When you think of yoga, you might think of something relaxing, gentle, and filled with ease. Yet, as I learned from today’s podcast guest Angela Wagner, founder of Dallas YogaSport, the Power Yoga practice of the Baptiste school is the kind of intense sweat session that Type A motivated and ambitious professionals are attracted to.
(People just like our clients here at HTYC!)
They’re attracted to the Baptiste Power Yoga style of practice because it causes you to be so intensely engaged in the movement and the flow that you can lose track of time — and at the end of it, you feel completely exhausted and also energized. You surrender to the movement. Through that commitment, you experience both a workout and self-care.
Doesn’t that level of engagement sound rad? That same deep engagement can create deep, rich satisfaction with your work.
In order to get to that level of depth in your yoga practice (or in your life), you have to be willing to surrender the baggage that you brought into the yoga studio with you: the stress from your day, the worries about what’s for dinner, the questions about whether you’re getting a promotion. All of it has to melt away to allow you to get to the depth of presence and exertion that’s possible.
And it’s true in life, too: to become true masters of our craft, we have to let go of the buzzing of thought baggage and find work that allows us to settle in. It’s hard to do — but for the people who are willing to try it, the rewards of a de-cluttered mind and path are incredibly worth it.
If the idea of Marie Kondo-ing your brain sounds intriguing to you, keep reading.
This is a great place where the “how you do anything is how you do everything” principle can apply, and you can see how tendencies that show up in one part of your life will often bleed over into other arenas.
Pick a topic you’re feeling a lot of anxiety or discomfort around when you think about it. Whatever tends to send your brain spinning into a panic or stress is a great place to start.
What kinds of things drive you up the wall crazy?
For perfectionists, it can be having something out of order, not serving its purpose, or not fully being able to master a skill. (Maybe you’re striving to be a PivotTables master, but not there yet.)
For people who love to serve others, it can be someone in your life who isn’t asking for help but you can see needs it.
For individuals who value peace and harmony in their lives, it can be disagreements, relationship friction, or others’ feuds that weigh on your mind.
If you are the kind of person who tends to be overly accommodating and compromising, it could be resentment about having surrendered your personal power to help make someone else’s life easier. (The “I don’t know what possessed me to help pitch in on that deadline and cancel my sister’s birthday party” kind of nagging mental clutter thought.)
Or if you tend to be a people pleaser, your frustration probably has the word “should” in it, like “I should call my mom more often,” or “I should bring my lunch to work every day.”
Now take a moment to ask yourself: what items drive you nuts? What thoughts, beliefs or stories are distracting you, adding stress, or not increasing the joy in your life right now?
If we treat these irritations and frustrations the same way we’d treat clutter at home, Angela (or Marie Kondo, for that matter) wouldn’t want you to have this mess laying out in the open in your living room, walking past it and feeling irritated about it every single day.
Instead of blindly walking past it or pretending it isn’t there, if it was a pile of trash in your home, you’d take care of it and throw it out!
You can apply the same principle to a mental cleaning: it’s time to take care of the thing that’s bugging you, rather than letting it sit and fester and take up precious mental energy.
So question number one to ask yourself is why is that pile of mental junk there? Why do you care? What makes that important to you? What’s keeping that thought at the forefront of your brain, rather than being something you’ve already taken care of?
Writing down your ideas and reflections about this can reveal potential hidden conflicts between your values, and help you see why you’ve been stuck in mental clutter.
For example, if you’ve been struggling with feeling like you can’t master Excel and spreadsheets, ask yourself why you care and what makes that so important to you. Is it because you actually want to, and you’re not creating the time? Or is it because you feel like it’s a skill that would help advance your career, but not something you actually have any internal drive or interest in learning?
Now, ask yourself: what’s most important right now? And, what do I need to stop so I can focus on what’s most important?
Having your brain hyperfocused on learning Excel like a dog hyperfocused on gnawing a bone is often a symptom of a bigger priorities issue. Maybe what’s most important is doing work that you love, and you thought Excel was going to be something that you’d love, but it’s actually just a way to appease your boss.
Or maybe what’s most important right now isn’t learning a new skill, it’s honing the ones you’ve already learned.
