This week we spoke with Emily Ridout, Folklore and Ethnomusicology BA ‘19. Emily is an AstroYoga specialist and has a super interesting background. In this episode, we talked about what she loved about her time at IU and how exploring her interests after graduation rather than following one narrow path ultimately led her to her dream job. If you’re interested in astrology, yoga & wellness, or interested in learning about how to maximize your liberal arts degree to start a creative, entrepreneurial endeavor, you’ll love this episode. Enjoy!
Links Mentioned in this Episode
MOLLY: Hey Hoosiers. Welcome back to another episode of All Careers Considered. This podcast is produced by the Walter Center for Career Achievement, which is the Career Services Center that specifically serves the students and alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. We’re on a mission to help you achieve career success by supporting you in your pursuit of impactful experiences, designing your life, sharing your story and building meaningful connections.
My name is Molly. I’m the assistant director of Strategic Alumni Engagement for the Walter Center. And I’m also the host of this podcast. You may have heard that you can do anything with a College of Arts and Sciences degree, and I’m here to show you that that really is the case by interviewing alumni from all over to ask them how they got to where they are now.
Next up is my interview with Emily Ridout, who is an Astro yoga specialist and business owner. Emily graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in folklore and ethnomusicology. And in this episode, she shares what she loved most about her experience at IU and the folklore department, why exploring interests for a few years after graduating was especially meaningful to her, and how to successfully market yourself and your business from her perspective. Enjoy the episode.
MOLLY: Alrighty. Thanks for being here, Emily.
EMILY: Thanks for having me, Molly.
MOLLY: Yeah. So I know that you are an Astro yoga specialist, which sounds like a really cool job. So I’d love to hear, for someone who might not be as familiar with the work that you do, maybe you could kind of summarize, kind of what you do for a living and what your business is all about.
EMILY: Sure. So a lot of people haven’t heard of Astro yoga, even though Astro yoga is actually thousands of years old. It didn’t quite get moved in with the cultural movements that brought a sort of mainstream postural yoga to everyone. So what Astro yoga is, is the combination of yoga and astrology. And what you do there is your work with the yoga, subtle body, and the physical body to move. Energy from your astrology chart and from the current transits through your body. So if you’re feeling stuck in some area of life, whether it’s work, school relationships, your home life, whatever it is, or even your relationship with yourself, you know, your self-image, your self-esteem, you can work with the astrology of that by doing specific yoga practices. And so about half of what I do is reading people’s charts and the other half is helping yoga teachers and also yoga students learn how to use their astrology to actually have goals that they can achieve in their yoga practice.
MOLLY: Wow. That’s really interesting. I have done just kind of more traditional yoga. I’ve done like, some hot yoga, but I have not done kind of the combination of those two. So that’s really cool. I’m curious, how, like when you decided you were interested in this or kind of how the idea came about.
EMILY: So actually I realized I was interested in this right at the end of my time at IU so I was studying abroad in India and I was doing a yoga teacher training while I was there and they brought up the concepts of astrology being deeply integrated with yoga. And at the time I hadn’t heard of it. So it’s actually so appropriate we’re talking to students cause I, I was surprised I had been interested in astrology, interested in yoga separately, and then when I learned about that, well at first, I couldn’t believe it. So I tried to disprove it and in my attempt to disprove it, I realized how amazing and potent it was and how accurate it actually was. And so I wound up studying some of it in my master’s degree. I did two more teacher trainings, you know, over the course of maybe a decade and then eventually went into it professionally. And it was so amazing that it became something I do professionally because it seems like something you would just, maybe learn about, and yeah.
MOLLY: Well, that’s really cool. So I’m sure that study abroad in India was really transformative. Can you talk a little more about that experience? Kind of what drew you to doing that type of experience when you were at IU?
EMILY: Yes. So I transferred to IU from another school where I was involved in music that was involved with a man. I don’t know if students today would have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, but he did all the music for Slumdog millionaire. He does a lot of Bollywood and Tollywood films and he, um, wound up winning those Oscars for it. And we had done music with him. And so I went there and I actually later, after graduating went back and taught at his music conservatory. So I had already been involved musically. And so I had a sort of cultural interest in India from the experience I had had working with people from India and musicians from India and I just really enjoy the music. And of course, I love yoga. So, it’s the birthplace of that.
MOLLY: Wow. Yeah, that’s really cool. So it sounds like you had, you know, a really great time and you, I know you were a folklore major, so it sounds like that was kind of right up your alley with those types of things. So, you know, you’re studying folklore, you did the study abroad experience in India. And then tell me a little bit about when you were getting ready to graduate, what was kind of your plan there in terms of what types of jobs were you looking for? Or I know you did go to grad school, so re-planning, maybe going right to grad school, or what was that like?
EMILY: Maybe this will offer hope to some students because I had no plan. I, I asked, almost backwards, stumbled into going to IU to begin with. And then actually, they, I had angled it and they were like, oh, you can actually graduate in three years. And so I dropped a class my second to last term, so I could go to India for that study abroad program that I had hoped to do.
