Interview: Bristol Yoga Founder Shelly Bullock

Shelly Bullock of Bristol Yoga

For the record, can you tell me the name of your business and a bit about what it is that you, personally, do?

I started Bristol Yoga two years ago with the mission to share yoga with every body. I had recently moved from Asheville, NC and Bristol TN/VA did not have a studio at that time. We have since created a very special space in our local community for health and healing.

Bristol Yoga TNI believe that we have the power to heal ourselves, and with the ancient practice of yoga we can start from the inside out. Yoga truly is for every BODY!! No matter one’s age, height, weight, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender–anyone can start right now exactly where they are.

When and how did you know that this particular route was in fact your path?

I have forever been drawn to the healing arts. I am a caregiver, I have always known this about myself, and from a very young age I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. These days I am a registered nurse with 12 years of experience in the healthcare field behind me. Unfortunately, in caring for individuals in a hospital setting what I mostly learned was reactive medicine. There was very little effort put on holistic treatment and/or disease prevention.

I believe we are a spiritual being in a human body. We have to account for mind, body, and spirit when we are battling dis-ease. I felt I could make a bigger impact in the world by following my heart, and by marrying my existing medical knowledge with my knowledge of yoga on the mat.

Much like my time in traditional medicine, I have now been practicing yoga for 12 years. It began as a supplement to my “workout routine,” and over time has evolved into something much greater, into a way of life. When I saw a window into a new way for me to care for people, I knew I had to try and open it.

What did you do to get here? And where do you still aim to go?

Shelly Bullock Bristol YogaThe road that has paved the way for Bristol Yoga to come through me has been both beautiful and difficult. I had a vision of what I wanted to create, and as I began making strides to manifest that vision, so too came sleepless nights, countless hours of looking at numbers, and a lot of back-breaking manual labor. But still, I love every second of it–wait I take that back–I love what it has become, and have no regrets as I have learned some valuable lessons.

Bristol Yoga became my baby. I know from my experience as a mother of two that when you actually birth a human into the world, you are so in love with that beautiful being and yet so tired, exhausted, and at times frazzled. Relationships to friends and family that were once at the top of your priority list take a back seat to the baby. Birthing a business is no different. I have learned a lot of valuable lessons about priorities and self care, so I have no regrets. However, those lessons have not come without a high price.

After our first year in business, I had worked myself into a corner . . . I began to experience extreme burnout and fatigue. I was teaching a lot, and working behind the scenes even more, my workload was insane now that I look back on it. Coupled with my duties as a mother, a wife, and helping to work our family’s farm, I was in way over my head. I lost a lot of weight in the process, I wasn’t sleeping, and my closest relationships suffered greatly from my anxiety and fatigue. I was faced with a pretty strong mirror from the universe, and I did not like what I saw.

The relationship to my husband of fourteen years suffered most of all. We both had started new businesses around the same time, and had completely lost sight of our bond. The hardships we faced were no longer hand in hand, and unfortunately it drove a irreparable wedge. This began a hibernation period for me. And eventually led to a nervous breakdown, or as Brene Brown says a “spiritual awakening.” My life was not in line with my spirit and as a result the “shit hit the fan,” and left a wake of debris that I felt I was drowning in. So I began repairing my relationship to myself, and slowly made my way back to the surface. It has been a slow process and I am now confident in saying I am back in the saddle, or better yet–back in full effect on my mat.

Bristol Yoga continues to be a collective of strong instructors and teachers with a lot of yoga-love to give. Each one of us comes to the mat with a wealth of knowledge and experience that I stand in awe in everyday. Without each and every one of our instructors, there would be no Bristol Yoga. They have helped me weather storms both personally and professionally, each in their own way pitching in to make our studio a place of well being and healing. With their unending love and support, I hope to continue to bring health and healing to my community through the practices of yoga and meditation.

Even when living out our wildest dreams, bad days still come. How do you handle them?

Shew . . . Gurl . . . Bad days do come, isn’t that the truth.Bristol Yoga Shelly

And no matter what you see on social media, we all have our bag of crap we are lugging around. I don’t look at it as good or bad, really, it is about the lesson I am learning. Everyday asking myself, what have I learned today. That being said I think it is imperative to self reflect daily and stay humble. We all have a lot to learn.

My daily meditation, journaling, and yoga practice keep me steady and grounded. Without my daily rituals I begin to feel unsettled in my journey. One of the most important things I continue to remind myself on the daily is to laugh–be silly and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Look for the lesson, try to find the light, and then laugh at yourself a little. As they say, its only life and none of us are getting out alive.

Do you have a current daily/weekly meditation or yoga practice? If so, which styles do you prefer?

I have found that without a daily routine of meditation and yoga, I am not the person my children, dog or cat think I am.

I wake up in the morning perform a routine of self care rooted in Ayurvedic knowledge of warm lemon water, coconut oil pulling, and tongue scraping. This is followed by morning tea, meditation, divination, asana, and mantra. My asana practice varies on season as well as how my balance in life is faring. I shower and perform abyangha (self massage) daily. Every evening, meditation, divination, and journaling. Most evenings I take a warm bath with essential oils and sesame oil. At times I will have a restorative practice in the evening depending on my day. All of this routine is variable with the notion that self reflection guides me to how I will nourish my mind, body, and spirit.

Which spiritual tools (earthing, crystals, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, sound therapy, astrology, tarot, healing modalities, etc.) do you rely on?

Bristol Yoga Founder ShellyYoga, yoga, yoga.

Yoga is the basis for my spiritual tools; however, I do draw on my love of mythology for relating to archetypal energies. Sprinkle this with my lovely crystal gems, tarot, herbs, and inspirational texts, and you see the smorgasbord from which I feed myself. Spiritual practice is your personal relationship with spirit, however you intuit that process is going to feed your soul best.

Anything else you wish to share?

I feel there is a collective awakening in which we are tired of being fed what others think we should think and believe. I see this in my students as well as in surrounding communities, however this light we are shining is making pretty stark contrasting shadows in the world. We have to remember to come back home to ourselves, to recharge, and renew the gifts we have been given to share. Yoga is calling the pieces of yourself back home. We can only give our best when we are at our best.

Where you can find Shelly:
Instagram: @bristolyoga + @shel.lay.lay
Twitter: @bristol_yoga

All images belonging to and provided by Shelly Bullock ©.

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