This is one of a five-story series, “Empower Hour,” for Utah Valley Magazine.
“Can I see myself waking up happy every day saying, ‘I’m so excited to be a lawyer’?”
That’s the question Provo’s Brittany Andrews asked herself one day after graduating with her English degree with plans to attend law school. Her answer was a thundering “no.”
“My dad had always told me to find something I love to do and find people who would pay me to do it,” Brittany says. “Up to that point I had been excited for law school, but I realized I couldn’t see myself being a lawyer.”
Instead Brittany surprised herself and her family and enrolled in a yoga and Pilates teacher training course. As a triathlete and cyclist, she expected to gravitate toward the more cardio-focused workouts of Pilates. She surprised herself again when the namaste stole her heart away.
That was eight years ago. Today she is the founder and owner of The Yoga Underground in Provo, a yoga studio that bends and stretches the rules of traditional yoga to make it accessible, fun and heart-opening for every budding yogi.
Yoga focuses on clearing the mind and maintaining calm breathing — but Brittany’s first few years after opening The Yoga Underground were anything but clear and calm.
“I didn’t want to go into huge debt to do this, so I worked as a full-time server at a couple restaurants,” Brittany says. “I taught a yoga class at 6 a.m., then taught a teacher training, then I worked all night at the restaurants. That lasted five years.”
Opening a yoga studio wasn’t the end of her entrepreneurial crusade. She’s also creating her own style of yoga — an alternative and “liberal” style of ashtanga yoga. Her inspiration comes from other forms of yoga, ancient practices that she studied in southeast Asia, and her deeply rooted desire to bring yoga to the people.
“It was a major moment for me when I realized I liked yoga enough to make it my own,” Brittany says. “It was hard to start, but I kept doing it because I saw how it could improve people’s lives.”
Strong heart, strong art
Brittany hasn’t only seen change in herself and her yogis since opening The Yoga Underground — she’s seeing change in the yoga culture of Utah Valley.
“I feel lucky to have come onto the yoga scene when I did, because I see people realizing yoga has a spirituality that can be used in any religion,” Brittany says. “It’s more a way of life than it is a physical process.”
That way of life is evident in the art in her yoga studio. After moving to a new location in Provo six months ago, a fellow yogi and artist asked Brittany if she wanted to brighten up the studio with custom artwork. She did, and she only had two requirements — elephants and color.
“In Himalayan mythology, elephants represent strength and overcoming obstacles,” Brittany says. “And I wanted color dripping down the walls, too, because that represents who we are. We are adding color to the sometimes black-and-white world of yoga.”
“We have so much more power over our thoughts and actions than we want to take responsibility for.” —Brittany Andrews, owner of Yoga Underground
An hour a day
In an average day Brittany can teach half a dozen hour-long yoga classes. But the most important hour of her day is the hour she dedicates to herself.
“Women around here worry about being selfish because doing things for others is what’s praised,” Brittany says. “It’s important to show to yourself that you matter just as much as everybody else.”
Though she doesn’t like to call it self-care (“that’s therapy talk”), she takes time to “show myself kindness” for at least an hour of the day. Some days that means 10 minutes of meditation and 50 minutes of quiet time in nature. Other days it means participating in an hour-long yoga class instead of teaching it herself.
“For the most part being a business owner doesn’t take away from my personal practice, but it does take effort to keep it up,” Brittany says. “It’s worth it though. We have so much more power over our thoughts and actions than we want to take responsibility for. That’s what I try to teach through yoga.”