…I trust my intuition. It never lies. I have trusted people based on their business experience, background, thinking that they knew more than I did. Only found out that they did not know anything I was doing. I was feeling something was not right but I was forcing myself that I needed them in my business. I was betrayed.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fumiko Takatsu.
Fumiko has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. Since 2006 Fumiko has pioneered the unique techniques that make up facial yoga, and is one of the best known face exercise instructors in Japan. The results she found in her own face
and those of her students speak for themselves.
Frequently traveling between Japan and the United States, Fumiko hosts
events and workshops in both countries. She has spent the past years
teaching, creating Face Yoga Method DVDs, writing books, developing the Face Yoga Method products and making frequent appearances on TV and in magazine articles in Japan. Her Japanese books have been translated in Chinese, Korean and Thai and sold in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. She also has appeared on Korean TV shows.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I was born and raised in Japan, a “tomboy” with big lips and a longing for adventure. I never quite fit in and even as a little girl I had dreams to explore and travel the world, and even move to the US. Until I made the move, I was both a teacher and professor in Japan, mostly teaching women-only classes, so I guess you could say I’ve always been about empowering women through education. Even though I was successful, I knew that there was more from life I wanted to experience.
During a vacation in California, I was in a nearly fatal car accident that left my face, neck and shoulders off kilter. I saw a chiropractor in helping me regain the muscles in the body, but no one mentioned my face. This is when I had the realization that if through training, I can fix my body, I should be able to do the same for my face! As a lifelong yoga practitioner, pairing breath with poses was my natural remedy. It didn’t take long for people to start noticing differences and if it worked for me, it could work for others. This is how the Face Yoga Method was born and has been growing ever since! We are now a female-led business with a global reach, empowering women to embrace their age and LOVE the way they look.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Before I started the Face Yoga journey in Japan almost 17 years ago, I was teaching at one of the oldest women’s universities in Japan. It was a very prestigious position as a woman. There was no regrets leaving that position because very deep down, I was not feeling that it was my calling. After leaving that position and starting teaching Face Yoga full time, including teaching, magazine interviews, TV shows, people did not take me seriously at first. People thought it was a joke. I started appearing on a lot of TV shows, but many times, I was treated like a comedian. But I kept doing it. One day, a good friend of mine asked me if I had lost my pride. “With your background, your high education (Master’s degree), don’t you think you should be doing something better? Don’t you have pride? Why do you keep making silly faces in public?” It hit me so hard, especially coming from somebody who knew me well — I could not find the words to say to her. It was something that I was not prepared to hear from a good friend.
Then, more than 10 years later, she told me that there was something she was meaning to tell me. At that time, I forgot about what she had said (about my pride). My business was thriving. She deeply apologized for what she had told me. “I did not really foresee Face Yoga’s potential. You are amazing.”
And while this was nice to hear and kind of her, the real lesson came from how I chose to persevere after the early conversation she and I had. The teachable moment I discovered from this is that even the person whom you think understands you very well does not understand who you are, what you are deeply thinking of, and/or passionate about. If I had listened to her and taken her comments personally, I might not have been where I am at now. I wrote about this in one of my blogs recently, never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with. Remember not to take things too personally, and to focus on your own goals and letting your heart and inner voice be your guide — then you cannot go wrong!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When things did not take off as I had expected at first, I started doubting myself and even my Method! I was looking for someone’s approval or token of “authority” to back up my theory of Face Yoga. Since I was the very first person who created this method in Japan 17 years ago, I could not find any “authority” figure. I felt so lonely. Then I realized that I had to be the person I was searching for — and prove through diligence that this Method really does work. Instead of seeking approval from some highly acclaimed source, I realized I needed to become the master I was looking to find. So I did!
My lesson was that when you set out for something new, do not limit yourself with a conventional mindset. The newer and stranger the idea is, the less people listen to you. Do not try to convince people because it’s not important what other people think/believe about you. What is important is to focus on your beliefs and the offer that you have that can positively impact the lives of other people. Once you do that, you won’t need to convince people anymore. They don’t even question.
Now, I use the airplane example with my students. Who thought that so much heavy metal could fly up in the sky with so many people on it? Now, nobody doubts it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My sister in law and business partner, Maria, has been the backbone of my journey and The Face Yoga Method. She is the visionary of our business and even from day one had ideas of how to bring this Method to more people worldwide. I remember in the beginning, Maria wanted to recreate the business model I had in Japan, a conventional way to spread the message using TV, interviews and selling physical products. Even though I was very successful, I was exhausted. Teaching all day to my personal clients and then late night TV features left me with no personal time nor freedom. I didn’t want to be busy again like I was in Japan. Then Maria came up with the idea of creating Digital Courses which sounded better than recreating what I did in Japan, but I wasn’t sure how I could teach poses online. Also,I felt self conscious about my accent and initially thought I just wanted to share this work through books and eBooks. The demand from our customers was so high however that I started to reconsider video format programs and Maria has been such a great help and inspiration while I worked on getting out of my own way.
