Our Embodying Goals workshop with SKY TING Yoga featured a yoga class and talk with founder Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan. After a goal setting and meditation focused yoga session, we sat down to talk about reaching goals without compromising sanity, and Krissy and Chloe’s holistic approach to practicing what they preach.
Krissy: Chloe and I knew we wanted to create a place where we would love to practice in, but I don’t think we knew how quickly it would happen. I looked at a space on a whim, fell in love with it, then kind of closed my eyes, signed the lease and blacked out. The space came first, and the vision of what it could be evolved from that.
Chloe: One of Krissy’s new years resolutions was to own a studio. I was like, yeah sure, in 10 years from now. Then she found the space a month after new years, and I was like, wow. We’re really doing this.
Krissy: I wrote it down, but I wasn’t really serious. It was like, I want to meditate every day, I want to have a dog, then five other things, and then oh yeah, yoga studio.
Chloe: The timing helped. We’re young, we don’t have a lot holding us back in terms of responsibilities. The space was so beautiful and inspiring and full of light, and it complimented the practice we teach.
There’s a joyful, lightness to our practice—we’re serious about it but we like to have fun with it too.
Krissy: I’m a dreamer. I have big, big ideas. I’m all, let’s talk to the mayor and get him to put a bunch of garbage cans on our street and let’s do a NYC clean up day. But I need other people to be practical. Chloe is a dreamer too, but she’s more practical than I am. I’ll want to jump into things but I don’t really understand how they’ll work until later. But it’s crazy how you can pretty much manifest anything you want—that everything starts as a thought from which you create your own reality. That’s fascinating to me. I don’t think anything is impossible.
I truly believe that thoughts are as real as words or actions.
Chloe and I keep coming back to questions like: what’s our overall goal? What are things we don’t need to worry about? I think that if you’re constantly thinking of negative things, negative things come into your life because you’re carving out the way for them. It goes both ways: when you think about what you want, you see it in everything. Yoga supports cleaning up your thoughts and making them really clear.
Chloe: Life is a perspective game. That’s one of the biggest things that the practice has taught us. What you go through in your life is going to be somewhere in your body. It’s like when you when you put salt in water or a cake batter. It’s not one part that has salt, every part of the water or batter has salt. It’s all integrated. Your thoughts and actions all exist somewhere inside of you. So if you let that negativity fester, it’s like stagnant water that breeds disease. Instead, flush it out. Clear it out.
Embrace the positive side of yourself, and see how good things naturally start to happen around you.
Krissy: It’s not like bad things don’t happen to us, or that we don’t get stressed out. But something we’ve learned from doing this work is how to get over things really quickly. It’s the speed of recovery that’s important. It’s not like yoga is going to prevent you from getting sick for the rest of your life, or from having bad thoughts. You’re going to get sick, you’re going to have negative thoughts, but how quickly can you get over those things and move on to the next? That’s what’s important.
Personally, I know I can get overwhelmed. I tend to be forward in my future all the time. Like, what’s next? And I run kind of quick and hot. So I’ll often do restorative poses and that help soothe my nervous system so I can think clearly. I always tell people to keep their practice really simple. If you only have five minutes, get on all fours and do a bunch of cat-cows. You’ll feel different. You’ll move a lot of energy, you’ll move a lot of breath, you’ll open your mind. And that’s the same thing with having a long to do list. Personally, I have a lot of intentions. I can name like 500 of them. But I try to have in the moment intentions, day intentions and month intentions. And then I check in every week with my overarching intentions. We do that in our business meetings together. We look at what we’re doing right now, and how that plays into the larger picture of what we’re trying to do. Which is to be a transformational yoga studio, where people can gain tools for the rest of their lives to use, and feel a greater sense of wellbeing and health.
Chloe: I think you need to be malleable with your goals. It’s good to have a goal in mind, but to know that things are going to shift on your journey towards it, and it might look different when you reach it. Personally, I’m a Sagittarius to the umpteenth degree. I’m like, I gotta go! No one’s going to hold me down, I’m a traveler. But Krissy helped to root me down. If you had asked me a year and a half ago if I would co-own a studio in NYC, I’d be like no way, I’m going to be living in France or something. But this has given us the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were just to head off to France. So this might look different than what I expected, but it’s perfect for where I need to be right now.
We can’t always understand why something works out the way it does, but in the long term, everything happens when it should.
Krissy: There are a thousand things that are different about SKY TING than what we first imagined. But I think the nature of owning a yoga studio allows for a lot of fluidity. We’re able to make changes quickly when we see something isn’t working. We try not to take things personally, but I have had my feelings hurt before. We did a survey asking what we could do better, and some of the students said it felt clique-y… like exclusive, or a cool-girl vibe. That hurt me a lot. We try to be so welcoming and accessible, and the one thing I wanted was for everyone to feel comfortable here. But after the first reaction of feeling defensive, I was like OK—we can learn from this. I’ve since changed the way I welcome new students into the studio. It’s all good. And sometimes the stuff that hurts can be the best feedback to get.
Chloe: It’s good to have a business partner, because we keep each other in check. We help each other get over things. Something might aggravate one of us, but the other will be like you know what—it’s cool. We can move forward from this. Let’s problem-solve to find a way to make this better. Like Krissy said, we’ve come to realize that feedback is invaluable—it continues to make our space, our teaching, our message stronger. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the idea of what you want for something. But if it isn’t working and you can’t recognize that, what’s the point? This practice is practical, it’s not rigid. Yoga itself continues to evolve—even in the past 10 years it’s changed so much in NYC. And so it should. It should be adaptable, present, available, personal and useful.
