Dana Smith refers to herself as a Yoga Diva and it’s a title that suits her well. Owner of a successful wellness center, Spiritual Essence Yoga in Maryland, Smith manages to balance being a wife and mother with running a successful business whose mission is to help others lead healthier lives.
Hailing from an entrepreneurial family, Smith knew that one day she would be her own boss, but did not know until about 10 years ago that it would be within the yoga space. A Jane of Holistic Trades, Smith not only helps heal people through yoga, she is a Reiki practitioner, massage therapist and Intuitive Counselor.
Yoga entered into Smith’s life at a time when she was in search of sustenance and enjoys inspiring other women in similar situations to find their source of healing. Her dedication to helping empower others to live their best life is why Dana Smith is one of this year’s Yogapreneurs.
What was the impetus behind venturing into the health and fitness industry as an entrepreneur?
My motivation for stepping into the health and wellness one was actually my family. I began yoga while pregnant with my daughter and was suffering from a lot of stress. I had lost a loved one in the 9/11 tragedy (World Trade Center) and desperately needed a way to stay healthy for the sake of the baby and myself.
[After practicing] I felt better than I ever had in my life and I realized that I didn’t have to fear the hereditary health challenges that many of my family members were dealing with. Yoga showed me that I could take control of my health and live a happier life. I wanted to share that with my family, friends and those that needed another way.
How has business been going for you?
Business is increasing by leaps and bounds thanks to more health consciousness. People are investing more into their health. In the past few months thanks to marketing efforts we have increased our student population by 30%.
You are considered to be a “Jane of Holistic Trades.” Do you feel it’s necessary to diversify yourself to be a successful Yogapreneur?
Yes, I do. For many people yoga is the starting point. It gets them to think differently about their health and how to maintain healthy balance in their lives. By offering a variety of wellness tools, I find that my clients stay consistent on their path.
What resources did you use to start and grow your business?
I can honestly say that my starting capital came from the love and support of my family, friends and students who believed in me. The business started in the living room of my townhome, moved to the basement of my single family home and then as I shared my dream of expanding to a separate location the donations flooded in. I am still humbled and grateful for all of the support.
What are some of the challenges you face being an African American Woman in the yoga space?
One of the greatest challenges is people questioning my experience and ability as a businesswoman. During a networking event, someone referred to my business as a “nice hobby” and asked what else I did for a living. They could not believe that my sole source of income was running a yoga studio.
Another challenge is getting judged because I don’t have the typical “yoga body.” I’ve heard the comment “oh wow, you teach yoga?” too many times to count. Some that don’t have a true understanding of yoga don’t understand that it isn’t limited to what you see on the cover of popular yoga magazines.