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My Career: Yoga teacher and PR consultant Erica Bracken
Image / Agenda / Business

@erica_bracken

My Career: Yoga teacher and PR consultant Erica Bracken


by Erica Bracken
23rd Feb 2023

A qualified yoga teacher, certified skin mentor and freelance PR and marketing consultant, Erica Bracken has many strings to her bow… and, she’s exceptionally good at all of them! Here she tells us about the ins and outs of working for herself and what she has coming up next.

Did you always want to be a yoga teacher and PR consultant? 
I was quite an entrepreneurial and creative child and had big dreams of being a writer. As young as seven years old I sent my poems and novels to publishing houses in a bid to get my works published! I also had my own newspaper that I circulated to everyone in my family. But even my imagination at that age couldn’t have stretched to thinking I’d be a yoga teacher, and I definitely didn’t know what a public relations and marketing specialist was. I read years ago that we have an average of six careers in our lifetime. I am very much of the mindset that while planning will get you so far, every decision is half chance. So, who knows what other jobs I’ll find myself taking up in one, five, or ten years’ time. I’m just committed to refining my purpose and figuring out how I can use that to serve others best. 

In college, I studied… I did a bachelor’s degree in Law at University College Cork (UCC), but knew it wasn’t for me. I took a year out to work, travel and volunteer in Vietnam. I graduated and then went back to UCC to do a master’s in Food Business & Innovation. 

My most formative work experience was… after my master’s, I spent several years at a digital media start-up. It was a learning rollercoaster. I had a lot of freedom and responsibility from the get-go, creating written content for websites and managing social media platforms. The job involved a lot of socialising and events too. Through that, I made invaluable connections and contacts that, to this day,b I still lean on. From working in media, I then went to the opposite side of the industry and began working with Edelman, a global public relations consultancy firm. I went from being on the receiving end of event invites, press releases, and press gift drops to being the person who organised these things. But the industry insight, work ethic and contacts I had garnered working in digital media stood to me. 

My first real job was… my parents own a bakery and deli shop in Cork, Bracken’s Bakery. I’ve been roped in at various times throughout my childhood, but when I was in college, I had a consistent Saturday job there, working in the cafe and shop. Working there and coming from a small family business in general definitely taught me the value of hard work. 

The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… that whatever I do in life needs to involve creativity. That’s why I think Law, while really interesting in so many ways, didn’t fully excite me. Right now, my work satisfies that need through writing, coming up with creative ways to help my clients, event planning, teaching yoga classes and creating social media content. 

A common misconception about what I do is… that I spend my days doing yoga and on social media. The reality is that 90% of my working day is at my laptop. As a result, I need my daily yoga practice as much as anyone. It’s how I balance my nervous system and body and stimulate my energy and find a sense of purpose.  

My main responsibility in work is to… for my yoga students, it’s about creating a holistic experience for them that brings body, mind, breath and soul into union. I really put as much energy as possible into keeping their attention in the here and now, so they can get the best results. Learning to train your concentration and honing the ability to tune out all external distractions is what it’s all about. I want them to leave the class feeling both grounded and centred and to take that present-moment practice off the mat too. For my PR clients, my main responsibility is to communicate with them and help deliver results. I work with all independent Irish businesses whose products and services I really believe in. I want to see them succeed, and it is my job to help build their brand profile and create a positive public image. 

The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… I left my job at a PR firm in 2021. Logically it didn’t make much sense; I didn’t have a plan. But I knew in my heart that I had to do it. I very naturally began to pick up my own PR clients, and after almost a decade of yoga practice, I finally had time to do my first yoga teacher training. 

I wake at… during the week, between 5 – 5:30 am. 

The first thing I do every morning is… brush my teeth. 

My morning routine is… the reason I wake up super early is so that, ideally, I can fit in as many of my favourite wellness practices as possible. A streamlined version of this includes meditation, skincare and movement – that could be a gym workout, yoga class or even just a couple of minutes of movement to get everything (energy, blood, lymph, muscles) moving.  The lots-of-time-to-spare version of this could also include all or any of the following: lymphatic tapping, shaking, breathwork, cold shower blast, gua sha, NuFace, LED Mask, tongue scraping…

I travel to work by… I’ve been working from home since the pandemic. There are pros and cons to having no commute. I fit so much more into my morning when I don’t have time spent travelling to factor in. I do find I don’t listen to as many podcasts or music any more as walking to and from work was my time for doing that – and I can’t listen to anything when I’m working! 

