How One Cofounder Launched AcroYoga And Why She Walked Away From Her Global Success

“The moment where you accidentally start a global movement at 1 a.m. in a San Francisco loft.” That’s what you’ll hear when Jenny Sauer-Klein tells you how she cofounded AcroYoga back in 2003.

Jenny met her cofounder Jason Nemer, an elite gymnast with an extensive background in circus training, at a party and instantly bonded over their shared passion of movement. She was only 25 and at the time, and taught yoga and circus arts at after-school programs in Oakland, CA. Less than a month later, the pair launched AcroYoga.

AcroYoga is a dynamic practice that fuses acrobatics with yoga and healing arts. It involves carefully synchronized movements between partners and cultivates trust, connection and playfulness. Practitioners span across six continents, totalling in the millions worldwide.

(I recently interviewed Jenny for my podcast, Unconventional Life. Listen to Jenny’s podcast episode here.):

 

When you ask Jenny about the beginning of AcroYoga, she’ll tell you that she never expected it to turn into a global movement and business. The first few years weren’t easy. As Jenny shares,“It wasn’t an intellectual discovery. It was a very active, in the world, making money as we went discovery of exploring what this thing is.”

And, she didn’t go all in at first. She kept side jobs and maintained steady cash flow until she was mentally ready. For her, it was a process to see, feel, and believe that a movement was possible and that she had to be the one to usher it into the world.

Flash forward to 2012.

The risk paid off. From the outside it seemed like Jenny had made it. AcroYoga had spread to several continents, hundreds of teachers had been certified in the practice, and practitioners were numbering in the hundreds of thousands. But from the inside perspective, Jenny wasn’t happy.

She found herself tired of the lifestyle, constant travel, and the work it took to catalyze communities around the world and then coming home only to feel really alone. She would wonder, “Where are the people who aren’t my students? Who are just my friends?” She then realized she wanted more. She wanted to build a life with someone and to get the essence of AcroYoga (“trust, connection, playfulness”) out to a different group of people, like those in companies and organizations.

When Jenny realized she wasn’t 100% committed to her business,  like she had been before, she knew in order for AcroYoga to stay healthy and the community and the company to thrive, she had to walk away.

To let go of her role and status, her identity that was wrapped into everything she had built, proved to be the hardest decision she’s had to make. And in the process of selling her half of the business to her co-founder, she learned to trust she could leverage all the connections, life experiences, and what she had discovered over the last 10 years into something new.

What she realized was, “To see something through a complete life cycle—from ideation, to birth, to growth, to sustaining, and then to let it go… is incredibly powerful and empowering as a businessperson. I feel like I have so much more to offer, and it’s given me immense freedom in terms of not being identified with the form that is coming through me.”

Jenny has shown that belief to be true over and over again in her latest work, Play on Purposewhich helps new teams to accelerate creativity and collaboration through playful games and exercises. This initiative lets her provide strategic learning and development to companies and organizations, in playful, embodied engaging ways, proving that training doesn’t have to be dry and boring to be truly effective.

Jenny’s story is instructive for millennials who worry that their early success may box them in for the future. The takeaways?

  1. If you can do it once, you can do it again. As an entrepreneur, you get to make it up as you go along.
  2. Don’t be attached to the form of expression that is coming through you. Finding “your thing” requires experimentation, tweaking and tuning the dial, playing with the knobs of happiness, and not being afraid to make adjustments, even if that means letting go. Sometimes that sweet spot  will last for 10 years or sometimes it will be a few months before it is time to adjust again.
  3. Your creations never dies, it just transmutes and transforms into the next thing. You never lose the life experience that you gained from trying something, or the connections  you make, all of that stays with you and you leverage that into the next, and the next, and the next project. Just go for it
  4. Trust your own creative well, it will never run dry. Find the balance between offering and listening. Putting something out and not only paying attention to how it is received but also how you feel in the doing of it. You will feel it when it is right, trust in that feeling and let it guide you in your decision making.

If you want to win a free copy of Jenny’s course “Rock Your Workshop” ($500 value) that takes you through the process of designing interactive events in 7 days listen to the podcast for details. Then enter to win here. Jenny has made this offer exclusively to Unconventional Life readers and listeners.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

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