Business, learning, and holding onto hope, with Maria Jones

3 Feb, 2021 | Podcast, Season 5

How are you doing in these turbulent times? If the pressure of running your own business through a national lockdown and global pandemic is wearing you down, then this week’s episode of The Whin Big Podcast could give you the inspiration and ideas for getting through it.

This week Katie enjoys a relaxing, inspiring and positive chat with Maria Jones of Yuva Yoga. Together, they share their lockdown business life experiences and how they hold onto hope, even on the darkest days. They also chat about inspirational books, the importance of connecting through newsletters and so much more.

Please note: this week’s podcast features a very open and honest conversation around Covid-19 and mental health. If you need support and help to talk through any issues affecting you during this challenging time, Mind offer support and help for free. 

Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

How Yoga changed Maria’s life

Maria Jones is the founder of Yuva Yoga. She started doing yoga as a stressed-out student, juggling her life between studying for a health and nutrition degree and caring for her young son. 

Her yoga practice supported her through the toughest of times. When a chronic illness stopped any plans for going into work after graduation, yoga was her sanctuary and saviour.

Yoga remained constant. I wanted to become a yoga teacher to help other people access the benefits I had found, to access the things that helped me manage my condition. Having a health science degree helps a lot, to give people a more scientific explanation of the benefits.” – Maria

Yoga as healing support

Thanks to a background in science and a passion for the benefits of yoga, Maria began healing. She wanted to help other people achieve these results and started holding classes for less physically able and chronically ill people.

She now teaches yoga through the MS Society across Scotland and her private classes for children and adults.

Throwing yourself into learning and adapting

As you would expect, Yuva Yoga looks very different today than it did last year. Before Covid19, Maria would spend her days at schools and after school clubs, holding yoga classes for kids. That all stopped in March 2020 with the first lockdown.

Within a week, Maria had set up a home yoga studio, bought lights and streaming technology and was ready to run workshops online. She threw herself into all of the challenges around pivoting online, learning everything she could about the technology, marketing, social media and all of the essential tools she needed to make it work smoothly.

“Learning is hard. It had to be done very quickly and diligently. I saw other people giving up the process because of having to learn so many new things. It felt natural that I had to pivot, but I had to accept it would take time.” – Maria

Balancing work and life

The past 12 months have shown Maria that her business (pre-Covid) was unsustainable for a healthy balance. She had already cut evening classes out of her schedule to be more involved at home with her son but made up for that by filling her days with multiple classes, in many locations.

Her focus for the future is to have a more balanced approach to her classes. She plans to keep a few in-person classes and keep the rest online.

“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with my business. It’s been challenging but rewarding. Exactly like having a child! It’s delightful to be in the position for making your own rules, but you’re responsible for those things, and that’s stressful.” – Maria

Recognising your needs during lockdown 

Katie and Maria each take turns to share their feelings around lockdown and the changes and challenges that come from being physically apart from people – those we love, those we enjoy being around and those we want to learn from. 

What Maria has found particularly hard is the lack of human interaction and bouncing around ideas and inspiration. She has joined online (non-yoga) clubs to meet people, share ideas, and give and receive energy. 

How Maria markets her business 

Blog posts 

Maria enjoys writing, so blog posts are ideal. She knows for sure that people love to learn in different ways, so she loves to use her blog posts to create social media posts in audio, video and visually, and long written form. 

She believes her blog posts have been a stepping stone into being featured in magazines and writing articles for them, which goes a long way to helping with her marketing. 

Yoga podcast and Facebook group

Maria loves creating her podcast, where she invites yoga teachers to talk about their passions and specialisms. She enjoyed the human interaction, but it’s also opened up lots of opportunities for collaborations and marketing. 

– “Content is an important part of marketing. But it’s important to stick with one thing and doing it well really works for me. And then repurpose it.” – Maria

Finding the authentic path to share your content

Katie and Maria discuss the challenges, and benefits, of writing long-form blog posts and both agree the key is to move away from a formal and fact-based style into something more conversational.

For Katie, she struggles to keep that tone in her blogs and prefers to share her content in podcast form and newsletters as, to her, they are a more engaging way to share her insight and connect with her subscribers. This is something that Maria wholeheartedly agrees with.

Maria is a big fan of email newsletters. For her, there’s a real opportunity for connection with your audience when you put yourself into your content. When you get it right, you’re no longer ‘just a business’.

“There’s a big difference between somebody who uses their emails to promote part of what they do, but there are also people out there who write content specifically to share in emails, and if you sign up for the right newsletters, they can be real joy.” – Maria

The joy and importance of resting

Maria and Katie talk about how easy it is to get locked into doing all-the-things and how feeling burnt out and overwhelmed can feel normal after a while.

The pair share their stories of switching off, taking time out and the sheer joy of rest. Maria felt burnt out before Covid hit. Now she makes sure she schedule proper time off to recuperate. 

Maria’ & Katie’s favourite ways to make the most of time off

  • Find inspiring books to read.
  • Speak to people over Zoom – connecting with people is so important. 
  • Resting and sleeping 
  • Go inward, ponder things. 
  • Play computer games that help you focus
  • Embroidery 

Finding peace in a time of turmoil 

The conversation turns to look at how the past year has enhanced Maria’s life and work, something she is immensely grateful for. She doesn’t say this lightly, very aware of the Covid deaths and significant problems people face. But she is now able to do more to help others, which is so important to her. 

Katie urges us all to hold onto any positives that come our way. 

“Where we can see positives, in what may be the very worst year of our lives, we have to hold onto that hope and those little sprinkles of goodness. Otherwise, it was a big black hole of terribleness.” – Katie

Maria’s bookshelf

Two books that made a significant impact:

The Heart Speaks. Mimi Guarneri
Maria loves this book as it supports her passion for yoga as therapy. The writer is a cardiologist who is passionate about the idea that a holistic approach to heart disease can better heal the heart.

* The Alchemist . Paulo Coelho.
When Maria almost gave up on her business dreams, this book inspired her to brush herself off and keep going.

Currently reading:

* The Practice by Seth Godin

Embodying the Yoga Sutras by Ranju Roy

Resources from today’s podcast.

The Yuva Yoga blog

Newsletter Creators Facebook Group

Newsletters Maria loves

Happier Today

Josh Spector

The Apparent

And while we’re on the subject of newsletters… have you signed up to our newsletter, Whin Wednesdays? Just as you heard on today’s episode, Katie writes from the heart about all things small business: marketing, mindset and life.

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

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