Admission Statement: The funniest thing people say when meeting me for the first time is, I expected you to be taller. I think it’s because I know what I want and I’m not afraid to be direct when I have to be which aren’t necessarily qualities you think of for a petite Yoga Teacher (I’m 5’2). While I’m still easy going and pride myself on the ability to go with the flow, I do have a mind for business. I am in the process of launching my third business (Sangha Wellness Retreats) and am truly an entrepreneur at heart. I know that being a strong female leader is part of my calling, and my aim is to continue the global shift towards conscious business practices. Mentoring other women in business and proving that we can be successful business leaders while also treating our employees with kindness and respect, making our own self-care a priority and working in harmony with others.
Bio: Lisa Greenbaum E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, has a strong passion for fitness, yoga and movement. She has worked with countless individuals, including her own personal practice, using Yoga based practices to release stored trauma from the body, finding ease from chronic pain and tension and a deeper connection to Self: mind, body and spirit. She is the Founder of Sangha Wellness Retreats, focused on empowering her students through yoga and community. Lisa is a Global Ambassador for the Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) and has also been included as part of Optimyz Magazines’ 100 Health and Fitness Influencers in Canada 2017, 2018 and 2019. The winner of the 2018 Delegates Choice, Canadian Presenter of the Year for canfitpro, Lisa has been active in the Yoga/Fitness industry since 2001.
How did you get into the industry?
I grew up a dancer, unconsciously learning at a young age how important movement was for my mind and state of well-being. The fitness manager at the gym where I was working out in my twenties convinced me to get certified to teach Les Mills® BodyFlow. When the trainer walked in, I looked at her and instantly knew that was what I wanted to do. Becoming certified in Yoga happened a few years later, which truly felt like coming home. Yoga not only offered the physical practice I loved, but also the mental stillness and connection to self that has brought me tremendous solace throughout the years. I’m addicted to learning and with Yoga there is no end, which is a perfect place for me.
Any emerging industry trends?
The world of Yoga continues to expand by leaps and bounds. There is always something new which I love, because it gives more people more opportunities to try Yoga and/or find what they love. One of things we are seeing behind the scenes within the Yoga industry is more attention being paid by the accreditation bodies with the emergence of the Yoga Therapy designation through IAYT, with Yoga being included as part of an overall healing plan in cancer treatments as well as PTSD, addiction recovery and mental health etc... Yoga Alliance is also currently in a review period of Yoga Schools and those who train Yoga Teachers updating their qualifications and requirements in a better attempt to create stronger standards across North America. Yoga Teachers are also under more scrutiny to ensure they are adding continuing education credits over their years of teaching, similar to other body-work based industries.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
As Yoga gains in popularity, more and more people are becoming certified to teach. In some ways this can be seen as a challenge as markets become saturated. However, I see this as an incredible opportunity for Yoga Teachers to become more creative in their offerings and also where they are teaching. We are seeing part-time Yoga Teachers teaching their office co-workers on their lunch break, Parents taking Yoga into the schools for both Teachers and students. The diversity of Yoga Teachers crossing into different cultures and religious groups. Teachers are thinking outside the box on how they can share their love of Yoga: online, one on one and through workshops and retreats.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
It was the name of my business that came to me before I knew exactly what I would be offering. Sangha is the Sanskrit word for Community. I knew that no matter what, I needed to create something that would bring people together. We have become more and more comfortable with living in isolation. At this point we could probably do everything we needed to function in society without ever leaving our house or, speaking with another human being. Isolation is also the perfect breeding ground to increase feelings of anxiety and depression, something we are almost all battling with on a constant basis.
Sangha Wellness Retreats was born in an effort to push back against this. To build community. To meet new people, re-connect with those we love and feel connected to friends from all over the world. Inspiring others to travel and see the world, to invest in life changing/life affirming experiences and for a positive health and well-being experience.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Further building out our retreat calendar! Adding more destinations and more retreat leaders.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
To build and maintain the trust of our current and future guests. First by delivering an incredible experience that they can’t wait to share with their friends. Second, to increase our organic reach across social media platforms, building our followers and inspiring them to travel with us.
Your most difficult moment at the Business?
