How I left the corporate world to search for that "Dream Thing" and found myself through yoga - Ask me anything, with Paula Baake, Dancing Mind founder, Master Yoga Teacher, Coach and Speaker

Paula Baake
Mar 28, 2018

Hi! I am Paula Baake, founder/owner of Dancing Mind Yoga. I am a Master yoga teacher, coach and speaker. I fell in love with yoga about 15 years ago, when I was going through what you may call an early on-set of a mid-life crisis. I had given up a successful corporate finance career in search of my dream “thing, ” but I had not clue what that “dream thing” was.

I was addicted to adrenaline sports. I cruised the streets of DC in search of the steepest hills on my in-line skates, snowboarded through tights trees in the rockies, rock-climbed steep faces all over the US and the world, ice climbed frozen water falls, and did 100 mile mountain bike races for “fun.” I drove a Jeep Wrangler. Had a beautiful home. The cute husband. One would say I had an amazing life.

But see the truth is that I was really not happy at all.

Deep inside I suffered from doubt. I feared that I did not fit in. That I wasn’t good enough. I competed to be the best, to win. Deep inside I was really insecure. Somehow in the twisted dark turns of my brain, my mind had created this “scheme” that if I could be the coolest, have the latest gear, and be the toughest, I would be the best, and being the best would get me friends. WRONG – with a big loud BUZZ after.

So I grew more fearful and lonely. Doctor’s gave me anti-depressant pills. They made me numb. Sad. I gained weight.

And that’s when I started to seek alternative ways to understand what was going on inside my heart. The healing process had started.

I read books and books. I learned about yoga and got curious. I did some sun-salutations at home. And then I took a yoga class at my rock-climbing gym, and the rest is history.

In that class I felt something I had not experienced in a long time: SILENCE. During that hour, in that dirty floor, on a borrowed mat, with all the outside noise, my mind was “quiet.” All I could hear was my breath. I felt my lungs going in and out. I felt my arms being challenged. I felt my body calm. I felt peace. And I saw light.

That’s how my passion for yoga and understanding what it does to the mind, body and spirit started.

I read more books. I got courage and went to “real” yoga studios. I took classes and fell in love with the community. I felt safe, supported, and challenged. I started to get to know myself – mind, body and spirit. I enrolled in yoga teacher training, learned more about the processes. I started to meditate and grew more more conscious of my thoughts, words and actions, and how they impacted myself and others around me.

A year later I opened Dancing Mind (2007), in the upstairs bedroom of my house. Nine mat spaces and space heaters. My dogs got used to people coming in, and would wait for students at the door. My intention was to create a community of like minded individuals, and to share this practice that transformed my life.

What have I learned?

I have learned that my biggest strength is my vulnerability. To breakdown in front of people. To speak authentically with love and kindness. To hold back the urge to “vent.” To not poison the people and the world around you with negativity. To be present to my feelings, and understand what drives them, what thoughts and actions they create, and more important to stay grounded and not REACT from them. See it takes practice and REAL power to be a good human being.

Yoga empowered me to understand that I am the master of my story. It taught me to stop the “blaming cycle,” to stop pointing fingers at other people, or circumstances. That I get to choose the state of mind that I want to be in. That I – and no one else gets to create my own reality.

So this is my story, and the story of Dancing Mind – a community destination, where people come to transform their lives. No matter how old you are. No matter how fit you are.

As a yoga, mindfulness and leadership coach, I help individuals of all ages understand what keeps them stuck and to take steps to breakthrough and move forward. I also offers my business management expertise and coach other business owners who are looking to live more fulfilling life-styles, become more mindful and impactful leaders, and take their business to that next level. My coaching and speeches are honest, authentic and motivational in nature and are intended to challenge and shift beliefs.

Join me for this AMA and I'll answer your questions about yoga, meditation, and a commitment to personal development can transform your life and he life of those you touch.

- Paula Baake




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Has Yoga improved your capacity to think critically?
Apr 2, 8:22AM EDT0
Have you ever encountered someone who found there to be no benefit in yoga after practising it?
Mar 31, 10:41PM EDT0
Can one injure themselves with certain positions if not trained properly?
Mar 31, 7:15PM EDT0
Have you ever injured yourself doing Yoga?
Mar 31, 12:59PM EDT0
How can a novice start with yoga, where can they learn the basics of yoga from?
Mar 29, 6:18PM EDT0

Most yoga studios will have an introductory class, and that's a good way to start. To further your knowledge I recomend taking workshops or if you want individual attention private classes are the way to go. 

