Love, Sunday is delighted to shine the spotlight on Vivian Luo, intellectual property attorney by day, and yoga instructor in NYC by night. Vivian's path to finding and pursuing her love of yoga is an inspiring story of commitment and dedication. What I love and find fascinating about Vivian's story is that she didn't up and leave her corporate job to pursue her passion, but decided to dual track and pursue both - a true story of a life as a multi-passionate person. Fun fact: Vivian and I used to work at the same law firm in NYC and realized that we had been in the same kindergarten class in San Francisco. The world is so big and so small all at once!
Read about Vivian's journey of two different worlds and how they collide. Vivian has also partnered with SwellWomen to host a yoga retreat in Belize from December 11-17, 2016 for a week of intensive vinyasa yoga and mindful connection. Reach out to Vivian if you're interested in the retreat or on her practice!
What is your current role?
Currently, I’m an intellectual property attorney and yoga teacher in NYC.
Tell us about your background and how you came to practice law and yoga.
I grew up in San Francisco and majored in electrical engineering and political science at UCSD. I had the opportunity to explore many disciplines in college and found my strength on the business side of technology, which led me to my current career in intellectual property. Sports have always been a big part of my life. Growing up, I played basketball and volleyball (one of my big life loves), swam in high school, and trained in Muay Thai. When I wasn't at practice or in the ring, I was running, in the gym, or on the beach surfing, scuba, or snorkeling. After moving to NYC for work, I became obsessed with high intensity classes and kettlebells. I (very reluctantly) started going to yoga once a week to complement my "meat head" regimen and fell hard for the practice. You just feel so good after an hour and half on the mat! And yoga has been a game changer in all my other activities and sports.
What inspired you to pursue your certification as a yoga instructor and what did that require?
I love the balance that yoga brings to my life and decided to commit to my 200 hour teacher training to deepen my personal practice. I did my training at Yoga Vida with a phenomenal group of leaders. We met Friday-Sunday over almost 5 months and some of my fellow trainees and I met a few hours a week outside of the program to practice teaching. It was definitely a commitment, especially with a full time job, but my teacher training experience really inspired me to teach and continue learning and deepening my practice.
Where do you find conflict and where do you find balance between being a lawyer and being a yoga instructor?
I find them to be perfect complements. Both require a fairly high degree of discipline, logic, patience, and drive. As a lawyer - and really any professional - you have to know when to take a step back and find creative ways to solve problems. As a yoga teacher, I sometimes program for hours to make my sequences body logical so my students are prepared and successfully get into their arm balances, folds, twists, and bends.
Had you known that you would one day teach yoga would you have pursued law?
I think about this all the time! My first job was coaching swim and lifeguarding and when I started to kickbox competitively, I taught some cardio kickboxing and sparring, so I've been teaching in different capacities since I was a kid. I often wish I pursued it professionally earlier in life, but there's something to be said for keeping some passions close to the heart rather than making them work. And who knows what the future may have in store - perhaps my legal training was a long route to my future teaching and wellness career! I’ll keep you posted . . .
What skills as an attorney do you think were helpful to you as a yoga instructor, and vice versa?
Interestingly, being a patent attorney is very similar to teaching yoga. Both are an extremely mental activity and I put the same amount of thought and energy into putting together a yoga class as I do when it comes to protecting and managing technology.
What challenges did you face when pursuing yoga as a career?
It was really hard for me to even say I was “practicing” yoga because I’m not naturally graceful and light on my limbs. Once the practice of yoga became a part of my daily life, I still wasn't sure I was "ready" to teach since I hadn't been practicing for very long. Now I absolutely love leading a room and it’s hard to believe that thought ever crossed my mind!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue yoga as well?
If you love it, do it. Take as many classes and teachers as you can until you find that one that you have to practice with everyday. Then go learn from that teacher. Learning from and surrounding yourself with people that inspire you is foundational to developing a strong teaching career.
Has teaching yoga improved your overall life balance? Has it changed how you practice law?
I think it’s mutual. I’ve taken yoga classes here and there and they never stuck with me. I think my yoga practice is a manifestation of a balance I've created - it came at a time when I was open to learning and to really embrace my practice.
What inspires you daily? How do you keep yourself motivated?
Inspiration for me always comes from people - my numerous mentors in my attorney life or my trainers, coaches, teachers and students in my active life. There's nothing more fulfilling than finding those rare persons who make you want to lift yourself up and give you a boost in the process.
What are you working on next?
I'm expanding my teaching schedule and continuing to develop my own practice. I also recently met some really inspiring ladies at SwellWomen, a company that offers yoga intensive, detox, and surf yoga retreats, and am over the moon to be working with them to host a yoga retreat this December in Belize! Come hang!!! You can find more info HERE. I’ve got lots of ideas and it’ll definitely be a fabulous yoga-beach-dive trip!
Where can we find you? (social media)
Follow me on Instagram @atana117 and find me on Facebook (Vivian Luo).