Or perhaps mastering Excel IS the most important thing right now, and other things in life are getting in the way (stupid administrative reports, too many meetings, etc). By identifying what matters most, you know how to take action to remove mental clutter from your brain and let you get back into the focus zone you love.
The more you apply this process, the deeper you’ll be able to drop into the flow of your own life.
Tell us in the comments below: what’s a piece of mental clutter that’s been causing you stress? Why is the clutter there, and how can you focus on what’s most important so you can keep moving and get back into flow in your own life?
Angela Wagner is a mom, wife, entrepreneur, Life & Wellness Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, and podcaster. She founded her successful power yoga studio, YogaSport, in 2004, and in 2010 launched the Spark program – a guided program that helps busy people create time, stress less, and enjoy life more. In her coaching work, she teaches women to go from overwhelm and exhaustion to freedom, joy, and inspiration. Take the first step towards clarity with her free 7 Day Challenge: 7 Simple Steps To Make Your Life Sparkle So You Can Stress Less And Do More at www.angelawagnercoaching.com and listen to her Spark podcast on iTunes here.
Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo, Spark Joy
Transcript from Episode
Scott Barlow: Welcome back to Happen to Your Career. I’m incredibly excited to be here. We had a couple false starts hitting record. I have with me an amazing guest today because she has a great story, which I’m a huge fan of, but she also has multi-faceted knowledge that relates to what you are interested in in this time and space, that you will benefit from. We have an interesting conversation planned and w will delve into things we haven’t discussed on the show before. Welcome Angela.
Angela Wagner: Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
Scott Barlow: I am too. Before we get into everything, how do you tell people what you do these days?
Angela Wagner: That is hard. I own a yoga study which is easy to explain. I teach yoga, but the coaching part is harder and more multi-faceted. It’s something I’m working on to explain. I take what I know from yoga and mindfulness and help people apply it to their lives for what they need to work through without needing to do yoga unless they want to. I’m more than happy to teach them.
Scott Barlow: That is fantastic. I’ve met a lot of coaches and the best are ones that have a lot of expertise in other areas of life. Kudos. The yoga piece is something I’m interested in. For many reasons. Partially because of mindfulness and also because I’ve started getting into it. That can be a discussion for another day, but how did you get into yoga? Where does it start?
Angela Wagner: Where does it start? Always a great question. I love when people ask that because it feels like a world ago and I like to revisit the roots. In three days I’m turning 40 so it’s a milestone week. I was graduating college when I got into yoga, half my life ago. I was in an advertising job which I loved the work, small agency stuff. It sounded sexy and cool at the time. At night I taught group fitness classes. I always went to step class with my mom. I wanted to be an aerobics instructor on the side so I got my certification. The job, when I moved to Dallas, I was unhappy and depressed. At one of the gyms they offered yoga, back when it was just getting into gyms but still weird.
Scott Barlow: Now it’s cool and socially acceptable and hip.
Angela Wagner: Totally. Back then it had like two classes in a mainstream gym. No one knew what it was. All I knew was I was stressed and it can help. I did it and I was terrible. The teacher came up to me and brought a prized student and asked her to fix my chaturanga I don’t know what is going on. She said it in front of the whole class.
Scott Barlow: I’m surprised you kept going. What happened from there?
Angela Wagner: That’s lesson one. Don’t listen to the negativity. I’m so stubborn, I’m Italian and I was like screw you I’m going to do this. I was so bad. I was fit, but yoga is different. I liked the challenge and knew there was something in it for me. It was challenging me in a different way so I knew something was there. I joined a yoga studio and went all the time. I got trained to teach.
Scott Barlow: Very cool. As you got trained I’m curious what was that like for you? What prompted you to do it?
Angela Wagner: My group fitness boss, manager, said she needed a yoga teacher and needed me to get trained. I said okay Melissa but I teach spin and all the group fitness stuff. Yoga is different. She sent me to a weekend training. You should never do that and go teach. That isn’t acceptable anymore. I did that though and it was just the start. It was a different way of teaching. In fitness it was all cheerleading and upbeat. This was helping people calm down. I liked it and it was my favorite thing. I saw people release so much stress in a short amount of time.
