The Flow Blog welcomes the owner and founder of Flow Yoga, Megan Cartier. For over ten years now, she has been a pioneer in the yoga community of Loudoun County. She first started the very idea of Flow by teaching her work colleagues in an AOL conference room. Today, she operates two successful studios in Leesburg and Ashburn. It’s been an incredible journey and we’re so honored that she could sit down with us.
FB: Welcome! How’s life?
MC: It’s my pleasure and life is going great!
FB: What are your very first memories of taking a yoga class?
MC: I love that question because it’s such a fond memory. I was working for Citibank, and doing a year-long consulting project for them at Apple, in Cupertino California. I didn’t know a soul, coming from the DC area and a colleague asked me to go take a class with her. This was the early ’90’s and it felt like a very California thing to do: take a yoga class in the heart of Silicon Valley. We were essentially in someone’s house and it was very cool, very personal.
FB: Is that what got you hooked?
MC: I was interested, and very close, but I wasn’t hooked quite yet. From Citibank I began working at First USA Bank in Delaware and our CEO was this very cool, interesting, aspirational type who had fruit baskets put out in the office kitchens every day and urged us to take Iyengar yoga classes at the onsite gym. With that introduction to such a visionary teacher – Iyengar – I was inspired to study with other like-minded individuals. I checked out Bikram in Hawaii. I studied with Baron Baptiste and Tim Miller in Maya Tulum. I was fortunate enough to be a single professional at the time so I picked yoga teachers that really spoke to me and dove right in. It was after a “yoga bootcamp” retreat in Tulum with Baron that I was hooked!
FB: What sparked you to open your own studio?
MC: I was teaching my co-workers after work at AOL. Both Marcia Hoffheins and Kelli Audibert were students. We were only able to fit 30 mats inside the space and had a six month waiting list to get in. I took that as a sign that our community was ready for the next step!
FB: What are your favorite poses?
MC: Pidgeon, savasanna, shoulder stand and legs-up-the-wall (Viparita Karani).
FB: Those are some pretty great poses.
MC: They are. However, with my 2-year old twin girls, legs-up-the-wall pose has become legs-up-the-crib! That’s how the three of us wind down at the end of the day. We turn the lights out and chillax together. In their own special language, they’ve combined Mommy’s Yoga and call it Moga, so that’s what we do, and I love it!
FB: How does your practice manifest outside the studio, spiritually, emotionally and mentally?
MC: It’s a blessing that I get to bike to work every day along a beautiful creek path. It’s a valuable daily meditation for me. It keeps me centered, and often in lieu of a daily asana practice, it’s nourishment for the body, mind and spirit.
FB: What’s your philosophy as a business owner in the yoga world?
MC: I’m always on the lookout, no matter where I am. If I’m traveling, or online, getting email blasts from other studios or going to yoga-related websites: my feelers are always out. I try to visit a studio with an open mind, but also note what’s working and not working for my own personal practice. As a business person you really have to figure out what you stand for and stay true to that vision. We’re all about making people feel happier and healthier and we always try to embody that core mission.
FB: What’s your definition of a perfect class?
MC: That really depends on what I need at the moment, and that’s why I love all our different offerings at Flow. Slow Flow, Flow Express, Deep Stretch: there’s really something for everyone, no matter what mood they’re in and how energetic they are feeling. Essentially, I love a class that’s about 80 percent hot vinyasa and 20 percent cooling, calming and restorative. I love a teacher that can take me up the mountain, so to speak, offer me an experience that really pushes me, and then come down the other side, helping to calm my nervous system and filling me back up with energy.
FB: Being so busy, with so many things going on, how do you find release?
MC: My girls and I like to sing “If You’re Happy And You Know It…” and we’ve added our own unique verse. We sing: If you’re happy and you know it SCREAM OUT LOUD, and then we do (and laugh out loud!), and it’s very cathartic.
FB: If you had a dog, what would you name him, or her?
MC: For a boy, Jack and for a girl, Bella.
FB: You’ve traveled the world to practice yoga, what are some of the highlights.
MC: I adore Kripalu, the yoga in and around Asheville and Maya Tulum. Rancho La Puerta is my personal favorite, and I try to make a pilgrimage there on a yearly basis to refill my bucket, so to speak. I studied with K. Phattabhi Jois in Mysore and that was incredibly enlightening. They say you go there to learn, but really you go to practice. He always said that yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory, and I felt that when I was there. He would just call out the poses and you would teach yourself in a very special way.
FB: There are a lot of Flowgi’s out there reading this, do you have anything you’d like to say to them?
MC: First off, thank you, for choosing Flow! We understand that having a yoga practice is a very personal choice and we’re proud and excited to be that choice for so many Loudoun-ites. Also, if there’s something we can do to enhance the overall experience, please be in touch. We strive to make people happier and healthier, and want to hear from our students. If you have a Flow story, we’d love to hear your tale.
FB: Who are some of your biggest influences?
MC: My husband Tom, because he offers me a unique male perspective that’s proven invaluable to our business. Marcia Hoffheins inspires me every single day for her dedication to our community and her practice. She really has her finger on the pulse of the studios. Our other managers like Jenn Stowe and Julia Kalish have also been fantastic. And of course, my parents. In Flow’s early days, the three of us managed all the “behind the scenes” stuff together: replying to client inquiries, cleaning, buying supplies, putting together payroll, arranging flowers, brainstorming new ideas, crafting marketing materials, etc. and helped make the studios what they are today. They’ve always kept the bar really high and helped me to remember we have to get the basics right first and foremost.
FB: What’s your favorite color?
FB: Thanks for sitting down with us.
MC: Thanks for having me!