BABE #162: DANA FALSETTI: Speaker, Writer, Yoga Teacher
Today’s babe is paving her own way, and doing it like a boss. An almost-entertainment lawyer-turned-yoga teacher, speaker, writer and podcast host, Dana uprooted her law school plans to pursue a life that fueled her passions and transformed her from the inside out. She has her hands in all sorts of projects and pursuits, each with the desire to inspire, raise awareness, and create an authentic space for others to find their meaning. We admire her entrepreneurial spirit, vulnerability, and passion for promoting body positivity, and we look forward to watching her future unfold.
Hometown: New Hope, Pennsylvania
Current city: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alma mater: Loyola University - New Orleans
Degree: B.S., Music Business
Very first job: Throughout high school, I worked at a flea market and loved it.
Hustle(s): Writer, speaker, educator, yoga teacher. The company is me—Dana Falsetti!
Babe you admire and why?
Cheyenne Gil. She is a boudoir photographer who has impacted my life and impacts others everyday. Her photographs are incredible and what she captures is what she creates space for—joy and expression and an enormous celebration of self-love. The experience she offers is unmatched.
How do you spend your free time?
I go in and out phases. Sometimes I have a lot of free time (either because I’ve scheduled it that way or my work hustle is just a little low) and other times I have none because I am hustling! When I’m free, I love to be outside. I love road trips; I manage to end up in the Pacific Northwest often. Sleeping. Playing music. Combining all of those things with friends when I’m done hermiting.
Go-to coffee order?
Iced chai with two shots of espresso, every time.
Go-to adult beverage?
No sexy beverages for me—I get migraines. I do drink a ton of water and I’m grateful for that.
Go-to news source?
Marginalized people/activists on social media.
Three words to describe yourself?
Grounded. Feeling. Powerful.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
My mom’s lasagna without question. (That’s probably somebody else’s answer too — it’s that good.)
Tell us about your hustle.
It’s so real. I fell into it and ran with it. Right now I’m a yoga teacher, writer, speaker and occasional model. I work for myself and have since I finished undergrad. Three-ish years in, I’m now at a point where I’ve learned to ask for help, to better delegate and build up an amazing team and support system. So, I do have some help, but I am still running this machine. I travel around the world teaching accessible yoga workshops. I offer a couple retreats a year in my favorite places to provide a more intimate experience and really connect with students. I regularly write/blog in the form of Instagram posts and other social media outlets. I speak at events, conventions, schools, wherever people will listen. I speak on everything from eating disorders to sexuality to shame. Consciousness, ego, awareness. Commodified wellness and spirituality. Privilege and the importance of listening to and believing the experiences of marginalized people. I work with brands I love and align with on various campaigns and marketing efforts. Over the last year I’ve been in the process of rebranding myself away from the media outlet labeled “plus-size yogi celeb” and into a true powerhouse for change that begins with critical thought and self-awareness. I’m so excited to launch and announce my new website (coming soon!) that will be the home of my new podcast and online class platform.
What does your typical workday look like?
There is no typical work day for me, and I love it. Some days I’m in the studio working on emails and computer work—I have to keep up with that otherwise it piles quickly. Other days I’m with my producer recording podcast episodes. Sometimes I’m in another state teaching, speaking, in a meeting or straight chilling and not working at all. Some days I’m on-set shooting or filming for a company or for my online classes. The hat I wear always definitely says “Boss” on it and I am ready for whatever comes my way and feels well-aligned.
When were you first introduced to yoga?
I kind of stumbled into a yoga class summer after my sophomore year of college. It was after the “year of commited weight loss.” I was left feeling as empty as I felt before and I realized for the first time that changing my body wasn’t going to make me happy. I stuck with yoga because it was hard, it was all me, it made me look at myself and it finally got me to tune into feeling, being, really present in my body and appreciating my body for what it can do. Yoga helped me realize my internal strength and power. My practice changes all the time. In the beginning it was very strength-focused (and I needed that). Now I’m all about moving slowly, feeling good, listening to my body. I try to move at least once a day, but I get a full practice in a couple times a week at this point.
What did your career goals look like before yoga was in the picture?
I was a musician! I’ve been a singer my whole life and before yoga it was my only love and felt like my only path. I went to school for music business because I knew I was business-oriented, but my passion was music. I figured I’d put the two together, maybe go to law school and become an entertainment lawyer. But when I came up on graduation I was in the throes of loving my practice and all it was teaching me, and saw the demand from people around the world for a safe and accessible space to move and learn. I saw the open door, felt drawn to share, and followed that feeling for the first time. Here we are, three years later. Yoga has changed everything because it’s allowed me to step into my authentic self and realize my power. With that, I know what I can do and I do it. No more letting doubt or fear run my life.
What makes yoga different than other avenues of self-care that you’ve immersed yourself in?