Krissy: When you’re too attached to the results, you miss the magic. When you loosen your grip, there are so many surprising things that come your way. What we do and what we teach here measures up to how we treat our teachers and staff and how we want everything to be, so I feel like we’re safe in that regard.
Good things come when what you’re saying matches up with what you’re doing.
Chloe: I think what helps us a lot is being able to find small ways to stay grounded every day. We have a lot of personal rituals. When you’re running a business on your own, there’s always something to do or another email to write. So we decompress in our own ways… like making our beds in the morning or brewing a pot of coffee before rushing out. Things that you shouldn’t even think about—but become important when you get so wrapped up in doing, doing, doing all the time. You want to create a lifestyle that supports the mentality you want to give to others. If we were rigid, crazy frenetic yoga teachers, the studio would have such a different vibe. While we do work seven days a week, we also do things like host a talent show once a month where students can come and do weird things. And Krissy and I have a dinner night where we don’t talk about yoga. But I think that’s how we keep our laid-back-ness while maintaining our determination and goals. It’s about how you keep yourself real during all of it.
Krissy: And if you’re not having fun with it, why are you doing it?
Chloe: You have to enjoy the ride.
Krissy: I think that time management is very important. If you don’t have 10 minutes or an hour to yourself, that’s not really a life. We all have the same amount of time. If you’re always telling people how busy you are, that means you think the person you’re talking to is not busy. Everyone is busy, we live in New York, it’s a happening thing. Busy is like you in the future. But if you’re speaking with someone, chill and have a human connection. I try to keep that in mind and manage my time well. That’s where I’m focusing my energy this year. Making sure my schedule feels good and I still have time to go to my teachers class, and that I have one day where I don’t see clients. I make sure my life is full, but I’m still having a good time. Because to me, that’s the whole of it. I’m doing this to have a good life and to help other people have good lives.
Chloe: I think it’s about recognizing yes, we are all busy, but is that the forefront of what’s important right now? It’s almost like a veil that you put on to prevent you from being real with someone. It’s about consciously removing that and getting really present with what you’re actually going through.
Krissy: Being present also teaches you that nothing is really linear. And that’s how we teach our yoga practice. There are 5,000 ways to teach a down dog, and we teach it with bent knees. That’s how we practice it, that’s how we learned it. But that’s only one method. In the same way, there are a lot of methods to doing business, so don’t get too attached to one.
If something isn’t working, change your technique.
You’ll know straight away if something is working or not because the proof is in the pudding. If I do my down dog with straight legs, my lower back starts to hurt and I feel like it’s all in my shoulders. So I bend my knees.
It’s the same approach to how we eat, too. We aren’t too rigid with food… we eat well because we feel better when we eat real food. But we also eat snacks and pizza and steak and chocolate and wine. We do all of that too. And that feels a lot better for me. I’ve been vegan and it got too exhausting, so now I eat really healthy except sometimes I don’t. So it’s similar to our practice where we’ll say, let’s do it this way! But then when I see a student doing it a different way, and I’m like, you do you!
Chloe: I think we try and listen more than anything. I became vegetarian/vegan during my teacher training, and that was fine to go through for a few months, but then I realized I had a sallow complexion and I was kind of mad all the time. And I realized it wasn’t the diet that worked best for my body. And I know in the winter I need to eat a ton of root vegetables to feel grounded, and in the summer it feels better to have salads and juices. We’re big on the Daoist philosophy of eating in line with the seasons—so we’ll do cleanses in the spring, not because we want to lose weight, but to give the body a reset and a chance to find something new. But it’s about listening to what works for you more than anything.
Krissy: Our teacher lives in St. Barts in the winter, and we went there to hang out with her, do a bunch of yoga and swim. She’s so funny. She’s like here, have some m&ms, the magic of sugar is that it opens up things in your brain. She sees the beauty in everything. She’s like, don’t not drink, drinking is like fire water and will rev you up.
Krissy: I have to tell myself every day, oh I’m an adult.
I don’t have to do things I don’t want to do. And I don’t have to feel pressured into doing things.
And what’s beautiful about our studio is that we didn’t really care what other people were doing with their studios. We’re going to do it this way because this is how we want to practice. It’s about staying true to what you personally love—whatever your business is. I think things always turn out better when they come from somewhere honest. Do more of what you love and do less of what feel bogus. Eat more foods that make you feel good and less of the foods that make you feel shitty. That’s a good way to rule your business. Keep things clear. You’ll know. You know when you don’t like something, that’s easy.
Chloe: If something isn’t working, change your technique. We talk a lot about this in the yoga practice. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, do something that gives you a sense of control. Be it going home and cleaning your personal space so you have a clean room to walk into every night—whatever it might be. Little steps that give you back your sense of power can really help in the larger scale of life. Everything might be crazy in your life right now, but what do you actually have a handle of? You’re not going to change what somebody else is doing, thinking, or saying—but can you maybe shift your own perspective of what you’re doing, thinking, or saying… so that you’re still in a place where you feel full.
Photography by Kara Haupt