True Story: From Oil Exec to Career Yogi

I remember the moment that everything changed.

It was day two of a life coaching seminar in New York City I had signed up for after falling into a dangerously deep depression. I had had a major breakthrough during the morning session. A New York City bohemian chic woman had confessed to the group about an attempted rape on her at a young age and how keeping that secret from her family had affected her entire life.

In that moment, the voice and words that had repeated in my head a week earlier when I contemplated suicide popped up again. “You are not good enough.’’ And again I asked, who is that? All at once, I had an answer.

It was me—the five-year-old version of me. She was lonely and scared after a violent breakup between her parents. She lost the attention of the man she loved most in the world and now had to do whatever it took to maintain the love and attention of her mom.

In the past year, I had made a significant number of changes in my life. I had divorced my husband of two years, who is a good person, but not the one for me. A relationship I knew wasn’t going to work in the beginning, but I ignored the red flags because I wanted to “help” him. We succeeded in developing a wonderful friendship, but it wasn’t enough for me. I needed passion, passion in a relationship with someone who had their own passions.

One Saturday after an emotional back and forth with my then husband, I set off to New York for a three hour yoga class with a yoga guru named Dharma Mittra. My favorite yoga teacher had raved about him and I was searching for a school for yoga teacher training so I pushed myself to go.

The moment I walked into the warm and sacred studio space on 23rd and 3rd street, I knew I was home. I felt like I was being held in my mother’s warm arms as a child. I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry. This is where I would become a yoga teacher. I had finally found my true way to help people and now I had found my teacher.

Practicing with Dharma was challenging physically, mentally and spiritually. What I loved most about him was that although he spoke of God, our purpose in life and living a vegetarian life, he also made fun of himself and appeared humble. I signed up for his training shortly after.

Dharma’s yoga teacher training was more than I could have ever imagined. I connected with a few of the other students in a way I had never connected with anyone before, men and women. I felt like we were a family, we understood each other and loved each other unconditionally.

The training was physically exhausting, mentally challenging and spirit awakening.  The physical part was the practice to exhaust the body so that the mind could be more available to quiet itself for meditation and self-contemplation. I experienced so many beautiful moments of bliss on my own and with my new friends.

At the end of the training Dharma said, the true practice of yoga is out there and New York is the best place to practice it. The yoga he taught us was the settling of the mind and brightening of the spirit. And he was right—the hardest part was going out into the real world and maintaining it in yourself so you can effectively share this gift of peace and joy with others.

The next day I went back to work as a full-time senior marketing specialist at Hess Corporation, a major U.S. oil company. I had hated this job for almost four years now and had suffered weekly breakdowns with my disconnect between wanting to be an honest and good person all the time and meeting Hess’ demand for playing the corporate game.

I decided that I would share my newfound peace and joy with others and that would make this job great.

That didn’t work; the happier I was, the more others seemed to be annoyed by me and want to bring me down. As I walked into the building in the morning, I could feel how the energy changed in me and the people around me. Everyone’s shoulders would hunch on the elevator; they would take the deepest sighs, and their heads would drop as they reluctantly walked out onto their floors.

I hoped that bringing yoga would help those who wanted it, but was met with opposition by the CEO who stated that yoga was unsanitary and therefore could not be offered in the building.

To try and maintain my happy feeling for as long as I could, I started looking for yoga work. I thought this would be hard, but my effort matched my results. Within a month, I had 11 classes, a mix of group and private classes in addition to my full-time job.

I loved teaching and meeting new people so much and my energy lasted for a few months, but eventually, my director started noticing my prioritization of yoga. She took away my flex hours, which I had for a year and piled on more work.

Under this pressure, I did what I thought was the practical thing to do; I did what the voice in my head influenced by my mom said: “The economy is very bad, Brenda. You can’t give up your job at Hess, Brenda. You are lucky. Yoga is nice, but it won’t pay the bills.

So I started giving up my yoga classes and focusing more on my marketing work. This resulted in a promotion at Hess and the beginning of my deepest depression yet.

One Saturday night, I sat on the couch of my apartment and felt so lonely and scared that I cried out loud. “I am not good enough! I am not good enough!” I asked myself why and had no answer. I cried myself to sleep that night hoping the pain would go away, but it only arose ten times stronger.

I called and texted my closest friends and family hoping they could give me the wise words to snap out of it, but no one could. Luckily, the warmth of my mother’s nervous hug helped me get through the day. I broke down every day at work that week and went to see a therapist who made me feel even worse than before I walked into his office.

My friend from training changed everything for me when she recommended the life coaching seminar. It had changed her life and self-confidence and it would for me, too. The seminar helped me realize that my self-doubt stemmed from my childhood abandonment feelings, which are not unusual.