Scott Barlow: And everyone needs that as it turns out and yoga allows that. What happened from there? You end up weekend classing it up as a yoga teacher, you are enjoying that, seeing all these people release stress. What happened from there to now?
Angela Wagner: It’s a blur. I was really unhappy in my job. It was not a positive environment. Focused on money. My clients were rich high end Dallas people. I was in my early 20s and so impressionable. It wasn’t the world I wanted to be in. Not important to me. $200 Gucci belts were not my thing.
Scott Barlow: Not mine either.
Angela Wagner: I look back and think it was abusive, my boss made fun of me for what I wore. I knew I was so happy going to the gym and helping people. I was looking for another marketing job, could not find one, and got laid off. The universe was saying this isn’t for you. Offer a year and a half I decided to teach full time. I taught at 8 different locations. I did personal training but I was broke and exhausted. It was cool for a while but I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what was going on. I loved working with my clients. I’m a people person and love the connection but my brain wanted a challenge. I missed the business side. The next natural step is yoga and business.
Scott Barlow: Yoga and business. Sounds good to me tell me more.
Angela Wagner: I don’t know where the idea came from, but maybe me. When studios were starting to pop up, I taught power yoga. It’s athletic. People that are type A are attracted to it because we don’t know how to relax and we can get a physical workout and be athletic. I thought it could be something where people can go and check off their fitness box and their self-care which is put at the bottom of the list. I wanted to create a safe fun environment. I struggled when I moved here. It can be a tough city. It’s very big and until you find you people and your niche you can feel lost. I wanted to create a place for people to go.
Scott Barlow: That is interesting, you said create a place. Where does that come from? What prompted you in that case to actually bite the bullet and create the place? There was a progression.
Angela Wagner: What was the catalyst? Gosh I wish I knew. A lot of it had to do with the support of my dad. He is a dreamer. He was in a career his whole life he didn’t enjoy but made good money. He had the external expectations of my grandma and the world that said if you make money you are successful. He always wanted to be a history teacher and I think he still regrets that. His mission was to encourage me and my brother to do what we love. My brother conducts operas and I do what I do. Your plan worked. He said to me if you really want to do this, and I had no money, he gave me the initial money and let me do it. I think that was a huge part of it. Growing up my parents were so supportive. It wasn’t just do what you want, but that and we will do all we can to make sure it happens.
Scott Barlow: This is so interesting to me. I have kids that are ages 6 -10. I can’t believe I have a 10 year old. This is on my mind right now in terms of supporting them. Obviously I run a business and that is what we do for everyone else so I want to do it for them. This is fantastic. It sounds like this has been a theme for your entire life. Your dad was present and he had expectations on him but it wasn’t happening to his kids and that led to you deciding this is it let’s try it. Your dream for lack of a better phrase.
Angela Wagner: Absolutely. I love business. I did love marketing. Everything I was trained for in college and my first couple jobs. This is cool. My favorite thing was branding. I could create my own brand which was my favorite part of opening the studio. There are a lot of things I love and could contribute to. To be honest, and I don’t like to speak negatively, but I had an experience at a local studio I was going to at the time. I saw the teacher at Whole Foods one day and she pretended not to know me. I passed her and it was so weird. The weird cliquey Dallas thing that I couldn’t understand. I never wanted any one to feel that way. The other day, we are redoing our website, the photographer that shot our wedding seven years ago did photography for it. She texted me last night and said I love the community you have created, it is so cool, people from all different walks of life, body types, genders, it’s so awesome. My heart melted. I did it. Yay! It’s been a pleasure. It’s been challenging and awesome and all those things. You know, you own your own business.
Scott Barlow: It is one of things, and I’m curious of your perspective. We get tons of people that come to us interested in running their own business but when we dig down we find one prompt is freedom and flexibility and I think a lot of people don’t realize everything that goes into it. I love it and have had multiple and wouldn’t have it any other way but I’m curious about your perspective.
Angela Wagner: I think you have to spend time thinking about why you want to do it and getting good and realistic information about what it takes. I’m about being a dreamer but I’ve seen it over and over that people I’ve coached are interested in the sexiness of it. Its super sexy to say I own a yoga studio in Dallas but sometimes it’s ugly, not from torture, but hard work and long hours. The things you don’t know about the expenses and members leaving and you have to make it up to pay teachers. All the stuff.
