“The curious soul tends to be attracted to yoga.”
Yoga practitioners often possess an innate curiosity about themselves, their bodies, or the world. Within this group of curious souls is Allison English. Although Allison never planned to lead a yoga centered life, or to one day travel the world teaching, it was curiosity that eventually pulled her into the yoga world.
Allison was first introduced to meditation as a child athlete. Unbeknownst to many of her students today, Allison was a nationally ranked figure skater and began meditating to improve her focus. When a tragic back injury forced her to hang up her skates, Allison began to experience a great deal of anxiety surrounding her major and sudden life change. When her mother signed her up for back care yoga classes on a whim, Allison soon began to feel its healing power. Yoga helped Allison in ways that physical therapy couldn’t – it made her body, brain, heart, and spirit feel better than they had since her injury. At the time, Allison was on track to become an anthropologist and never planned on becoming an instructor. However, when a month long gap between jobs presented itself, Allison used this time to take a teacher training course with the intention of learning why yoga was able to help ease the pains of her injury in ways nothing else could. In order to finish her certification, Allison was required to teach, and having never been a quitter, she did.
Allison was quickly intrigued by the influences of science, philosophy, writing, reading, and studying on yoga. When Allison began teaching, her classes emphasized how yoga can be used to help each individual feel better in their body, their mind, and their spirit. Allison became obsessed with constantly researching, studying, and learning as much about yoga as she could. Allison quickly became a widely sought after yoga instructor, teaching regularly in Chicago and often leading international retreats. She was even voted “Best Yoga Instructor – Chicago.”
Curiosity not only brought Allison into the yoga community, it has guided her path throughout her yoga career – specifically in the business side of yoga. After teaching for a while, Allison began managing at Equinox. But, with a hectic schedule and residual health complications, Allison starting to experience burn out. Her love of yoga was being diminished by trying to fit a mold she no longer saw herself in.
Although the future was uncertain, Allison took a leap of faith and decided to create her own brand, her own structure, and her own style of teaching yoga. Thus, Yoga by Allison was born. She said, “What I found really challenging was having to fit myself into someone else’s idea or structure of business. It was at that time that I had the idea – why couldn’t I just build my own structure? So for me, that is entrepreneurship. It is recognizing that there is a structure that is available that you could be in, and then deciding that you would rather create a whole new structure.”
Although it was scary to make the decision to leave behind structure, her own comfort zone, and stable income to pursue her own path, Allison found that she naturally developed the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit. She said, “What I love about entrepreneurship is trying something and seeing if it works. Learning from mistakes. Sometimes you try things and they fail miserably, and then you reevaluate from what you’ve learned and you try something else. There is this constant creative process.”
Today, Allison’s curiosity sets her brand apart in an incredibly competitive industry. To the benefit of her clients, Allison continues to research and learn to provide her students with the most valuable experience possible. If someone comes into her class with a condition she has never heard of, she will research until she understands what that condition is causing the student to feel and how yoga can help them. Because of her background in anthropology, Allison has a unique way of looking at the human experience. To her, yoga is not only the body, or only the the mind. It is not only spiritual, or only energetic. It is the way all of those layers of a human being are communicating with one another. Allison said, “The most important lesson I have learned through yoga is that I am unique and so is every other human. Every mold was broken with us. There will never be another you, there will never be another me, and because of that, our practice needs to meet who we are. Yoga has taught me to be authentically myself and how to help others do that too.”