In this episode, I am excited to have Matthew Foli and Elissa Meyer on to talk about their experience as lawyers pioneering the yoga and wellness environment in Minneapolis.
Elissa Meyer is a Program Attorney at Minnesota Continuing Legal Education in the Twin Cities, and a yoga teacher at a small community studio in Northeast Minneapolis called YOGA Garden. She loves the idea that both law and yoga are “practices,” with endless opportunities for learning and growing.
Matthew Foli is a real estate attorney/yoga teacher in Minneapolis. He regularly sends out emails about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, geared towards attorneys and beneficial for everyone.
- Matthew & Elissa speak on their pasts that led them to where they are now. Elissa talks about being a lawyer, her upbringing in yoga, and how everything came together for her to become a teacher of yoga and wellness. Matt touches on how his view of yoga as a practice has shifted from his initial misguided outlook of “practicing to perfection”, as opposed to practicing for self-betterment.
- Their efforts on bringing yoga and wellness to the local legal community and how it has/is being received. They also reflect on how humbling the experience of starting up a practice and teaching yoga can be.
- We discuss and dispel the myths of practicing yoga, as well as all of our different definitions for yoga and how it benefits us. Matthew goes into detail on how just meditation as a practice can create a pivotal change in how we approach the day-to-day.
For more information on Matthew or Elissa, find them at the following sites:
Sources mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
For more information, visit: jeenacho.com
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Matthew Foli: [00:00:07] If you say you aren’t flexible enough for yoga, that’s like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.
Intro: [00:00:18] Welcome to The Resilient Lawyer podcast. In this podcast, we have meaningful, in-depth conversations with lawyers, entrepreneurs, and change agents. We offer tools and strategies for creating a more joyful and satisfying life. And now your host, Jeena Cho.
Jeena Cho: [00:00:42] Hello my friends, thanks for being with us today and joining us for another episode of The Resilient Lawyer podcast. In this episode, I am so delighted to have some Elissa Meyer who is a program attorney at the Minnesota Continuing Legal Education in Twin Cities and also a yoga teacher at a small community studio in NE Minneapolis called The Joyful Garden. And we also have Matthew Foli, who is a real estate attorney and also a yoga teacher in Minneapolis. He regularly sends out e-mails about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
[00:01:50] Before we get into the interview, if you haven’t listened to the last bonus episode, go back and check it out. It was a few episodes ago, I shared a six-minute guided meditation practice, to help you let go of stress and anxiety. And it’s particularly great for this time of year because I know for me it’s always a stressful time. And so often I hear from lawyers that they know they should meditate and practice mindfulness, but they just don’t have the time. And I always tell them you know what, just start with six minutes. Start with just .1 hour. All the hours you dedicate to your clients, work, and others, don’t you deserve to have just one .1 hour for yourself? And so I created a program, it’s called Mindful Pause and it’s designed for lawyers like you so that you can fit it into your very hectic schedule. So head on over to JeenaCho.com to learn more. That’s “J-E-E-N-A-C-H-O” dot com. Or you could also look at the show notes. Alyssa and Matthew welcome to you both.
Matthew Foli: [00:02:56] Thank you.
Elissa Meyer: [00:02:56] Thank you. Hi Gina.
Jeena Cho: [00:02:59] Yes and they said. I’m assuming we can start by having you give us a 30-second introduction to who you are and why you know.
Elissa Meyer: [00:03:08] So as you mentioned in the intro. I am a program Attorney at Minnesota continuing legal education. So in that role, I think of it sort of as producing continuing education seminars for lawyers and that starts often with a planning process. Working with practicing attorneys to help design programs that are really timely and relevant and then following it all the way through. So designing a brochure and developing a marketing plan and working with the volunteer speakers collecting materials all the way to the date of the program where it’s sort of a hosting and just making sure everything runs as close to as we intended it as we can. It’s really a fun job and I’m grateful to have it so. And then I also on the side have this little gig as a yoga teacher and all the time I’m thinking about and learning ways to try to combine those things which are really fun. Thanks for having me.
Jeena Cho: [00:04:08] Oh wonderful I can’t wait to hear more about how you’re combining this studio and what you have in the 30-second introduction. So
Matthew Foli: [00:04:19] I’m a title examiner at a commercial real estate title insurance company. I’ve just started that job a month ago. Jeena, you’ll love this. I lasted two days at the new job before I broke out in hives and I had come from a government position as in Minnesota we have a Torrens land system and it was a title examiner there for 13 years decided to make a switch for a career and it’s interesting what I’ve been preaching before to attorneys about taking time for themselves. And now I’m ready to change that message because I notice that I’m busy now or a busier than I was before.
Jeena Cho: [00:05:00] Yeah and I think that’s a really interesting point maybe we can work into here because I often find that whatever. Is the reason for you leaving your job often that issue will all be to you? So it’s almost like leaving one bad relationship for another. So yeah Elissa just learn more about what you’ve learned from this experience of teaching jobs.
Matthew Foli: [00:05:27] And you know I think I just really think like transition it’s interesting what Elyssa said about how like she has this little part this little thing of yoga on the side. But you know they’re both they’re both slash careers for us. Yes, and I are friends we’re actually right here together doing the podcast in the same room. We are both motivated to change the profession in a good way here in the Twin Cities. Yeah, and the yoga part in the wellness part fills us up as much as the day job does.
Jeena Cho: [00:06:02] And I love that and love having it some other outside and that you al-Sadr works and that actually helps you better your job and also helps you to be better at all areas of life because that’s how you find balance work.
