For Clara Day Herrera (@claradayh on Lemi!), months spent in lockdown have translated to ample time meditating and relying on the healing power of yoga to recuperate. The pandemic has hit her businesses hard; yet she shows no signs of distress, evident in her Instagram and Youtube updates that beam nothing but her charming candor. A former cabin crew of 15 years, she shifted industries a little over 4 years ago after doing a simple Google search. Now armed with a boxing gym, a food business, and an eco-resort in a globally-recognized paradise under her entrepreneurial belt, she still aims to do more. “In every venture that I get myself into, it’s always mission-centered — something that will help elevate the lives of people. It’s one of the compelling reasons why I wake up every day,” she says.
Below, she talks more about self care, getting her businesses running in the time of a pandemic, and finding her purpose in the world.
Can you take us back to the early days of your journey in yoga and entrepreneurship?
There was a point in my career when I felt like I was in a dead-end job already and everything was taking its toll on me physically and emotionally. I fell into a state of depression. During that dark phase in my life, I did a quick Google search on how to get what I want in life and find true love. What came out of the search was in order for us to find true love and to really get what we want, we must start with self-love. One of the actionable ways to do that is through yoga. So even during the time that I wasn’t well and my chiropractors were telling me that the only surgery could resolve my back problems, I still did yoga because Google told me so! I fell in love with the practice and it helped me become more grateful and appreciative of life. And then I thought of coming back to the Philippines and establishing an eco-resort — a home away from home for people going through depression. Not everyone who is going through a rough patch can freely talk about it or even know what’s truly going on in their minds. I envisioned this place as their refuge, one wherein they can be their authentic selves.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were just starting out?
One of my business mentors would always say that every master was once a disaster. We were all beginners once so allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to make mistakes, no matter what endeavor it is that you are doing: entrepreneurship, new health or fitness routine — we have to start somewhere. Most of the time, people are hesitant because they’re scared that they will fail, but how will you know if you don’t try, right?
What is something that you look forward to nowadays?
Right now, we’re looking into launching an E-livelihood mobile app to help local SMEs. Being an entrepreneur grants one the freedom to create things and I’m at a frequency where my priorities lie in serving more people rather than acquiring money.
Launching a new venture while we’re dealing with a pandemic can be quite a challenge. How do you stay creative in these trying times?
I surround myself with driven and creative people. At the same time, I start with my own mindset as well! We always hear that no one was prepared for this pandemic but at the end of the day, it comes back to how we take care of our mental, emotional and spiritual health — how we make sure that what we consume on social media and TV is something that feeds our brain and nourishes our soul. If we keep on focusing on negative things, these are the things that will deter us. I’m not saying that we should be unattached, but if you focus on what you can control instead, it will emanate on how you can contribute to the lives of other people. It really starts with you.
How do you cope with challenges brought by the pandemic? Is there a routine you follow?
I’m not perfect nor 100% zen. I get frustrated and mad as well, but what’s important is how we put consciousness in our actions. During this pandemic, three of my brick and mortar businesses have stopped operating. The resort project, it had to be put on hold. The gym, we had to close it indefinitely. Though we’re allowed to open the gyms again, we have to take a lot into consideration: the safety of our coaches and our clients as well. The food business — I had to reroute it. So, even if people think that I’m zen all the time, I have all these challenges to deal with. There was a point where I got really anxious again but, thank God, I have a very supportive family, and at the same time, I always have meditation, prayer, and yoga to go back to. These are my ways to cope with life. Every morning, I make a commitment to meditate at four o’clock and then do yoga after. Afterward, I allocate time for reading and learning through online courses. It takes habit forming actions to maintain this kind of lifestyle, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it and your day will feel incomplete without it!
What makes you prefer yoga from other forms of physical exercises?
What my guru in India told us is that other forms of exercises are energy draining, while yoga is energy giving. After doing yoga, you just feel like you’re revitalized, calm, and collected. You’re ready to face the day. You’ll feel the difference!
Let’s talk about the new normal. What are the biggest adjustments that you’ve made in our current situation?
The meetings are just one after another; and while that contributes to the productivity of most people, it also drains our energy as well. What I believe and what works for me is doing something that I resonate with. Otherwise, it’ll be just something forced and might have a negative toll on me.
Filipino culture instilled a kind of “herd culture” where it’s a norm to follow trends dictated by a majority. Where do you find the grit to stand out and do your own thing?
So this is supposed to be a secret, and I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but when the mind is quiet, the soul speaks to you. So every day when I meditate, there’s an inner voice that just comes to me and tells me what to do next. My present approach is to just take one thing at a time, otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed. If we don’t practice meditation, we’re always rushing and meeting things and we fail to acknowledge the present moment and each lesson that these tasks are teaching us. Take it one step at a time and honor each moment.
Clara Herrera is on Lemi at @claradayh!