Scott Barlow: It is a perpetual rollercoaster of new things and things you wouldn’t expect. There is so much that falls into that you can barely define. And the next day it is new. I thrive on that but many people get scared of that.
Angela Wagner: Yeah, especially if you are used to having a schedule. I was 26 when I opened the studio so I had only been in the “real world” for 3 years. Then I did personal training which wasn’t 9 – 5. I wasn’t conditioned to go to a desk. I’ve never had Saturday off. I’ve always taught fitness classes. My husband is a golf professional, teaching golf. People can’t believe we work on Saturdays. Saturday is just a day we work. I had a manager that quit because she didn’t want to work Saturdays. I get it. There is a lot you have to think about. What does it look like long term and am I okay with it?
Scott Barlow: I think that is true with all of life. Defining what you want, not just what you are okay with but what are you after. If you are going to build a business or career recognizing what goes with it.
Angela Wagner: Or go choose something else. Which is okay too. People are stuck on the idea that what they wanted to go toward is what they have to keep doing but sometimes half way through we realize we don’t want to do it. That is okay, you can always change your mind.
Scott Barlow: Yes. Speaking of changing your mind I think you can also add in other things. I’m curious what happened. You have the yoga studio but then you serve other clients as well. Where did that happen?
Angela Wagner: It was a natural progression. The style of yoga I teach is Baptiste Power Yoga. My teacher Baron Baptiste is a master of personal development. His trainings, not the weekend one I started with, I found something more real. I trained with him for years. We went to eight day trainings where we would delve so deep into who we are, cry our eyes out, do ridiculous amounts of yoga and come out changed, magic.
The style is rooted in not just physical postures but working into a deeper place in yourself and your intuition, feelings and choices. A lot of people come into the studio for a physical workout, what keeps them coming back is something bigger, something they are working through. People talk about yoga being life changing but when you look at it from afar you think they are just moving their body.
Scott Barlow: How is that life changing? What is going on in there?
Angela Wagner: Right you are just doing a weird thing with your body. Some styles are like that which is fine too. But this style is known for and rooted in helping people get something deeper and inspire them. That kept me coming back. I trained with many teachers and kept coming back to him. Long story short I wanted to do that and learn more about that beyond yoga and got into life coaching. A woman I trained with created a coach program called Yoga Life Coaching based on what we do but not actually yoga. I did the training in 2010 and started creating programs. It was still a yoga program, but we would do meetings working through different things in your life. It was really amazing to see and cool. I created my first one called Spark. I launched my online program recreating that. It’s my coaching baby.
Scott Barlow: Very cool. We chatted before we hit record and I read on your website that one interesting thing you do with your clients is begin the process of decluttering. I am curious about that. How does that tie into yoga and coaching, and the other things we’ve talked about?
Angela Wagner: So much of what we do looks like what is this? This is not what I came for. I came for a life change and you’re making me clean out my fridge. Over the past four years or so I started getting into organizing. I have a friend that is an organizer and I got into it. I got a bunch of bins and started organizing and labeling everything and felt better. I realized I was just taking my crap and putting it in boxes and labeling it. I started to delve into books and websites and blogs on minimalism on simplifying and decluttering. I’m not a minimalist. If you came to my house my kids have toys and there is stuff. This went along with mindfulness and everting I’m trained in. There is something about this. I was so stressed, when I started having babies. My son is three now. I was home, exhausted, on maternity leave, I have all this stuff around me. I really looked at it. Not thinking of it as organizing but getting rid of things that don’t serve me. I have found it to be unbelievable the programs I do in the studio and the tears around decluttering.
There is more to it. There is a reason people keep and buy stuff. There are many amazing deep layers to the decisions we make. We don’t realize the amount of stress we have with the stuff sitting around you saying this is all that you aren’t getting done.
Scott Barlow: Give me an example of that with one or two clients you’ve worked with and what they were experiencing and what it did for them.