Elissa Meyer: [00:06:21] Yeah I think the thing about finding ways to combine them you know where they intersect. To me, that’s made my work at Minnesota CLB like so much better and so much more valuable and fulfilling. You know I came to Minnesota CLB after work you know practicing for almost eight years in a small firm and in-house and I had to make that transition because I was just sort of miserable and at the end of my ability to sustain myself where I was and I found that when I finally made the switch that felt more aligned for me professionally. I was I was able to focus on sort of these personal things that were meaningful to me like yoga and then I was able to figure out how to put them together and have it just be this more integrated thing. And Matthew pointed out that I said yoga was just a little thing a side gig. But I guess that’s just sort of a historical like you minimize the thing on the side but it really is like that. It’s really a critically important part of my life. So I appreciate Matthew kind of calling it because it is so. It’s a big thing. It is a big thing for me.
Jeena Cho: [00:07:30] You know I’m always like how do you go from this thing a lot to deciding oh I’m going to start acting seeing that much. You know I can see it happening. But then it kind of turned me into that really big leap to say I’m going to jump in and go through training. I teach at what was the abolition of I guess.
Elissa Meyer: [00:07:51] I’ve had sort of an awareness of yoga even from the time I was a small child. My mom practiced yoga and I had this little book when I was little and I would you know the sort of make the shapes of the poses a lot of the poses have names that translate to like animal names and so this book was this really cool like a visual book with kids in the yoga poses. But the animals are the tree or whatever were superimposed over them and so it’s just a really fun book. And then that continued in high school I was a dancer and so I use yoga as part of that training and then in college and by the time I got to law school I’d sort of fallen away from any kind of regular practice like really at the time when I could have used it the most probably. But and then that sort of continued as I started to practice you know so I have in fits and starts I would kind of come back to yoga and I knew it helped me but I just felt you know like sort of so stressed out that trying to do it sometimes just created more stress. So in 20, I think 20 14 when I kind of realized that I had to make this job transition like for my own mental health and wellbeing.
[00:09:08] I after I sort of did some work some self-study to figure out what kind of job I wanted and I was really fortunate that things just sort of fell into place. And once I started that new job I. This opportunity came up to do a yoga teacher training program and I really hadn’t had a regular practice and I was just like oh this thing is right here right in front of me. I’m going to do it. And so I didn’t take the yoga teacher training program really with the intention to teach. I took it with the intention to refocus on my own practice. But once I completed it I the idea of teaching became more of like a dare to myself because I was so I was so terrified of teaching that I was like you know this is important to me I feel like I want to share it. And I was lucky to find a little studio where I could. The stakes were pretty low. Like I could do it in my own time. It didn’t really matter if anyone showed up to my classes or not.
[00:10:10] And for a few months, there were definitely days where no one came. But it was sort of just like this thing I wanted to do. So I was going to you know I was in this big transition I was feeling I don’t know maybe sort of emboldened and I just decided I was going to do it and try to figure it out and not worry about the outcome just engage with it and just kind of been a continuation from there. You know its like exploded into all of these other great things and opportunities. And so getting to where we are today.
Jeena Cho: [00:10:44] Yeah and I just really good not just that you know I mean there’s definitely some amount of courage that you to say yes something that you know that you just like you did a 200-hour training.
Elissa Meyer: [00:10:58] Yes. Yeah, I did. And actually, since then, I’ve done another one so I’ve done like two hundred hour training which they were you know they were different. So that’s been interesting but yeah I just I sort of jumped right into this 200-hour training you know with teachers I didn’t really know and I was like well I don’t know what I was really doing but yeah just sort of made a quick decision and it was a good decision.
Jeena Cho: [00:11:26] I love that. Well you know I feel like that’s so like the opposite of how we’re supposed to do things as lawyers were very I don’t want to go and watch from every single angle and you didn’t spend six months sort of weighing the pros and cons differently.
Elissa Meyer: [00:11:43] You know and after the fact you know it’s like if you really wanted to weigh the pros and cons like there are so many articles about like how to pick the right teacher training program and what are you looking for and I’m just like man I didn’t do I didn’t do any of that work. But you know which is not. It’s not meant to be critical it’s just sort of a funny observation and I think it’s really just a reflection of where I was at that time in my life like I was just needed to sort of bust out of this place that where I’d been and that was that was sort of how I decided to do it yeah.
[00:12:17] Right you know it’s really funny because as I’m listening to your story I was like visiting my parents in New York and I saw an e-mail coming from Spirit Rock which is I’ve done a lot of my meditation training and they announced that they’re doing a 200 hour teacher a yoga teacher training program starting in January and this was back in might. And something you like out next year which felt like far away but they only I think there were only opening it to like 20 people and I know that most events asparagus sells out. Like almost immediately I was like you know what I’m just going to do it. And so I signed that and it sounded like such a great idea. Back in June and now I’m looking at my calendar for next year and I have this like 200-hour law which ends up being like several. You know like Monday through Friday works workshops and now sort of going back as I ate.
Elissa Meyer: [00:13:17] That’s exciting though right. Like this. That sounds really great.
Jeena Cho: [00:13:22] Yeah it’s definitely really excited us a little bit scared because I think also at the same place that you’re in where it’s like I have no regulating yogi and quite some time that I like to fall in and out of practice and same think me I was like I don’t only have a desire to teach but I felt like if I went and did the teacher training program that may be forcing me to get into that. It’s safe.
Elissa Meyer: [00:13:49] In a way there’s something kind of nice about that too because it’s like you’re maybe a little more open like you’re not putting so much pressure on yourself or like if you haven’t had a practice like it’s fun you know it’s more like I’m just going in to see what’s going to happen. And yeah you know maybe I can’t do all these poses but like I’m just going to I’m going to sort of be curious and check this out and in some ways, that’s kind of nice so yeah.
Jeena Cho: [00:14:17] Matthew how about you. How did you end up doing and getting into yoga and doing the training?
Matthew Foli: [00:14:26] So my last job with Hennepin County that’s where Minneapolis is the county seat. One of my co-workers probably likes in 2006 or 2007 something like that she was going to a noon yoga class in the building. And like she looked at me and said Why don’t you come with me like she was challenging me. Let’s go right ahead. Didn’t they have the clothes? I don’t think I’d ever been to a class before. Went there went the next week. Went to next week kind of thing. And it’s funny because this teacher Nita I don’t remember this but she’s told some other people that I asked her at the beginning what was the point of Chavira and at the end of class why don’t you just end class five minutes early and let us.
