Not the Same Old Yoga

Meet Christa Avampato, a renaissance woman who, most recently, founded her own not-for-profit organization named Compass Yoga.  Compass Yoga is an organization dedicated to promoting the therapeutic healing powers of yoga for individuals with specific healthcare needs.

Christa has an eclectic employment history.  “I always wanted to have the opportunity to try new things, experiment, see where things lead.”  Significantly, Christa also did not compromise.  “I never took a terrible job just to make ends meet.  I didn’t realize that this was rare.”

She worked through college at the University of Pennsylvania and, upon graduation, was employed in the theatre industry for several years.  She left the theatre industry to pursue not-for-profit fundraising and then returned to school in pursuit of her MBA at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Although she intended to return to not-for-profit work after graduate school, Christa moved from Virginia to New York to be near a sick family member and soon realized that salaries in the not-for-profit world were insufficient to support life in New York.  She found employment in new product development at a large company.

“I feel like I’ve been a new product developer my whole career – always developing something new that helps people fulfill a need that they have.”

In 2007 and 2008, Christa found herself in New York City working as a new product developer and watching the economy fall apart.  “I’ve had a front row seat to the recession.  They were dark days in 2008.  It was a pretty scary place to be.”  At one point, two thirds of her business school class were unemployed.  “These were very smart, very qualified people being turned out by their companies.”

Observing these events unfold, Christa started to consider how she could take her future into her own hands.  She realized she could not expect another company to create her own future for her and contemplated becoming an entrepreneur.  “The thought was very scary.  I never thought that I would own my own company or organization.  I was really scared and I had to talk to other people who had done it and get some courage and confidence to do it myself.”

Christa pitched an idea for a column about entrepreneurship to Examiner.com.  She wanted to interview successful entrepreneurs and gain courage and confidence from their stories.  Over the course of 15 months in 2009 and 2010, she interviewed over one hundred entrepreneurs.  Christa turned twenty-seven of these interviews into a book entitled Hope in Progress: 27 Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me During the Great RecessionHope in Progress is available online and through Kindle.  Now that Christa had the courage and determination, she needed her idea.

Compass Yoga became the focus of Christa’s newfound entrepreneuring spirit.  She always had a passion for teaching and had developed a passion for yoga as well.  These dual passions prompted her to train as a yoga instructor.  As she progressed through training, she discovered that the traditional studio business model for yoga left much to be desired.  “It seemed ridiculous to me that there wasn’t a way for yoga teachers to make a living wage.  With my business, finance and yoga background, there had to be a better way to get paid to do this.”  Christa determined to find a way to make yoga financially viable.

Christa’s training inspired a strong belief in the healing powers of yoga.  “The more I saw articles in The Times about people struggling with diabetes and heart diseases – I knew yoga and meditation could help with that.  Wow!  There is a lot of opportunity there.”  An advocate for the healing power of yoga and meditation, and recognizing the weaknesses in our current healthcare system, Christa envisions a way to blend yoga and meditation with western medicine to offer preventative, holistic medical care.

“We would look at a patient from a 360 degree view.  Someone could come to us no matter what the ailment, information could be shared across therapists and doctors to provide true holistic care to a client.”

The unique skill set developed during Christa’s eclectic employment history, her education, her passions, her front row seat to the recession, all contributed to the May 2010 founding of Compass Yoga.  Christa gathered and diverse collection of colleagues and friends to form a Board of Directors, all believing in the power of people healing themselves through alternative methods.

Christa invested her own savings, earned through her new product development work.  “My work in business and finance fuels the not-for-profit work I am passionate about.”  More importantly, using her own funds gave her control over Compass Yoga’s mission.  “I want to bring in grant money and donor money but, at the very beginning, I wanted to clearly define what we are doing.  I wanted us to shape the mission, not a fundraiser.”

Approximately one and a half years after its founding, Compass Yoga will soon have 501(c)(3) status.  Once its status is established, it will begin fundraising efforts targeting the public and private sectors.  Christa currently teaches yoga classes at Compass Yoga, as well as, hospitals, universities and other institutions in New York City.  Compass Yoga is already serving the needs of populations facing specific healthcare challenges, including veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.   Although Christa continues to work full-time, she plans for Compass Yoga to become her full time job.

Christa is proud of her accomplishments and happy to tell her story.  In addition to the Examiner.com article and other freelance writing projects, she maintains an inspirational blog called Christa in New York.

Sourtosweet is very excited that Christa has agreed to contribute a post here.  Stay tuned next week for an original Christa Avampato post designed to inspire.

“With enough will and determination your life can turn out the way you want it to turn out. – Christa Avampato

In the meantime, Christa, best wishes on continued career satisfaction and success!

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

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One response to this post.

  1. […] 27 Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me During the Great Recession. She asked if I would be willing to share my own story through an interview (Not the Same Old Yoga) and if I’d write a guest post on the topic of inspiration (How to Survive the Uh-Oh Moment). […]

    Reply

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