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What Six Weeks Off Yoga CEO Duties Has Taught Me


Whether you realise it or not, sometimes fear of success can be lurking and keep you stuck in your business. What would success really mean for your schedule and the freedom you desire? Is it really possible for a yoga CEO to take an extended holiday from their business? Can they really switch off?

I recently took a six week holiday from my business and want to share the experience.

Now, this is the first time that I’ve taken an extended length of time off and six weeks is a long time.  Previous versions of me as the business owner would have freaked out  – I wouldn’t have even entertained taking six weeks off.

I’m five years into growing Digital Yoga Academy and of course, I’ve had holidays but I’ll be honest with you – I’ve always kept my eye on things when I’ve had time off or I’d set aside check-in times, maybe to write an email or two. I’ve never completely switched off.

It’s a problem – as a business owner I think about my business all the time so this experience is a new experience for me as a yoga business owner, CEO and founder – which is exactly what all of you are – we’re just at different stages in our business and so what I share with you today is possible for you at some point in your journey.

There will be a day, if you continue to grow your business, where you’ll have a team, you’ll have systems and you’ll be able to take time off and completely switch off and whether that’s for one week or six is up to you.

For me, I was heading back to the UK to visit my family and friends. I’ve not seen them for two years, some of them 3 years so it was important for me to really take the time off and have that quality time. It was really essential that I was able to switch off as much as possible and I did!

One of the things I enjoy most about running my own business is that I get to make up the rules

so I get to make that decision that I’ll take six weeks off and taking an extended amount of time off really meant that I could allow myself to switch off and stop thinking about the business, the growth and the team.  Usually, mentally, I can’t turn that off but six weeks meant I could actually mentally detach myself and not be continually checking in which is probably what I’d have been doing if it had just been a week or two as it’s not enough time to detach, to truly relax and disconnect and rest my brain.

Just before my trip, we’d just finished a launch for the Profitable Yoga Teacher and so the timing was planned perfectly for us to come out of launch and for me to take my trip to the UK. There was some extra planning to do in the team to ensure that everything was covered for our 100+ new students who joined the program.

From the outside it might seem like a funny time to take a six week holiday but actually, the program has been running since 2018. We’re well-rehearsed now, the content is created and we have co-coaches that take some of the weekly live sessions.

So I kicked these sessions off whilst I was in Bali and whilst I was away our coaches took the sessions and my team supports the students in the Facebook group so students have continued to receive support, while emails and content are automated… everything was good to go so actually it was a fantastic time to take a break!

That might sound crazy, and I get it because I would have said it was crazy not too long ago  myself and when you love what you do, it seems like you wouldn’t want to step away from it.

But if you don’t take a break, you burn out.

Believe me, burn out is a real thing for yoga teachers.

When you leave the 9-5 and you set up on your own, you don’t get paid to take your holiday, so you’re even less likely to take a day off. The problem with not taking time off is that not only will you end up eventually despising your work, but you will also not be good to anyone. Your quality, creativity and productivity will plummet.

When did you last take some time off?  Did you switch off fully? did you come back to your business feeling recharged?

Here at Digital Yoga Academy, we’ve had a really full-on start to the year: Multiple launches;

Recruiting; Changes in the team.

The goal was for me to refuel my energy and creativity so that the businesses (and I) can continue to thrive.

What I did to ensure it went smoothly

The first was to prepare the team and give them plenty of time to get their heads around what they’d be doing while I was away. I also put our OBM. Noortje in charge. She’s our online business manager or operations manager and she joined the team only in May so not that long ago but she’s absolutely brilliant and we were able to build a lot of trust very quickly. She joined just as we were getting to launch for TPYT a very busy time. Let’s just say that I did a very good job in hiring her!

That’s another topic for another day because recruitment and building your team is challenging,  my experience of hiring has been one of the most challenging parts, I’ve had to do a lot of growth myself as a CEO and my role in hiring and I’ve had to gain a lot of knowledge

I actually worked with a coach specifically in this area and Noortje is the result of working with that coach.

Being able to take six weeks away was dependent on having a solid team and someone that I could fully trust. She actually said to me yesterday that she’s grateful to me as I’ve allowed her to step into her role in a very empowering way. And I’m very grateful to her.

What I’m talking about here is consistent learning. As I mentioned already I’m five years in and I’m still learning. I wasn’t born a CEO or a great leader, I had to learn and I’m still learning. I seek coaches, support and mentors when I know that I have a gap.

If you want your business to continue whilst you’re away and for content to still be going out and for students to still be looked after you need to have plans in place and make any adjustments.