And I had no idea what I would do, but right after I had graduated I was traveling through Nepal after my program and I got a Facebook message offering me a job teaching at the music conservatory from someone I had worked with before. And so it was just a string of luck. I realized I didn’t want to be a music teacher because that is so many people’s passion. And I do love music, but it’s not my, my full passion. And so I went and I moved to the forest and I became a forest science teacher for a minute. Then I applied to grad school and I nannied for a year and I lived on the beaches of Santa Cruz. And I just, I had no idea what I was doing.
As I was learning these things, I was just exploring interests. And so yeah, students don’t know what they’re doing as long as they’re interested in things and they’re exploring and they’re staying engaged. Sometimes it works out. I can’t speak to all examples, but.
MOLLY: Yeah, no, I love the way you described that. And honestly, it sounds like a lot of fun, like you said, we’re just exploring interests and everything really worked out. So, tell me about, like, what about what point were you when you decided that you wanted to kind of start your own business and kind of be your own boss and offer your Astro yoga services.
EMILY: Well, so I had been teaching yoga for about five years and I had a job at a university working in a cultural organization that I appreciated, but I quickly realized wasn’t my passion. And I realized, you know, there are so few Astro yoga experts in the world that I needed to do this. And so right after getting my first job after graduate school, I began to build the business.
Which is totally different from sort of stumbling around after your undergraduate graduation, where you’re like, what am I doing? I guess I’ll try this. I’ll just take the jobs that are offered. You know, I’ll, I’ll be a little scrappy. I’ll do extra work. And then you’re like, okay, I’m purposefully building something and I don’t have a business background. As you said, I was a folklore major. So I had to figure out, and probably students today are better at this than I was, but like, what is CEO? How do you make a website domain name? It was a little more complicated back then. And so domain names and I don’t know, payment processors and all the the nitty-gritty things that aren’t quite as juicy as what I actually offered to learn over the course of about five years. And I’m still learning.
MOLLY: Definitely. Yeah. How did you, if you don’t mind me asking, like how did you learn those things? Did you just kind of like, did you ask around or, you know, take any additional courses or just kind of Google it, or how did that work?
EMILY: I took an online business course that sort of breaks down step by step, how to set things up. But really what happened was I Googled things as they became problems. So after a while you realize, oh, more people want to schedule my services than the people I see in person day today. So you have to set up an online scheduler, right. And then you realize, oh, it’s becoming a pain to send them an invoice to bill me. So then you have to figure out how to integrate a payment processor. And so it was basically just trying to create a circumstance in which people could work with me. And I was like learning each thing along the way.
MOLLY: Yeah. I bet a lot of kind of new business owners learn that way too. I mean, you don’t realize you need to implement a strategy or process until it’s not really working so well. So I like that you kind of phrase it that way. So I’m curious a little bit about kind of where you are now in terms of how you make the living, kind of, you know, having this business. So what are the things that you offer that you find to be in most demand? I mean, is there a time of the year that you get really busy, or have there been times when it hasn’t been as busy? What does that kind of look like?
EMILY: There are certainly peaks and valleys in the year. According to when more people just want these types of services, with the the shutdowns, it’s been a little different in the past year. So what I offer mainly the things that the business offers is I teach yoga classes, I teach online and I teach in-person in a hot studio and then the online classes anyone can take. So that’s one aspect. And then I do one-on-one services like an astrology reading or an Astro yoga session or a terror reading. And then, I do packages and memberships and memberships are really new to me. I just started them. I launched them in December and they’re really great because people who don’t have a hundred dollars to drop on a session or $200 to drop on a session can take a $27 a month membership and have access to an Astro yoga library, come have face-to-face time with me in small group settings, get their huge monthly horoscope booklet. And then I have a higher tier membership where you get a reading every month too. So that’s a really big thing. And then the other thing I do is teacher trainings. So I work with people who are already yoga teachers working on an advanced certification. I do continuing education for yoga teachers, and then I also help train people getting their first certificates. So it’s a mix of things, but essentially it’s just classes, one-on-one services, teacher training, and memberships. And, yeah, there’s I think with that sort of combination, there’s really something for everyone at whatever their price point.
MOLLY: Yeah, that’s really cool. What would you say is something that you enjoy the most about kind of being your own boss in a way and kind of you know, managing all of these services on your own and kind of on the flip side, what is something that’s kinda been hard about that? Like, is there anything that maybe you didn’t anticipate or is a little harder than maybe you thought it was going to be? Or maybe there is anything that’s hard and maybe it comes easy to you.
EMILY: Either one, I don’t know, there’s lots, that’s hard. So the thing I love the most is working with my clients and my students. And. It really can’t be overstated that the benefit of a business like this is not financial necessarily. It’s not necessarily time-wise, it’s the gift of the human beings you come in contact with because you meet other people who are just as into this stuff as you are, and you can make really heartfelt connections. And that human connection is really important. The other benefit though, too, is like, I have a dog.
