Hero of the month – Heather McDougall
Today we met: Heather McDougall, law graduate, yoga instructor and co-creater of Bogobrush. In awe of Heather’s positivity and mantra’s focused on living a balanced life; emotionally, physically and environmentally- it’s not difficult to see why her career is thriving. In between practicing yoga, working on her family founded business Bogobrush and instructing yoga classes; Heather sat down with us to chat about her day to day life, her journey so far and what will inspire her in future endeavours.
What’s your background?
I grew up in a small farming town in North Dakota (USA). My love of yoga began at the local YMCA when I was in college studying Public Relations and Political Science. When I graduated from Law School, rather than practice law, I founded an eco-friendly toothbrush company (Bogobrush) with my brother John. During school, I had limited resources and was not able to attend many studio yoga classes, so I relied on DVDs to help me practice. After school, I finally was able to join a studio and practiced everyday for a couple years until I decided to do teacher training the fall of 2013. I received my 200 hour certificate that December, and as fortune would have it, my husband accepted a job in the UAE shortly afterwards. I feel blessed to have my yoga practice and teaching hear in Abu Dhabi. My other interested include music especially singing in the Abu Dhabi Choral Group and in a trio called The Sweet M’s.
What’s your favourite exercise?
Definitely Yoga. I like all kinds, but am drawn most to Power Vinyasa because I love the dance-like connection of my breath and body. Other than yoga, I like to be active with hiking, walking, or riding my bike.
What does your usual day look like?
My days are varied throughout the week. I usually wake up quite early because we don’t have curtains in our bedroom, so the sunshine greets me each morning! While each day’s schedule varies, I generally include: a solid breakfast, yoga practice, Bogobrush work, instructing yoga classes and making dinner into my schedule; Making sure I make time to enjoy time with my husband before heading to bed.
How about your diet, what do you like to eat?
I do best on a very balanced diet. I eat fresh vegetables and fruit with every meal, I eat meat – usually chicken or pork – a couple times a week. My go-to snack is popcorn and apples with cinnamon. I dabble with raw deserts and meals, as well as vegan and vegetarian, but I do best when I am on a varied diet of real, whole foods.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I try to not think of things as guilty pleasures. With food, I just work to maintain balance and make intentional decisions. With other activities, I do my best to own my decision and accept the social ridicule but some examples: I am a sucker for Doritos and I love thick cream – not together though. I also have a thing of US daytime soap opera dramas. I miss keeping up with the crazy antics living here in Abu Dhabi.
What’s your favourite clothing?
Generally, I like fashion that is either classic and minimalist, or unique and modern. I love to mix, layer, and play with style as a way of personal expression. Day to day I have to be comfortable and able to move, but I also love getting dressed up and feeling posh. I don’t really have a favourite brand, but when I see companies like J Brand of BCBG, my attention is peaked. I also like indie designers, particularly one from Minneapolis, MN, Hackswith Design.
Do you have a favourite book?
I don’t know. I can say that ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’ by Michael Pollan was the book that inspired my outlook on the world and passion for creating a sustainable and balanced existence. Right now, I’m burning through Amy Poehler’s, ‘Yes please’ as these days, I find myself drawn to books about people. I like to hear their stories and feel inspired to work hard and perhaps someday have my stories interesting and inspiring for others.
What about your favourite movie?
My favourite movie since childhood is ‘Mary Poppins’. I related to the character herself and the representation of imagination and fun whilst still being focused. As an adult, some of the movies that have inspired me are ‘Her’ and ‘Avatar’. I love ‘Her ‘ for so many reasons: it’s interpretation of the future, the not-so-dire approach to technological evolution, and even the existential notions of life, knowledge, and existence. I love ‘Avatar’ for it’s representation of how all life is connected. Simple and elegant.
What inspires you?
Relationships and balance. I believe we are all connected. I am so intrigued by the idea of balance, and how it may be possible to create a more peaceful approach to our existence for the future. It is our relationship to time and place, and how we impact it.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
I don’t think so, but I think smiling is awesome, and when I was a kid my friend Amy and I made a little rap called “Give miles of smiles in great big piles.” I guess that’s a pretty good one for today 🙂
And what does the future hold for you?
There’s no way to know. I will do my best to keep growing, learning, and living by the things that make me happy.
Any tips for us on staying healthy?
Listen to your body. Be active, but take time for stillness. Don’t expect the answers to always be loud and respect the subtleties you feel. Have confidence to make changes and just see what happens. Trying a diet, trying an activity, doing something is the only way to really know how you’ll feel.
Favourite holidays destination?
For me, as long as I’m with my husband and/or family, it’s a great time. That said, I do try to balance my holidays between historical, geological, and relaxation.
What would you say is the best advice ever given to you?
In life, experiences happen. You can’t do anything to change the past. It’s how you respond to the experience, the present circumstance that determines how you’ll grow.
Do you have a personal hero?
I have many teachers in life – from my family, to yoga teachers, to global influencers. Maybe on a different day I’d think of a hero, but today nothing specific.
If you could choose a superpower, what would you pick?
Wow. I could really overthink this one. Today, my answer is listening, not eavesdropping, but being an amazing listener. I read time and time again, that the best way to lead and learn is by listening. I’m pretty good at pulling pieces together and creating a vision of balance. The more I listen, the more vision I can help influence.