Renee Watkins is a mother, yogi and full-time yoga instructor based in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the creator of RW Yoga, a practice she hopes will help people, especially women of color, to understand there is more to yoga than just the physical aspect. Renee strives to instill in her students and followers the the discipline, openness, love and internal growth that goes along with practicing yoga. You can find and follow her all over social media @iamreneewatkins. To find more information about her upcoming retreats, events (like the 2nd Naked Yogi Tour) and classes go to rwyoga.com. You can shop Renee's favorite's here. Use the code RENEE to get 10% off your order and support her work.
1. How did you become interested in Yoga and when did you begin your practice?
I had a fashion show coming up and asked my coach what else I could do aside from go to the gym he said Pilates or yoga... I chose yoga because I thought it would be easier, WRONG!!! I stuck with it because I had recently gone through a horrific break up and it helped me deal with it mentally.
2. What made you decide to become an instructor?
I think yoga saved my life and I wanted to share that gift with other people.
3. Growing up did you have any entrepreneurial influences or did you assume you would be working a regular 9-5 job?
Oh hell no lol both my parents have worked 9-5's my whole life and they encouraged us (my siblings and myself) to do the same. I honestly thought I would be a lawyer (I have a bachelors in criminal justice and minor in psychology) but my senior year at TSU I decided against it for moral reasons.
4. I love the #stereotypicalyogis hashtag on your blog featuring different yogi’s of color. Can you talk about inspiration behind it?
People think yoga is for thin, rich, white women and if you look at advertisement for it, it's not hard to see why. So, I started the tag to show and prove that Black/Brown yogis are out here and WE ARE DOPE AS HELL.
5. What are some pro’s and con’s of using social media to promote your business and connect with your community.
Pros - it's free, everybody is on social media, your voice and your reach has no limit
Cons - people don't read, people feel they're entitled to opinions about what you put out, PEOPLE DONT READ
6. What challenges have you faced while pursuing your calling as a full time yoga teacher?
Finding people who take me seriously a black yoga instructor (goes back to question 4).
7. I know that you have 2 beautiful children. How does being an entrepreneur shape your role as a mother? What influence has it had on your daughters and their goals for the future?
I have a son and a daughter and as an entrepreneur I am more involved with their day to day lives. I can go to their school whenever and I'm not dead tired, etc. After this school year, I plan to homeschool them because regular school only teaches them how to follow orders and I don't want that for my children.
8. What advice would you give your younger self or a young person starting out on a similar path?
I would try to start earlier, stay focused, stay patient, stay dedicated, and know your worth.
9. Can you share some daily habits you incorporate into your life to help sustain you as an instructor and a businesswoman?
I try to take a FULL conscious breath before EVERYTHING I do and ask myself "why am I doing this." If the answer doesn't make sense I don't move/speak. I also pass out AT LEAST five business cards a day and ten every Saturday.
10. You recently got back from successfully hosting your first yoga retreat in Jamaica (congratulations!). When did you know you were ready to take your business to that next level an how did you prepare yourself and your business for that growth?
Thank you, thank you! I don't even know how I knew was ready, I just remember writing down that I wanted to start going cruises and retreats. Funny thing is, Jamaica was first on my list.
11. What is your ultimate vision for RW Yoga and what steps are you taking this year towards realizing it?
I want to make sure I leave not only my children but the world something great, something that inspires you to do anything, everything, SOMETHING good. I say "I aspire to be an inspiration" and the inspiration is just that... whatever good you get from me I want you to share it and that's all I want RW Yoga to be. I want it to be the reason more positivity exists in the world. I'm working towards it by doing my best to be it.
"I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world." -Tupac Shakur
12. Drawing from your own experience, how do you see entrepreneurship (part-time or full time) enriching the lives of women and transforming communities of color?
It'll prove that you can have more than what they say you can have and be more than what they tell you you are. When we begin to build together and support each other we will save the world, but we have to first know that it's ok to do it.