Summary: As a yoga and anxiety coach, Taimi turned her physical and mental woes into a meaningful practice helping others in her yoga and anxiety coaching practice.
Read on if you’re an empathetic healer type who likes helping people but get overwhelmed by the rigid structure and type-A dynamics of SLP.
- How to find parts of SLP you love and avoid, and let that guide you in the right direction.
- How empathy and sensitivity can be channeled into a source of energy and strength.
- Training and skills to get into yoga and anxiety/health coaching.
- Mindsets for navigating part-time private practice and combatting imposter syndrome.
What’s your backstory? What got you into SLP, what did you like about it, and what drove you to seek a career change, and how did you start the transition?
From day one, I had two goals:
- I wanted to help people.
- I wanted to be financially comfortable.
Since my early elementary years, I had always had a passion for health and fitness. I really wanted to be a dietician, but my father, who is a dentist, felt I needed to go into the medical field because “I would always have a job.”
Growing up in a strict, Italian household, I followed the rules and after realizing that being an SLP meant I didn’t have to look at a cadaver (now I wish I could).
I almost went the PT route— I’m a kinesthetic gym rat.
But ultimately, I went to school to be an SLP.
Anxiety from the start…
I checked many of the SLP Type boxes-I was highly anxious, perfectionist, rigid in my thinking, and super organized.
So, I pushed myself through the program. But by the time I finished my graduate degree, I knew deep down that I was not going to be happy with my career choice.
I was fascinated by the brain so helping TBI and stroke patients was intriguing to me. BUT, the idea of working in a hospital was not at all appealing to me.
I was too sensitive to others’ pain. This was just another sign that I was meant to help people in a healing capacity, I just didn’t know exactly how at the time.
So, I tried EI but I hated artic therapy. So, I pushed myself to try to work in an inner city school system. But my anxiety was so high at that time that I couldn’t hack it and that is when I had my first real panic attack. I went back to working in EI and that was the beginning of a 20 year journey to heal my anxiety, my physical health, and my belief system.
During this healing journey, I pushed myself to get back in the public schools where I successfully worked with middle school and high school students.
I could see they had just as much anxiety as I did. I would take on a number of other jobs in our field during the winter breaks and summer months, just to try to get myself to like the profession and to prove to myself that my anxiety could be conquered.
Physical health issues led to an unlikely path.
All my extra work paid for neurolinguistic processor (NLP) coaching and revamping my health. I knew that the anxiety I felt was partially genetic, but it was also driven by something else. I stepped out of the medical model when my severe constipation could not be properly diagnosed and I found out I had Hashimoto’s.
This is a thyroid disorder that causes a number of symptoms-two specific symptoms being anxiety and depression. An acupuncturist helped me figure out my physical health.
They finally found the right diagnosis. With newfound clarity, I studied and researched how to make my mind and body healthy.
I obtained my first certification in health coaching through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2008. I read every book I could on thyroid health, aligned myself with physicians and professionals who treated the thyroid, and attended medical conferences on ways to heal the body with integrative medicine.
However, my anxiety was still rearing its ugly head.
That’s when I found yoga.
I began practicing in 2009. In 2015 I relocated to San Diego where I worked in a large high school, specializing in working with students who had high functioning autism and comorbidities of emotional issues.
This was perfect…my focus and practice on the nervous system began here. I became certified in yoga. First 200 hours, then 300 hours and restorative yoga.
I studied the books from Stephen Porges to learn how the vagus nerve impacts physical and mental wellbeing.
My students’ minds and bodies changed as I applied my learnings.
Then, I focused on taking social thinking training courses by Michelle Garcia Winner because it was the one area of our profession, besides TBI, that interested me. I also took nutrition and hormone classes at the same time.
Love struck me like a freight train on the east coast. So I moved.
And that’s when my business was born!
The jump to part-time private practice
My business is called AStretchBeyondYoga. I married my knowledge of the brain and social language with all the ways in which I could help children, adolescents, and adults overcome anxiety through 3 pillars:
- nutrition/gut health
- hormone balancing
- nervous system work with yoga, breathwork, and tapping.
Obstacles in a new role
Building a private practice isn’t without challenges. It didn’t happen all at once either. I’m part-time in the school systems, and part-time building a business.
In the beginning, I often questioned myself to see if I should be really doing this. The courage and confidence to keep going need to be strong.
I continue to do my inner work to build the belief that I will be able to have my own successful coaching practice.
The evidence from all the people I worked with and supported in just this first year is proof that I made the right choice to step out of the SLP world.
What skills transfer over from SLP to your yoga and anxiety coaching business?
All that anatomy and neuroanatomy paid off as I transitioned into my business as I work with all the jacked-up nervous systems in our society today.
Knowing the structures of the brain as an SLP and being a communication expert helps me work with people change their subconscious thoughts that negatively impact their lives.
Being hyper-organized also helps as I balance all the nuances of marketing, billing, etc.
Having individual speech and language sessions also transferred to my business very well as I mainly work 1 on 1 with clients.
Much like speech pathology, my business training is always growing and evolving. I am always learning and studying the brain, the gut, hormones, and nutrition.
I also hired a coach (who’s a Physical Therapist and now a successful coach) to build the skills I need for my business.
My days are packed—I do all the things. But I’m finally in love with what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. I can’t learn fast enough.
Apart from the marketing and copywriting, which are my biggest learning curves, my business doesn’t feel draining. Like it felt for all those years “chasing the dragon” of trying to love being an SLP.
What advice do you have for fellow SLPs looking to transition to your new career path or transition in general?
Write down all your dreams and desires, work on your belief state to expand your thinking, and hire a coach or mentor who has been successful in your new career.
Pay attention to your physical symptoms….your body speaks to you louder than the monkey’s in your mind.
Only share your transition with those who you trust because you will be pulled off your path by those who are too fearful to step out of the box.
Become an expert in your new path.
Make sure you have savings, money coming in to support your transition, and a loving partner who understands the pivot you are about to make.
It is OK to transition slowly into your new path. It does not have to be all or nothing. Keeping a foot in our profession is easier part-time than full time and it allows for you to have a cushion of funds as you make your new path.
•Health certifications can complement formal SLP work nicely – because you have the credibility of working 1-1 with neurodiverse clients with an individualized approach.
•Learn copywriting and business skills to do anything entrepreneurial. These are the keys to building authority in your niche and selling your services online.
•You don’t have to leave the profession all at once. Work part-time and use that as a cushion and investment money to upskill through courses.