On Friday, May 2, Elizabeth Nurse took a leave of absence from her job in the world of financial accounting to pursue something very different: A career in nonprofit yoga.
Nurse, a 26-year-old Boston resident, completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training two years ago, and since then she’s immersed herself in the world of yoga. From getting involved in as many yoga-related volunteer projects as possible to posting photos of her practice on Instagram, Nurse found herself increasingly dedicated to yoga as time went on.
“Sometimes I felt like [yoga] was my life,” Nurse told The Huffington Post. “It was harder for me to focus on finance because I was so passionate about what I was doing outside of work.”
A year before leaving her job, Nurse started Yogella, a nonprofit that provides online yoga classes and plans charity events to raise money for worthy causes. After investing a tremendous amount of time and energy in Yogella -- and having a great time along the way -- she realized it was time to leave behind the career she thought she’d always wanted in order to dedicate herself to what she truly loved.
As an analytical and logical person by nature, Nurse knew she couldn’t say goodbye to her stable job and great health benefits without a plan -- so she started small.
“I started off just posting my own practice on Instagram, and I found there was a huge social media industry that existed with people who loved yoga,” she said. “Before I knew it, I had this whole community that I was a part of and that I was also providing content for.”
Once she realized how much interest her practice was generating, Nurse started thinking bigger and began exploring the world of online yoga, which allows people to connect and practice yoga through online streaming.
“I did a lot of research about startups before I left, starting your own business and nonprofits,” she said. “So I really did build a structure for myself before I decided to give my leave of absence.”
A Huge Wakeup Call
Although Nurse was dedicating almost all of her non-working hours to yoga, she didn’t feel brave enough to take her passion to the next level until she was jolted by a car accident on the way home from a yoga retreat.
“I left without a scratch, but I could have lost my life or been really damaged,” Nurse said. “And it pushed me to think differently. If something that terrible had happened, would I want to know my life ended doing something I was only lukewarm about? Or would I really like to be doing something else?”
At the end of two weeks, she still felt exactly the same way -- and she decided to give her employer a month's notice. She can still technically return to finance later, but she's focusing on yoga full time for now.
Taking It To The Next Level
Although Nurse only let go of her career a week ago, she’s already received a huge amount of support, both from former co-workers and the yoga community. She now spends her days attending and teaching local yoga classes and working to connect with other nonprofits, companies and teachers. As optimistic as she is about the next step of her life, Nurse is staying practical about her journey.
“I’m setting goals and benchmarks for myself and the nonprofit," she said. "I know what I want to achieve in the next year and the next five years. I think the very statistical part of me knows there’s a high chance that something won’t work out if you start a business -- the majority of businesses fail.”
Luckily, it seems like Nurse is off to a good start. In addition to being a 501c3 licensed nonprofit, Yogella has a social media following of more than 14,000 supporters and has already collected hundreds of subscribers with users hailing from 27 different countries.
"I hope that at the very least Yogella will be able to help one person every day," Nurse said. "I believe Yogella gives them that chance to take their practice off the mat and back out into the world. And I really would like to leave something behind that will give back for much longer than I’m on this earth."
If you or someone you know is taking steps to live a life that's simpler, saner and more fulfilling, we want to hear about it. To submit a Letting Go nomination, email firstname.lastname@example.org.