We are pleasantly happy to have Dr. Jodi Ashbrook onboard with the Inspiyr community! Dr. Jodi Ashbrook who is changing the world (domestically and internationally) with the intention of utilizing meditation, yoga, and an educative degree to fuel our minds, bodies, and souls.
All photos for this feature credited to VS Photography
Hello, Dr. Jodi Ashbrook! I would like to begin with you giving us a short description of who you are and what you do?
I am a Speaker, Author, Educator & Serial Entrepreneur, owning & operating several ventures that offer holistic wellness education and professional development, including ZenLeader®, The Yoga Movement, The Be Brand ®, & Elevate Higher Ed.
I most recently launched ZenLeader® earlier this year, which is an educational platform offering both live and virtual organizational development curriculum to arm corporate leaders and their teams with professional and personal tools to calm the corporate chaos and lead a more fulfilling, intentional life.
Also in the B2B realm, as Co-Founder of Elevate Higher Ed, I provide consulting services that help institutions in higher education advance in academics, student support, enrollment growth and improve the overall student journey.
Circling back to my deep passion for self-care, The Be Brand® is an inspirational retail line tied to The Yoga Movement, my global non-profit mission to deliver complimentary wellness tools to schools and universities across the globe. As a traveling yoga instructor, I also represent wellness retail company, Kulae Yoga as a global DiploMAT Ambassador, driving their “Real Good Karma” corporate mission to create a more sustainable world.
As an Author, I published my first book, Looking at Life through the Lesson Lenses in 2015, and will be releasing my second book later this year: Breaking through the Box—which will inspire readers to follow their dreams and embrace their own unique, purpose-filled life journey, as an alternative to the conventional “beaten path”.
How did you become involved with Yoga?
One decade ago, my life had become a string of negative thought patterns and, “why am I even here?” moments. I tried to ease my pain and find comfort in food, which led me to an 80-pound weight gain. I disconnected from all significant relationships, incurred debt up to my ears, and felt lost about who I was and my purpose for existence. The anxiety and emptiness eventually became unbearable, and the self-inflicted feelings of worthlessness took over and pulled me into my darkest hours one night that changed my life forever.
As I lay there, ready to take my own life, I realized what I was missing—I needed to connect deeply to my true purpose for being alive. Fortunately, a force much higher than me intervened that night, and I made the decision to end the self-loathing and take responsibility for creating a life that I knew I wanted and deserved.
After moving across the country to pursue a job promotion and career growth, I wanted and needed to let go of the extra physical and emotional weight I had become used to carrying as a defense mechanism. I began taking 2-3 yoga classes per week as a starting point to improve my physical wellness and what started as an exercise routine soon transformed into a spiritual evolution.
Later, I went on to own and operate a yoga studio in the Greater Boston Area that enabled me to better understand and appreciate Yoga as an all-inclusive community that takes us all in just as we are, with no judgment or pretense. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so grateful for my practice still today as an instructor and educator which is why I have made it part of my mission to share yoga and wellness tools with as many people as possible to help improve both their personal and professional lives.
What has motivated you to pursue the Zen lifestyle, as well as, becoming an Educator?
A few short months after my bout with depression, I realized my own passion to develop others as a professional leadership coach. Pushing myself beyond my preconceived limits gave me a sense of purpose and direction, and I finally made the intentional choice to grab the steering wheel and take the reigns of my own life.
However, once again, I had allowed my fear and self-doubt to hinder my progress, as I was afraid of making the changes necessary to create the life I yearned so deeply to live. Just as I was becoming complacent on my new found path as a coach and leader, the universe delivered another wake-up call that officially led me to lead a “Zen Lifestyle”.
On day seven in the hospital, escaping death from two blood clots in the lungs, I made a promise that I would no longer make decisions just to “play it safe”. I made a commitment to myself that no matter the situation, I wouldn’t live in fear of failure. I would find the courage to say “yes” to taking risks and embracing opportunities.
Since then, I’ve sold my yoga studio and left behind a home address in Boston, and for nearly two years, I have been journeying across the globe to experience what I believe is life’s greatest treasures—new adventures, with new people, in new places. I’ve launched four business ventures over the past decade that are all tied to my passion for wellness and leadership development, and am still learning to lean on the universe when I need guidance and direction.
It’s important to understand that embracing the “Zen Lifestyle” doesn’t mean you have to leave behind the security of your home, your family, or your job to go backpacking across the world. It means that you choose to improve your self-awareness and tune in to your own mind, body, and spirit to connect more deeply to your ultimate purpose and value here on earth to achieve fulfillment—as a Human Being, rather than a Human Doing.
Could you explain how ZenLeader is helping to teach business leaders to incorporate holistic approaches into their career?
Our ZenLeader curriculum offers mental, physical and emotional strategies like example meditations, yoga postures, thought management practices and leadership principles shared with the purpose to educate and inspire participants on ways to be the leader they would follow both in business and in life.
The purpose of ZenLeader is to share strategies to address the development of an individual holistically which ultimately improves the individual’s abilities in leadership, partnership, and influence in all of life’s many roles.
From a corporate and business perspective, ZenLeader can help enhance skills and capabilities both needed and relevant in the professional realm in analyzing data and executing a vision to maximize strengths, close performance gaps, create growth and improve the overall employee experience.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome when it comes to experiencing your own holistic journey through life?
The biggest obstacle I have overcome on my own holistic journey has been releasing all judgment, of myself and of others. Can you relate to having moments where you made a judgment about yourself or someone else? What someone did or didn’t do – their choices, clothes, actions, words…the list goes on and on.
And, when we don’t have someone to pass judgment over, we actively look for things to judge and reasons to be unhappy. If we spent as much energy on improving ourselves that we spend on gossiping and tearing down others, the world may be a very different place. The reality is, we are all human and all have a tendency to pass judgment on others and ourselves.
Here is how I see it:
- Let people be. We are all on our own journey and have the freedom to be however we feel most comfortable being. While you may not understand why others do what they do or how they live their life, you don’t need to understand or fix it because you have your own life to live.
- Ease up and remind yourself that everyone, including you, is doing the best they can with the information they have at the moment. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is, “as we know better, we do better.”
- Take a look in the mirror first. As you reflect honestly, in some way, shape or form you have probably done or been what you are judging someone else for in that moment. It is then that you have an opportunity to recognize we are all at different stages of learning on our path. No one stage is better than another, life is not a competition. Just an opportunity and plenty of experiences to practice learning and growth.
- Turn your vision inward and reflect on where the judgment is coming from and what part of you needs to be healed. Healing the broken part of where the judgment is coming from will help eliminate the need to beat yourself or others up through superficial judgment that only leads to resentment and negativity.
Here’s how I’ve embraced this lesson; each time the pattern of judging someone or something else comes up, there is an opportunity to take a step back and look at the situation and yourself through a different lens.
The work begins within each of us, working collectively towards a greater good. Be the leader you would follow and let that work begin with you.