[00:15:14] So that was my mindset at the beginning and I continue to do that. And then I think like 2009 we became members of Lifetime Fitness here in town. And I think I don’t know. From 2009 to 2014 that five years stretch at work I was not very happy and I was looking for the next opportunity which was a retirement. By the by the supervisor and I was absolutely attached to getting that position. And that came around in 2014 and I did not get that position. And so that was like the life changer kind of thing for me. And I was doing yoga before that but I was doing more group fitness and my wife was doing a Sunday morning yoga class and I wasn’t coming with her. But then I started to go to her class reluctantly and started to go back to that class more and it was so funny because like at the beginning like I’d go up to the teacher and I’d be like after class and I would whisper to her am I getting better.
Jeena Cho: [00:16:19] You know you watch me in class you know and I think you are a lawyer right.
Matthew Foli: [00:16:27] You know like I do I do a lot better that type of thing. You don’t you have you noticed any progress in all of that is so misguided. Because like it doesn’t matter right it doesn’t matter what you look like it’s like what you take away. I’ve got one teacher right now who like she just breaks it down to say that the whole point of a yoga class is for you to walk out afterward feeling better than when you walked in. That’s it. So whatever the class is whatever they end up doing that’s all that’s he’s the only goal so I think I was finally at the right place at the right time.
[00:16:58] I actually started to listen to those crazy messages that the teachers gave us in class and it was starting to. I started to take them with me outside of the yoga studio. There was one where one of the studios had glass mirrors on the front and some others that I go to do not because you know the point isn’t really to stare at yourself or to see what your neighbor is doing. But then the teacher like halfway to class she just said you know try not to compare yourself to others by looking in the mirror. And then she kind of like just as a throwaway says and when you leave the studio try not to compare yourself to others. And you know I had figured out this was probably like 2000 15 or so I’d figured out at that point that I had spent the first 20 years of my luck. We’re comparing me to others within the profession starting with law school certainly with other students and you know who was getting the on-campus interviews and who wasn’t and who was getting the summer jobs and who wasn’t. And then afterward you know just going on and on and on and always comparing yourself where you are on the short end of the stick.
Jeena Cho: [00:18:09] You don’t have that comparing mind is very strong and for us in all of us particularly in.
Matthew Foli: [00:18:18] So at the end of 2014 I told one of these teachers that did the Sunday morning classes Drew and I had this big blow out birthday party because it was such a crappy year and she came and I just told her all of the benefits that I had received from her yoga classes. And actually then that fall I had also had pneumonia. And so the only thing I could do was yoga and not group fitness so I took like 17 classes one month and he was like you know like you start here you know you have to be at the right place at the right time. It has to be correct for you I’ve got one friend of mine who after I had become this yoga convert I said Just come with me we’ll go to your office and we’ll meditate for five minutes and then she was like I don’t even have five. She’s an attorney. She’s like I don’t even have five minutes to minute and then like a year later she would start to come to my classes and then she would say I feel like I’ve got three times as much time during the day than I did before I started doing yoga.
[00:19:11] So you know you have to be at the right place at the right time. But so I told this friend drew about the benefits that I had had. And then she tells this story the next day Sunday morning she goes to her own class that she’s teaching and she relays the story about how well there’s this other person who usually had class and he told me yesterday that these are the benefits he gets from yoga. And then after class, she says well these people came up to her and they said they really liked her story and I’m like well I can cut her out of the middle. I mean I can just tell these stories myself.
[00:19:38] So I really think that and also for the yoga teaching you do not need to do all the poses to be a good teacher and the person that I’ve used as a great example of that is this gentleman that’s in town here Matthew Sanford and he’s in a wheelchair and he’s a great yoga teacher. So you know if he can do it then any of us can cue the polls too and then I listen I really find beneficial for especially for my target audience which is attorneys.
[00:20:10] I think it’s beneficial to have an attorney teaching the yoga class because we can totally say me too. I mean we know so when people say well I just I have this judge in this case where I’m working on this and my target audience was real estate attorneys in this field. And so like we would be working on the same deals. So I did the teacher training. I actually received a scholarship they were giving away one free scholarship. All you had to do was give 150-word essay about what yoga meant for you. That was super easy for me.
[00:20:46] And I don’t think many people applied did so I did that. My wife was hoping we would do it at the same time actually once our daughter got out of high school. But she’s just a sophomore now. So I did it on my own. And then Nancy my wife actually did it the following You know a six month period afterward so she’s gone through her teacher training. I’ve gone through mine. Listen I met through the Minnesota Citlali program stuff and yeah so we’ve just taken it from there. I’m not teaching at a studio and actually, I’m not teaching a regular class right now. I started out by being invited by a friend of mine at her. She was the local boss of a national title insurance company not where I’m working now.
[00:21:28] And she wanted to do a summer of fun for her. For her employees. And so I started we used a conference room in her office building and I just started doing Fridays for free for several months and then that office building offered me another place within their building to teach for free. And so it was right downtown and then so I just started to create this email list and invite more and more people. And it started out with me just saying I’m teaching on Friday at noon and then it became more. Here’s an interesting e-mail about here’s an interesting yoga story that I read. And here’s an interesting thing about mindfulness. And so I started to provide more resources to my yoga peeps.
Jeena Cho: [00:22:11] Yeah I love hearing that journey of just how things unfold. Just because he showed up I mean you didn’t have this like you know this entire plan figured out in terms of like a candidate. Do you have a teacher training program then and I start teaching it to you know lawyers it just kind of unfolds and. I often feel like that’s what yoga teaches us. Sort of shelling out as you are you know in the moment and just seeing what unfolds as you know like a fire everyone that happens you know I think can relate to us. Is that.
