'm not going back to sit down in that office. That the work that I'm doing - it has an added value. I connect to people and then people say thanks after. There their day starts in a good way and therefore my day starts in a good way.
Betti: And I always connect back to that office time when I knew that I was hungover - you know I slept 2 hours and maybe I was still even drunk when I went to work and I was just hiding myself behind my screen. I did nothing. Like really nothing during those 8 or 9 hours. I went home and I got the same salary and the same thing and nobody said anything about me. And it's nice you can hide yourself, but it's not something that keeps you motivated or keeps you running for 40 years of work life. It's not something - I felt that I have to do something that's precious. I have to give something. I have way more energy in myself and when I feel like ah I'm off the track and I don't know if yoga teaching is really the thing I want to do today, I just return back to this base, this fundamental thought that spirit and I get my power.
Lisa: Mmhmm. Yea I totally agree with you. I - like in contrary to you, I've never had an office job in my life. I've been doing this for my entire career, next to other things of course, but I've never had this, you know - this transition that a lot of yoga teachers have which has been this sort of office job, and then realizing I can't do that. I have to go to teaching. But I come to the same conclusion even if I haven't gone down that route. You know? Just the fact that I get to have a job where I meet people before class and they're smiling because they're coming to yoga and then afterward they're smiling usually even wider because they have done the practice and that's a really wonderful thing to think about and connect back to whenever I feel burnt out or whatever or when I don't feel like I want to teach that second class or that third class that day. That's a really nice thing to connect back to. For sure. But umm, just like you said, I don't know if I could go on with 5 classes a day these days. I think I'm getting too old. I don't know about you.
Betti: I get also like when I did those 5 classes, I was really - I did a lot of substitutions for example because I didn't have like fixed places where to teach in the beginning because it's not easy to get into the better yoga studios which have a higher reputation or better community because they are already set. Like there are teachers working there for years and years and the newcomer, what can you do? You can take substitution classes to show that here I am and then maybe the feedback after your classes is going to be positive and the studio owner thinks that oh it would be nice to have this girl here for like a regular schedule and I was - I have besides the dance and yoga, I have a boot camp instructor training and a total bar training in my background. So I also teach sort of like workout style, more like high intensity training or full body workout and stuff like that. So when I went to this how's it called - záskoky? Or something like this - Facebook group. And I saw that someone is searching for a substitution, I went for it. And they're like can you teach pilates? Yes of course! Can you teach - I don't even remember the name? And I was like yea of course! And then I have no idea what that is. I quickly Googled it what is bosa? Or bosu? And I was like okay, I'm going to combine it with the things I learned and I'm going to like throw myself into the deep water and try these things. Now I'm like - I'm not that adventurous anymore in this. I think I know what are the fields where I can give and what are the things that also give to me because at this point this type of challenge wouldn't give to me anymore I think. Like I was teaching ballet, I've never been a proper ballet dancer, I was teaching ballet to beginners because my knowledge is enough to teach beginners. But it's not a fun thing for me to do. I don't like it. So now I wouldn't go for that and this is how also I would shred back those 5 classes. That the ones that are not giving too much to me, I'm not going there for an experiment.
Lisa: Yea for sure. Yea we find the things that work for us and the things that don't. In the beginning of our teaching career at least. I remember when I was teaching in Manila, I was teaching for a yoga studio there and there was this lady that kept coming back to my class and her English wasn't so... it was good, but it wasn't like perfect and then she realized that I spoke Spanish and she, I think she was the wife of somebody who worked at the Mexican embassy, so there was like a big group of Spanish speaking women who didn't work, they were just there sort of stay at home wives. So I started teaching privates to them in Spanish and I - it was once a week - and I dreaded it. Not because, it was really nice, but my Spanish wasn't as fluent in teaching as my English and it was just a whole week of trying to prep my words and trying to figure it out and then now, I'm like it's too much energy. Not because of um people, they were lovely, but because of the prep work it took and then it wasn't naturally flowing like other things are. You know?
Betti: Oh my god. Can I share a story or is it not fitting into our...
Lisa: No, no go for it.
Betti: From the language thing it comes to my mind. It was one of the like záskoky the substitution things. I went so far out of Prague, I don't think I have ever been so far before to teach a pilates class. I have experience with pilates, I was teaching pilates, but it's not something I feel so confident and comfortable with as I do with yoga, for example. Now it's different, now I'm already okay, but back in time I had certainly less experience with pilates. So I went there to do this substitution and it took more than an hour to get to the studio. As I arrived, there were 3 people, 3 elderly ladies, all 3 of them above 60 came for a gentle pilates class. Not speaking English at all. And I'm like, mia madre, I came here to teach these ladies, they do not speak English, I don't know how to teach a soft pilates class. My pilates are like workout pilates and I have to find the language with them somehow. So I think I was sweating much more in the class than they did, but in the end we all left like smiling, but I was trying Czech, I was trying soft, I was making fun of it. And it was a nice and positive class and they asked me when am I going to teach again and I was smiling saying I don't know, you know, it's not my class and inside of me I was like - NEVER!
