Mardy Chen: Sweat It Out, Live It Up

August 22 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Finding Fulfillment

I recently listened to a podcast by Gretchen Rubin, a writer and researcher, about happiness and good habits. She talked about how she’d tried all the things that research suggests promotes happiness, but there was one thing she just couldn’t get into: meditation.

She wondered why it didn’t work for her when it worked for so many others. That’s the frustrating thing about seeking out joy: There’s no secret sauce. You just have to try on as many hats as possible to find the one that fits you best. When you do, hold on to it!


I can easily give you 11 excuses for why I can’t workout today, but no, that’s not what today’s number is. Eleven is the number of Aymara indigenous women in their 40s and 50s who have scaled five—let me say this again, five—of the highest peaks in Bolivia.

They worked as porters and cooks for mountaineers before they thought, “Hey, we want to climb ourselves!” Photographer David Mercado from Reuters snapped some pictures of the women in action, and the results are stunning. The women wear orange protective helmets and their traditional, colorful skirts as they happily ascend the cloud-dense mountains, often amid snowstorms and heavy winds. These women are truly an inspiration!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Mardy Chen, Founder and Co-owner of Pure Bikram Yoga

As Mardy Chen stood in her boss’ office in New York City, looking out the window as the second plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, she was in shock. Following that day’s devastation, Mardy did some serious soul searching. What she discovered was that her finance job wasn’t cutting it. Mardy wanted to do the things she’d always talked about doing.

With a master’s degree in accounting and experience in finance, Mardy took a path she never expected: Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga started in the 1970s and is a type of hatha yoga performed in a heated room. It’s often simply called “hot yoga.” Mardy has been participating in the practice since 1998, and was immediately hooked.

For Mardy, Bikram yoga is about more than sweating for 90 minutes. It gives her a space to feel safe and grounded, and she knew it was something she wanted to pursue as a career. So, she completed a grueling 500-hour certification program and began teaching at a Bikram studio, all the while planning to set up her own shop. In 2003, her dream came true when she opened Pure Bikram Yoga. She’s now taught the practice for 14 years and has opened four wildly popular Pure Bikram studios in Austin, Texas.

In 2010, Mardy also founded Pure Action, a nonprofit that aims to bring the benefits of yoga to mainstream medicine through scientific research, global education and community outreach. Pure Action teaches people how to incorporate yoga into their daily lives as a way to ease stress and anxiety.

Mardy says one of the struggles she’s had when building her own company has nothing to do with finding a passion or a mission. (She has that down, for sure!) The hardest part has been to communicate her mission effectively. But her journey has helped her find faith in that mission and communicate it directly while remaining true to herself.


I’ll leave you with this quote by a woman who has inspired many, Helen Keller. She said:

“All that we love deeply becomes part of us.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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