[00:22:45] How you show up today is not going to be high up tomorrow like the body changes you change. And I love like just that teaching about life yoga. Yeah. It’s Riffle. Yes.
Matthew Foli: [00:23:02] If I think the three of us certainly and you’ve got other guests if we are willing to just express that hey I’m not ready for this but I’m still going to do it anyways. And I’m not waiting for everything to be lined up before I embark on this journey. I think that our audience members are absolutely receptive and are looking for that in their own lives.
Jeena Cho: [00:23:24] Yeah. Yes. Regrade Yeah. And I now that both of you are involved in trying to bring these sort of Balmes masterful beings health care type of barbershops to them. The Minnesota legal communities. Curious to hear more about your efforts and also how that’s being received in that community.
Matthew Foli: [00:23:47] Elyssa can talk about this and so can I. But so the Hennepin County Bar Association has created clubs. They’ve got like a knitting club in a wine tasting club and a book club and things like that trying to create social communities for the attorneys and I’m all for that. On a grand scale which they think that if-if you can connect with other attorneys on a nonbusiness setting it makes the business settings go so much smoother because you can be patient with each other and forgive each other because you’ve already you know it’s harder to just snap at somebody who you already know in a social setting.
Jeena Cho: [00:24:22] Yeah so true.
Matthew Foli: [00:24:24] So one of them was the yoga club and they had had it for a year. And I think Elyssa got an email from them and then she contacted me and said Why don’t we reach out to them see what they’re doing. And the two people that were in charge were looking to hand it off and they had had only one event. I think in 2016 and so we listen to me what we what we are doing right now is we are offering one class a month. We do it at the CBA offices in one of the conference rooms. We’ve tried before work at noon and after work and we do it for FREE. It’s an ctually it’s a freewill donation for Minnesota lawyers concern for lawyers.
Jeena Cho: [00:25:05] But you know yeah such a wonderful organization. I know this giving them a shout out and using more than just cash is king right.
Matthew Foli: [00:25:16] So they give us cash and we turn around and we give it to LCL and they use it as they are. So the classes have been small. I mean you know and that’s so funny with us too. And I’m sure this happened with the list and when she started teaching you to know you would tell people while I’m teaching and then the first question would always be well how many people come to your class.
[00:25:38] Like as if the judge said you only sold out crowd but you know elicit gets that with her day job because of the seven hours that she puts on. You know she you know I’m speaking for her but I know like I’m one of her speakers. And like I want a packed room. I don’t want a small room even though for the people that come. It can be just as beneficial. You know let’s say like you know you’ve never been to a class where you probably certainly for yoga when you’ve said Geez I wish there were more people in class you know so like where I feel like I would get less one on one attention from the teacher. So the classes have been small but we’ve been offering them and we have somebody else that sends out these gorgeous looking flyers and it’s promoted in the HCB a website.
[00:26:31] So I think part of our plan of attack here is simply to make it relevant and show people that it’s happening on a regular basis and not judging the results by the number of people that are in class.
Jeena Cho: [00:26:44] And I feel like that’s the right attitude to have because you know attorneys may not be able to come to that particular yoga class but I think just seeing that on the schedule or at your bar associations events is a really powerful message. I think it normalizes you know health care normalizes is actually taking time for yourself. And that being a lawyer isn’t just about knowing the law. You know it’s really about the person’s love.
Matthew Foli: [00:27:19] So we switch off classes I teach one month and then elicit teaches the next month.
Elissa Meyer: [00:27:23] And we don’t compare who gets more than one time.
Matthew Foli: [00:27:28] OK. I think it does. But you know something else that we’ve learned and this is something that with my new job now is that I used to have time for the lunch hour. And you know with my e-mails and then my classes my own classes that I would teach on Fridays I would teach one at 7:00 and one at noon and I would have plenty of classes where nobody would come. Nobody would come and I would send out an e-mail to 180 people. I told one person that it felt like inviting a 180 people to your birthday party and only 60 people read the invitation. And zero come you. That’s how I was personalizing everything. Right. And Elyssa offers yoga before a full day Sealy’s as a little wellness component. And she’s been pushing that where maybe it’s like a two-day conference and each day in the morning they’re going to have yoga and they provide the mats and maybe like the first day. But nobody came at them the second day one person came and said hey listen we’ll send me this e-mail saying like you know I’m not judging this and this is OK and she’s got such a good attitude.
[00:28:35] If she can believe it and like you know if she can. So the deal that I wanted to say was that like with this new job that I have now I even think like a 45-minute yoga class at noon maybe too long no I think like maybe a half hour is what we should be offering. Just because we want to get them there and Gina you talk about this a lot. Right. You don’t say that you should be meditating for 20 minutes you. You had that one where you said two minutes a day for 21 days now. Right. Just like doing it every day for two minutes. It’s been more beneficial than doing it. You know like having that crappiest a day and then saying oh jeez you know something maybe I should meditate some more and then meditate for the first time in three weeks to teach yoga.
Elissa Meyer: [00:29:22] I think to practice yoga like you. And I think another person you interviewed about this you know mentioned something like this like its humbling. You know you put yourself out there and you don’t know how it’s going to be received and despite your best intentions and your greatest hopes like it just might not work out how you anticipate it and so that’s humbling and to not personalize it is difficult but important. So like what I what I’ve started to try to process the longer I teach and the more I teach and in them the more venues that I teach fight like the practice it’s I’m the teacher maybe I’m up there but like it’s never really about me.
[00:30:03] It’s about what you know. So the time and holding that space like it’s just none of it’s about me. Like when people come to class whatever experience they have like it’s really not about me and this I get reminded of this it shows up in all different ways. A few nights ago I was teaching a class and you know the studio I teach is small and it’s kind of quirky and it’s very informal and throughout the class there were a couple of people next to each other and they kept like sort of chattering and laughing and I would say something and then they would chat or laugh and I kind of felt like they were laughing at me and I was like Why are you laughing at me.
