Interview by Sebastian Thomas
Nathalie De Clercq is one of the technology world’ s leading female entrepreneurs. With her crowd-funding product website and marketplace wiplabs.com recently launched globally, Nathalie knows a thing or two about busy schedules… and that is why she turns to yoga and meditation to help her in countless ways with problem solving or when stressed.
From Italy to Belgium, to Australia and back to where she currently lives in America, Nathalie has tried out countless forms of yoga. Asana Journal sat down with the one of tech’s brightest minds to find out more…
How were you first introduced to yoga and what were your original thoughts?
I grew up training in martial arts, so I’m one of those classic examples of someone who tried yoga a few times and thought ‘no, this is not for me, I need a high energy sport’. Then, about six years ago, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) kept encouraging me to take classes with him. I thought it was a cute date so I’d go with him, and all of a sudden in one class it hit me and I realized how difficult and demanding yoga was! But it took me almost fifteen classes to realize that I really liked it. I tell everyone when they first try out yoga to stick to it – the more you train the more challenging and fun it
What is the biggest misperception about yoga and meditation you find, now that you are an active participant?
For yoga: it’s boring or easy. For mediation: there are no proven benefits. In recent years the studies that are coming out are providing satisfying evidence of the real, measurable benefits of meditation – something that active participants have felt but found hard to support in an argument to others who rely on facts.
How important is an active, healthy lifestyle to you overall?
Extremely important. I can feel when I need some fresh air or when I need to get the blood moving. I often take breaks in the middle of the work day for yoga or a walk or something active in order to refresh and clear my head. It’s much easier to focus afterwards.
We hear you are into both Vinyasa Yoga and Yin Yoga… one has more of a fast flow, while the other is much, much slower. What is it about these types of yoga that you enjoy most and what has your experience been with each?
I’m still new to Yin Yoga. I was introduced to it this summer through some fantastic teachers. I love the time given to check in on my body and mind, to focus on how everything’s feeling and to put energy into what may need a little extra stretch or flow. It’s a quieter practice but not necessarily less difficult! I practice Vinyasa in the morning or in the afternoon to wake up the body and give it a burst of energy. I tend to practice Vinyasa more but am looking forward to growing my Yin practice.
Where is your favorite place to do yoga and meditate?
If possible I like to be by the water. The rhythm of the waves, the colors, the smells – all make me instantly more relaxed and focused.
You have traveled and lived all over the world. Have you learned about other types of yoga in different places?
If so, what and where? I’ve tried quite a few different types of yoga, taken classes in different languages with a very diverse set of teachers. To name a few: Ashtanga in Italy, Bikram in Belgium and Hatha in Australia.
Is it hard to find time to do yoga / meditate with your busy schedule as a business owner of a highly successful online marketplace?
It’s not hard if you prioritize it! I believe we work better when we have yoga or fitness of some sort integrated into our work day. A yoga class, a run, a bike ride, a walk, something… to me it’s as important as sleep.
Do you feel that participating in yoga and meditation has helped your career and yourself as a person?
Yes, absolutely. The things I’ve learned this year about mindfulness and control have helped in countless ways when problem-solving or when stressed. Just the practice of breathing slowly is incredibly useful. I can even sometimes hear the voice of my favorite teachers coaching me through a tough problem as if it were a yoga sequence!
What advice would you like to share with other practitioners based on your personal experience or others looking at getting into the same things you do?
One word that comes to mind for both business and for yoga – perseverance. Any goal worth striving for requires dedication and persistence. Set your goals and work on them daily, weekly, routinely – you’ll get there.
Do you also follow a strict diet at all? Or what are some of your favorite health foods?
I’m not too strict with my diet, I mostly eat what I want though I do tend to avoid sugar and snacking. I try to drink a ton of water, though I should sip more throughout the day. Did you know that if you sip on water instead of chugging it all at once you get more benefits from it? I’m trying to sip over chugging! I love healthy food in general – some favorites are ripe tomatoes, green juice and my mom’s homemade soup!
What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
We want Wiplabs to become the goto store for new, interesting and unique tech gadgets. Our customers will be able to count on us for top quality, excellent customer service and for always having the latest and greatest in tech products. While they shop, they’ll feel good knowing that they are supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. We’ll have a brick and mortar store that people can visit to play with some of the products. Personally I plan to enjoy the life of an entrepreneur for a few years to come!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would like to see environmental and health education become a greater focus in the academic curriculum in grammar school.