How I Adventure On Weekdays As a Full Time Yoga Teacher
WITH ARIELLE SHIPE
Arielle's created an outdoor lifestyle funded by full time yoga teaching.
At first glance, we can often think, "Oh, she must have just got lucky." Or write it off as, "That's just not possible for me."
But you'll find that Arielle's story isn't that different than your own.
She's gone through twists, turns, ups and downs to create her life. And she shares how she's pieced it together with utmost openness and honesty below.
We've highlighted some of the key moments in Arielle's journey to help you make similar changes for your life.
Her story's below.
And if you want to jump around here's a table of contents.
My First Job as a Milkshaker
Leaving Professional Snowboarding
Undefining My Self
Quitting, Selling My Car and Traveling
$2500 of Debt and Grandma
No, This Time Everything Is Different
It's An Investment In Myself and My Future
I Don't Need To Vacation To Be Happy
I'm Going To Teach Full Time
We Make It Work
Let's get rolling. So what’s up? What's your money story?
I grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley in Aspen, Colorado.
And money is this weird thing.
Especially growing up in Aspen, Colorado, you know?
Because Aspen has a name for itself. There’s these million assumptions and misconceptions that happen around money.
But when I grew up we didn’t have a lot of money.
I started my first job — a "milkshaker" at Boogie's Diner — when I was 15. haha
And what I would do is work as much as I could in the summer and save up a bunch of money so that I could kind of pretend to keep up during the rest of the year.
Most of my friends weren’t crazy wealthy, but their families were doing fine. And I didn’t want to feel left out from the dinners or all those things that matter when you’re a teenager.
So I just worked really hard and saved up all summer, and then was able to keep up during the school year that way.
Notice what Arielle is doing here: Working really hard, saving lots of money and then spending it down over time.
As we go, tune in to Arielle's patterns. Watch for the inflection point where she creates her full time yoga, weekday adventerous lifestyle.
Contrast it to your patterns and use it to envision what change may look like for your situation.
But as I approached college, I wanted to be away from it for a while. I wanted to get out of Colorado.
So when college came around, I was able to get both an academic and snowboarding scholarship to Sierra Nevada College in North Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
It’s tiny, like 500 undergrads. But it’s a 4 year university.
So it ended up being cheaper to go there then to go then to go in state in Colorado.
So I got to get this private school, very affordable education and I got to be in Lake Tahoe in the heart of 15 mountain resorts.
Those were back in the days when Tahoe was epic, right?
Yeah, the 2010-2011 year was insane!
I’ve never seen snow like that. Even growing up in Colorado. Tahoe snow, I mean, man, when it comes it’s unlike anything else.
So I went there and because I was competing on the school snow team my ski passes were covered.
And yeah, I kept kind of doing the same thing — work in the summer time, save up money, snowboard all winter.
With snowboarding, I competed in the semi-professional level. I did maybe 1 or 2 pro contests. And I was doing okay, but, to be honest, in girl’s snowboarding you have to be the best of the best to make a career out of it. And I just wasn’t.
Your Expensive Hobbies Without The Cost
Just like Arielle was able to cut the cost of her ski passes, you can cut the cost of expensive memberships (like yoga, gym, crossfit, even local co-op shopping) by volunteering or helping them for a hour or two each week.
This not only helps money-wise, but it also helps you become part of a community that you enjoy, which can lead to lots of awesome opportunities.
Even if a company doesn't have something like this, ask! You'll be surprised how often you can turn an expensive hobby into a free or less expensive one with a little trade.
And, with how the sport was progressing, it wasn’t a matter of “Am I going to get hurt this season?” It was a matter of “When?” and “How bad?”
So my Junior year I had these two pretty intense injuries.
And it just made me think, “What am I doing?” I’m not going to be Gretchen Bleiler. My heart wanted that to be something that would happen, but the injuries were getting worse and worse.
It was my third major concussion. I had two in high school that were really bad. And this was just the cherry on the cake.
So, in short, that was my last straw with it. And I actually quit snowboarding for 4 years.
Well, I skied for two, badly. haha And then I took two winter’s completely away from the snow.
When you do something for that long and at that type of level it becomes your identity. How did it feel to leave that identity behind?
I mean… It’s kind of like earth shattering. Excuse my language, but it’s kinda of like, “Who the f— am I?”
Like you just don’t really know.
I guess this is kind of where it all started for me.
Towards the end of my snowboarding, right after I graduated, I started my first yoga teacher training.
So you know, everyone asks for a graduation present, I asked my parents for a yoga teacher training package.