[00:30:40] And they’re like oh we’re not. And I was like Oh right because it’s not me. You know they were like sort of having this experience and they were like you know it was about something else entirely and it just sort of was like oh remember like it’s this is not about you.
[00:30:55] And so I just kind of try to keep that in mind when no one comes or when someone doesn’t come back to a class you know it’s like well I hope they find you know another place or another teacher or something that feels like a better fit because it’s about their experience and what it means to them and it’s not so much about.
Jeena Cho: [00:31:13] So I think such a beautiful metaphor for how we live life and also how we pass this law because the outcome is never up to us like I can prepare all we want and that he and I we don’t. It’s not you know it is just like you can shop and do everything you can to chat at all.
[00:31:32] What are some issues that are not completely up to you and instead of letting go of that and resolve and not judging yourself by the ultimate outcome is such a hard but important lesson to learn.
Elissa Meyer: [00:31:49] Yeah and you know it’s just like one of the yoga in general for me is just sort of this great metaphor and why I think it’s so compatible with a law practice like in all these different ways it just reveals kind of these important and helpful lessons that make it easier to sustain you know sort of yourself in a practice that’s as intense as law you know like it’s really intense and conflict ridden and emotional and so you know finding ways to sort of manage that. And for me, yoga has been a really important part of it so I just think it’s interesting all the time learning these different ways to look at it and use it. So thanks for helping to capture that yeah.
Jeena Cho: [00:32:34] Yeah. And I actually think that kind of leads me to my next topic a conversation with trendies NYTs that we have about yoga practice like. You know I can only do yoga or you know you start to like me. So it was sort of the purpose of practicing yoga which you already started to talk about and it’s not just about the physical aspect of it it’s not meant to be like an aerobic exercise. Now can you talk a little bit more about some of the myths that you noticed particularly lawyers have about yoga and spelling?
Elissa Meyer: [00:33:16] Yeah so start I know Matthew has a lot to add here too but right. So traditionally the physical yoga practice was meant to prepare people to sit still to sit in meditation. So the practice of the physical component of the practice was this lead up to finding stillness in the body and readying the body to be still and that’s you know I think in the western world in a modern culture that’s not really how we look at it. We look at it like this really intense opportunity for physical practice and that sometimes that can be OK. But you know if you if you look back and learn more about the philosophy and the history there’s a little bit different picture to find.
[00:34:01] I think one other thing is that US asana practice the physical practice is just one small component of what yoga is right. There are all these other ways in the tradition to practice yoga which include studying the philosophy or kind of karma yoga like service yoga there’s meditation there are breathing exercises you know there are all these different ways to experience it. So. So I think that’s one thing that is not always discussed yoga right like we hear or compare it to Yoga means all these crazy contorted poses and practices or Instagram version of yoga right. And the poses are beautiful. I mean I don’t mean to minimize them. But there’s a bigger picture to it I think and then you know then I think some other common things I hear like well I’m just not flexible so I can’t come to yoga. And you know I don’t know I didn’t I’m not naturally that flexible. So you don’t know.
[00:35:08] So if you can sort of put that aside and be like you build flexibility by coming to yoga and that’s you know some physical flexibility is also translating into a little mental flexibility. So if you can set that aside and sort of think about the growth opportunity there like what you start to build as you practice more. That’s helpful. And then you know I think like what you look like when you practice like you know there’s a lot of attention about like the right the right athletic wear what looks great you know.
Jeena Cho: [00:35:40] But one thing you know when you speak your mind. Right.
Elissa Meyer: [00:35:46] Right. So when I you know when we teach during the lunch hour or like a couple of times that I’ve taught before seminars like I’ll come in the you know sort of like business casual wear that I plan to wear for the rest of the day because the point is not that you’re going to get so sweaty and like you need to be wearing like separate clothes it’s that if you’re comfortable if you’re in something that’s comfortable you can move in it like you can do yoga and that. So I think she’s trying to help people understand that you know it’s not going to be so intense.
[00:36:17] And so I don’t know I mean the last one I think is just I hear people talk about like well how awkward it would be to be doing yoga around your colleagues like I don’t want it to. So I think that you know and that’s like that’s hard. I sometimes feel like I’ve had a little anxiety about wanting to teach my colleagues or teach to people at seminars where I’m like teaching yoga first and then I have to go like be the you know be the voice of the seminar introducing and welcoming them like there is a boundary there right that like traditionally I think we see like we don’t cross it or whatever but you know so like we try to keep the lights a little lower and like you know make it so.
[00:37:01] Like real people are coming there for themselves kind of goes back to remembering really like much about you like no one’s really going to be that focused on what you’re doing so you can sort of just show up there and have the experience like it might not be that awkward after all.
Jeena Cho: [00:37:16] So I don’t know Matthew has unhappy before and you share some of the myths and you don’t run across anything one that comes up so often as that joke is only for women. I don’t know. You know I think that’s because like so many yoga classes tend to be very women have these self when I kind of start there and say just ask you know what. What’s that like. I mean I’m assuming when you’re going to the yoga teacher training and you’re sitting up and I could be wrong that you were sort of in the minority in terms of gender.
Matthew Foli: [00:37:52] Yeah totally yeah. Yeah so my teacher training it was probably it was me and another gentleman that were the students and the rest were women I think we had like 10 or 11 total and you know for me on a personal level like that’s you know that’s OK. Like you know I got a twin sister she’s my only sibling. My mom and dad got divorced when we were 10th graders and we lived with my mom basically. It is so yeah you know it was OK.
[00:38:23] I mean I’m comfortable in settings that are predominantly female. But what’s also interesting there is just then the male perspective and the male perspective like open up about stuff all men are they do not and especially like this profession male attorneys do not like to on a whole like to deal with their emotions.
Jeena Cho: [00:38:46] I know. Yes. Completely Yeah and I think when you are it National I actually have a male.
