Bringing Leadership and Healing to Communities, Locally and Globally
Job Title: Founder, Unity Yoga Teahouse & Group Facilitator, Unity Retreats
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Since 2006, Susan has been serving the community of East Vancouver alongside her team of 12 instructors at Unity Yoga Teahouse. The facility serves as a yoga studio, tea room, and apothecary, offering hand-blended herbal teas, tinctures, and salves.
Through Unity Yoga Teahouse’s sister business, Unity Retreats, Susan and her team host three to four group retreats per year. Her teachings, whether local or destination-based, reflect the breadth and depth of her background and training as a yogi, clinical herbalist, astrologer, and student of Feng Shui.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business?
We decided to close Unity Yoga Teahouse on March 25, 2020, just after returning from a great retreat to the Gili Islands in Lombok, Indonesia at the end of February. I immediately began to look for solutions to provide community services online, and set up daily donation-based classes via Zoom. With a huge community response, some classes had up to 90 students attending!
Unfortunately, our other community retreats scheduled for this spring had to be cancelled. We hope to plan our next getaway for fall 2020 if we can.
On the bright side, our tea business was already well set-up for online sales, and teas like ‘Cold and Flu,’ and tinctures such as ‘Astragalus’ are now selling out quickly online. Throat spray, fire cider, and cough syrup are fully stocked and we’re working to create options to support those who may fall victim to illness this year.
In What Ways Has This Changed Your Perspective?
Spending more time online has made me realize just how many people I am connected with every day. Being able to still support others and seeing how people come together in a team during a time of crisis has been heartwarming.
I have also had lots of emails from our friends in Indonesia, and am working now to raise funds to communities with fewer resources. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when we are experiencing need, there are others around the world who are in even more difficult circumstances. I feel that by helping those in a disadvantaged position, I can also shift my perspective from a place of lack to that of abundance.
Truly it is our mental health and the strength of our immune systems that will be able to overcome what we are facing this year. As terrifying as it is, we can find strength in teams and collectives, and in cultivating a ‘worldly’ perspective and point of view. What an incredible time to think globally and act locally – just what we have been working toward every step of the way!
What’s Your Current Business Outlook?
At the moment, I am working many different streams, all with the intention of maintaining and sustaining holistic and community practices, which are the foundation of our wellbeing.
I am still teaching ‘Unity Partner Massage’ every two weeks for those who are in isolation together. Touch is a powerful healing practice and is great for immune support, and by teaching all of us to care for each other, we truly can change the world.
I also plan to set up mental health-focused seminars and to offer my herbal medicines as ‘add ons’ to the practices of deep breathing and meditation.
Although keeping my space is not easy, I hope that by continuing to work hard and engage community support that there will be a way for me to continue to pay the large overheads that come with studio space in the city. Here in Canada, we’re lucky to have government aid that will help us to get through the summer, and hopefully we can re-open again this fall.
I see a lot of work ahead, so I plan to pace myself, rest, and of course, put on my own mask first 🙂