I found a really cheap one. It was $1200 for the 200 hour yoga alliance, teacher training.
And because at the time there were no yoga teacher trainings in Tahoe, I drove out to Reno on nights and weekends.
So during the week at this time I was working a desk job and doing this teacher training alongside it for 6 months.
As we were doing it and we had to read this book, “A New Earth” and it talks about this identity thing.
You know, say you have a child. And the child has a teddy bear.
In some way they feel that the teddy bear is a part of them.
So when you take the teddy bear away from the child it feels like you are taking a piece of them away and that’s why they’re so upset.
And that’s how I realized at that time that that was how I was feeling about snowboarding.
I actually really broke down in that first training. I was like, “I don’t know how to hold myself.” Because so much of how I’ve interacted was from the space of “I’m Arielle, the snowboarder.” It was just like, who am I without that?
That book and that training was a pivotal step in defining myself… Actually a better word is probably, “Undefining myself.”
Change and Its Relation to Your Story
This was one of my favorite parts of our conversation. I felt really connected to her experience.
Undefining one's self is one of the hardest changes for human's to make. We are hardwired to believe our story is concrete.
But once we recognize that our 'identity' is just a story, a thought, we tell ourselves, we open ourselves to change and to renewal.
What 'story of self' do you stick to? How is it helping? How is the thought holding you back?
You know instead of finding something else to define myself by I was just being myself without having these other things to define me.
So what happened next for you?
And for me this was a really key stepping stone because when you work in a restaurant you make really good money really fast.
But the thing is is you work hard and make lots of money and then you burn out and kind of hate it.
Through college to keep it fresh it was like “I’m going to work at a different restaurant this summer.”
So I worked in a restaurant and I saved up as much money as I could.
I finished my yoga teacher training and got a job teaching right away for $25 a class, which is like less that $10 an hour because you have to get there early, stay after, create lesson plans before.
But I would teach 2 or 3 times a week. And the rest of the time I would work in the restaurant as much as I possibly could saving up as much money as I could.
Restaurant Industry Jobs Can Be Great
Read how our homie, Lucas, was able to pay off $25k of student loans in 1 year while working a restaurant job.
And at a certain point I wanted to go experience somewhere new.
I’ve always loved traveling, so I quit the restaurant job and sold my car (with the intention of buying another car when I got back) and went out to Austrailia.
So I did 5 or so months out and around Byron Bay and a month or so in Southeast Asia.
But of course, even though I was working while I was in Australia, I spent all my money. hah
When I came home I was actually -$2500 in credit card debt.
So you came back looking at that $2500 in debt. That probably didn’t feel good.
What were some of the feelings you had as you were accruing it? And what were you thinking when you got back?
You know I’ll be honest, in the moment I was 22 and so I was like f— it, I’m here. I don’t want to dimish the capacity of my experience.
When I came back, it wasn't the first time I traveled like this.
I guess what I mean is I had gotten really good at buckling down and making a bunch of money.
But then I would usually go spend it all and then some. And then come back and make a bunch of money again. Pay my card off. And then save up again.
So I mean it was kind of something I was used to.
But that was definitely the biggest deficit I had come back to.
At the time my grandma wasn’t doing too well, and I was thinking about to try out living in California.
So I was like, “Oh, maybe someone should stay with grandma." I can help out, make sure she’s fine, I’m broke as shit right now. I’ll do it. haha
So I moved in with my grandma for 3 months. And at about week 6 I was already thinking about moving back to Tahoe.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my grandma. But I when you're so used to being independent. And she was doing better. :)
And so within 3 months I had paid my credit card back and moved back to Tahoe.
When I got back to Tahoe I knew I needed to work in a restaurant to save up enough money, but I want to make sure I was also satisfying my soul.
So I got another restaurant job, but I also got another side job at Wanderlust Yoga.
That’s awesome. So how did you get the “in” at Wanderlust?
Like a week or two before I moved back to Tahoe I was looking online at jobs and I saw that they were trying to hire teachers.
They had a listing for yoga teachers and front desk supervisor. So I called and applied for both.
I started by just being on their subs list, but within a month or so I was on their schedule.
And you know I didn’t get the supervisor position right away, but after doing good work their for a while, I was able to move into that position as well.
So at this point I was really working a lot, 7 days a week.
So I taught at Wanderlust, and even with the raise the to supervisor position, I wasn’t making that much money.
But I really liked being at the studio more than at the restaurant so I just did it.
And that fall, my dad passed away.
And... it kind of changed everything.
When my dad passed away he wasn’t married, didn’t have any other children so I had to come back to Aspen for a couple weeks and you know pack up his things and close his credit accounts and finish everything that he had open.
