Seven years ago Cheryl MacDonald was a Business Analyst, working in the rat race, feeling trapped. She never imagined that she would be able to leave the 9 to 5 routine.
Then Cheryl was made redundant. Funnily enough, this may have been the best thing ever to happen to her, because it became a springboard for a whole new adventure.
Fast forward to 2016…Cheryl is the proud owner of YogaBellies, a global community of yoga teachers providing classes from Mexico to Dubai!
Cheryl trained in yoga early in life. For years she gave free classes to friends and family in the evenings purely out of love for the practice. She had never thought of making a living out of it. ‘When the redundancy came along, I just kind of thought: “I wonder if I can?!”’
When her husband, a doctor, was on call, Cheryl would have a baby monitor at the end of her mat while teaching. With cute noises coming through the monitor this made for an entertaining addition to classes.
As he got a little older Caelan would come to class and do baby massage demos. ‘He was always there’, she recalls fondly.
The classes grew from 3 people to 6, to 12. The studio moved into the living room.
Cheryl had an overwhelming response to a Facebook group and found herself working 4 days a week. It was too much to handle alone so she began training other teachers to help her. The company has now grown organically from Cheryl’s spare bedroom to over 100 franchises worldwide, and she has trained dozens of women to do just what she did – leave the rat race and fit their work around the lifestyle they desire.
As we reflected on this huge achievement, she explained incredulously: ‘I just wanted some part-time work!’
In the beginning Cheryl managed to fit 14 hour days around her new-born son, Caelan. While he slept, she worked. ‘I pretty much gave sleep up altogether! I didn’t know what I was doing. I made it up as I went along. But to be honest it genuinely didn’t feel like work.’ YogaBellies was a labour of love.
Cheryl’s biggest sacrifice was to give up teaching in order to look after ‘her girls’ – the Yoga Bellies teachers who she trains and manages. But she excitedly explained how she now gets to design merchandise and lead retreats in Bali and soon Thailand.
The magic ingredient for Yoga Bellies is its sense of community. It was always more than just a class. Cheryl explains ‘the physical part is not everything’. The connections between teachers and students is very personal, and that has been the key to success.
Cheryl’s advice for anyone made redundant is to use the money that you’re given for something productive. Use it to pursue a dream, a passion, and give it your all.