I can go walk him, you know, I can take breaks when I need, I can set my own schedule, all that stuff. The hard part is definitely administration and learning how to budget your time and income in a way that’s sustainable. So being aware of that, you know, even if you have a membership where it’s like, okay, I can pretty much predict how much income will come from this and a month, you know, not everyone is going to stay in an Astro yoga membership forever. So just being aware of the logistics is probably the trickiest part. But it’s definitely something that’s learnable. So if somebody is listening to this and they’re like, oh, that sounds scary. Like, no, like get a part-time job while you’re starting, like, just do the thing. And if you work the technical issues, there’s always an answer, you know?
MOLLY: Yeah. Yeah. I think you explained that really well, and it sounds like, it’s going really well for you, so that’s really exciting. So I know you mentioned that you, you know, you did have to develop some of those more technical business skills since graduating, but I’d love to kind of go back and if you’re thinking about kind of your time at IU in the folklore department, and maybe just your time in IU in general, what would you say are some things that either experiences or a class or a project that you did when you were a student that you still think about as being like, it really benefited you, maybe it was like a perspective you gained or, you know, a skill that you got that you think was beneficial in your career.
EMILY: So, first of all, I love the IU folklore and Ethnomusicology department. If someone is listening to this and they don’t like their major. Quit and go do folklore because it’s amazing. And it gives you a great perspective. I, you know, I loved some of the classes I took in folklore, in particular, Dr. Fernando
Orejuela who I think still teaches there. It had a children’s folklore class that was amazing. Christie Herndon, who’s the undergraduate advisor is wonderful and she would sit down and talk to me, you know, as a 20-year-old about like, oh, well, what do you want to do? Okay. Maybe you can do this. And she would help me set things up so that they were just perfect and I really appreciated that. And I also, he’s probably retired by now, but Hassan Al-Shami used to teach middle Eastern folklore. And that was really cool for me too. So just a lot of those experiences of learning through a folklore lens to critically examine culture was so amazing. And also like college is such a great experience. So I, you know, I took modern dance classes and yoga classes. Yeah. The rec center is great and hanging out with friends that’s great. So there were just, it was just all in all a really good place to work creatively with myself, but to also develop those critical thinking skills that probably did allow me to, you know, articulate what I do so that people don’t immediately write it off as alike crazy thing. But they see the significance and value in it.
MOLLY: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we tell, you know, students that the liberal arts degrees, in general, are all just so great because they’re really transferable and allow you to kind of develop those critical thinking skills and kind of seeing it from a different lens. So I liked that you mentioned that, and a lot of those courses in the folklore department are really cool. I’ve recently kind of. Seeing them. And I’m like, man, I wish I would’ve taken a class like that when I was a student. So, um, yeah, that’s really awesome. So I think that’s kind of all of the questions that I have.
I really enjoyed hearing about your career and everything like that. So for students who might be interested in kind of starting their own business, or maybe even, you know, trying to start a very specific business, kind of like yours as a yoga instructor or something similar, what kind of advice would you give them? Maybe if they’re kind of trying to figure out what their next step should be. Or how they can really you know, take that step to start their own business.
EMILY: Sure. I would say, first of all, be excellent at what you do, so make sure what you’re offering is amazing. But after that, make sure that people are able to understand that what you offer is amazing. So, I’m from the Midwest, just like probably most people there and we’re taught, I think, culturally, not to brag, once you start a business, you have to do a little bragging. So, what a marketing person recently taught me is nobody cares if you’re the best at your game if you don’t have as seen in the section on your website, that lists top media outlets. So, you know, if you’re a yoga teacher, you know, write the article for the yoga magazine, get interviewed for the whatever thing where they’re interviewing yoga teachers, like try to make people recognize that because when you’re out in the public eye, there will be people who will begin to sort of want to work with you more. So that’s the trick is how do you translate your excellence into something someone else can access and receive.
MOLLY: Yeah, that’s really good advice. And I also did see that section on your website and it does look very impressive. So, I do love the as seen in section and if students have any questions or, maybe they want to connect with you or maybe they are just really interested in your services, um, where can students find you?
EMILY: Sure they can email me emilyatemilyridout.com. And if someone does listen to this and they want to like try the membership, I can offer them a big discount on the first month just to go in and see, or if they’re thinking about making their own membership, they can see, what I’ve done, which, you know, take with a grain of salt because students today are geniuses. And I could probably use some of them as a consult or consultant for how I’ve set it up and what I do. Yeah, that’d be awesome. Well, thank you so much, Emily. It was great connecting with you today and hearing a little bit about your career and best of luck to you.
EMILY: Thanks, Molly. All right. Take care.
MOLLY: Thanks so much for listening today and thanks to my fantastic colleagues for providing production assistance and inspiration for the podcast each week. Those folks include Ian Sory, Camryn Schreiner, Maureen Langley, Amy Cornell, and my entire Walter Center team. To learn more about the Walter Center at IU and the services, resources, and events we offer.
Please check out our website careers,college.indiana.edu. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to receive timely updates from the Walter Center as well. To connect with alumni like the one in this episode, please make a profile on the Walter Center Success Network. It only takes a few minutes to create an account and start building your professional network. If you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast to make sure you don’t miss an episode, and last but not least feel free to reach out to me, Molly Burkhardt personally on LinkedIn, or send me an email with any questions or feedback you might have.
Thanks again, everyone. And we’ll see you next time.