And I didn’t know it at the time, but part of me really felt at home being back in Aspen. I felt really nurtured by the experience.
And so I did all that and went back to Tahoe and continued working like nothing was different for a month or so.
But realized soon that “No, actually everything is different.”
And I decided that I didn’t want to be one of those people who just shoved losing someone so important to you away.
So I decided to take 3 months traveling somewhere else.
And I mean, it was great, but I came back and my plan was to live in my car in Tahoe and teach yoga.
I already had my work set up before I got back, so I decided to take a road trip to Colorado and, you know, I didn't end up leaving. haha
I got here and just felt that this is home. And I just called the studios back in Tahoe and told them I decided to stay.
And at that point I had already done another 200 hour training while I was at Wanderlust. (As a Supervisor, we got half off to do the teacher training there.)
I fell so in love with the teachers there. And they were just living breathing examples of doing the work. Just like really, really living the practices.
So this was my second 200 hour training and I just fell so in love with it at that point.
I've actually ended up doing their advanced teaching, which has been another 300 hours with them, over the last two years.
Wow, So did you use some of the money you had made from the supervisor position to take off and do traveling round 2?
How did you set up this next phase?
When my dad past away he wasn’t wealthy. He didn’t own property, or anything like that.
He owed a truck, a motorhome and a boat.
And none of them were new or anything. I don’t want to give the impression that there was lots of money, but there was some.
And I really wanted to make sure I used it wisely.
You hear so many stories of people getting all this money when they’re young and people throwing it away on dumb things.
I just really didn’t ever want to be that person.
So yeah, more than half of it is invested now.
So I took enough to travel South East Asia. But I mean, when I say traveling South East Asia, I’m staying in back packer bungalos where you’re paying $6/night eating $2/meals.
I wasn’t traveling like you could. I was traveling for the experience.
Even with that little bit of support I’ve just always kind of looked at it as, “It’s there if I need it, but I want to pretend like I don’t have it.”
The only thing that I’ve allowed myself to spend it freely on has been yoga teacher training because it’s so near and dear to my heart and I knew that in the long run it was an investment in my future.
So when I first started teaching I was getting paid $25 a class. And now that I’ve done all those trainings I get paid more than double that.
So yeah, it was an investment in myself and it was an investment in my future.
Investing In Yourself
Spending money this way has been integral to the creation of her lifestyle.
Don't hesitate to spend money on courses, trainings, etc that will help you get where you want. Read more about how important this is in The Treasure Map by Forever Jobless.
That is awesome. So it sounds like your working habits changed around this time too.
You were saying earlier it was "Work hard and not spend. Then spend it all and have fun." That loop sounded like it was on repeat for a bit.
Have you felt like it’s been less super "high highs' and super "low lows" because now you’ve kind of aligned your income stream with something you love, something that serves your soul?
And I also think that I finally feel like when you get close to what you are meant to be doing or you get to be doing what you’re meant to be doing things kind of align better.
I feel like when you’re on the right path the universe conspires to help you.
You know I don’t think waiting tables was my calling. haha
Even though I was good at it, I just kept meeting this resistance because I was so burnt out on it.
But I kept going back to it because it helped me to do the other things that I wanted to do, where I did feel really fulfilled.
And now that I’m teaching yoga full time and have enough hours in the week to hike, climb and snowboard or whatever I want to do in my free time, I don’t feel I have to leave for 3+ months just to feel happy.
I now feel like I can take a week or two vacation once or twice a year.
I guess I just don’t hate my life, so now I don’t need a vacation from it.
How have you made the transition to being able to adventure during the week on your yoga teaching salary?
It definitely took a while, a lot of hard work and a lot of patience. haha
When I first moved back, I actually got a job at Lululemon not because I feel fulfilled in retail, but because it was a really good way to get connected yoga community in Aspen.
I got one class a week at a local studio.
And you know, it’s funny. I didn’t want to teach full time. I never did.
I liked doing it on the side.
I was like, “Oh, if I teach full time, I’m going to end up hating it.” I always had this thought that I'd didn't want to burn myself out on it, like I had with restaurant work.
It was right around the time I was doing the extra advanced trainings that I was like “I want to commit to this. I want to try it. I want to do this full time and see what it’s all about.”
When I decided that, I had about 2-3 classes a week.
And literally, within a week and a half of deciding “I’m going to teach full time,” I had like 10 classes from one studio needing extra classes and someone quitting at another. The admin at the yoga studio was like “here take these” haha
I was like “Okay, The universe is totally helping.”