The realizations I had, coupled with my yoga training, finally gave me the strength and conviction to call my dad and ask him if he loved me. All of my life, I thought he didn’t and that he would die and we would have never made amends. My heart beat out of my chest as the phone rang and he picked it up.

“Dad,” I said.

“Yes, Brenda.” He said.

“Do you love me? Why did you break up the family?” I asked, shaking on the steps of a New York City building on a blistering summer afternoon.

“Brenda—I never wanted my family to break up. All I ever wanted was a family since my dad left my mom and I—and of course I love you.”

That moment changed everything. All of a sudden, the world shifted. It felt as if everything became lighter in feeling and color.

All of a sudden, I could be whoever I wanted to be.

I knew I would be a successful yoga teacher or anything else I wanted. I knew I deserved a man who loved and respected me because now the first and number one man in my life loved me. That meant a lot more than words can express.

The next call was to my mom.

“Mom—I want you to know that I love you and that I am quitting Hess to become a full-time yoga teacher.”

“Estas loca!!!” my mom shrieked.

“I understand you are saying this because you love me Mom, but I am still doing it. I love you.”

And I did. I walked away from my six-figure job at Hess and never looked back.

My entire life I knew I wanted to help people and I finally found the main way how—through yoga.

Letting go of the fear and committing to making my dreams come true has allowed me the three most fulfilling and magical years of my life. I now lead my own international retreats, teacher training, and private and group classes. My story and passion for helping others and community has also allowed me to partner with inspiring brands like Lululemon Athletica.

My advice is to slow down, breathe and ask yourself if you are living fully, happily and without regret. Your happiness is the biggest reward possible. When you are happy and healthy, you can truly be there for yourself and others. Isn’t that worth the risk?



  • Courtney says:

    Brenda- thank you for your inspiring story. I am currently and have been struggling with this same career depression for the last few years myself. I felt like i had come home too when I went to yoga classes and that anything was possible and entered into teacher training as well. I recently (today and for the past few weeks) thought about giving up the one yoga class I teach a week b/c I am too tired from my “day job” but I know that I love to teach so why would I give up the thing I love the most? It is nice to know that I am not the only one with this struggle. Your story is inspiring and I hope to keep rereading it to find the confidence to make the same change you did. Thank you- Namaste

  • nadia says:

    Brenda, I love this story. I am working for pharma company and teaching yoga as a part-time job……

  • Ivette says:

    Hi Brenda,

    I met you at Continental Dance a few years ago, when I worked there. I just read your story and it’s really wonderful how you found yourself and were brave enough to walk away from the things and people in your life that didn’t bring you joy. Life is too short to waste. I also, since we last saw each other got divorced, and walking away from that marriage was the best move I have ever made. I think I need to take some of your yoga classes! 🙂

    • brendablanco says:

      Hi Ivette 🙂 So nice to hear from you! Continental was fun! Life is definitely too short to waste. So happy to hear you have made changes and are happier because of them! I hope to see you again soon. If you are free Sunday, June 23rd, I am hosting a big, free outdoor class at the JCC in Tenafly at 11am. It should be a lot of fun 🙂
      This is the facebook invite with more detail:

      Enjoy everyday! (and it sounds like you are)

  • sarah says:

    Hi Brenda. I was just reading one of your articles on mindbodygreen and clicked through to see this article on your life change. I loved reading it and relating to it, as someone who left my Marketing Mgr post in a large global brand only months ago, to completely retrain as a sea kayaking guide. I’m currently doing a 40 day power living yoga challenge and it is continuing to open my mind and realise that I really am in a far happier, powerful space than behind a desk in a stressful job which had become so unfulfilling! Congratulations to you – what a wonderful step to have taken and to have found so much success and happiness in your yoga. x

  • […] case, finding bliss in her yoga practice and yoga teaching. Whether you’re a yogi or not, Brenda’s story of change and success and happiness in a whole new environment, is an inspiring […]

  • Lucy says:

    Hi Brenda. I hardly ever comment on blogs, but today I feel compelled to! I just started my journey on becoming a yoga teacher full-time, and today is one of those days where it just feels impossible, like I should give it up and go back to a ‘proper’ job (like the one I gave up because it made me miserable and I wanted to follow my dream of living and teaching yoga…)…anyway, up came your blog and it felt like a bit of devine intervention…Would love to hear more of your tips for staying grounded, staying positive and being brave enough to follow opportunities.
    Thanks for sharing your story. Namaste,
    Lucy x

    • brendablanco says:

      Thank you for writing to me Lucy. Stay strong to your passion and it will work out. I definitely had my lows, but I pushed through them with my vision, determination and marketing plan. I am finishing up a book that is a guide for yoga teachers to help them establish a successful career. I will shoot you an email when it’s available. I know it will help you 🙂 Keep in touch and know you are not alone. And you will get through the touch time because you are following your passion and it is a passion that truly helps people <3

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