We reconnected with Zuna Yoga graduate, Anne Wu, to hear her story about finding Yoga, what motivated her to do a Bali yoga teacher training, and how she incorporates what she learned during her time with us in her personal and professional life.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of yoga?
I currently live in San Francisco with my fiancé, I grew up in LA and then moved up north for college. I’m passionate about mental health and studied Psychology in undergrad at UC Berkeley. Currently, I lead an incredible team at HackMentalHealth, where we just hosted the world’s largest mental health hackathon with 500+ attendees.
What motivated you to do your 200 hour yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga?
When I was 18, I set a goal for myself to get certified to teach yoga by age 25. I made the decision right after my first semester in college, having practiced yoga consistently for 10 weeks at the school gym. I realized that no matter how stressful life was during that time, I always walked out of yoga feeling grounded, present, and focused. I was struck by the transformative power of yoga. I knew this was something I wanted to continue cultivating in my life--and also, share with others. I haven’t looked back since choosing Zuna Yoga for my bali yoga teacher training experience, and I’m happy to report that I did successfully achieve my goal, with one day to spare too!
On a personal level, what is the most important lesson or lessons you took away from the training?
Beyond deepening my understanding and practice of yoga in its physical form through breath, mindfulness, asanas, alignment, and sequencing, teacher training shaped my perspective on how to live consciously and with intention. As a result of a slower, deeper, and more meaningful yoga practice, I have felt energetic shifts in my personal physical, mental, and spiritual development. From Zuna, I learned tangible strategies to create an intentional life. Here are three of my favorite lessons learned:
Where the mind goes, energy follows
Mastery of the breath is mastery of the mind
Be mindful and use discernment in forming and evaluating relationships, but not judgment
On a professional level, how did you integrate the knowledge from the training into your work life?
Where the mind goes, energy follows. These six simple words are simple, yet so powerful! It’s been nearly two years since I heard them for the first time, and it continues to be my guiding mantra--transforming the way I face challenges and celebrate successes. We attract the things we set our intentions towards and if we’re not careful, we can subconsciously feed thoughts that serve no valuable purpose in our lives.
In the workplace, I’ve experienced firsthand how easy it is to get caught up in the daily hustle of creating deliverables and meeting deadlines. Two months prior to applying to Zuna, I experienced burnout for the first time and it manifested in all forms possible: physically, I was exhausted and lethargic; mentally, I was anxious, unconfident, and stressed 24/7; and emotionally, I felt demoralized and unnerved. Looking back, I did not recognize the dangers and detriment of letting my mind wander in a state of avoidance. My mind was focused on avoiding failure, but by allowing my mind to fixate on the fear of failure, all my subsequent thoughts and actions fed into that fear. The harder I tried to fight the fear by overworking, the closer I became to feeling burnout. I realize now, post-training, that the key is not focusing on what we don’t want in our lives, but instead, focusing on what we do want in our lives. For example, “I don’t want to fail” vs. “I want to be successful” is a nuanced, but profound shift in mindset. By redirecting our mind to focus on the things we want in our lives, we begin attracting the energy needed to get there because….well, where the mind goes, energy follows!
What kind of responses/changes have you seen in your professional life since your training?
Empowerment and courage to pursue my passion. I felt so empowered after completing my teacher training and a big reason for that is because teacher training isn’t easy. It requires your whole, complete capacity. 12 hours of yoga, meditation, lectures, and workshops every day for three weeks in a row, with students leading a class by week 3. It challenging and I was in a state of flow; I loved every moment. Once I experienced what pure fulfillment felt like, I became empowered to change the life that was placed on pause back in the States.
Upon returning, I left a job that no longer served me, and started pursuing passion projects that were meaningful to me. A big one was mental health. Mental health has been a big part of my life since childhood and has impacted many of my loved ones. Just one month before I left for Bali, I shared with my best friend that despite caring so much about the mental health space, I felt so paralyzed to do anything about it because I didn’t know where to start. I still remember telling her how amazing it would be to help start and/or grow an organization from inception, but I didn’t know how to.
Fast forward two years later, I’m extremely proud to be a part of HackMentalHealth and to help develop this young, inspiring non-profit. And while it definitely didn’t happen overnight, when looking back now, I recognize that I had actually unconsciously put my energy out into the world, and it was all a part of this journey. After coming back, I harnessed the power of Zuna’s teachings and began to point my mind with intention. I envisioned my future-self thriving and being actively involved in mental health space. Feeling inspired, I took action. From reaching out to mental health startups and learning how they were disrupting the mental healthcare space with technology, to finding impactful volunteer opportunities in mental health, I was soon connected with HackMentalHealth at their inaugural event through a warm helpline I had started volunteering with. It’s funny how all the pieces seem to fit together so perfectly when looking back, and yet in the moment, we never have any idea where the path will lead us. (To learn more about HackMentalHealth, please visit their website or Facebook page.)
What surprising benefits did you see from the yoga teacher training?
That the ability to move through various asanas with a stable breath translates into my ability to move through life with ease and intention, even when life gets tricky. The saying, “who you are on the mat is who you are in life,” is honestly so relevant and certainly requires continuous practice!
What advice would you give to prospective YTT students?
Attending Zuna Yoga was the best investment I ever made in myself, hands down, and that’s the most beautiful part about all of this. It was for myself--no one else. I wanted to deepen my practice so that I could share this beautiful practice with others. I chose to solo-travel across the world to learn how to be comfortable on my own. For me, there’s a lot of security in knowing that if I’m okay by myself, then I’ll always be okay no matter where life takes me because I’ll always have myself to count on. All I can say is - if you are open and ready to accept what yoga can bring into your life, then do it! Don’t overthink it or second guess yourself. This is an amazing opportunity to focus on yourself - take advantage of it!