Matthew Foli: [00:38:57] And certainly plenty of women are the same way. So I’m the one then who has decided like I’m just going to like lay it all out there all the time you know like a friend of ours in the real estate community that committed suicide last October 2016. And so I started sending out my e-mails probably like around like June or so and started getting more people. And then the suicide happened on October 16 and I sent out one afterward. Just said like you know like play times over like this is what we’re talking about like this is serious. This is one of our own. We were all better off when she was around and instead of like just going back to work Monday morning and forgetting about this let’s think about what can we do to enroll the yoga and the meditation like those are not. Those are things to take the rough edges off to smooth the rough edges. You know you’ve got bigger problems you need to go seek to counsel. You may have other issues.
[00:39:52] But for me I was kind of like in-between like with LCL like I’m the person who’s supposed to I’m like the poster child for just being like dealing with insecurity and perfection and then like coming out as being really judgmental like That’s my target audience because that was me like I didn’t have an alcohol problem. And I did like a drug addiction or things like that I didn’t feel like I might have gone through counseling more than once. But I just felt like you know these other things were like You know I’m trying to talk to the people that are just struggling with the same stuff that all of society is struggling with and I’m just saying like well like try yoga like go to a yoga class. So I think it’s absolutely good for men and Gina. I’ll send you the little blurb that says that if you say you aren’t flexible enough for yoga that’s like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.
Jeena Cho: [00:40:51] I’m hearing now that that’s treatable. Yeah.
Matthew Foli: [00:40:57] So I’m going to switch it up and just talk about the benefit of meditation because I actually think for attorneys that the meditation more so than the yoga is the that’s the secret weapon that we just have chosen not to tap into. And I think if you know just the consistent meditation and I’ll tell you what I do not consistently meditate and I’ve had like stressful weeks. And Nancy my wife says to me is you meditating. And I say no I’m not. Why would I do that?
[00:41:26] So I mean I’m not doing it on a regular basis but I certainly have seen the benefits of it and I just know that it’s there for me when I get back into it and I’m going to be doing that with my co-workers. I think I want to preach to them about it. But like for instance like when I had this yoga teacher beginning of 2015 I went to her class and it was like one of my worst days that I can remember. And I chose to be in the corner of the classroom was a small rectangular class and I decided to be in the corner so that I could I could choose not to have people on two sides of me. And she decided to start the class.
[00:41:59] It was right after the Monday after the Super Bowl and she said well I read that the Seattle Seahawks had practiced like vision work and then also meditation and so we’re going to meditate for the first 10 minutes. And so I just sat there not knowing anything about it. And then it was an hour long yoga class and then the 10 minutes go up and she said well you can certainly stay meditating. You would get all the same benefits that we will get from actually flowing in this yoga class. And so I stayed there for a little bit longer because nothing for me was working in my life at that point. And I just figured well what the hell I might as well try this.
[00:42:33] So I stayed for a little bit longer with my eyes closed until I got too self-conscious and then I just picked up where the class was and I saw her after class and I just walked up and I said well what would be the benefits of actually doing an hour-long meditation and she said her eyes got wide and she said well you would be less quick to react to others and more able to respond. You would be able to utilize a pause before you react.
[00:43:01] I’m not as judgmental and you know I just thought God I could really use a lot of that my life you know my job. I was such where I was in a position where I felt like I was playing chess with a beginner and I was always five moves ahead. And I would be impatient on the phone calls and I would know exactly where they wanted to get and I was you know I was in the public sector and so they’re calling me for help getting to someplace and I’m like you know you don’t have to tell me what you need I’ll just tell you what you need. Like I mean I knew where you needed to go. Right. And you know meditation is what we could use to just smooth out.
[00:43:38] You know it’s just it’s all the stuff you know and I love those metaphors about how like while you’re waiting for the elevator that doesn’t come while you’re in the checkout line and somebody has to go out and get a carton of eggs you know they leave the line to go get something in front of you while you’re waiting for the stoplight. That won’t change and you’re late to get to the meeting. You know all those times when you can. And so the meditation they say about how well that’s just breath work all you need to do is focus on your breath but every yoga class that I go to right now that’s what they say at the beginning of class. They say you know this is a breathing class in the poses are secondary. And so I think that it also I think meditation would be more accessible to our audience that finds it difficult to take time out to go to a yoga class.
Jeena Cho: [00:44:22] You know I think that’s always a challenge. I like actually making it to a yoga class. And I want to just give up high-grade hair for a YouTube yoga instructor its yoga with Ajman. And she has these amazing. And like such a fangirl of her, it is very she is really sharp practices some of them like less than five minutes where you can just get it you know on your iPhone or your TV or your laptop and just do these really sure at this. So I think if you have well you like a full yoga class like an hour long class you know it’s really about meeting yourself where you’re at. So I think that’s another really great thing that’s a matter of living in the era that we’re living and why there’s just so much content available. And so you don’t necessarily have to go to your yoga.
Matthew Foli: [00:45:17] Jeena I’ll send you the one that I like of hers which is yoga at your desk.
Jeena Cho: [00:45:21] Oh I love that line use that one all the time.
Matthew Foli: [00:45:25] And I think the audience members would appreciate that one too. Yeah, she’s great. I love her too. You know she had that 30 days of yoga a couple of years ago and you don’t get you.
Jeena Cho: [00:45:36] This is January like a year. My husband and I did all 31 days and it was such a great way to start off that year. So I hope she does it again. But if she doesn’t like you go check it out.
Matthew Foli: [00:45:50] Yeah I know like some days would be 20 minutes and then some days would be 50 minutes and I tried to do it with Nancy for a while and they just gave up and she continued to do it because I wasn’t as consistent as she was. But yeah I would I like about her is you really kind of feel like you’re getting her authentic personality through the videos and that was something that I was promoted to me by the people that do the business of yoga for yoga journal which was to be a good yoga teacher. You have to be yourself like you like. You should not be a different person outside of the yoga studio as you are inside the yoga studio and they talk about one person that like he swears a lot and he plays rock n roll. Well, that’s the type of teacher he should be. Should be swearing in the studio and you should be playing right. You know that’s people that’s who people gravitate to. So it’s when you are yourself in all facets of your life.
