Today we’d like to introduce you to Bria Hamlet.
Bria, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Roughly five years ago I was struggling to cope with stress and other health issues. I was just a year shy of finishing my undergraduate degree and could feel myself getting derailed. I knew of the potential benefits of yoga; I knew I might find reprieve in some time on a mat with a room full of strangers. I had always found relief in physical activity. What I didn’t expect to find was the most cathartic emotional release I could imagine. I fell apart and back together on my mat. I sobbed my way through one yoga class, and though I was thrown off by it, I was so happy I allowed myself to let go. I knew eventually I wanted to teach that, to teach surrendering to the practice and guiding oneself back together. In 2018 I became a certified yoga instructor via Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga, and I began my business in April 2019. JustBriFree is a play on words, as my first name is Bria, but the sentiment stands. I am invested in helping others free themselves through the mind-body meditation that is yoga.
Has it been a smooth road?
As a small business owner, I’ve run into my fair share of hurdles. There’s no one-size-fits-all book for starting a business, especially a yoga-based one. I also work full-time, so my business work primarily happens after hours. I currently do nearly everything myself – rent studio space, manage my website and social media, teach classes and so on. Building a clientele has (thankfully) been one of the easiest parts. People are eager to practice yoga in the community. Nearly 95% of my students self identify as people of color, and 80% are black. That being said, my classes are not huge. However, they do make an impact. As a black woman, it is critical to me that my community sees yoga as an available tool for wellness and self-care. I teach primarily beginner-friendly classes. You’d see folks of all ages, ethnicities, physical abilities, gender identities and more.
Please tell us about your business.
I specialize in vinyasa-style yoga. ‘Vinyasa’ refers to the movement between asana, or poses. I love the idea of encouraging the body ‘to flow’ in the way that vinyasa does. The pace can vary, which allows me to fold variety into my classes. I’m most well-known for my Soul Flow Sundays, a weekly vinyasa class for beginners. We “warm up our bodies and minds as we flow through our sun salutations to smooth, melodic beats’, as I like to say. Soul Flow came from my love of lo-fi hip-hop, R&B and ambient music. Many people of color enjoy rhythmic music, and since vinyasa encourages movement, I figured they’d be a delightful match. Spoiler alert: they are! I’m most proud of the happy faces I see at the end of every class. I’ve taken a selfie with nearly every class I’ve taught thus far – their joy keeps me encouraged. You can see the mind-body healing in their smiles.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love that San Diego is so laid back. I’m originally from the east coast, so I had to adapt to the pace of town myself. Besides, who can complain about near perfect weather year-round. My least favorite thing about San Diego is the traffic; I wish our transit system was more conducive to getting around. I am hopeful that it will improve with time.
- Community classes range from $10 to $15 per person
- Class passes start at 3 for $30; the value increases at each price point
- Group and individual classes are available upon request
- Website: www.justbrifree.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/justbrifree
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/justbrifree
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/justbrifree
TraVae Davis, Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga, Christina Cooper