Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandra Fay Hampton.
Alexandra Fay, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began my yoga journey at the age of 16 and, after a yoga injury in my early twenties, I never thought I would be running a yoga business 16 years later! While yoga during my teenage years served as an avenue to manage school stress, my practice blossomed when I studied abroad in South India in college. There, I learned how to be at peace amidst chaos and the seed was planted that one day I might have a yoga studio. When I later started my career, yoga became my sanctuary for self-care and helped keep me grounded. Yet, after suffering a neck injury from a yoga class my practice came to a complete halt. For many years.
During this period of physical therapy, coping with chronic pain, and soul searching, I returned to my hometown of Portsmouth, NH, where I met my now husband and also discovered paddle boarding. When I first started paddle boarding I was so afraid of hurting my neck again that I actually spent a whole summer riding the nose of my husband’s board while he paddled me around! Over time, I regained my strength and confidence and felt safe pursuing a sport that nurtured my love for the outdoors and being on the water. One day, I realized that paddle boarding had given me what I lost in the yoga studio – a space for myself.
As a career woman, with prior positions in public health, consulting and marketing, I never intended to work with paddle boarding and yoga, it was an organic shift over time. My husband had been involved in local surf shops since we met and I always helped out by giving paddle boarding lessons and leading SUP tours. In 2015, he launched his own company – Portsmouth Paddle Co. – and I also started a new journey as a part-time Barre and yoga instructor alongside graduate studies. At the same time, SUP Yoga was just starting to have a presence in New Hampshire, planting the seed for future seasons.
In 2016, we decided to dive into Portsmouth Paddle Co. head-first as a husband and wife team. It was then that I spearheaded our Paddle Board Fitness program, working with local studios to offer on-water classes and teaching paddle board yoga to private groups. In 2017, this program grew by six-fold, which was truly exciting and sparked the idea and creation of my new sister-company, SEAVĀSANĀ LLC — a separate business exclusively focused on on-water yoga and fitness. Spreading my wings and launching my own vision was nerve wracking, but I felt deep down that it was something I just had to do. I love the constant stimulation and creative freedom involved in running a small business and am glad I took the plunge!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have been very fortunate with SEAVĀSANĀ, having had two years’ experience running Portsmouth Paddle Co. and teaching in our community prior to launching. Yet, my biggest struggle was still FEAR. My mind asked questions like: How will SEAVĀSANĀ be received? Will our partners be supportive? Will people come to class? Am I doing things right? I had to let go of the self-doubt and desire to do things perfectly from the start and just go for it! I began to realize the only way to learn what would work for the business was to try different things and be adaptable.
As a sole-proprietor, working in isolation also had its challenges. While an intense focus on my work felt necessary with a short timeline to launch, it often led me to overthink my decisions and feel lonely. I always loved working in teams and realized that I needed to cultivate a creative brainstorming process in a new way. I began reaching out to trusted friends and entrepreneurs in my circle for advice and feedback. As I opened up and connected more with others, I realized that many female entrepreneurs in my community feel the same way and that we need each other! Being able to support others and help them just as they were helping me added a whole new level of fulfillment to my work.
When you’re starting a business, I think the last thing you should expect is a smooth road! There are always challenges to overcome and problems to solve. But these things help you become savvier about your industry and more clear about your objectives. Each time you resolve an issue, you learn more about what’s important to you and you build skills that leave you better equipped to address future challenges. My advice would be to embrace your struggles as opportunities for growth. Remember that what you think might be your biggest failure may end up being your biggest gift. And, reach out to people you trust for feedback – it’s OK to ask for help and brainstorming sessions are a lot of fun!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into SEAVĀSANĀ story. Tell us more about the business.
I started SEAVĀSANĀ to give individuals wishing to begin a paddle board yoga practice the same carefully crafted programs as paddle boarding enthusiasts and on-land yoga practitioners. With two prior teaching seasons under my belt, I had heard just as much fear as excitement around trying SUP Yoga. Comments like “I can’t do that!” or “I would be in the water!” inspired me to create an avenue for students to gain the knowledge and skills to feel confident and safe transitioning from studio to sea. I saw my own journey from pain and doubt reflected in these comments and wanted to share an opportunity for growth that would allow anyone interested to share in the amazing experience of on-water yoga.
SEAVĀSANĀ provides everything needed to launch a floating yoga practice through our Studio Series and our Sea Series.
Studio Series courses prepare students for paddleboard yoga during our ‘preseason.’ On-land classes aim to improve strength, mobility, and balance, and impart key on-water movement tips and tricks to help yogis reach their goal of practicing on the sea. Furthermore, we aim to introduce paddle boarders to the benefits of yoga and how it can support their active lifestyle.
Sea Series offerings include all of our on-water movement classes and events. Paddle Board Yoga classes are designed to encourage advancement, with All Levels, Level 1 and Level 2. Through regular attendance and the completion of prerequisites, SUP Yogis have the opportunity to grow their practice from a ‘slow flow’ All Levels experience to more intermediate postures and faster-paced classes in Levels 1 and 2.
Due to the nature of practicing on the water, I believe wholeheartedly that foundational knowledge about paddleboarding and how to transition yoga poses to paddle boards is essential to ensure safety and integrity of the yoga practice. I believe this sets SEAVĀSANĀ apart in an industry that is experiencing explosive growth. With paddle boards more accessible than ever, it has become so easy for teachers to pop out and offer classes without proper training. I am proud of our commitment to our students’ experience and learning. And, I am constantly inspired by watching individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds in our classes. The biggest reward in my work is watching nervous smiles turn into blissful ones, and knowing that SEAVĀSANĀ has played a small part in building confidence and maybe even inspiring a new avenue for self-care!
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Both my sister and I both have a creative flair and entrepreneurial spirit, which is no surprise considering both our mother and father were self-employed while we were growing up. We were raised seeing ‘working for yourself’ as a real possibility as opposed to a lofty idea. We were also raised to set goals, work hard and save for what we wanted. Those lessons gave me an appreciation for my experiences and the understanding not to take my education or opportunities for granted. I am so grateful that my family has always supported me in whatever I put my mind to.
- $40 per class (Paddle Board Yoga)
- 3, 5 and 10 class packs available for reduced rates!
- Website: www.seavasana.com
- Phone: 603-770-8871
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @seavasana
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/seavasana
Amber Clair Photography, Monica Justesen Photography, Alexandra Hampton