Determine your own meanings. What you give power to, is your decision. It is your responsibility to focus on what you want vs what you don’t — and to not make up meanings that aren’t empowering or aren’t yours to make.
Life coach, yoga instructor & holistic wellness consultant Mar Soraparu draws from her extensive background to lead the BIÂN team of wellness professionals, conceptualize and develop BIÂN’s dynamic programming and wellness strategy, and oversee marketing and brand growth. Between designing hyper-individualized member wellness plans and curating a vast collection of studio programming, to developing nutritious smoothie and supplement offerings and supporting the innovation in every element of the club, Mar’s leadership is imperative to BIÂN’s holistic approach. Formerly a finance professional at Nuveen Investments and Guggenheim Partners, Mar made a bold career shift to follow her deeply rooted passion for health and well-being. Nearly a decade later, she is the founder of Yoga With Mar — a Chicago-based lifestyle, coaching and yoga brand. Mar has worked with individuals across the globe through her Empowerment Life Coaching program, which follows a three-step approach to life: Mindset Mastery, Habit Formation and Thoughtful Action.
As an RYT 300 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor, Mar has been a highly sought-after instructor by top-rated studios and has worked with both private and corporate clients over the years bringing a powerful message with her work. Her ethos has been to reinvigorate and heighten the energy of her clients by enriching both mind and body to make space for growth and clarity in addition to taking personal responsibility. A University of California, Los Angeles graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Mar is also a RobbinsMadanes Certified Life Coach, a Frame of Mind Certified Life Coach, an Optimize Coach and is a Board-Certified Coach (BCC) through the Center for Credentialing and Education. Mar’s background coalesces with her authentic excitement to enrich the lives of those around her, making her influence integral to BIÂN as a community and brand.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
A better, healthier, and happier place for all: I have always wanted to influence the world to make this possibility a reality by starting at the micro level of supporting one individual at a time through life coaching and wellness integration. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s, and a serendipitous departure from the world of finance after a recognition of misdirected energy and lack of meaning behind my career choices, that I realized this might be possible at the micro level — through the power of life coaching and yogic philosophy. Since 2013, I have guided hundreds of influential clients towards achieving their unique wellness goals by combining wellness practices, mindset management, habit formation and personal responsibility — that radiates much further than the individual at hand and to those in their community. Alongside my coaching efforts, I rose to one of Chicago’s most sought-after Yoga instructors and wellness consultants working with an integrative approach of movement, breath and coaching. My passionately individualized hands-on approach has transformed children, men, women, leading corporations, and families into living more fulfilling, healthier, and impactful existences in their personal lives and businesses. Today, I am the mother of an almost 2 year old (and have one on the way due Nov 2021), am married to the love of my life, and am the Partner and Chief Wellness Officer of BIÂN Chicago — Chicago’s newest luxury private member’s club rooted in wellness and well-being. As Chief Wellness Officer, I actively lead the BIÂN team of wellness professionals, conceptualize and curates BIÂN’s dynamic programming and wellness strategy as well as overseeing all marketing and branding. I also am still coaching clients and teaching yoga privately at the club. I am heavily involved every single day.
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?
The stories are endless — however one of the biggest lessons of all when I began working for myself was that I had to be creative and patient. I held multiple “jobs” from consulting and managing vacation rentals while launching my yoga and life coaching business. It wasn’t (and never is) glamorous — but the stress is different than what it was previously because it was a chosen stress. Every step of the way taught me something new and these lessons still happen to me all of the time!
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?
I truly don’t believe in “mistakes” because any mishap or misstep, was something that was immeasurably valuable in my journey. I don’t believe I would be here today without these. One thing that I do believe is important, is to be incredibly grateful to everyone that supports you (in small or big ways) along the way.
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?
Aside from my husband who was my biggest supporter during my years of building, I have to thank my first yoga client for “forcing me” to begin. Looking back, I don’t think I ever would have felt “ready” but his belief in me helped me take that first big step. Today, I also have my partner Kevin Boehm to thank, because he recognized the fire in me and brought me into the mix to create BIÂN with Joe, Robb, Julius and Angelo.
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?
When you hyper-focus on an individual and their well-being, you are supporting many others that are in their circles — friendships, family and businesses. It begins with one and radiates much further. This is how I see the work that I and we do at BIÂN — it is a passionate focus on the individual in an effort to transform the world.
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.
1. Determine your own meanings
- What you give power to, is your decision. It is your responsibility to focus on what you want vs what you don’t — and to not make up meanings that aren’t empowering or aren’t yours to make.
2. Decide what “enough” and “balance” means to you
- Especially when you have children, your day to day ability changes in terms of productivity and energy. Deciding what is “enough” vs the constant feeling of “not doing enough” that is so common, is something I work through daily as a high performer. Sometimes a little “releasing of the grip” is all it really takes if you want to continue doing both work & family.
3. Move your body in ways that leave you feeling energized vs depleted
- Physical exercise is key to a healthy existence however if you are tired after a workout, you pushed it too hard. When you feel exerted but strong, sweaty but energized, you are doing it right!
4. Eat for energy — food is fuel
- After eating, you should be energized and not sluggish. This is the simple indication of if your diet is working for you or against you. I also believe in doing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) which we do at BIÂN with our Director of Naturopathy and Nutrition which will provide you with real time feedback as to how your choices are impacting your glucose levels. For example, I can eat a banana with almond butter after 2pm but in the morning, it leaves me feeling awful due to my spiking levels! Fascinating.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
BIÂN is that movement — so I guess we must expand!
Another movement would be MINDSET MASTERY. Own your mindset (how you think, what responsibility you hand over to others that is yours to take, or taking on other peoples responsibilities that is theirs to take, what actions you take and what you define things to be) and you can live the life you have dreamed of.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. There will be more hurdles than open doors
- This was something I expected but it is always something to remember. Every roadblock, can be looked at as an opportunity otherwise it can be quite disappointing
2. Ensure you don’t lose your own wellness in the pursuit of helping others
I have never had a tough time taking great care of myself until the birth of my child + my business. There must be a recalibration and redefining of standards in order to truly make things work
3. Quickly figure out your threshold
- Only when you are well and whole can you truly give back to others in an impactful way. Figure out how many clients/projects/meetings you can handle in 1 day that doesn’t leave you unavailable for your family and your self later.
4. Motherhood + Entrepreneurship — and all that comes with this
- The struggle seems to be never-ending for what is enough in both areas. Reminder that it is up to you to decide and that’s okay if it changes or shifts with the seasons.
5. The small reminders must be savored
- There may come a time when you question it all — and this is when you remind yourself of how far you have come, what you have done to get here and how impactful it all has been. Building an arsenal of these reminders is so important and helpful.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
All of these topics are ones that are critically important. I would say that my work and the work of BIÂN is in the mental health arena. Mental health is being mindful — about your physical, emotional, social, nutritional, environmental, and spiritual states and that is what BIÂN supports through all of our offerings, modalities and programming. From our Listening Room (music therapy) to our Nap Room (Sleep!), to our Eastern medicine, Concierge Medical, Coaching, Nutrition, Physical Therapy, Fitness & Studio and Spa, there are countless journeys one can take, everyday. When we are mentally well, we can make strong choices and become more impactful and available to serve our planet — for sustainability activism, environmental support and even make more intelligent choices around how we eat. It really does come down to being well — and owning your well-being. Living well is a choice that all of us must make over and over and over again.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!