Catherine De Francesco founded SOL Yoga after years of dreaming about having her own business. Life was quite busy, prior to her project, and juggling parenting four children, her busy household, business as a real estate and investment agent was starting to cause her to experience a decline in her health and wellness. After she stumbled upon yoga as a means for slowing down while also staying healthy, she found that it affected all areas of her life in a positive way. She wanted to bring that positivity into the lives of others.
Recently, we had the chance to ask Catherine a few questions, and here’s what she had to say.
Interview with Catherine De Francesco
Ronda Bowen (RB): What led you to found SOL Yoga? Can you talk about your business a bit?
Catherine De Francesco (CDF): During my early adult years, I was always very active. In my 20’s and 30’s, fitness was a big part of my life, which typically meant 4-5 intense cardio workouts every week. By the time I turned 40, my life was one big juggling act! My family moved from Canada to the US. I had four children under the age of ten, a husband who traveled a lot, plus an investment and real estate business to run. My health and wellness was beginning to slide. Something had to give! And that’s when I found yoga – or more like, yoga found me. I went away on vacation with a girlfriend and decided to try a private lesson, hearing yoga could not only change my body for the better, but relax my mind, increase my focus, and so forth. One or two lessons later, and I was hooked! So much, I made yoga a regular part of my routine and scaled way back on other workouts. Yoga became my ‘Secret of life’. And by that, I mean it seeped into every area of my life for the better. I became a more mindful person, more attentive, and a better listener. I changed my diet to include more plant-based foods. Mostly, I eased up on having to control things all the time and surrender to what life was bringing me. As a Mother, I believe yoga helps me be more present to my children and their needs. I don’t want to waste a minute on negativity, and practice gratitude daily.
Eventually, I completed a yoga teaching certification with the dream of owning my own studio. Fast-forward four or five years later, and my dream came true. SOL Yoga opened in Miami, Florida in 2018, and I’m now opening the doors to a second location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with more locations underway.
Featuring beautifully designed, extra-spacious, infrared-heated studios, my vision for SOL Yoga is to give people a place to disconnect, to move their bodies and minds. To feel as though they’ve done something truly good for them – their inner and outer health and happiness!
Infrared heat was very important to me to have in the studios, as this type of heat has been used for centuries for its amazing, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory health benefits.
Along with yoga, each of the locations are beautifully designed with luxe amenities and retail boutiques featuring curated health, beauty and skincare products, yoga gear and apparel. There’s also a smoothie bar, skin rejuvenation atelier and acupuncturist on-site. Next, I’m introducing SOL Yoga developed skincare and health products containing CBD among other exciting, therapeutic ingredients.
Like so many others, I believe self-care is absolutely essential to keeping-up to today’s busy pace! And sadly, not enough of us are doing it. It doesn’t have to be yoga per-say, but it must include time for our selves, to do things that bring us joy, without looking at our phones!
My hope with SOL Yoga is make this kind of self-care easier and more accessible to everyone possible!
RB:Can you talk about how one can start adding a yoga routine into her life, and the benefits of doing so?
CDF: If you’re new and just starting out, I highly recommend taking a private class with an instructor to first learn the basic poses and flows. For me, this was the perfect intro that helped me understand the physical components of yoga, while also learning the importance of breathing throughout my practice. Breath is essential to yoga, as it is to life. If a private seems difficult or costly, there’s plenty of free videos one can find on youtube for example. All you need is a mat and some emptied space in your home to follow-along. From there, you can try classes at your local studio and let the rest unfold.
Like with everything new, it may take a 5 or more ‘tries’ before you get used to this kind of practice. The more you put into trying, the more likely you will experience yoga’s effect on your body and your mind. And despite what you may hear from others, you do not have to have a flexible body to do yoga! Not at all. More like, have a “flexible mind”, be open to trying, falling out poses, and letting go. Like everything in life, the more we let go of what we have planned for ourselves, the more the universe steers us in the right direction. I’m paraphrasing my favourite Joseph Campbell quote.😊
RB: Natural alternatives are important to you. Can you talk about why and maybe share a few of your favorite natural treatments for things with our audience?
CDF:I find the word ‘natural’ can imply so much and then, not a lot as every brand out there likes to say they’re natural…when are they really? Where possible, I like to stick to things I know and trust, and more often this means eating foods that are in their purest form. Apples that are in-season. Eggs that have been pasture-raised and finished. Water that’s from pure, natural springs. Where health products are concerned, I supplement with what my diet may be lacking such as iron or collagen for my energy, joints and skin. I also take a high quality probiotic for gut support and enjoy magnesium in the evenings for its calming benefits.
RB: What causes are important to you?
CDF: My first child was born just one pound, and thanks to the phenomenal care we received at the hospital, he is now a healthy, amazing athlete, a professional race car driver in fact! Because of this, I am a big supporter of hospital care programs with a focus on preemies, including Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada where my son was born.
Supporting women is also very important to me. In Miami, there’s an organization called Lotus House which SOL Yoga has partnered with, and always look forward to helping out in any way.
RB: You’re a busy entrepreneur and a mom. What do you do to stay balanced?
CDF: Balance? That magical word we all strive for…lol! Does it really exist? I find more often my kind of balance includes saying ‘no’ to things I would like to do, but know I’m better to save for another time. And that’s okay. A daily sweat – whether yoga or a morning run always makes me feel better too, so I include something active every morning I can, scheduling it in like a meeting. I’m also big on delegating. Ultimately, I cannot do everything, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, when one needs it, right?! By doing this, I allow myself the opportunity to be more present, versus juggling 5-6 balls in the air. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by an incredible group of positive, thriving, empowering women, who genuinely can finish my thoughts and sentences! The support we have for each other and for SOL Yoga is one powerful sisterhood force.