Lisa: Never again. I love that. Yea I think we all have these little, these ones, where it's like no, I can't do that again.
Lisa: Alright. So going back to when are we? I think it's 2017 in August and September, you and me start teaching here and then do you wanna...
Betti: Go on?
Lisa: Yea go on from there? Yea.
Betti: Yea, so we started to hang out because that was one thing that I felt as like a as a negative aspect of becoming a teacher, yoga teacher, freelancer instead of an employee - I felt a little lonely. That all my friends were working their regular work time and I was working when they finished. And I missed the time hanging out with my friends. Because you go and teach and people are smiling, but then we go to the changing room and then they leave and I leave as well. So it also takes time till you choose those students naturally like get connected to them with whom you go for a coffee afterwards, but otherwise at the beginning it felt lonely. But there were no chit-chatty lunch breaks and coffee breaks and in the afternoons I couldn't go anywhere and socialize with my friends and then I got to know you and you had Phineas and you also did the same lifestyle like I did. Like teaching here a class, there a class and otherwise like being more or less free. Trygve was sometimes there, sometimes touring around the world and you were also a newcomer, an English speaker and interested in yoga and a cool chic so we just started to hang out. And then, and we went to your flat and we were drinking coffee on your balcony after the class, before the class we went for shopping. This is how I learned that to have a kid and a pram go to the shop that's 500 meters away from your flat takes 55 minutes.
Lisa: Oh yea, we went to the supermarket didn't we?
Betti: We went to the supermarket together and I had no idea and you were like, let's go for a walk. We can go to the shop. I'm like, I thought we can walk for an hour. And you're like, you will see. And it really took half an hour to get to the shop!
Lisa: Yep, it did. Yea, how old was he? He was like 2 then or something.
Betti: Yea yea. He was a little boy. And ya and we started to talk and we talked a lot about yoga and then for me you were like a real badass, you know? Like travelled around the entire world and teaching in 50 different countries and a big yoga background and I loved to go to your yoga classes because you were teaching in a way that nobody else was teaching at that time. And I was a super newbie, so I felt like really, like really connected and also inspired by you. So it was really nice and quick clicking. Because we talk about like a month or two months that we were hanging out before PYC came into the picture.
Lisa: Yea, goodness. Yea because I went away to Brisbane with Trygve for about a month and then I came back and I started teaching just like end of September and I got to substitute a class for Alex in Joga Letna and I met there this guy, his name is Joey, and he is an American guy who owned and operated and still does, Crossfit Committed so he was a crossfitter. And it's so funny because he would come every time. I had a late night Monday night class and he would come for a few weeks like every time and there were a few times where I had to squeeze him in because as we - if you don't know Joga Letna, it's a small place, but it's a very popular place. So I would always sort of squeeze him in at the end to maybe not everybody was happy about that, but I would do it anyway. You know, yoga's for everyone. And he would sweat so much and he's this super super strong guy right? Crossfit. Really fit, whatever. And...
Betti: Yea, he's pure muscle.
Lisa: Mmhmm and then coming to yoga and I would just make him sweat so much and then towards the end of one of those classes he said, you should come and teach yoga at my gym to my people so they can also experience this stretch and sweat that I'm experiencing. And I went - I just went to check it out and it's - it was in one of those hangars that have just been demolished down at Bubny station and it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere in some sort of parking lot somewhere. But it's perfect for Crossfit.
Betti: You are, actually.
Lisa: Yea, you are. It's perfect for Crossfit, but he sort of showed me around and then we went upstairs and there's this little, I think it used to be an office space or something, really gross carpet and whatever. And he said, oh we can do yoga here and then he turned and he's like maybe, you can also just rent it really cheaply and you can just make your own place here. And then I was like what.
Betti: And that's when you called me, right?
Lisa: Yea and I went outside and I was like, I have to call Betti.
