ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Liz Whalen of Chestnut Ridge transferred her career from a stressful, anxiety-filled Wall Street job to her current position as a Performance Coach, helping entrepreneurs and executives reach their full potential. The transition point came through a yoga practice that resulted in a shift of her world perspective.
“I felt stressed all the time,’’ said Whalen, who left a job at Goldman Sachs in 2012 to start her new venture. “And I didn’t know to manage the stress.”
The inner turmoil manifested as various physical symptoms - back pain, anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues became the norm. Realizing that she was too young too be feeling like this, she decided to try yoga as a way to decompress, at the suggestion of a holistic practitioner she was seeing. She saw results almost instantly.
“I started sleeping better at night,’’ said Whalen, a graduate of Pace University. “Not long after, other benefits started to show as well. I felt calmer and happier. Within a couple of months, I saw life from a completely different view. I thought it was incredible that my back pain was being caused by stress. After previously suffering from herniated discs and sciatica, I haven’t had back pain in years.”
Whalen took yoga classes three times a week, and then started practicing more frequently and became certified as a yoga instructor. Shortly after, she decided to shift careers and left her position in finance to study Ayurveda, a form of holistic healing that helps people find balance by optimizing their daily routine, diet, and mindset. Whalen acquired certification as an Ayurvedic Practitioner and opened a private practice in 2013.
“Ayurveda helps us find balance in our life to fulfill our potential,’’ Whalen said. “In this day and age, we become so disconnected. With Ayurveda, we get in touch with what our body actually needs to perform at a much higher level. We eat better, sleep better, develop more clarity and make better decisions. It helps you become a better leader when all of your faculties are performing at their highest place.”
“I felt stressed all the time. And I didn’t know to manage the stress.”
After serving as a generalist for some time, Whalen decided that she wanted to focus on helping others who were in a similar position to her. She shifted her practice to focus on performance coaching, utilizing the ancient wisdom practices of Ayurveda, combined with modern neuroscience and behavioral psychology. Whalen works with clients one-on-one, guiding them to peak performance at work and in all areas of life. She also visits companies to lead lunch-and-learns, as well as other speaking and workshops.
“It’s about working strategically from a mindset that is clear, sharp and primed for success,’’ Whalen said.
Whalen’s business acumen, acquired from her five years on Wall Street, and her training in Ayurveda and yoga allow her to bring the best of both worlds. She starts with a consultation that lasts from 1.5-2 hours. “It’s a commitment and I want to make sure it’s a good mutual fit,’’ Whalen said. “I want to give people my time and attention.”
Over the course of a six-month program, Whalen meets with clients approximately three times a month for 45 minutes. She gives clients assignments to complete in between visits. She evaluates success as the program continues. “It’s about changing habits over time,’’ Whalen said. “I’ll provide resources for them, such as custom recorded meditations, and give them handouts for recipes and food recommendations.”
And in an age where clients want measurable results, Whalen finds them in data such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar levels and even hours of uninterrupted sleep. “People can also see it for themselves in how much happier they are, the quality of their relationships and how much energy they have,’’ she said.
Whalen felt she needed to take a new career path because of the profound transformation these practices brought for her. “I had this calling,’’ she said. “And I wanted to help others achieve the same results that I did.”
"It’s about working strategically from a mindset that is clear, sharp and primed for success."
Her family, most of whom have business backgrounds, were less certain. “They thought I was out of my mind,’’ she said. “My dad still gets heart palpitations. They all thought I was nuts. It’s definitely taking a leap of faith to leave a high-profile career to go out on your own. But when you follow your passion, it shines through. That’s how you know you’ll serve the world in the best way possible.”
Business executives find themselves under increasing stress in the corporate world. Shrinking budgets, a changing workforce and landscape, and social media make distractions much harder to fend off. Whalen can show them how to focus and sharpen their minds. “I’m helping a ton of people,’’ Whalen said. “I love what I do.”
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