Mar 30, 9:20AM EDT0
What advice would you give a well-practiced yogi to take their practice to the next level?
Mar 29, 2:07PM EDT0

Go to a retreat or take teacher training. Invest in learning more about the 8 limbs of yoga, not just the physical practice (Limb 3/Asana).

Mar 30, 9:21AM EDT0
What are the common incorrect presumptions about yoga?
Mar 29, 1:06AM EDT0

that you need to be flexible, that yoga is a religion, and that the physical practice (asana) is yoga.

Last edited @ Mar 30, 9:22AM EDT.
Mar 30, 9:22AM EDT0
Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
Mar 28, 11:34PM EDT0


Mar 30, 9:23AM EDT0
What has yoga done for you as a person?
Mar 28, 10:06PM EDT0

It has made me a better human being. More aware, kinder, honest, authentic, powerful, loving. When I look at myself in the mirror I see an awesome, beautiful person with a huge heart.

Mar 30, 9:24AM EDT0
What is your view on yoga for physically-challenged and mentally-challenged people to have some improvement in their lives?
Mar 28, 6:44PM EDT0

The physical practice reflects our mental state. Do you force, do you overdue, do you retreat, do you take exit doors, do you go in la-la land, do you have a story about why you can't do something, do you shy away from going into a challenge - all are inquiries that show up on the mat, that can be methaphors for one's life.

Mar 30, 9:28AM EDT0
Will you be you ready to travel across the continent to impart knowledge on the positivity of yoga to the public who are unaware of it?
Mar 28, 6:37PM EDT0

Perhaps. That's the next step.

Mar 30, 9:28AM EDT0
As mass meditation and mass prayers spread a positive vibration in the environment, is there any say about mass Yoga eradicating negativity from the environment?
Mar 28, 2:45PM EDT0

That's a nice thought....

I think it can definitely help, but ultimately individual work must be done.

Mar 28, 4:00PM EDT0
You have said you have pioneered in various adrenaline sports like trekking, skating etc. In that case, why did you have deep in you the doubt that you did not fit in?
Mar 28, 12:54PM EDT0

It's much easier to put a "warrior" mask and not have to deal with your feelings. I used extreme sports as a way to numb myself, forget reality and avoid being vulnerable. Some people use drugs, some use alcohool, I used athletics. 

Mar 28, 1:58PM EDT0
What do you think will be future of yoga? Will it continue to grow in popularity or will something new come up?
Mar 28, 2:52AM EDT0

yes, I believe it will continue to grow. I feel people crave authenticity and true connection. I feel that people are just starting to discover yoga.

Mar 28, 1:59PM EDT0
What was it that made you so insecure deep inside?
Mar 28, 1:05AM EDT0

I was raised in a judgemental environment, with conditional love used as a tool to achieve results. That plus immaturity, and lack of an understanding of who I was led to insecurities later in life. 

Mar 28, 2:04PM EDT0
Was it challenging do to do 100 mile bike races? How did you complete them?
Mar 27, 4:28PM EDT0

lots of training on the bike but also mentally. I have done several 100 mile mountain bike races, and the mental component cannot be ignored!

Last edited @ Mar 27, 11:18PM EDT.
Mar 27, 11:18PM EDT0
If you are asked to conduct a huge yoga show for Book of world records, can you arrange for it and will all your students join you?
Mar 27, 4:07PM EDT0

That sounds fun! Yes, I think it could be done :)

Mar 27, 11:19PM EDT0
Is there any similarity in the sensations felt in a moment of adrenaline pumped action and a moment of meditation?
Mar 27, 3:23PM EDT0

no - for me these are very very different states of being. One completely alert ready to fight or flight, the other very calm, and serene. 

Mar 27, 11:20PM EDT0
What are your thoughts on different kinds of yoga, Vinyasa, Astanga, Power Yoga? Which one is your favourite?
Mar 27, 1:01PM EDT0

All yoga is amazing, and teaches something new. I practice Baptiste Power Vinyasa.

Mar 27, 11:21PM EDT0
What is the most challenging yoga pose that you have mastered?
Mar 27, 10:12AM EDT0

Sukhasana - easy pose. 

Mar 27, 11:19AM EDT0
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