Elissa Meyer: [00:46:40] Yeah I think the thing about the timing or the place of a yoga practice suits like it’s important to see that it will come in cycles right like sometimes you’ll be able to maybe go to a studio or take a class somewhere at the YMCA or your gym or whatever and other times it’s not going to happen. And so like an allowance for letting that change over time and being flexible with it or maybe sometimes it’s like a book or I think there are even like flashcards for yoga there are all these different ways to access it. So I like that point too that you can find it. It’s about finding where it meets you know are meeting it where you can.
Jeena Cho: [00:47:26] Yeah. So we kind of get ready to wrap up the conversation I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about what you guys are seeing and I can certainly share my observations just about. Louis is a profession that really embracing the wealthy. You know I was just so thrilled to see that the AP actually published an entire. Bar on well-being for lawyers and they gave every stakeholder to our situation. Law firms law professors lawsuit as you know these different ways that they can help to further lawyer involve things they think that the data is really kind of scary and alarming.
[00:48:17] And you know I don’t use that word lightly. You know when I heard of our profession is suffering from depression and high levels of stress and anxiety a problematic trend and in a trend that is said and certainly just the most heartbreaking suicides it’s and it just feels like we’ve been talking about these issues for such a long time without much in terms of solutions so you know I guess you notice actually your role as a working with a Sealy’s and doing this program is like what have you been observing it just in terms of our wellbeing type of workshops or courses and how it’s being incorporated.
Elissa Meyer: [00:48:58] Yeah I think there’s just it’s so exciting to me because there’s so much more receptivity you know. Right. There’s so much more opportunity I think to incorporate it and like that task force report. Do you know that you’re talking about you know when it came out in August this year? I was. I saw it posted right away. I like her into that. I started reading it and I was just thrilled. You know I was just like yes we’re finally going to start talking about solutions like we’re going to. It’s not just going to be terrible reports and data that tells you know these stories about how we’re struggling and then we fail to really acknowledge what that means and what we can do about it as a profession.
[00:49:36] So like it was exciting especially for me because I flagged all these points in the report where they talk about Citlali as sort of a vehicle for talking about wellbeing and wellness. And I had you know so I think that report just helps kind of validate and give momentum to this. And I’ve seen that lots of other places you know Minnesota CLV as part of a trade group of sort of national CLV a national group of Seelie providers so state bar associations and private providers. And I think among that group there’s a lot more attention to these topics and how to how to incorporate them into programs how to heighten awareness and make information more accessible and so I definitely brought the sort of tipping point of the conversation I know locally here.
[00:50:30] I’ve also seen other leaders in our community who are writing more and talking more about their experiences and the past. One of the past presidents of the head of the county bar association wrote an article I think he kind of wrote a monthly blog post but one of them was about sort of him starting a yoga practice you know kind of unexpectedly finding it and then unexpectedly seeing all these benefits that he wrote about. So just you know more and more people coming forward and being willing to talk about their experience and what they’re doing you know sort of how they’re struggling and what they’re doing about it and sharing those ideas because I think you know it comes back to this point that we sometimes forget when we’re like in our heads and just trying to deal with all the stuff in our own lives. But like we’re all in this together like we’re all here in this profession trying to figure it out together.
[00:51:26] And that goes beyond just the profession. I mean that’s just a human thing. But it’s helpful to remember that and I think work forward under that framework. So the more we can support each other and figure out ways to do this together you know the sort of easier and it becomes awful.
Jeena Cho: [00:51:46] Yeah and I think you know it sort of focusing on while being kind hum and much many different labors is right there is like one singular to care for your well-being because it’s like multi-dimensional and a one ship that I have been noticing since some of the conferences that I’m going to is that there is the emphasis on activities that involved drinking. So certainly there are certain conferences where they just don’t have the open bar happy hours but other conferences are noticing or doing like mornings sort of physical activities like a fun run or yoga and meditation in the morning so that you know they do sort of have the open bar the night before there is this you know I think people feel freer to say well I know I’m actually I signed up for that 10k in the morning so I’m not going to stay up until 2:00 am getting tranquil.
[00:52:39] And I think that’s really just at least one step in the right direction is just something as simple as like not having all of your social functions. You know the focus on the drinking which I feel like a sort of. So the fabric of our culture as lawyers and you know like from law school. Oh, my grace I like bar reviews on Thursday where we just get drunk and that’s really sort of problematic in our profession that sort of the only tool we have in our toolbox are letting go of stress and anxiety.
Matthew Foli: [00:53:13] Yeah I agree and especially this time of year with holiday parties. No law firm holiday parties and things like that and gifts that are being sent out. I talked to somebody at my office because they had started out well would you like Matthew would you like to be part of the wine tasting for the gifts that we’re going to give away to clients. And I said Well how about like non-alcoholic gifts. What about just like a donation to LCL or a donation to a food shelf or something like that weight where you make a donation in that company’s name or something like that. You know it’s just like they don’t even have to do it. And this is what the whole thing I think with like there really is resilience thing. It’s just being the awareness.
[00:53:56] You know I just think like we need to end up talking to the three of us but in the audience members to like just voice these other alternatives to show that like I’m at least make the other person think about it rather than just being the unconscious decision that well the only option is the bar. But the only option is the party with alcohol or something like that. You know there are like just about a little about five minutes of meditation and one less beer you know whatever that like. So that means in my mind years and let us unlet instead of six or you know two instead of three. It doesn’t matter. It’s just like you know that’s kind of a little bit of the balance that we’re talking about. You know Jean I just want it so Elyssa had brought the report with her and she had it all.