I’ll never forget when our “big picture” business model was just to sell 15 of our eBooks per week. Such humble beginnings, I’m so grateful for every moment, and now I am SO grateful for my amazing team of women who allow me to spread this empowering Method in multiple languages and on a global scale.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
There’s a silent crisis going on in our world where mothers, sisters, and daughters have given their all to others and begin to feel unwanted and invisible. Our beauty industries have taken the beauty and value out of the aging process, and quite successfully if you look at the dollar value on “anti-aging” products.
Women (and men too, of course) come to us to look younger, naturally, but they stay for the way they feel and the value they get for being a Face Yogi. We offer 100% natural alternatives to cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries but we NEVER label ourselves as “anti-aging”. We empower men and women to reclaim their confidence and embrace their age naturally and become part of the new age in beauty — the PRO-age movement.
And you can literally SEE the impact we are making. These women are literally glowing. It’s not makeup, it’s not fancy tricks or lighting, it’s a true and genuine glow that comes naturally when we have sparked our self-care fire, and reclaimed our value.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- First and foremost, hot water. Maybe it stems from my Japanese background but I believe that drinking hot water is the simplest addition to one’s wellness journey. Hot water first thing in the morning detoxifies our whole system, cleanses our internal organs and hydrates us all at the same time. Most of our practitioners already correlate this practice with Face Yoga, as we often encourage them to add it into their routines.
- A morning ritual and/or self care routine. When I first became a mother I completely lost myself. My endless devotion and love for my family made me forget that I also had myself to take care of. With time, however, I realized that when I care well for myself, I can also take better care of others. I now know that when I prioritize my wellness, it also gives my daughter permission to prioritize hers as well.
- Meditation. Meditation is one of my non-negotiables in my morning ritual. Once we discover the power of a mindset practice, it is hard to go without. The best part, it can be any length of time. Even 5 minutes in stillness goes a long way and I would recommend people to start there and build up on this practice.
- Movement. Most of us spend most of the day sitting. We also spend the bigger part of our day at our desks. Our business is completely virtual, and we encourage our employees to take breaks in the day to stretch, to walk, to move. I strongly believe that movement is one of the biggest answers to maintaining health, and once again, even a few minutes a day is a good place to start.
- Face Yoga — of course I had to mention this, right? But really, this practice will change your life and it is SO easy to fit into your day. My team always laughs at me when I say it, but if you INSIST you don’t have time in your day, do your Face Yoga while you’re using the bathroom! Even a minute or two a day can start to create that habit of self-care and the physical benefits will get you hooked.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think I might have — The Pro-Age Revolution!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Do not limit myself. I was limiting myself based on societal expectations and based on my past experiences. I knew the physical benefits of the Face Yoga Method but didn’t know the mental benefits until I started hearing from my clients. Many of our Face Yoga practitioners have reported that Face Yoga has changed their life! They feel beautiful, alive, confident and so much more. The more I heard those comments from practitioners, the more I realized that I needed to let go of my limiting belief. And you know what, the more I let go, the bigger the business has grown.
2. Do not take advice from someone I don’t want to trade places with. At first, I took advice from people I thought had more than I had; business experience, life experience, etc. The more I did that, the more lost I felt. I realized that I needed to listen to myself, I needed to trust myself. If I don’t trust myself, how could I expect anyone else to? Their advice might have been accurate for them and their experiences, but I would never want to trade places with them. I loved my freedom doing my business online.
3. I don’t need to change myself. When I decided to take my Face Yoga Method global by doing everything online, I was worried about my lack of fluency/knowledge in English. Japanese is my first language and doing everything in my second language, English, scared me so much. “Do people take me seriously?” It turned out, because of the fact that I am not a native English speaker, we have so many international followers from all over the world! I didn’t need to change myself. I just had to give myself a little push to put myself out there. My weakness is my strength now.
4. Surround myself with like-minded people. At the early stage of my business, I was trying to find people with “power” and “success” and doing the business with them. I soon realized that their interests and mine were different. They did not care what I care about. I was pouring my energy into what proved to not really be worth my energy. I felt like my energy was getting drained, my creative ideas were ignored. Now with the Face Yoga Method team, they make me laugh, make me happy but also challenge me to be a better version of myself. It is a workplace but we feel so connected. It feels like my creativity ideas are stronger than ever with my team.
5. Trust my intuition. It never lies. I have trusted people based on their business experience, background, thinking that they knew more than I did. Only found out that they did not know anything I was doing. I was feeling something was not right but I was forcing myself that I needed them in my business. I was betrayed.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
While these all have a place in my heart and business, I would have to say mental health is dearest to me. Our mindset and our ability and resilience to face change builds us up and prepares us to take on challenges, as well as gives us the strength to pursue causes that are dear to us.
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