As we are still in start-up mode, our most difficult challenge is for more people to know who we are and what we are doing. Formerly I was a shareholder and Director of an International Yoga School, running the operations here in Canada as well as Australia and New Zealand. I travelled extensively and met tons of people, except that in that company, the brand and founders profile came before anything. Now, after almost 18 years in the industry, I am in many ways just starting to build my personal brand. (I only opened my Instagram a year ago!). For people to want to invest their hard-earned vacation money with you, they need to trust and feel connected to you. After having a small marketing team for years, I am now learning new skills and the push/pull for better or worse of navigating the social network and media to make this happen.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
My goal for each guest is to come home feeling refreshed and as though they’ve really had a vacation. To hold memories from their retreat that last a lifetime. To make new friends and build connections with others that continue on after they have settled back home. To create a space for people to re-set, re-charge and feel empowered after their time away.
How do you motivate others?
Leading by example. By being vulnerable and sharing some of my personal stories via my blog. The world is full of people only showing what they want people to see: mastering the perfect Yoga-selfie is a perfect example. I’m just me. I’m comfortable in my skin and I want you to be too.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Get a mentor and keep on learning! One of the best things I’ve done was join WIFA – Women in Fitness Association, to which I’m now a Global Ambassador. It is a non-profit organization founded on empowering, connecting and raising up women in the Fitness Industry. It is an International Organization bringing all women together, bridging the gap on diversity and helping each other succeed, and they also have a strong mentorship program! Whether through an official organization like this, or seeking someone out in your current company etc.. having someone to bounce ideas off of, bring questions to and get that objective opinion is so helpful. I can’t recommend more!
What do I do best?
I teach. It’s when I feel most connected to myself and when I know I’m putting my best self forward.
What makes me the best version of myself?
My perseverance. I just keep going until I find a way or get it done.
What are my aspirations?
To build a community of diverse individuals from all over the world that feel they have a safe space to come, take a break from the regular hustle of life and remember how sweet life can be.
My Biggest Success?
Winning Canadian Presenter of the Year at canfitpro (the biggest fitness show and conference in Canada). A conference I have both attended and presented at my whole career.
Hustle – Focus – Breathe. In no particular order!
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I have a lot of amazing people in my life to whom I’m so grateful. But topping my list these days (outside of my husband) are my niece and nephew. They are fierce, determined, hilarious and sweet and I love watching the world through their eyes.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Too many to count. But if I could only travel to one place it would have to be Australia. My home away from home.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My Tune-Up Balls, I don’t travel without them. Amazing to work out the kinks from long days of travel and catch those stubborn spots that love to hold tension.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
The diversity, the complexity. Toronto is now the 4th largest city in North America, with that anything you want is basically here.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
Poached egg and avo on toast and don’t forget the coffee!
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Husbands alarm is going off, I’m fighting for leg room at the end of the bed with my cats, knowing I should just get up as well. After scrolling my phone for about 30 minutes (terrible habit!) I get up about 7 if I’m being super optimistic, but probably 8, pour a glass of hot water and lemon, set up the feeding station for my three cats and go out to my studio with my oldest cat for my Yoga practice and meditation. (great habit! – it’s all about balance)
10:00 AM – sitting down at my computer typing away, most likely still in my PJ’s.
12:00 PM – contemplating brushing my teeth, heading down to the kitchen for a snack. I eat lunch late as I teach every evening and I find that gives me the best sustenance.
7:00 PM - Teaching a class either at my studio or for the gym or studios I also teach for. Unless it’s Friday, in which case I’m enjoying a delicious craft beer at the local with my BFF.
11:00 PM – Reading a couple pages of the latest book on my nightstand and turning off my light to go to sleep.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I certainly have an espresso weakness, and rarely pass a local coffee shop I’m not in love with. Top of the list are flat whites or for an extra caffeine kick a double long black. Red wine at the end of the day and water in between.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
I’m currently obsessed with “1bike1world” on Instagram. Riding his bike around the world with his cat – that is living the dream!
What should everyone try at least once?
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
Cities – I love how much they are the same and different all at the same time.
Nov 1-15th Yoga Retreat, Rishikesh India
Dec 14-15th SCW Boston Mania: Fitness Conference
April 3-5th The Yoga Conference and Show: Toronto Ontario Canada
April 14-20th Yoga Retreat, Palmar Sur Costa Rica
July 16-19th Yoga Retreat, Pender Island British Columbia Canada
Aug 12-16th canfitpro Toronto: Fitness Conference
Sept 18-20th Yoga Retreat, Midland Ontario Canada