Angela Wagner: I had this one woman that always comes to mind. She was a clutter bug and overweight. She carried a lot of her baggage on the outside on her body and in her house. We worked on that. It was awesome because we worked on what was really going on. It stemmed from an old relationship from a year ago she hadn’t dealt with. She went shopping and put on a bunch of weight. We went through this process and the group was helping her. We checked in a couple weeks later and she still had everything sitting in her house. She wouldn’t take it to Goodwill. There is more, another layer. By the end one of the girls from the training went to her house and helped her do it. It was amazing, a huge release. The mattress she needed to get rid of was symbolic because he lived with her. I’m getting chills talking about it. To see what she looked and felt like after that was amazing.
Scott Barlow: What happened for her?
Angela Wagner: She lost some weight, she found someone she loves. She has a great relationship. It was a block that she released. It’s not a magic pill, nothing is.
Scott Barlow: When you find them let me know.
Angela Wagner: We will share and be bajillionaires on a beach. It’s a process. If you haven’t considered it start with the one place in your house that stresses you the most. Sometimes it’s a drawer or the simple thing like I can’t find my car keys. If you add up all the times you’ve lost something and have to search for it. I have a business coach and I was interviewing her for my podcast. I opened my desk during the interview. I had organized my desk and was so proud of it. She is a minimalist and talking about it. I was looking at my desk and thinking I still have so much stuff in here I don’t need. I did a clean out and took a before and after. She was like you don’t need 3000 paperclips.
Scott Barlow: Maybe four.
Angela Wagner: How much paper do you use?
Scott Barlow: I barely use any. That is interesting. You are making me think. Here is a back story. We moved like nine times over twelve years. We couldn’t keep much or if we did it had to be in storage. We got rid of a lot of stuff again and again. We also paid off a bunch of debt by selling a whole bunch of stuff. All that happened and we started this business. We have a studio in our house, where I am now. We have done remodels and every time I condense and find that I need less stuff. How did I survive before keeps going through my head. There is a table, no bookshelves, nothing else and it’s all fine. It’s less stressful. I didn’t know I was carrying all that in my previous studio. It’s a weird mental phenomenon. It’s easier to focus and work. I want to be here.
Angela Wagner: It’s so awesome. It’s really unbelievable. I tell people cleaning your stuff is life changing and they laugh. With my client there was something deeper as to why she kept it. I have a lot of women who have clothes in their closet they don’t use or need that don’t fit. Sometimes because they change careers and they aren’t ready to let go or they lost or gained weight. There is so much mental stuff. Some people shop for therapy. We talk about this on my podcast. I went to HomeGoods the other day for three specific items and everything I wanted to buy I had to literally fight myself. This water pitcher you can put lemon in. I love fruit and water. No you put fruit in your water every day and you don’t need the pitcher. I took a picture of it and put it on my blog. This is the thing I didn’t buy. Now a month later I laugh. I didn’t need that.
Scott Barlow: But you feel like you do at the time.
Angela Wagner: You spend so much of your life buying your stuff, organizing it, cleaning it, and getting rid of it. Someone said to me think when you buy something how it will affect your life from the time you buy it all the way until you give it away. Is it worth it?
Scott Barlow: So interesting when you look at it from the opportunity cost perspective and someone like me and my wife we will research something to death before we buy it especially if it’s over like $75. We will spend hours researching. Why? We are going to inevitably end up selling it or throwing it away in a couple years. Did we need it anyway? It’s not just the cost of housing and storing it but also the fringe time.
Angela Wagner: Absolutely. Your listeners are looking at big life changes. This is a great thing to do. You start to look and analyze what you have and what you keep you can get clarity on what you do want. What are you holding on to? Past thoughts, identities, past jobs. I held on to a lot of stuff that I thought I will eventually need. I had every teaching training manual, I do a training every year and the manual isn’t that different and I’m going to use the most recent, but I had them all. I think I feel like I’m erasing my history if I get rid of these. One day I had a shredding party. Just keep the last one.
Scott Barlow: I have two big questions. The first, out of curiosity have you gotten rid of anything you regret?
Angela Wagner: I want to say no but there were maybe two times. I can’t even remember what the items were. It was more now like oh I have to go buy that cord. I had like 80 cords but now I have to go spend like $10 so it’s very minimal. Maybe sometimes if my kids freak out because I throw something out. But my kids teach me. I ask if they want a toy and they say no. Why do we have all this?