Within about a month and a half after that I had about 15 classes a week.
And that’s what it took to afford living here.
And that’s 15 classes of my own, plus picking up subs, plus picking up privates.
It’s a lot more than people think. And at that time 15 was actually too much. I could feel myself quickly going towards burnout.
But I kept studying, working and putting in the time.
And slowly but surely, you know, I got a raise here and get a private client there and started to whittle away at classes.
Slowly I’ve been able to whittle down to teaching 9 classes a week now with some private work. Like with people in their homes.
I’ve also been hired to do bachelorette yoga and hike to yoga events, and so many random things.
Yeah, you know it’s just word of mouth and building connections. And the main studio I teach at, I do a lot of privates through them as well.
You know it’s not handed to you. It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of trust and a lot of work.
Quality Work Opens Doors
Arielle was able to piece together her yoga/outdoor lifestyle, by doing really good work at her job.
If you aren't working in the field you want to be in, start committing more time and quality effort to that field.
You know I’d say that this is the first summer that I’ve really, really been able to get outside as much as I’d like to.
Like last summer I’ve been able to climb a couple days a week, but this summer has really been you know, I’ve really been able to make the most of it, like get outside more than I’d ever imagine, potentially too much. Haha
So there’s three parts to people’s budgets that kind of make or break them: Housing, Food and Travel
And you’ve kind of addressed the Travel already in that now because your work fulfills your soul you don’t need to take off to espace a life that you’re not totally happy in.
But what kind of stuff have you done and are you doing around housing and food to make the full time yoga teaching lifestyle possible?
Well ummm… Later into my first year when I was realizing I couldn’t afford the rent I had on my own, or if I was to afford it there’d be nothing left, you know?
So I would airBnB my place on the weekends, and stay at my boyfriend’s house. Hahah
So yeah, that’s what I did for a while. I actually made enough with AirBnB just on the weekends to not pay rent.
And then my boyfriend moved in with me and now we split that rent. And that’s great.
Arielle is consistently finding ways to lower her rent so that she can enable her lifestyle.
(Scholarship for school, Grandma's, Living out of her car, AirBnB, moving in with her boyfriend, etc.)
Housing is the biggest cost for most people's budget. If you can get creative and commit to finding a way to make it less expensive, it can open up your entire world.
Check out Coach Carson's Guide to House Hacking for ideas!
Foodwise, I care a lot about eating healthy, but I vary rarely do I eat out. And I think that makes a huge difference.
I’m 26 now, and I haven’t been really into parting since I was like 21 and I think that helps.
You know a lot of people my age are probably spending a lot of money at bars, especially here in Aspen.
I’m not spending money at restaurants or going out to eat or buying little lunches, you know I make everything at home which saves me a lot of money.
And travel we still like to travel, but you know we're taking off for a trips this September. We are going to take a road trip out to Tahoe and Yosemite and maybe Santa Cruz.
We just make it work.
Like if I had a really successful season with the extra private work (private work in yoga, especially in Aspen, can be really good money), then maybe we'd go further away to like Costa Rica or to Asia or something.
It all just depends on the reality of the financial situation, and we do what we can with what we have.
Aligning Spending To Values
Arielle is really, really good at aligning her spending to what she values in life.
Doing well with money is first about becoming crystal clear on what you love. Second it's about focusing your money 100% on those things.
Arielle also aligned her income to what she loves with her yoga teacher work.
Aligning both her income and her spending to her values and goals is what's powered her to create a life that holds something we all desire.
For more on this, read our article, If You're Doing This For Money, You're Doing It Wrong.
Yeah, and you can travel so affordably if you know how.
I mean I’ve been traveling my whole life and I’m happy to stay in a backpacker hostile. I’m happy to take a bus. It’s great. It’s awesome. It’s part of the experience.
That’s awesome. You guys are killing it.
Thanks so much for taking the time, Arielle. Wanna end with, What’s next for you? and Where can people follow your journey and engage with you?
What's next... Well I taught at my first festival a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed the experience.
So I’m actually sitting with moving forward with maybe teaching outside of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Maybe making my offerings a little bit wider, seeing if there is other festivals that I could teach with or seeing if there’s one’s I could convince. Haha
So yeah, that’s probably part of the “What’s next?”
And if you want to see how I'm doing, the best place is Instagram.
On my website there is a contact tab and you can just type in your name and your message and it will get sent right to my email.
TOLD BY: ARIELLE SHIPEArielle is a full time E-RYT 500hr yoga and meditation teacher and outdoor enthusiast.
Keep reading. You won't regret it.