Balancing the Grind With Raquel Chavez-Nguyen, Studio Manager & Owner of Kanuka Yoga Space
Updated: May 15
I was interviewed by Balance The Grind | Conversations about work, life & balance and discuss how yoga complements corporate life. Written by HAO
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am the studio owner of Kanuka Yoga Space in Auckland. I also work for a financial services company as a business development manager.
I love the variety in my day between my corporate role and studio role. My experience in sales, working across various industries and markets in the world, has prepped me for starting and running my own business and connecting with my clients from all walks of life.
Kanuka’s classes always include a great mix of cultures, body types, ages, and genders and we cater our classes to suit a variety of physical and emotional levels. My yoga practice and teaching keeps me grounded in a fast-paced and autonomous corporate environment.
Corporate sales culture can often be ruthless, but practicing mindfulness and the yogic guidelines of non-violence, truth, non-attachment, and self-discipline help me navigate the waters of the financial industry and all the players in this field.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Wake up – snuggle with my bulldog and take him out. May go to 6:30am yoga class or check emails and prep myself for the day.
Leave for my job in the city AFTER rush hour (often with my dog, in tow) – strategize on launching a new financial product to NZ and meet with clients, partners, and internal stakeholders – mingle in the office and find better ways to work together!
Throughout the day, I can also manage studio remotely – yay technology! I’m in touch with potential new students via social media or email and our booking software is quite handy for self-service.
After work you’ll find me teaching a yoga class or attending a yoga class. I’ll spend a bit of time planning new workshops or the next yoga retreat in the evening.
I wind down with a combination of dinner with a significant other, a dog walk outdoors, reading, or Netflix.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Flexible hours and remote working is essential!
My corporate job emphasizes flexible hours – critical with Auckland traffic. They are also dog-friendly – this really enhances my office life (and my colleagues’) if I need to take a quiet moment to pet the dog or go for a short walk to take a break from my computer.
I have also setup the studio to be managed completely remotely. My teachers are available through social media, email, or phone. The booking software for our students provides a great self-service option, but also allows me to analyse how the classes are going. I’m always available via email/phone/social media to chat with students or answer any queries for potential new students.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
It’s been key to have great support. I’m fortunate I have found a corporate job that is understanding and flexible to my external demands of running my yoga studio. They are supportive and even want me to bring in workplace yoga into the office!
My business partner at Kanuka is also incredible. We setup the business while we were both working full-time in the corporate world. Within a year, he was able to leave his office life and become more dedicate to managing the studio, teaching yoga, and being a musician. I love that we’ve setup something that has allowed those important to me to live their full potential!
Technology is essential. I value great software and always invest in systems that allow me to make more time for myself or my team.
For yoga, the Mindbody software has been great as a self-service booking tool for my students, but also provides amazing analytics so I can make more data-driven decisions on schedule changes, workshops, and offers.
We also use an iPad which allows our students to check-in with one simple touch to the screen – it is also a little tool which allows students to see who is in class with them, it’s a subtle touch that actually has helped build the community. Students love seeing who is coming to class and feel more confident learning each others’ names!
Find your tool to stay centered. Whether is a walk in the park, meditation, or yoga – finding those quiet moments for just yourself can help free the clutter of your day-to-day so you can make decisions which reflect what’s best for you and those around you.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I prefer to look at it more as “balance in work and life” – Humans are capable of amazing things!
I find that I have an abundance of time for work, friends, family, and myself by always coming back to my “why.” In yoga, you may refer to this as your center, your truth, or your purpose. Once you’re grounded and settled into yourself, you are content in whatever situation you’re in, whether it’s work or play.
Some days I have more going on, than other days. But I choose not to look at this as being too “busy” or not having “enough” time. I enjoy the present moment and find any/all chances to express gratitude.
I also practice non-attachment, if we have a concrete expectation of what success looks like, what a result is supposed to be, or how a relationship will go (personal or work-related) we limit ourselves to possibilities that may enhance our lives! Being balanced within makes it possible to live in a ever-changing work and life environment.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Be inspired. Adapt. Be fearless.
Find work that excites you, whether that’s a personal goal or a professional goal.
Be open to changes and finding other pathways to success.
Jump in, even when it’s scary, that’s when transformation happens and you can build great things.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele – Great read on 10 guidelines that help us lead life more peacefully.
More than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert – This book helped me get in touch with radical honesty and open communication.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg – a classic now? I work in technology and found her lessons on female leadership very inspiring.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Millennials are becoming the decision makers in today’s workplace and society. It’s quite exciting to see how fringe thoughts and beliefs are changing how we do business and what’s becoming more of a societal norm. I look forward to how our work/life culture transforms by a new generation who is willing to be their authentic selves – instead of following the traditional roads.