An interview with Heather Olson

Heather is someone I have so much respect for. Not only is she changing the game at Black Swan Yoga, but also she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to explore different ways to accomplish it. Seriously- ask her about her goals. She says she “grew up in New York,” even though she was born and raised in Austin. She handles life with legit grace; and if ever grace fails her- she has her contagious laugh and awesome vision to get you on board.

Her journey here began with the death of a dear friend in New York: A friend who taught her how to break rules and not be afraid to push boundaries. He was the subject of her documentary of base-jumping, and encouraged her to stretch her own limits. After she grew tired of self-sabotaging her own work and success, she moved back to Austin. Sand volleyball and film internships helped get her back on the path she wanted to walk… but it was yoga that raised her curiosity about herself.

I'm a few classes away from this pose... 

She turned to yoga teacher training because she knew in the back of her mind she wanted to have a show about traveling the world. In her travels she envisioned herself offering ideas, or points of awareness, to people so they could empower themselves to enjoy life and feel secure in their skin. However, at the time she had no way of vocalizing her dream. Having spent so much time in film, it took practicing yoga and listening to her teachers share during class to realize she could also learn to share her vision, both through her words and her gift of film.

Heather taught her first class a little over a year ago. She forgot her playlist and ended class super early.  She shared this with me and then laughed her awesome laugh. Despite the abbreviated class, her teachers saw enormous potential and kept developing Heather. Thankfully, because a yoga sequence organized by Heather is a work of art. She uses her filmography background to visualize what the body does during yoga to set up the poses for her classes. She even dreams in movie mode: she can see her body from different angles- and can zoom in and out.

Management noticed what she was doing with her sequencing and gave her more classes. At one point Heather taught 11 classes and has built up a loyal following. As she grew professionally, she learned how to let go of some of her classes. She had to say “no” to some studio teaching so that she could say, “yes” to being in charge of the content of Black Swan TV. This was hard, she said, because she loved teaching. But if she wanted her show to happen, she had to be less tied to the idea of being a studio teacher.

You can catch her at Black Swan Yoga and Black Swan TV, channel 6. Not enough? Black Swan Yoga is teaching on the rooftop of Whole Foods every Wednesday evening from 8:30 PM-9:30 PM. And heather will be teaching at Free People downtown, 7:30 PM- 8:30 PM, the first Thursday of September.

Hello, Clementine!:  What’s in your bag?

Heather: In my side pocket I have a free coupon for Jo’s coffee that a student gave me, Eucalyptus oil, Chiclets, and a video card, of course. In my other pocket I have a poof for an audio recorder. This is the audio recorder… I have a magazine (Inc.) that my boss gave me that has an article about how to smartly work remotely. I have health insurance forms (!!) oh! I have the War of Art- it’s always with me. Teabags, omega 3 fish oil. Paint swatches… because who doesn’t need those. Lip gloss, and my book that I use to write my sequencing and quotes.

HC:  What’s essential for you to create?

Good, amazing music. Like Jamie XX- it’s really reenergized how I start to map out videos in my head of how I want to shoot. A lot of ambient, electronic, music that doesn’t have a lot of words. Or something that sounds poetic. I really try to pick out music that no one has heard of, so it’s an experience thing. No one is trying to connect a past thing to their practice.

Pen and my journal. Because even though I have all these resources to type, I still want to write stuff down.

HC: How do you start your day?

I’ll wake up at 7, and then go back to sleep and dream some more. I’ll think about my to-do list. Then I’ll wake up in a panic, fix my hair and I’m out the door. I wish that I woke up with enough time to make breakfast and take care of my body. In my goals, I’m a health resource, so I’m working on getting settled and taking care of myself.

HC:  Tell me about your process.

I listen to music, like 3 or 4 songs on repeat, and then I’ll dream about it. If it involves movement I can do, I’ll do the movement and play around with the sequence or how I want to shoot it.

HC:  What is your favorite time of day?

It’s not a certain time. It’s when someone I’m really interested in texts me. Like when I get that certain heartbeat and I get nervous and excited. And I respond and can tell they’re intrigued.

HC:  What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t worry.” I will constantly worry or over analyze. I will take apart everything and turn something into…more. And then once someone is like, Heather…. I’m like okay yeah.

HC:  Why do you do it?

Because I have to. Now I know I have to. It’s not because I’m stressed out about money or if I’m going to make it. It’s I’m making it, this is how I make sure what I’m doing right now fuels the things that I want in my life. And to always have the sense to keep checking whether I’m thinking with a mind full of opportunities, rather than a mind full of fear.

Every time something changes with where I’m at, I get this heartbeat sensation that tells me that I’m about to be catapulted into something greater.

HC:  How do you continue to draw inspiration when you achieve goals?

Well after I reach a certain goal, there’s that moment where you’re like “great! Now what.” But it’s just continuing to stay curious about everything. If I continue to have an open mind I’ll pick up on new things. Even if it’s a song I never heard… That can get me into the next moment of creating.