On an average workday I… a couple of mornings each week, I start my day by teaching yoga online, though the bulk of my day is most often dedicated to my freelance PR and marketing work. This is often desk-based – planning and executing marketing campaigns – though now and again, I’ll have a face-to-face client meeting or event to attend during the week or at the weekend.  I also have to factor in time throughout the week for yoga class planning and creating social media content which is usually based on yoga, wellness or skin care. Sometimes I collaborate with brands too, which means I can really justify taking some time out of my workday to create quality, useful content.  I’m also trained as a Lionne Skincare Mentor; this means people can book in with me for a virtual skincare session, and afterwards, I design a bespoke skincare routine based on their skin needs, lifestyle and budget. I wish I could do this more often as I love being able to help people cut through all the confusion and offer them practical guidance on what suits their skin. However, in reality, my weeks are so busy I often only have a very limited window of time that my diary is open for bookings each week. 

I start my working day at… if I’m teaching yoga online that morning, the class can start as early as 6:30 am, and before that, I’m setting up the lighting, Zoom, my mat and props, running through the class plan and making sure everyone has the Zoom class link. For my PR and marketing work, I’ll start as soon as the class is over or as early as 7am if I’m not teaching. 

The first thing I do at work is… it should be prioritising writing a fresh to-do list or focusing on a difficult task first, but in reality, I’ll start replying to emails from the day before. 

I usually spend the first portion of the day… at my desk, sorting tasks that need my immediate attention, and then I’ll get out for a quick walk with the dogs as soon as possible. The good thing about starting work early is that most people aren’t yet online. So before people start emailing me, pulling my attention in all directions,  I can usually get a good blast of emails out and start the tasks I need to get my teeth into that day. 

I break for lunch at… between midday and 1pm; I’m up early, so I’m usually pretty hungry by midday. What I eat varies, but if I’ve nothing made, I’ll throw together a salad with half the kitchen in it. I start with a base of greens and herbs, then add fresh and roasted veg, a mix of proteins (black beans, baked tofu, seeds, chopped nuts – whatever I have), and a zingy dressing. I also always add nutritional yeast to salads; it gives a nutty, cheesy depth of flavour. 

The most helpful business tool I use every day is… I love Grammarly. It’s a free writing app, though I have paid for the business subscription. It’s like a supercharged spell check that works across all Google docs and emails. It catches any spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes and even suggests how you could improve the clarity, tone and delivery of sentences. I find it hard to re-read and proof my own writing, so this does that for me and generally just makes me come across better than I would otherwise. 

I rarely get through my working day without… a square or two of 85% dark chocolate is a post-lunch necessity. 

The best part of my day is… my morning routine. I never know which direction my working day will go once it gets started so it’s important for me to take time in the morning to feel grounded. If I don’t, my day can feel like a runaway train, trying to get everything done, and I’m never really present at any point. 

The most challenging part of my day is… I’m an early bird, so I find it much easier to stay focused and productive earlier in the day. When it comes to 3pm, I can feel my productivity beginning to wane. 

I know it’s been a good day if… I’ve managed to get outdoors a couple of times throughout the day. It’s so easy to stay glued to my laptop but making time for fresh air and movement is so important. Of course, there are heaps of health benefits, but it definitely benefits my work too. I often will think of a solution to an issue or come up with a creative idea when I’m out on a walk. 

I usually end my day at… 5pm if not 4″30 pm or even 4pm, I start early, so by that point, my brain is flagging. Though sometimes I’ll have work to do on my phone later in the evening – promoting my yoga classes on Instagram, catching up on DMs, editing or sharing social media posts, that kind of thing. 

I switch off from work by… making dinner. I find the rhythm of preparing food so relaxing. I get into a flow state; chopping vegetables, stirring this, adding that. Also, the sooner I can do my skincare routine the better. It really gives me that feeling of winding down and entering into a new stage of my day. 

Before I go to bed, I’ll… bring Fig, my dog, out for one last wee. I always give her a tiny bit of peanut butter on a spoon before I head to bed too. I’ve been doing it since she was tiny, and she can’t wait to get into her crate because of it. 

I often prepare for tomorrow by… scheduling emails in the afternoon for the next morning or even Friday evening for Monday morning. It’s a great way to give myself some extra time to breathe in the morning.  

I’ve just finished working on… Veganuary PR campaigns for Irish plant-based brands fiid and Filthy Rich and planning Q1 community events for Irish sustainable fashion designer Aoife McNamara. At the moment I’m working on running my February series of online yoga classes. I stepped away from studio classes at the start of this year and launched my own classes via my website ericabracken.com. I offer two weekly online classes, Tuesday and Friday mornings. It’s been such a rich learning and rewarding experience. I feel so passionately about sharing the yoga tools and practices that make an incredible difference in my own life. 

I’m also co-hosting a really special RESET + RECONNECT day retreat with Hannah of VIBO Vision Boards. It’s on in the Fumbally in Dublin on March 18th. It will be a unique retreat that will create space for you to get in touch with your true potential through meditation, movement, breath, nourishing food, connection, journaling and vision boarding. You can check out the full details and book in here.