Betti: And I was living not far from there. Like a 10-15 minute walk and my phone was ringing, Lisa calls and was like are you at home? Are you at home? I'm like, yea yea yea what's up? Come, you have to see this. I'm like, Lisa - I'm in my pj's. Like no no no, that's okay, come over. I'm like well, okay. So I took my trousers and I went up there to see the space and you were like and it can be ours! That can be our studio! I'm like, well I guess, it can. And then Joey was like, it's gonna be super cheap and I'm like yea, we can do everything. We had no money at that time. Like okay, we can buy paint. What about the mats? Whew I don't know, we have to buy yoga mats. That's a big investment. It was our biggest issue. How to make money to buy yoga mats into our studio. But then we said yes and this is how it started.
Lisa: Yea. Yea I think we invested I don't know 10,000 crowns. What's that? That's like €300/€400. That was our big initial investment into Prague Yoga Collectie the first version. Right?
Betti: Right. All that reconstruction work, oh my gosh. Yea.
Lisa: Yea, it was like um, if you guys have never been out to never went up there, there was this carpet which is like an office carpet. I don't know how to say that in English or how to explain it. It's almost like plastic, right?
Betti: Yeah, it's really rough.
Lisa: Yeah and we we bought this cleaning moose or gel or something that would just make this foam all over the floor and we would scrub it on our hands and knees.
Betti: Yeah like square centimeter by square centimeter.
Lisa: Oh my goodness.
Betti: To take it off. Because obviously, it's a valid question guys - if it raises in your head, like why didn't they take it off? But because we had no money to replace it with anything and there was concrete underneath.
Lisa: Mmhmm yeah at least it kept the place somewhat warm I think.
Betti: Yeah. Warm and it was like a padding under the mats.
Lisa: Yeah but we did that and then we have classes every day and few classes every day and it took a little while, I mean we opened in November 2017 and we had a few students who are always there like our Juliann that you guys might know. Our social media manager and overall marketing girl. She was there from the beginning. We had an Aniko, she was always there as well
Betti: Right. Except the first class because the first class I remember that was a bummer and nobody came.
Lisa: No one came I remember.
Betti: We had our opening event with beer yoga and there were crossfitters and our friends and it was super cool. So we were super excited to have the first lesson and Joey said that probably it's going to be packed out guys, but don't get too high hopes but because it's going to be like the first wave of interest because they want to try.
Betti: So we were like oh my god, what are we going to do with so many crossfitters? We cannot squeeze them into the room. So we both came up for the first class even though I don't know which one of us was supposed to teach it, but we both were there and then no show.
Lisa: No one came.
Betti: No one came. Like how is this possible? I don't know. You know what? There's a bottle of Prosecco left from the opening party, let's open it and just chill.
Lisa: Oh my god. Yeah I remember that. There was a lot of Prosecco drinking up there that's for sure. Oh my goodness. Yeah and then we - I think it was a few months into 2018. We we had a few people sometimes there were five people up there, sometimes there were one, sometimes nobody showed and we sort of kept on going. We just kept on moving with it I think and we never lost anything. We always managed to pay our rent and we managed to to just keep it rolling. It was a lot of hard work, but it was...
Betti: Yeah, it was actually really crazy to think of it at the beginning because even before we opened PYC we were running up and down in the city to teach the classes. And we had to keep all those classes because PYC made enough money to break even and pay rent. And we had to maintain our lives. So we were basically working for free teaching 2-3 classes in PYC and another 3-4 sometimes five classes around the city to maintain life. So that beginning was quite quite exhausting.
Lisa: Yeah, definitely.
Betti: It's super exciting and I was, I was so happy to have it. Just like now looking back there, it was rough.
Lisa: Yeah it was super rough. We did a lot of work in a short amount of time, I think. Then I - when it turned I think was when we did this yoga festival. I forget what it's called now. What was it called?
Betti: Spirit. Spirit Festival or something like that.
Lisa: Sprit Festival. Some yoga festival in Prague that's been running for years and we we decided to have a table there and then we rented this table and Alex joined us. And I don't remember exactly why she joined us because she wasn't part of PYC yet.
Betti: I remember you guys were planning a retreat to Morocco and the idea with the table was we were going to represent PYC plus getting people for the retreat.
Lisa: Yeah that's right.
Betti: So Alex came because of the retreat part.
Lisa: Yeah, that's right. So we all sat there was it one or two days or something and it was it was kind of a flop for the festival I think because we set up this beautiful table with all these things and we wanted to talk to people but then there was like no one was really around. It was just a really weird set up so we just ended up having a nice time chatting in between each other instead.
Lisa: And then we started this discussion between you and me whether or not we should invite Alex to join us in our in our gross carpet place.
Betti: Yeah yeah yeah.
Lisa: And if we should see if we could grow and yeah do you want to take us take us from there?