[00:54:39] Dog-eared she said to me back in August. And this lead that she’s putting on in January practiced well for the Minnesota state Minnesota. That’s a full day thing about health and resilience for lawyers. It’s kind of patterned upon the this the path to lawyer well-being but the one quote that I found in this thing and this is on page 12 of the article itself it says that many in the legal profession have behaved at best as if their colleague’s well-being is none of their business.
[00:55:16] And at worst some appeared to believe that supporting well-being will harm professional success. And you know when I read this the first time about when it says they behave as if their colleague’s well-being is none of their business. I thought of that as being like one law firm where the partners would not care about their other partner’s well-being. But I think you can read it more globally to say that all of us in the profession that we have done we have not done enough to care about other attorneys within the profession because I feel strongly that and you see this like you know when they have the article that’s about how this law this law school is now having a mindfulness class. And then you see the letters to the editor which is well all attorneys can just go to the bottom of the ocean and we would all you know the society would be better.
[00:56:06] You know I think that you know society as a whole doesn’t respect or appreciate the legal profession and then so like why are why the US within do the profession beat up on each other so much. You know we should be protecting and supporting each other. So I think that that’s kind of like the bigger issue for me. And you know like you think about the person that’s in the law firm that you know all the issues that you go through on a personal level. Right.
[00:56:33] Like whether it’s like a breakup a relationship or a breakup of a marriage or a miscarriage or a family member that’s struggling or a suicide in the family or you know all of those things and you do not want the response to be from like the partner to be to the association which is well you know we really need you to jump to bounce back quickly from that because you know we need you to get your hours up again. You know we should all be supporting each other whether it’s within the law firm or outside of the law firm. And part of it takes the courage of the person to not answer the question how are you with just saying I’m fine. You know part of that requires the person. This is what I stumbled onto. If you listen to the podcast terrible thanks for asking.
Jeena Cho: [00:57:17] Okay good yeah.
Matthew Foli: [00:57:19] Nora Mack and Ernie and that is the whole premise of that podcast are that you know if we were honest with each other we would say I’m having a bad day. You know Prince Harry I don’t remember her name. She had a podcast from Britain last year which was this mad world and he was the first guest and he talked about his struggle with mental illness and he said you know on a Friday we would all be better off if we just told somebody close to us that I’ve had a really crappy day and get it off your chest rather than carry it around with you on the weekend.
[00:57:51] So I think we can do all of us on just the individual level we can all do a better job at it. You said this Gina. I listened to your Florida webinars that you did and you talked about that situation where you had somebody another attorney that you were not connecting with and somehow either she said it or you prompted her and she said I had a sick kid this weekend and that was what broke down the barriers for you to connect with her on a more personal level. And then it makes you kind of like then realize that you know what. Like this lease, negotiation doesn’t have to end up being attended anything victory for me.
Jeena Cho: [00:58:33] Yeah. Even just that idea of like just like me and my dad just recognizing our common humanity like just like me you know I have bad days she has bad days and good days and just like me you know she sometimes has scared and maybe that’s the reason why she sent that nasty e-mail and not because she’s a terrible person.
[00:58:52] So yeah I think we can really sort of give ourselves and each other a little bit of a benefit to going out and to really this that’s of empathy and compassion and really feel like is sorely lacking in our society now. Maybe like when I have the guys back. Around you and me because I do kind of enjoy the unfolding conversations and now I’m like I want to come out and see that in good a yoga class. So yeah we are. And my final question and I’ll let you guys decide who’s going to answer first. Is this the name of this? I’ve is the entire resilient lawyer. What does it mean to be a resilient boy?
Matthew Foli: [00:59:37] It’s ego so I’ll go first. What it means to me is being aware of the triggers that we face on a regular basis and not necessarily always seeing down before we react poorly but perhaps recognizing them afterward and saying next time I can do better. You know I don’t have to answer the phone on an empty stomach. I did it just now. It didn’t turn out well. Next time I’m going to eat before I call that person back. So it’s like these little things that you can use on a regular basis to promote longevity in this profession because I do not think that the idea of Wake Up Kick-Ass repeat is sustainable in our profession.
Jeena Cho: [01:00:25] Yeah I totally agree with.
Elissa Meyer: [01:00:28] You know we sort of prepped that this question would be coming so I’ve been thinking about it a lot and as with many things you know what you find like when you’re thinking about something or trying to come up you know trying to reflect on it. Like all these, all these things start coming back at you. So I was reading an article written by a friend last week and she was not talking about lawyers or anything to do with a resilient lawyer but she was writing this article responding to a question about like what-what quality she most wants to teach her children. She has these you know twins that are almost 1 year old. And as she wrote the story you know she came to this point where she was this quality the thing she most wants to impart to her children is resilience and the way she defined it was returning to the self after being banned compressed or stretched.
[01:01:25] And I just thought that was so you like. Yes right. Yes. So you know this ability to come back to yourself after something happens or as you gain experience and say like how can I use this. What does it mean to me? You know being able to take it for a lesson and layer it on and if it’s useful keep it and if it’s not useful you know to figure out where to place it and then move forward.
Jeena Cho: [01:01:58] I love that. Thank you so much for taking time to be with us. I appreciate your time and I said I just appreciate the work that you’re doing and also thank you so much.
Matthew Foli: [01:02:14] You’re welcome. This is fun. I’m glad we did this.
Elissa Meyer: [01:02:16] Thank you and thanks to you for all that you’re doing and all of the wonderful conversations that you’re having with people across the country it’s really fun to be a listener of your podcasts as well. So thank you. Thank you.
Closing: [01:02:32] Thanks for joining us on The Resilient Lawyer podcast. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please tell a friend. It’s really the best way to grow the show. To leave us a review on iTunes, search for The Resilient Lawyer and give us your honest feedback. It goes a long way to help with our visibility when you do that, so we really appreciate it. As always, we’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at [email protected] Thanks, and look forward to seeing you next week.