Olivia Keller, co-owner of Black Swan Yoga Houston, was born in Bulach, Switzerland and moved to Montgomery, Texas as a child. In the 2000s, she moved to Austin, Texas and got a degree in Finance from the University of Texas. It was during this time that she began her yoga practice. Post-college, Olivia worked as an Analyst and then Project Manager on an institutional multifamily brokerage team. She says, “While I absolutely love commercial real estate and everything it has taught me about how the economy works, my life became all work.” In 2014, Olivia decided to do yoga teacher training at Black Swan Yoga to kickstart her yoga practice again, which ultimately led her to open Black Swan Yoga Houston.
OLIVIA’S YOGA JOURNEY
Trying yoga for the first time required some encouragement for Olivia, who was intimidated by the terminology. She had the assumption that yoga was for athletic, flexible people with superior abilities to meditate. However, she was blown away during her first yoga class, which she took at Black Swan Yoga in Austin, TX.
“It was a bit overwhelming not knowing the pose names,” Olivia recalls. “I felt panicked and clumsy at times trying to keep with the rhythm of the class. However, I also found that the physical postures felt very familiar in my body. I was impressed that somehow, through expressing very accessible postures (forward folds, lunges), I was drenched in sweat and straining to balance.”
Olivia walked in to her first class being able to barely touch her toes in a forward fold and walked out an hour later able to get her hands flat on the ground. Her sinuses were significantly clearer, and she could breathe better. Her muscles were worked. Her body had an overall greater range of motion, and her mind felt incredibly calm. She wanted to do it again.
“Yoga classes have helped me find clarity on life decisions and find ease through life transitions,” Olivia shares. “As I moved through career positions, relationships, death, and other life transitions, the intentions and focus through class have helped quiet the noise in my mind and find clarity in what I need. I am able to make better and faster decisions because of it. Yoga has affected so much positive change that at this point in my life, it is my career.”
Black Swan Yoga co-owner Olivia Keller
PASSION MEETS PURPOSE
Oliva and her brother/business partner, Roland Keller, had done entrepreneurial projects together since college. He, along with another business partner, who also did her yoga teacher training through Black Swan, approached Olivia with the idea to open a Black Swan Yoga in Houston, TX.
Black Swan Yoga had been Olivia’s personal refuge for some time, so opening a studio was an inspiring next career move. It was a synchronistic opportunity given their combined commercial real estate, business startup, marketing, yoga, and brand experience. On January 1, 2016, Black Swan Yoga Houston’s first studio opened.
Mural by @capdavjon
STUDIO MISSION & GOALS
Black Swan Yoga is on a mission to make yoga accessible to everyone by offering all their classes on a donation basis, honoring all yogic philosophical backgrounds, holding 5-10 free community classes per month, holding classes all throughout the day from 6 am until 11:30 pm for convenient scheduling, and offering free yoga teacher training scholarships to underserved individuals.
Olivia shares that they hope to make a difference in the community around them by spreading good. Whether the students are coming in for physical, mental, or spiritual reasons, she & her team strive to be a place for people to come in, treat themselves well, and return to their day showing up for the world as a better version of themselves.
WHY DO STUDENTS CHOOSE BLACK SWAN YOGA?
One thing that makes Black Swan Yoga unique is that they have no set yoga sequence. This allows their teachers to share the strongest aspects of themselves and to share what resonates with them the most in yoga. They are able to teach what they themselves have learned and in the manner that makes the most sense to them, rather than fitting in to a one size fits all mold.
“Our instructors come from all different backgrounds, have a huge variety of experiences, and put their heart and soul into what they do,” Olivia states. “Our students can feel that.”
Olivia is inspired by people and the concepts of love, truth, and fear: the way people show up for the world coming from place of love versus fear, and how our entire lives shift when we lean into our truth instead of pushing against the resistance of what we think life “should” look like. She finds it beautiful that we are all so similar to yet unique from one another at the same time, and is inspired by the profound effect we can have on one another when we come from a place of true love.
STUDIO GROWTH AND REFLECTIONS: IN OLIVIA’S WORDS
“Our studio has grown from one to three locations, and we are currently looking for our fourth. We’ve gone from about 20 teachers and 4 staff to currently over 60 teachers and 20 staff. We started at 1 community event per month to now 5-10 depending on the month, and have grown our teacher training from 1 to 3 sessions per year.
This journey has provided so much personal evolution.
What I cherish so much about our community is how diverse it is. The studios are truly a melting pot of culture coming together under one roof for betterment.
When we first started, as anyone would, I wanted everything to be perfect, and I worried so much about every decision. But in order for the studio to be diverse, it has to be driven by people more than myself. Thus, the most meaningful area of growth for me has been in regard to the autonomy that the teachers and staff have at the studios.
It’s so important to me to respect and honor our differences. This means that teachers teach in ways I often disagree with, and managers often make decisions I wouldn’t choose. Through the years, going with ideas that are not my personal favorites and taking on teachers whose ideas of teachings are different from my own has been incredibly important and instrumental in becoming the diverse melting pot of a yoga studio that we are today.
We all learn differently. We gravitate towards different aspects of yoga and different teachers’ characteristics. Something that hits home for me may not register at all for the person next to me. That’s the beauty of our studio. There is something here for everyone.
The people who are part of this studio have love and passion for their craft and for one another like I have not seen anywhere else. I regularly stop and practically pinch myself to think about how lucky I am to get to be part of this community.”
Find out more and visit Black Swan Yoga Houston: https://www.blackswanyoga.com/markets/houston