Kym Lakshmi McDonald turned to yoga almost 20 years ago as a business proposition and has become a leader in the industry locally and beyond.
She owns the Yogic Wisdom studio at Boolaroo and is a NSW representative for industry body, Yoga Australia.
Kym’s passionate about changing people’s misunderstanding of yoga as just a fitness class and about making yoga inclusive for all. She’s working to build the Hunter as a hub for yoga and has brought yoga teacher training and yoga therapy training to the region. She’s at the forefront of using yoga therapy to assist people with health issues and disabilities.
Prior to establishing her business, she worked in corporate roles including managing a large call centre. Kym’s also a workplace coach, trainer and assessor.
- Tell us a little about your career path
I started as a fitter and turner at Liddell Power Station. From there I sort of fell into the contact centre industry, a local business here that’s really successful these days, which is Australian Wine Selectors. I started there in sales and then I started doing training and I really fell into something that was really natural and wonderful for me. I feel energized by it.
I went from there starting my own training company and working with the long-term unemployed and indigenous and particularly single parents. I did that Australia wide. I got an Australia Day award for that from the local council which was fantastic. From there I started to study Yoga and more and more that became something of interest to me that I could see the benefits and I wanted to give that back to people in the community.
I started my own Yoga studio whilst I was consulting locally in the contact centre communication industry. I started doing Yoga teacher training and I’ve been doing that for four years now, so we’ve trained over 100 people in the Hunter in Yoga teacher training skills. They come as far as the Central Coast as well. That’s where we’re at now, I do that full-time because we just brought on another qualification.
- What are the characteristics of a good entrepreneur?
I think a great sense of sharing would be one of the first ones for me. A good entrepreneur knows that when they have a gift of something to share, to really put it out there, and have the courage to do that.
And not to necessarily look and copy what others are doing and that might go against what other people say about entrepreneurship, but I think you need to listen to the voice that’s inside you and really follow that and really look the courage that that requires to do that. Sometimes you’re swimming against the grain and what other people might be doing, but listen to that and continue to go.
- One of your mantras is the mind should be a servant, not your master. How can yoga help leaders?
That’s a really good question. In Yoga that is the goal. The pointy end of Yoga is about getting the mind to be the servant, not the master. So, for example, if you’re waking up during the night and worrying and stressing about what’s going on at work, then the mind is your master and not your servant.
Unfortunately, Yoga’s taken a bit of a turn as far as seen as an exercise out in the mainstream these days. But, authenticity around Yoga and what’s the best path to follow to get that mind to be the servant, is to follow what we call Vinyasa Krama. Now, Vinyasa Krama is a logical sequence, the same if you’re going to bake a cake or you’re going to do anything in a logical sequence. So, for Yoga to be able to get you to that pointy end, it’s about, first of all doing a movement, which we would know as asana, which is what most people see Yoga to do. And, it can be modified to suit anybody’s shape, age, health conditions completely.
Then from there, really noticing the breath, which we call pranayama. It could be sitting and noticing the inhale and the exhale, which mindfulness is really supporting a lot of business, this really helps with the mind. Then, that leads us naturally into meditation. So, if a leader is really give themselves the opportunity to take that time out to exercise, listen to the breath, and to meditate, it will help their mind become more and more obedient to what you want it to do with the breaths.
If we’re practicing that daily, like a personal practice, is really what we recommend, a leader is able then to stay in the moment. To stay in the moment, no matter who you’re with. So, if you’re with your staff or you’re with your customers, or you’re with a process or a concept or an idea, that you’re fully there. You’re not thinking about the next task or where else you need to be, because then your mind has got away from you.
- What’s good about doing business in the Hunter?
Sharing. The good thing about the Hunter is that everybody is really open to sharing. You know they say Newcastle is a city, but they also say that it’s still very much like a town, and that’s completely the feel. I know all of my neighbours, I know all of my customers, I know them by name. And there’s a real intimacy that comes with that, that gives your business a real depth. That’s what I love about the Hunter.
- Which local businessperson do you find inspiring?
I have a few actually. To start with Cheryl Royle who runs The Future Entrepreneurs. I’ve known Cheryl for 20 years and we worked side by side doing some programs with indigenous youths and single parents. She just doesn’t stop and she’s so passionate about what she does. She has a lot of courage and she gives back.
That leads into my next couple people, as well, is people that really give back to the community. Another one that comes to mind is Matt Linnert, who has started an organisation or group, which I belong to which is Collective Heart. All businesses come together and from making small donations and coming together and being motivated and inspired by local businesses doing wonderful things giving back.
And then Heidi Alexandra. Heidi, I’ve had the pleasure of working with for a couple of years. Heidi does a lot for businesses bringing love into the boardroom and into the workplaces. But also, she gives a lot back to the community as well on Got Your Back Sista and a lot of other charities that she works with. I tend to really admire people who really pay it forward.