The Entrepreneurial Yogi
Located a few minutes’ walk from Pike Place Market, Urban Yoga Spa is a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city’s hubbub. It’s much more than just a wood floor and some mirrors, though. Under the stewardship of CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Andrew Hirsch, the center has grown to include a spa, a cafe, and a retail shop. Hirsch described his path to yoga and offered some advice for first-time yogis.
How would you describe Seattle’s health and wellness or yoga communities and the most important ways in which they’re evolving?
Seattle has long been a leader as one of the nation’s healthiest cities, ranking in the top 10 by Forbes Magazine. Part of being a healthy individual involves staying healthy both physically and mentally. One of the best all-around ways to achieve the mind/body balance is yoga. Many people have obviously discovered yoga and attend Urban Yoga Spa as well as other studios around the city, and we as owners and operators of yoga studios are always looking for ways to appeal to our yogi customers. High-intensity yoga such as HIIT yoga, a more relaxing and restorative class like Yin yoga, and workshops that bring in international talent are all ways that we work to bring a healthy lifestyle to the masses.
Describe your path to opening Urban Yoga Spa.
I worked in the tech industry for over 20 years, starting out as a software developer. As my career evolved to the business side of technology, I found myself traveling to the Seattle area on a regular basis to work with the Telecomm customers based here. I discovered yoga about 10 years ago and realized that I needed the fitness and mental relaxation that I felt at the end of each practice. As I continued to practice and grow in my career, I started to look for a new career where I could more easily do yoga. In 2015, I found Urban Yoga Spa and took over as the new CEO (Customer Experience Officer). I wanted to own and run the studio and focus on the customer experience and let the teachers do what they do best. It has been a great experience to expand Urban Yoga Spa for the patrons and the local community to include a healthy grab-n-go premium coffee shop, retail space with the latest yoga clothing options, an amazing spa, three studios to practice yoga, corporate yoga offerings, workshops, and a means of connection with fellow yogis.
What are the three most important things for new yoga practitioners to know?
- Be ok with where you are! Every one of us started yoga at some point and evolved our practice to where we as individuals are now. There is only one person in the room that may be super judgmental. Just relax, look back at your reflection in the mirror, and tell that person that you are doing great just by being there.
- Be prepared! It’s hot yoga, so you are going to sweat. Be sure to stay hydrated, which starts much earlier than class, even 24 hours before. Bring a mat and towel, but if you don’t have one, we have you covered with a mat and towel rental available. Wear loose fitting clothes that allow you to move comfortably.
- Pace yourself. If you were running a marathon, you wouldn’t start by sprinting as fast as you could. Yoga is no different. Take your time, pace yourself to make it through the whole class. It will take you two or three classes to get a good feel for how hard to push yourself. Take it easy end enjoy the yoga experience!
Name a few locations in Seattle you find particularly soothing.
I love the water. Urban Yoga Spa is just a few blocks away from the market and I enjoy walking down there at lunch to enjoy the view, the water, and the feel.
On Lake Washington. On the kayak, on a boat, or on a jet ski, there is nothing more relaxing than being on the water early in the morning when the water is glass, feeling the heat from the early morning sun, and just taking it all in.
The Burke-Gilman Trail goes on and on; I enjoy it for walking, riding, running, and commuting.
I truly enjoy yoga and being at the studio. How could I not mention Urban Yoga Spa and Urban Coffee house as particularly soothing? It is truly an oasis of relaxation in the heart of a busy downtown.