Betti: Yeah, it was because at the beginning so messy because you guys were working separately on this retreat a one time event. So you did not have like a fixed project behind, but then we were also like advertising this retreat in PYC and like how to share the things or who is involved in what and it just makes mess. Right? Like who is in charge for what and what's my connection to Alex or who are you in that retreat representing Prague Yoga Collective for yourself. So then the idea to involve Alex and bring everything under the umbrella of Prague Yoga Collective was ideal to make everything clear and transparent and straightforward. But I was I was against it. I really fast like we have a strong bond between the two of us and I have like these negative memories from working with a lot of girls back in time and then losing projects because it was not done with the right people with the right approach and I really felt like Prague Yoga Collective is something precious and I do not want to risk it by involving somebody else, involving a third person into this into the core of the whole thing. And then I remembered putting down pros and cons on a big flip chart and writing down where do we see ourselves in 5 years and can we see ourselves there without anybody else being in the in the heart of this project. And then we cried. We both cried.
Lisa: Yeah we did.
Betti: And then we agreed to invite Alex if she wants to join.
Lisa: Yeah we had champagne I think as well.
Betti: Well I didn't want to emphasize this one because I thought that I'm talking too much already about alcohol, but yeah, definitely Prosecco.
Lisa: There was a lot of alcohol in the beginning Betti.
Betti: Yeah and we got a little tipsy and then we cried.
Lisa: Yes I think so. Yes, yes because it doesn't take much for for yoga teachers. We have like a glass or glass and a half and then we're done, right?
Betti: Yeah yeah yeah.
Lisa: Yeah and then we invited Alex into this project it's sort of started the storm and whirlwind of trying to figure out who we were all three together and then almost from the beginning we were just thinking that we should we should see if we can get another place. Another place like a real proper proper studio that we didn't hear people dropping weights in the gym.
Betti: Oh yeah and the dumbells downstairs.
Lisa: That summer we started yoga in the park which was a huge success.
Betti: Yeah that was a big deal.
Lisa: We had hundreds of people in the grass with us that first summer. I think it was like the first time somebody had done yoga on that large scale in Prague. So we think we got we won at that I think that summer.
Betti: Yeah. And also thanks to Honza, I think to Containall. With the help of him we also got a bigger reach out to people.
Lisa: Yeah yeah definitely. For sure. And then and then what happened?
Betti: And then those people kept coming from May to August, right? So it was already a big community on the grass.
Betti: And we wanted to keep these guys, so already in May when we saw like oh my gosh it's such a success and what are we going to do with these people in Septemeber/October when we have to go back into the studio and this studio is not suitable for this amount of people.
Betti: And also I think Alex from the beginning was not too much into the carpet.
Lisa: No. She hated it, it was clear.
Betti: Yeah, at the beginning we were like - because you know how it is when you objectively look at the things she's totally right this place is like is far from ideal. It's a really humble place, on the other hand, it was like our little child with Lisa so I felt a little bit attacked when she was like yeah but you know this place. And I'm like what place!? What are you talking about?
Lisa: We built this with our bare hands.
Betti: Right. Like a project with the Prague Yoga Collective logo on the wall and then paint it.
Lisa: Oh my god, we did that, didn't we. It was a beautiful logo though wasn't it.
Betti: Absolutely. Anyway, so yeah, it was true that this place is just not suitable if you want to grow so I think already in May we started to search or maybe even in April? I don't know. May? To search for another location and figuring out how much we can spend and what can we afford and help can this grow bigger. And where is the right spot for it. I don't know. It was not easy.
Betti: Because it took months and months to find the right place.
Lisa: Yeah and then we finally found Rejskova studio. Which was just a complete slab of concrete. There were no floors in there. The bathrooms were super gross. And it was just it was just a big mess, right? And we were like we can do this and it was nine weeks of the three of us and all of our husbands and boyfriends and everything. And we tried to - I think we really got to know each other over those 9 weeks.
Betti: Yeah totally. That's another chapter
Lisa: It was the good, the bad, and the ugly I think, but we came out of it with this beautiful beautiful space and this beautiful community that's managed to build in there. I think it just took off from there.
Betti: Oh my god, do you remember? Sorry guys, I'm such a storyteller. The opening of Rejskova? We were always like which day, which day should it be? Not this, let's do it a week later and a week later and then we set the date the 6th of December. That's gonna be our opening day. And the things were, I think falling in place. So it looked like it's going to really happen. And the last day, the guys were installing the toilets the bathrooms. And they open the box what we ordered and it turns out something is missing. Like some gadget or whatever. On the day of the opening and we were cleaning a being dirty and stuff and oh my god there is no functioning toiling in this place and the people are coming in an hour to start to do their yoga practice. What are we going to do?! And then panic. The guys were working on the toilet. You were teaching a yoga class, we were all covered with paint and dust and stuff.