For example:

  • I mentioned the coaches in TPYT – when we were planning out the schedule, we planned it in this way so that the coaches took most of the sessions while I was away.
  • We planned out the repurposing of extra clips to make reels.
  • Whilst I’ve been off we’ve been using clips from the live training (Those of you who follow our Instagram will know that I was super active on reels – especially during our launch)

So it’s about having plans and contingency plans to keep everything running.

So what did I actually learn?

Lesson 1
Taking time off to truly switch off is possible

Well first of all, it really hit home that it’s possible for me to take time off and truly switch off. I knew that that was what I was aiming for – but the reality of it actually happening hit hard. It made me feel super proud and was a big marker of success for me. I’ve worked so hard these last years – since 2015 really when I first became a yoga teacher and set up my classes and events and retreats. I’ve not stopped really – I hustled hard but I’ve loved every moment and yes there’s been burnout along the way but I’ve loved it and it’s been my life. The retreat business and then setting up DYA – it’s been constantly on my mind, so switching off hasn’t really happened until now. This was a huge marker of success for me and freedom really, which is one of the reasons why having an online business is so important

So that message that I share with all of you about growing an online business and the freedom it gives you  – I really experienced it at a deeper level – and I know this deeper level of freedom is possible for you too if you’re consistent, you keep going, you don’t give up, you stay true to your purpose and your reason for doing this. It’s not just about your own freedom it’s the impact you want to create – that’s truly what keeps you going through the ups and the downs.

So lesson number one is this experience showed me that it’s actually possible.

As I said, I have a great team and great system so…

Lesson 2
The importance of systems automation and evergreen products

Systems, automation and evergreen products – these keep the cogs turning and the money flowing!

We’ve spent a lot of time working on our back-end systems so that many processes are automated. If I had known how much this would liberate me I would have tidied up the back end a lot sooner that’s still improvements to be made for sure, but especially when you’re taking  downtime, it’s important to set up systems that will allow you to relax a little more.

Taking time off didn’t mean that income stopped. Again going back to lesson one, having an online business and online courses means that there is income flowing in each month from those students who are on payment plans. Going beyond that, having online courses that are sold on evergreen, meaning students can enroll at any time and these courses are part of an email sales funnel, means that you can be creating new income while you’re taking time off.

So what I learned here is that our evergreen strategy has a bigger role in my business than I first believed it to have and that’s exciting. It means there’s more work to be done and some changes to be made – and I don’t think I would have completely come to this if I hadn’t had six weeks away to experience what evergreen actually means to the business

Lesson 3
Time off is an investment in yourself and your business

Finally, the ah-ha moment that I had, particularly towards the end of the six-week break.

An ah-ha moment about the team but also about the strategy and direction for the business for the rest of this year and into 2023.

Benefits for the team

I’ve seen that they’ve had an opportunity to grow and develop and take the lead whilst I’ve been away. They’ve been put in situations they hadn’t previously experienced, with my presence and control. so that’s been a positive experience for everyone really.

Benefits for the business

We are using this time now for the rest of the year to change direction, implement new strategies, bring in new team members, and have a complete reset of our foundations which is a different strategy to what was happening before I had my time off. We’re not doing any more launches this year and this feels exciting!

I’ve created space to expand and level up the business and I have the energy and fuel to actually make this happen. I know in my heart that this new direction would not have happened otherwise, at least not now. It requires a new level of energy and perspective that I didn’t have before this six week break. Overall it’s been a very positive experience personally but also for my team.

You may not be thinking right now about taking six weeks off and perhaps it feels crazy to think you’re business can run without you but, eventually, it can if you have the rights systems and processes in place along with a dedicated team or VA, then it definitely can keep ticking on whilst you have some downtime.

It will look different for all of us and it will take time but it is possible.

My goal going forward is how can I work myself out of a job. How can I surround myself with the right people and work hard at making myself dispensable?

Because as your business grows and scales – this could be a few years or more down the line depending on where you are right now – but remember you’re in this for the long haul – but your success as a leader and as a yoga CEO has more to do with building a business that runs smoothly without you than it does being dependant on you having to make every decision.

So my last piece of advice for all of you no matter where you are in your business today is to reframe downtime as an investment in yourself and your business rather than something that takes away from them.

Giving yourself meaningful downtime will allow you to come back stronger and more focused.

I know that each and every one of you puts everything into growing your community and your business. You’re to be commended for the time energy and effort and for continuing to show up and move through all these fears but the thing is you’re human and need a break every once in a while.

Let yourself have that if its’ an afternoon, a week, a month, or longer, give yourself a chance to recharge the batteries. It will put you in new environments that provide a different perspective. Once you have the right support, a team in place, and a well-thought-out strategy, you can take the time and still be just as successful.

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