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Community Highlights: Meet Jessie Kates of SHIFT YOGA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Kates.

Hi Jessie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Gosh, how it all got started, huh? Whenever I get asked this question, I always pause to reflect on my journey to being a small business owner. Every time I am reminded that it all started for me when I got out of my own way. I have been a yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher for over a decade and in 2018, I opened a studio called SHIFT YOGA in Fulton, MD. I could always sense I had a unique and needed viewpoint in my industry but never had a goal to open a business centered around that viewpoint. My journey as a business owner is more about quieting my inner critic, acknowledging that I doubt myself sometimes and that’s ok and ultimately learning to trust that things are unfolding as they were meant to. I could tell you I worked hard, like every other business owner will say, and I did. I hustled, I continue to be a student, strengthening my knowledge and skills. But ultimately, for me, what took center stage in my journey was fostering relationships. Each day my mission was just to show up and make people feel seen, loved and heard. Early on, I never thought that would or could be the foundation of a business model, but over time it became clear how meaningful those moments were to shape the trajectory of my life’s work. Those relationships I fostered led to opportunities to serve more and more people. Each time I got to serve, the connections I made were not only impactful for my students but deeply fulfilling for me and the growing feeling that I could really make a difference became too strong to ignore.

Community is a powerful thing and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the way it led me to where I am today. Community helped me stay strong when I doubted myself. I questioned my place in it all constantly “would this work?” “was I capable?” all the usual suspects of inner doubt crowded my headspace and often interrupted my decision-making. When I got quiet, the answers were pretty clear, the voice of my community spoke louder and louder over the years until it could no longer be ignored. They wanted a place to be seen, heard and loved every single day. They wanted a place to come to learn, to be held and to be a part of something. I wanted this too and when I looked around, I saw it didn’t yet exist. So I made the leap, filled with fear and doubt but fueled by love and support to start a heart-centered business that would not only support my family but serve my community deeply. Today SHIFT is still standing after this long covid adventure and it certainly hasn’t been easy. The studio has existed for longer IN a pandemic then NOT and that is wild to reflect on. It is rewarding to see this community growing stronger than ever despite being only able to connect on zoom for a year. Even though this isn’t at all what I could have planned for when I got started as a small business owner, those building blocks of connection are what got me through this wild year to where I am today.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
LOL…not at all. I was cruising along during the first year getting my business going with little to no bumps in the road and then the biggest bump imaginable hit…covid. By far, this has about as a big of a struggle to navigate then anything because it has never been done before… by anyone…anywhere. You are literally alone, on an island with no resources. As the pandemic progressed and businesses everywhere had to pivot, it seemed like an unclimbable mountain because you couldn’t google what to do. There was no book yet written on how to pivot. It was massively unsettling because often when you hit a challenge in business you turn to an expect, ask for guidance from someone who has lived it and that just didn’t exist for anyone. But you know what they say a smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Thanks for asking. SHIFT YOGA is a self-care sanctuary in Howard County, Maryland. We specialize in making people feel loved, seen and heard rather than feeling like they have to touch their toes or own $90 yoga pants to belong. We focus on the community rather than the individual and we are known for having a real family vibe. We focus on yoga for spiritual awakening over yoga for fitness. We share the deeper teaching of yoga versus just teaching you how to do a yoga pose. This is what gets us up in the morning and makes us passionate about our brand. We are a needed SHIFT in the landscape of hot yoga to a place of more nourishment for not just the body but the mind and the soul. We offer yoga and meditation classes for all levels of experience both in person at our studio and virtually on zoom. For more info visit

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
Well not to shamelessly plug, but we have a free meditation podcast and a blog to help our community live their best life on and off a yoga mat. Tabs to both are on our website.


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Image Credits
Crystal Tseng Photography

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