PocketKnife.life Interview with E.B. Ferdig, co-creator, Unfold Studios, yoga therapist, specializing in anxiety & mental health.
How would you describe your passion for yoga?
Yoga, for me, creates a framework that helps me through the challenges and the triumphs of life. I started with the physical aspects, and somewhere along the way, I discovered the deeper aspects of yoga, which helped me reduce my feelings of anxiety and self-criticism. Yoga has given me a framework from which to pursue everything that is important to me: helping others, realizing my own goodness, self-care, creating peace in my body and mind, and finding a way to make sense of my spiritual path and purpose.
How do you incorporate into a business?
I learned from my teacher, Molly Lannon Kenny, “teach from the heart, teach what you know.” I started very simply - just offering what I knew, and seeing how that went. Very open-hearted and open-minded. Over time, I learned that I wanted to help people more specifically, and more therapeutically. I wanted to work with people who had significant pain or challenges, because I knew that yoga could help them. So, got my certification in yoga therapy, as an Integrated Movement Therapy practitioner. Beyond that, through working with a business coach, I discovered that I most wanted to work with women with anxiety, so in the last 3-4 years, I’ve become more focused, and I love it! I’m working in an area that I know very well, from training, experience and my own personal transformation. I highly recommend using a business coach when you’re morphing a passion into a business.
When did it start?
I started teaching in 2002 in Asmara, Eritra, which is in East Africa. I’d been a student of yoga for 3 years at that time, and wanted to share what I’d experienced.
What inspires you to do it?
The people I work with inspire me! I’m inspired by their bravery - to pursue change in their lives, even though it can be difficult. So many women feel like they’re the only ones who feel held back by anxiety and stress. I’m inspired by the strength it takes to step outside current habits and say, “It can be another way,” and “I deserve more than this, I know that I can do more with my life.” And they can! And they do!
How do you find time for it?
It’s challenging to balance family, self-care and work, but it’s really worth it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Working for oneself takes a lot of effort and a lot of discipline, and practicing what I preach regarding self-care takes even more discipline, but it’s necessary, and it’s possible. I never take any of this for granted, and it’s a work in progress. Meditation is the key to being able to manage it. Hands down - when I don’t meditate, it’s almost too much. When I do meditate, I realize that it’s all possible.
How does it impact the rest of your life?
My work with teaching at unfold, both regular classes, yoga for anxiety classes and private yoga therapy, teaches me so much every day. I am in a constant process of learning, because I listen to my students. I receive so much in the process of working with people. And that enriches my life. In every interaction I have with students each day. That’s the yoga. How could it not impact my life?
Is this a singular passion or do you have others?
As I said, I’m most passionate about working with women with anxiety. But I’m also passionate about working with people with larger bodies and people with chronic pain. I’m passionate about the idea that people who want to, but think they cannot do yoga really CAN do yoga. Yoga isn’t about outfits, flexibility nor fitness. It’s accessible to everyone because it’s not about any of that crap. It’s about connecting with oneself, in whatever form that might take. There are so many ways that people can do yoga. My business partners, Leigh Drake & Rachel Plies opened unfold to help people who might not be comfortable in a typical yoga environment, to be able to explore yoga in many different expressions: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Movement, meditation, relaxation and even just social interaction - all of it can be yoga, when the intention is connection.
Do you own a pocket knife?
Yes? What kind? When did you last use it?
Swiss Army. When I was last camping - in August. I use it mostly for opening bottles, cutting food, removing slivers,etc. But when I was in Peace Corps in West Africa, I used it constantly.