We had the good fortune of connecting with Karson McGinley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karson, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe that the most important factor behind the success of Happiness & Bliss is a focus on the Kula (Community) and anticipating their needs. I am so grateful that I was set up for teaching yoga online before the pandemic hit, because I was able to pivot from offering only pre-recorded content to livestreaming my yoga classes immediately without getting hung up on the technical aspects of offering my services online. Before the pandemic, I had 88 members in my virtual Kula, and as of today, I have grown to over 220. Why? I believe it’s because I anticipated the needs of my community and showed up with authenticity, creativity, and a desire to be of real service. The way things are right now, people don’t just need “yoga class”; they need a sense of friendship, belonging, support, and social interaction. My yoga classes hold within them dedicated time for “being seen”, conversation, catching up, checking in, and looking each other in the eyes (thanks to the magic of Zoom). This feels very different than just watching a yoga video. People are also experiencing a tremendous amount of stress on their nervous systems right now, and so I have expanded my offerings beyond traditional yoga and positive psychology (which were my focal points before) to include healing modalities through a trauma-informed lens and working with the polyvagal theory. My sister, Tierney, and I are giving our community the tools that are truly needed right now for self-regulation, boosting our immune systems, and working toward greater holistic health and well-being. We are also hold weekly “Kula Chats” where we come together to talk about important issues we’re all facing right now– everything from maintaining our spiritual practices during times of chaos, to how we are individually and collectively participating in the Black Lives Matter movement and undoing systemic and systematic racism. We are having real conversations talking about our challenges, values, and blessings, holding book clubs, meditations, and daily accountability prompts on social media. We are using the tools at our disposal, and putting them to good use. Being flexible, really listening, and going with the needs of the people in my life has proven to be the biggest factor in the success of my offerings.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After selling my yoga studio in San Diego of 6 years (Happy-U), my desire to serve my community and shine light on the teachings of yoga and happiness studies only increased. I transitioned from primarily in-person classes to an online forum when I could reach more people uninhibited by geographical location. My specialty has always been the merging of the sciences of yoga and positive psychology, making my teachings unique in and of themselves. However, to date, I have training over 150 yoga teachers in this approach to teaching yoga, and taught literally thousands of students over the past 12 years, so I’m not the only one anymore! Was it always easy? Of course not! But by taking my own medicine, so to speak, I have put to use everything I have learned about holistic well-being, spiritual happiness, and charting a life of my dreams. I do believe every step in my journey led to the next one. Optimism, gratitude, and maintaining my personal practice form the bedrock of my life- personal and professional. When a challenge arose, I saw it as an opportunity. When something didn’t work, I tried another way. When I didn’t know what to do, I went inward. And when I did know what to do, I shared the work with courage, confidence and humility. That is still my approach today– and I believe it’s working!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my sister, Tierney St. Lawson, for her collaborative efforts in making Happiness & Bliss Kula what it is today. Though it began a year and a half ago as my own project, I formally invited Tierney into the fold when the pandemic hit. Since then, she has brought a sense of fullness, balance, and yin to my yang. Whereas my studies, teachings, and yogic offerings have always been on happiness and positive psychology, her focus has been on working with people affected by trauma, understanding the role the nervous system plays in resilience and healing, and merging yoga and social justice. Our different areas of expertise are now fortifying the experience of our Kula members by addressing the variety of experiences we are all having right now. How can we experience happiness and well-being during one of the most tumultuous times in our lives? How can we process our grief and regulate our nervous systems so we can rise up and be activists at a time when humanity needs our energy? How can we heal ourselves when we feel broken, and how can raise our vibration without bypassing the very real issues of our time? And how can we feel connected to one another when we are being asked to physically distance ourselves from the people that we usually turn to to lift us up? Without Tierney, I wouldn’t be doing nearly as good a job at providing for my Kula– I am so grateful for her!
Marie Monforte Leah Lipson