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Meet Kayla Mantegazza of Yoganna Love This

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kayla Mantegazza.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I decided to pursue a yoga teaching certification in 2016 with the intention of bringing yoga into communities with limited access to a safe, affordable place to practice. I admire the strong sense of community and belonging that boutique fitness studios foster, but noticed they cater only to a specific clientele with thin waists and fat wallets. As spa-like studios have become more popular (they currently make up about 35% of the US exercise market), health disparities between affluent and low-income neighborhoods have become increasingly polarized.

This trend is reinforced when fitness novices feel intimidated to try trendy yoga classes because they’re unfamiliar with the Sanskrit names for poses or because their, *ahem*, “asana” may not look like the peach emoji in a pair of Lululemon yoga pants. Once I completed my training and began teaching in underserved areas, I created “Yoganna Love This” as a means of sharing information about organizations that provide services, funding, or other benefits to communities with limited access to fitness or health resources.

The other notable component of “Yoganna Love This” is my blog posts. I often write about yoga, health, and wellbeing, but I also share personal experiences and insights I’ve gained by taking leaps outside my comfort zone, facing adversity, and recovering from missteps. There is a common thread of developing resiliency and painting my own silver linings to reframe perceived negative experiences into ones with meaning and purpose.

I also try to weave in stories about people and organizations that have inspired my journey. That said, I don’t write with the delusion of inspiring people; I write with the hope of connecting with them.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Relatively speaking—yes. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn yoga from fabulous mentors like Alanna Kaivalya, who is commonly referred to as “The Yoga Doctor”, and to connect with students from a diverse spectrum of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Building authentic relationships and trust in the yoga community has been my priority since the inception of “Yoganna Love This”, and I am fortunate that those relationships have connected me to fitness organizations who share my passion for giving back, such as Ketanga Fitness, Kora Fitness, and Hands to Heart Center. I am equally appreciative and humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement I have received for my writing.

Baring aspects of my personal life on a public platform has made me feel vulnerable at times. I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask myself, “Who am I to think people have any interest in hearing about my passions and harebrained ideas?” before pressing the Publish button. Fortunately, I have been my biggest critic so far, and I continue to feel pleasantly surprised that there are folks out there who seem to identify with my experiences or share an interest in helping others.

Something I’m currently working through is establishing the legitimacy of my yoga classes without “selling out.” I try to be cognizant of the fact that I need to establish my brand’s worth by assigning value to my services, which is usually monetary, without losing sight of my mission to give back through my yoga practice. I would love to hear from my peers who have found their sweet spot.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Yoganna Love This – what should we know?
“Yoganna Love This” is a wellness blog that highlights organizations and philanthropies that give back in a meaningful way. One of the principles outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which is basically the ethical roadmap to practicing yoga, is Aparigraha, or non-possessiveness. The application of Aparigraha refers to being generous with our time, attention, energy, and other resources or knowledge. “Yoganna Love This” embodies this concept by making yoga more accessible and affordable to anyone interested in practicing, as well as by leveraging inspiring, like-minded companies that marry fitness with charity on a larger-scale.

In addition to openhandedness, another aspect of Aparigraha is the concept of letting go to create space in our homes, heads, and hearts. Much of the “Yoganna Love This” blog is rooted in the idea of releasing self-sabotaging thought patterns and habits that no longer serve us, as well as loosening our grip on situations outside of our control and focusing that energy on responding with resilience and wisdom to seek a positive, meaningful perspective.

“Yoganna Love This” aims to provide people from all walks of life with opportunities to feel connected, give back to their communities, and access boutique-quality yoga classes on a Ramen noodle budget.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I tell my students that above flexibility or strength, the most important quality for a yogi to possess is a sense of humor. I try not to take myself or my yoga practice too seriously. I’ve never successfully tried a challenging yoga pose without first giving myself unconditional permission to faceplant.

When I first began practicing yoga, the fear of falling often prevented me from learning arm balances—which I quickly realized was representative of my general attitude about not allowing myself an inch of wiggle room to make mistakes and see their potential to help me grow.

By teaching myself the art of falling with grace, I have become more resilient and empowered to pick myself up with my ego and, thankfully, my front teeth intact. I often remind myself, as well as my students, that being ashamed or afraid to fall may keep us from realizing our strength.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Iam Nash Photography, Payoga Forward, The Danger Booth

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