I love yoga because it gives to you what you give to it. It’s innately self-empowering because anybody can do it, and anybody can gain from it with a willingness to do so. The unfortunate thing is that modern yoga is portrayed and has been commodified in a way that makes it inaccessible to many. I would say that’s true of many packaged versions of self-care. But self-care can be free; it can be doing the things we’re avoiding and don’t want to do, like getting in that daily practice or checking off items on the to-do list that are causing stress. It doesn’t have to look like pedicures or massages or wellness candles. It can, but it can look like (free)dom as well.
How would you say your upbringing in the Quaker Friends school environment influenced your current hustle?
Going to Quaker school taught me kindness, compassion, to see the light in everyone, to take action, to simplify and to always lead with my core values based in integrity. There is no doubt in my mind that without that education I would not be hustling with the same kind of balance I do now. (Certainly not with the same values.) I was also privileged enough to attend a boarding day school that was very diverse and accepting of all differences. Authenticity was encouraged.
What kind of relationship do you have with your followers?
We’re homies! I have a super-engaged community of people around me and it’s amazing. I believe my own willingness to be vulnerable has fostered that environment.
What has the process of “finding your place” in the online (and offline) yoga communities been like?
I have paved my own way, and I did so because I had to. Many yoga and wellness spaces are not welcoming to fat people. When I first started practicing there was nobody around to teach me how to make the practice work for me and my body. So, I read as much as I could online about anatomy and traditional alignment and found as many other fat teachers as I could. And yes, at the time I wished there were more resources available and I’m happy to be someone providing them now, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I had to figure it out for myself and it taught me the importance of self-empowerment. Seek your own answers. In a world where people with my body type are supposed to feel shame and are expected to hide, I got loud and proud. I found my place because I made a place for myself. My approach and my message is very different from most of the “yogis” (I put that in quotes because it’s not a word I use or self-identify with) you’ll find online or offline in modern students. My yoga is political, it’s action, it’s disruptive to expectations, it’s heightened awareness—and that’s what I aim to share. My advice is to get really clear on who you are and share that with as much vulnerability and authenticity as you can. And stay very, very woke. Very aware of what you buy into, who you support with your resources, what you put out into the world.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
Being featured in Seventeen Magazine was a very special moment for me. I don’t know if it’s been my biggest milestone, but it did have a big impact on me. I read that magazine growing up and I never got to see anybody who looked like me in it. I can’t even imagine how different things may have been had I grown up seeing strong, confident, big women thriving. The day that woman is normalized and not an exception is a day I’m waiting for. It got me really emotional thinking about the young kids and teens who got to see themselves represented in that issue of Seventeen, and proud of myself for becoming somebody I really needed. I want others to know they can do the same.
How has your gender affected your professional experience?
Well, I love being a woman. Being a entrepreneur has taught me the importance of standing in my power. As a woman, I feel that’s a necessary space to step into. I’ve written a lot about women, power, shame and how they all intersect. There are systems in place to maintain power over women and femmes—spoken and unspoken. I’ve had to stand my ground in meetings full of men and I’ve had to learn to navigate nonstop harassment online and otherwise. Being a woman (and everything that comes with it) is a part of my everyday life, but it also empowers me endlessly. I think women are absolutely amazing, full of strength and can move mountains. I want to be one of them and support others around me doing the same.
What’s one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work?
Imposter syndrome. Feeling like somebody else was more qualified to share. Feeling like I didn’t know enough to teach or speak or educate. It still comes and goes sometimes. Mostly though, I know that there’s nobody like me, nobody has to share exactly what I have to share, and we can all benefit from hearing each other’s stories.
What’s the skill you most need to improve?
Patience; letting go of some control.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
Myself! Maybe it sounds conceited, but it’s true. I’m inspired by my own life, my experiences, my passions and what I want to share. I don’t look outside myself much for inspiration and if I do, I’m probably getting it from nature. Not to say there aren’t endless women I support and admire. I will say that watching other women hustle and thrive brings me joy and that energy is contagious. But the inspiration for my work is me. My story. My struggles. How I want to live.
What’s your ultimate dream job?
This is it! I’m living big and bold.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Make sure you know why you want to teach and what your message is. Take your time investing in yourself, getting to know who you are. If you’re looking to teach yoga, take your time finding a teacher training that really stands for what you believe yoga is and respects yoga as a cultural and spiritual practice. Put something out into the world that the world really needs more of. Don’t underestimate your worth, don’t let yourself be bought. Your voice is your power—never forget it.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t plan! I don’t believe in it. Nothing ever goes as planned. Honestly, I can’t say anything for sure about anything that hasn’t happened yet. Everything changes. The outcome of every single scenario is dependant on so many factors. I believe in self-awareness and leading with it always. Instead of planning for the future, I plan to know myself better every day. In five years I hope to be present and content.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Speak when you have something to say. Stand in your power. Don’t underestimate what you have to share. Think critically. Stay aware. Remember nobody will put you first like you can.
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