Well that's a pretty big question, isn't it? So big, in fact, that I've actually written myself three separate bios. This one is just a general summary of my life story so far. If you want to see the highlights of my long and winding professional journey, click here. If you want to read about my yoga journey (from skeptical lawyer/once-a-week yogi to full-blown yoga entrepreneur), click here.
I was born in chilly Chicago, but my freshly-immigrated-from-India parents did not last long in those winters. As soon as my father completed his Master's degree, we moved to the Silicon Valley, where I spent my early childhood. We moved to my true hometown, Austin, TX, when I was 6 years old.
I grew up in the reasonably affluent, mostly-white suburb of Westlake, attending public schools that frankly rivaled many of the nation's private schools. I stuck around Austin for college, joining the Business Honors Program at UT and somehow managing to keep my grades up while partying my ass off. Well, during freshman year at least. I calmed down a bit sophomore year, and took my first foray into entrepreneurship my junior year.
The summer after my junior year, I took the LSAT and then decided to try starting my own business instead of just getting another summer job. I launched Alia's Cookies that July (creative name, I know) and it took off faster than I thought possible! By December I had reached a crossroads - either I continue with the business and really take it seriously, or scrap it and go to law school as planned. I decided that I'd rather learn some stuff and make some money first, and THEN open my own business. My dad heartily agreed.
So off I went to Philly for law school at the friendliest place in the top tier, and then to DC to start the "sad lawyer" chapter of my life. Let's be clear, as law firms go, mine was fantastic. I just am not meant to be a lawyer, and DEFINITELY did not belong at a Big Law firm. Totes not their fault. I mean hell, they even sent me to Paris for 6 months!
On January 4th, 2011, my world collapsed. My father - who by all accounts was relatively young, healthy, and fit - suffered a massive heart attack, went in for emergency surgery, and ended up in a coma. From which he never woke up. I flew home to Austin and spent a month in what I thought was the seventh level of hell. Then we made the choice to let him go, and I truly saw the fury that hell hath.
I couldn't handle it. I fell apart. Well, I held myself together for one more month while I stayed in Austin getting his affairs in order, making sure my mother was taken care of, etc. And then I went and hid in Costa Rica for a month. And that's when I finally got to fall apart.
I spent a month cut off from all communication, crying into the ocean, reassessing my life, trying to pull myself together so that I could go face the real world again. I also, as it turned out, ended up experiencing a huge turning point in my yoga journey - but you can read about that here. When I finally returned to the "real world," it was with one thought burning in my soul: I have no idea how much longer I get to live this life, and I will not spend another moment of it on anything that I don't absolutely love.
And thus began a 4-year journey to first figure out what my bliss was, and then figure out how to make it a reality. A journey that included everything from interviewing with McKinsey to leaving the law to wrangling celebrities at the Capital Food Fight to getting certified and hired as a yoga teacher to writing a restaurant column to practicing real estate. (You can check out the highlights of that journey here.)
My professional soul-searching journey finally came to an end when I opened East Side Yoga in February 2015. Just a few months prior, I had been searching for office space for one of my real estate clients and stumbled open the space that would become my studio. As soon as I set foot in that space, I felt like a lightning bolt had hit me. I just knew I had to open a yoga studio there. Even though the idea of opening a yoga studio had never once crossed my mind before that moment.
I know it sounds crazy, but it's absolutely true. And the moment I opened for business, I knew I'd found my calling. Running that studio has been a huge adventure full of ups and downs, but I've never once doubted that it was what I was meant to do. And now that I have a fabulous team and have the studio running smoothly, I get to focus on new and exciting projects!
So what's next? Stay tuned...