Scott Barlow: Second big question. How does someone get started doing this? It can be overwhelming speaking from past experience. The first time Alyssa and I tried to do this and tried to go through and figure out how we were going from this amount to less stuff. We had to move so we had to do it, but how does someone get started so it isn’t overwhelming? I don’t want to leave a mattress with tons of stuff in the middle of the floor not able to get rid of it.
Angela Wagner: There are a couple ways and it depends on your personality. Some people are do it all now or not at all. If you are a dabbler, start with next time you walk in your house look around and notice where you are the most stressed. What room and why? A lot of people, I can’t tell you how many of my clients, have piles of mail or don’t go to their mailbox. They have a weird thing avoiding dealing with what is in the mail. It might be your dining room table or a filing cabinet where you have your credit card bills from college. Let those go. Start with a simple area. I tell people to do an hour. One dedicated hour. Usually if you do it and put on music or podcast, I know Scott who has a great podcast…
Scott Barlow: I’m biased, but I agree.
Angela Wagner: Podcasts have changed my life. Not only hosting one but listening to them it makes everything so happy. You do it for an hour and you get this energy. It’s infectious. There is a great book, some people consider it great, others think it’s too much. Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I can send you the link. Her follow-up is Spark Joy. She is extreme, a Japanese organizer, declutterer, a huge new movement. She has a cult-like following. She thinks you should do it all at once. A lot of her stuff is extreme but I’ve learned a lot of techniques I apply now. Especially through the second book which is more how-tos. She is so extreme she tells you to take your shampoo bottles out of the shower and wipe them off and put them away after every shower. I’m not doing that. That will not change my life, just annoy me. You have the find what serves you and what doesn’t. I’ll give myself a little plug, I have a free email challenge on my website. Seven Days to Make Your Life Sparkle Challenge. Each day I send you one thing you can do in your house and a bonus challenge. Some are physical things in your house and some are digital. That is a whole other episode. It’s easy to build up digital stuff.
Scott Barlow: Oh my goodness yes. It happens rapidly. We run a digital business here so it makes sense but in other areas of life it can happen quickly. I’ve learned it’s different for different people where they carry the stress for some people it is the condensation on the shampoo bottles. For other people it’s I have seven folders that feel organized, I’m carrying it on my brain, I know I should do something about it, I don’t even know it’s there in the back of my mind until it’s gone.
Angela Wagner: It’s true.
Scott Barlow: For people that are listing a couple big takeaways. As you are getting started where do you notice you are carrying this stress and starting with that one simple space, giving yourself an hour to do it and taking it and applying it from there. Is that fair? For more go get the Seven Days to Make Your Life Sparkle.
Angela Wagner: Start small. For most people that will be a good start. When you get the motivation and energy to continue you can do that or read a book like Marie’s. You will seek it out. Every time we gain we want to learn more. Give it a shot. It really will affect your life in many ways. It’s unbelievable. Even my husband thinks so. We fold everything differently. She has a folding method. I thought she was crazy. You open your drawers and it looks like your clothes are filed. You can see everything in your drawer. It’s brilliant. I have four empty drawers now. I refolded everything and it fits better. When you stack your t-shirts you don’t know what’s on the bottom. A year from now you pull them all out and there is that t-shirt.
Scott Barlow: Please send me pictures. We have resorted to hanging stuff because we can’t find a way to see it all.
Angela Wagner: Marie is anti-hanging. She folds everything. I have found it incredibly useful. I will send you all my resources. My husband doesn’t know how to do the folding so he leaves it to me. But he loves it when it is done.
Scott Barlow: For everyone listening that is curious. I’ll take some of these pictures and put them on the page so you can see. This is so very cool. I appreciate you having the conversation and taking the time and making the time. For people that must know more about you, your yoga studio, decluttering or anything else how can they get more Angela?
Angela Wagner: My yoga studio website is yogasportdallas.com. Everything I do that is coaching based and we discussed today is at angelawagnercoaching.com. You can check it all out and my podcast. Thank you for letting me share. I love this stuff and talking to other people helping others in the same way.
Scott Barlow: I do too as it turns out. It’s a win-win. Thank you again. For making this a super fun conversation and making the time to come on the show. I appreciate it.
Angela Wagner: Absolutely, have a great one.