I met Richelle Morgan through an online group that connects yoga teachers. When we first spoke I had just written an article about Yoga Retreats led by San Diego teachers. We got to talking about the article and I found out that Richelle owns a yoga studio and yoga retreat center in Tulum, Mexico. She has been living in Tulum for over 5 years now after an RV road trip ended up turning into a move! Richelle is originally from Canada. She shared with me a bit about what Tulum has to offer;
“Living in Tulum is all about letting go. You really have to be willing to release any expectations you might have in order to give yourself the space to settle in here. Tulum can be a magical place, but at the same time, there are many things that ‘test’ you here. Life on vacation is completely different than the beautiful, messy, exhilarating reality of living here. We can’t drink from the tap, electricity and wifi can be challenging, we struggle with a lot of garbage in the town streets, quality of life for some animals here is poorly lacking, etc. But on the flip side of the ‘ugly’ is the beauty. The jungles and cenotes. The beaches and lagoons. The local people you meet. Children playing in the streets until late. Fruit vendors passing by your home throughout the day calling out what they are selling. There is an amazing yin and yang to everything here. And what you love most about living in Tulum, you also struggle with.”
Over the last 5 years, Richelle has seen a lot of change in Tulum. She mentioned that some of the “old school Tulum folks” have started to leave the area as it becomes more of a tourist destination. I wondered how we, as tourists, could help Tulum hold onto some of its rustic roots. This is what Richelle had to say;
“This is a healthy part of what is helping Tulum grow and giving the local people jobs. I see the effects of this growth in my neighborhood, which is mainly Mayan. People have been adding on to palapa structures or building solid concrete houses. What the ‘old school’ Tulum expats are feeling is the lack of infrastructure when it comes to tourism and builds. Mangroves and jungles are being removed by developers creating hotels and gated residences under the guise of eco-tourism. It’s become a trend and a great buzz word. Like organic was when it first came into mainstream circulation. So… we have to be conscious of what is really happening.”
It seems to me that this type of thing is happening in other undeveloped areas around the world. In order to make these places easier to get to for tourists some of the natural beauty is removed. On one hand, the communities are happy to see businesses growing and the local economy taking off – but on the other, the landscapes are changing forever. Is there a way to find balance? Neither of us are quite sure what the answer is – so the conversation shifted to yoga.
I asked Richelle what is it that made her fall in love with teaching yoga. Here is her response;
“Teaching yoga, for me, is all about communication and connection. Sharing the practice and connecting to my students in a way that helps them feel supported, understood, acknowledged, challenged and inspired. I value the exchange that is created. And respect where my students are at. It’s not really about me leading a class… it’s more about my students’ bodies guiding me and the connection or exchange of energy that is created within the class. This is why I mainly teach in the moment. I may have an idea or theme or quote I’m working with to draw inspiration for class, but what I teach unfolds in the moment and comes from the connection I create with my students.”
Before Richelle left Canada she owned and managed a holistic studio that offered yoga, lifestyle coaching and personal training. When she first arrived in Tulum she worked as a freelancer at hotels and retreat centers but missed having a studio of her own. Once her mind was set on settling down in Tulum she decided to open her own studio again.
“Opening a studio or retreat center had always been in the plan for wherever I settled… it just happened to be in Tulum. At the time I was making this decision I was offered space at the beach but I had been teaching at several places there and my way of doing things did not think it right to quit one place and open up down the street from them. So I decided on town because there were no studios in town. And I wanted to open a space where locals and visitors could come and feel supported and create a community.”
So far it has been a success. Locals and tourists come together in the space with a shared mindset and goal. Richelle has noticed that the studio is especially grounding for people who are new to town and need a space to settle in and connect with themselves and the city.
I asked Richelle what her biggest challenges have been as a small business owner in a small town.
“[The biggest challenges have been] having to let go of some of the standards and values that I work by. It’s a different lifestyle here. With different work ethics. And it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just different. Slower paced. So patience is key. And always expect something to go wrong. Because inevitably it will.”
I, myself, am inspired by Richelle’s words – it takes a lot of trust in one’s self and the universe to leave home, move to a new country and open a business! I hope to have a yoga studio or retreat center of my own someday too so I asked Richelle to share some advice about what she had wished she had known before opening a place of her own.
“Be clear on your goal and what kind of space you want to create…but also know that it may shift as you grow. Be open to change and willing to work a lot of hours. Have patience and trust that if you do the work, they will come. And that in times where it’s slow, you have to dig in and trust you are on the right path. I don’t know if there is anything that I wish I had known. I think every venture you do brings new challenges and triumphs. I had experience running a business before and worked in graphic design so I had that behind me. I think out of anything I wished I would have known before I began is the trust and belief that I had something different to offer.”
I feel like her mindset aligns with mine in many ways. I believe that trust in one’s self is the first step to achieving anything. Where there is a will, there is a way. Hard work and dedication to a goal will always pay off if you truly give it your all. And so far, Richelle has found that to be true!
Richelle also loves to curate and host yoga retreats. I asked her about that journey;
“After I led my first retreat, I knew I’d found my niche…Sol to Soul was created for yogis and travelers who are looking for something different. Who want o have the opportunity to go off the beaten path but be in the hands of retreat guides who are knowledgeable, supportive, inspiring and well-traveled. “Sol to Soul” is the idea of the power and nourishment we get from the sun (sol) and how we can bring that into our souls. Our retreats are literally ‘from our souls to yours’.”
Outside of her time at the studio, Richelle stays productive in a variety of ways.
“Life in Tulum has been an experience and I have many projects I’m working on that are starting to take flight. Sol to Soul Retreats, Aligned Flow Teacher Training Immersions, Shop Dicha and delving back into writing and photography. I am also a team member of Help Tulum Dogs, which is an animal welfare organization in Tulum. This is a big part of my life here and on any given day I have a house full of puppies I’m fostering. It’s both rewarding and heartbreaking. And has helped me build more strength and patience.”
Her advice for other dreamers;
“If you’re thinking of making a change in your life, do it. Don’t overthink it or think you have to plan for every detail. Because life does not unfold as planned. It’s messy. And beautiful. And our paths zig zag and come to dead ends, at times. But all that means is that the next path is different. And if you want to live an embodied life, you have to be willing to do what is needed to get there.”
A HUGE thank you to Richelle Morgan for taking the time to let me interview her about her experience as a yoga teacher and small business owner. Women like her inspire me to continue to follow my heart and my dreams and I hope this interview has inspired you as well!
If you’d like to learn more about Richelle & the projects she’s working on check out the following links! Richelle manages & oversees ALL of these social media accounts!
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