Lisa: Oh my god.
Betti: And then we came out and then my friend or ex-boyfriend was standing there with a huge smile and like the toilet in the girls' changing room is working and I was like Yes!
Lisa: I remember that because we - oh my god. I'd been grouting and if you guys don't know what grouting is, try building a yoga studio and you will learn all about it. But grouting means putting that like stuff in between tiles and it's such a tedious work. And I was grouting the whole staircase that day. That day of the opening and while I was doing it you get real dirty and your nails get really really gross and I was like ah but I'm gonna get to have a shower before the opening, everything's going to be fine fine. And then opening came, like the time came. And the showers didn't even work and we all realized...
Betti: We didn't have time, right? You wouldn't even have had time.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah and we were in the back trying to like put some makeup on. On this skin that we've had that was just full...
Betti: I remember! I remember that my foundation didn't stick when I realized that I had to wash my face and wash that layer of dust.
Lisa: It was awful and then I thought that yoga class and I had literally smears of stuff on my arms and my hair.
Betti: But it was a fantastic class guys, it was amazing.
Betti: It was packed out full of people, everybody was enthusiastic. I was crying in my shavasana. It was amazing.
Lisa: Yeah it was good, it was great. And then we came out and the toilet was working and Alex had snuck home and had a shower. Do you remember
Betti: Oh yeah. Yeah Jesus and then they came out and we were like a little crying a little make-up a little dust here and there and she came and was beautiful and sparkling. Perfect hair.
Lisa: I know. I know and she had her eyelashes on.
Betti: Alex!!! What did you do!? I went home and took a shower. How dare you!
Lisa: Yeah exactly, ahh it was fine though.
Betti: Yeah, that's so good guys.
Lisa: Year and that's right that's right I went from I think. We're gonna keep talking about this keep talking once we all get together. Or maybe, maybe I don't know if this podcast is going to come out before the one that we do of the 3 of us.
Betti: Maybe yeah, maybe we do it in a way like you know like X-Men, where you have the story and then the pre-story of like Wolverine and stuff.
Lisa: Exactly. It comes out after.
Betti: Right. I have to go Lisa. How shall we do? Shall we like do a second round the two of us or is this is where our podcast ends or?
Lisa: I think this can be where our podcast ends.
Lisa: But before it ends, Betti. Why don't you just share with me your favorite style of yoga, your favorite yoga studio in the world, except for Prague Yoga Collective, and where you would like to travel when all of this stuff with the pandemic ends.
Betti: Okay. So my favorite style of yoga.. It's really hard to say. I'm forever really thankful and rooted in ashtanga. And whenever I'm searching for that turning off my mind and exhausting my body I return to ashtanga. But when it comes to creating something I think my heart pulls me to vinyasa flow because of maybe it's because of the dancing background as well I like to experiment with dance yoga for example. Then Vinyasa is the best branch of yoga that can host this approach and bringing their stuff and just figuring out where else I can put my arm or where else I can put my legs. So I would say this if I wanna be disciplined then ashtanga. If I do my self-practice it's usually rocket yoga and when it gets to teaching and creativity, then Vinyasa yoga.
Betti: Umm.. What else? Favorite yoga studio in the world?
Betti: Well I don't have too much experience of amazing yoga studios in and around the world. And I have been to a lot of places in Asia. But I would go back to the one where actually I had the very first yoga class in my life. And it was a YMCA in Houston. And there was a fantastic yoga teacher girl from Venezuela, her name was Gloria. And I woke up super early in the morning to be on her class and I think it's not because of the studio, it's because of her, but I feel like a special connection to that place. How I especially feel connected to Yoga Blue Art and Sabina here in Prague. Because of this, the first thing the first opportunity the first chance there.
Betti: And yeah.
Lisa: And where do you want to go?
Betti: Oh where do I want to go now? Ohhhh. If godmother fairy comes and takes me to the place... Taiwan is my ultimate favorite country in the world, right? I mean so far.
Betti: So I would definitely return. But if I go to a place where I haven't been before. I would go to the Balkans. Because it's also something that's at the back of my mind for a long, long time to travel around the Balkans and enjoy that strong culture, a bit of Mediterranean and pretty straightforward and yeah, I would love to go there.
Lisa: That sounds wonderful. Can I come?
Betti: Yeah. Let's go together.
Lisa: Alright Betti, it's been wonderful to go on a trip down memory lane with you this morning.
Betti: My pleasure, it was really nice. I can't wash this smile off my face I think now.
Lisa: Thank you very much. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
Betti: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me and listening to my story.