Hustle Chat with The Southern Yogi

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LH: Who is Morgan?

MD: First and foremost I'm an imperfect human in need of my Savior's grace daily. I'm the oldest sibling of seven kids. I've been a wife for a little over three years. I'm a mom to three furry wolf dogs, and a lover of living this life to the fullest.

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LH: How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you start?

MD: I began yoga in April 2014, so about 17 months. I started following @beachyogagirl and @kinoyoga on Instagram, participating in their challenges, and really tracking my progress via social media. It was such a great "in" to the online yoga community.

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LH: Were you an athlete before you started?

MD: Yes. I swam competitively for 10 years with my goal being to reach an Olympic level. My life between the age of 14 and 19 consisted of about 24 hours in or at the pool each week. I credit all of my athlete's mentality and drive toward swimming during that time in my life. It's not only a very physically, but mentally demanding sport. It truly shows one what they are made of.

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LH: How have your husband and family reacted to your newfound yogi lifestyle, as well as your Instagram fame?

MD: Oh my word, where to begin? I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing family. My parents have always supported my athletic endeavors since day one. I think they were very happy for me when I found something I enjoyed as much as (or maybe more than) swimming after I "retired" from it. I truly believe my parents have always wanted us to be happy and passionate with how we live our lives. So when they see their kids fulfilling dreams what's not to love? My husband is my rock. He's been there for the good and the bad, or the yin and the yang in yogi terms, haha. He's seen me at my worst, when I spend days trying to figure out one pose or transition, and at my best, when I finally nail it. I can't thank him enough for being my number one fan and best friend. As far as being "Instafamous," I tend to shy away from that term. I know my family and husband are very proud of me for following my dreams, and watching them start to unfold and come true. At the end of the day though, I'm just another normal person trying to find my way through this crazy, unpredictable life.

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LH: How did your Instagram fame begin? Was it unexpected?

MD: Initially I changed my regular Instagram account to a fitness account solely to track my progress and meet a few other yogis in the area. I think once I hit around 5,000 followers I was like, "Wow, this could really turn into something big." It wasn't until that moment that I had EVER thought of turning my Instagram into a small business and using it as a way to reach out to people across the globe. From there I made it a goal to reach 10k by the end of 2014. After I hit that, it was almost like a snowball effect, and here I am in September 2015, completely shocked and humbled with almost 65,000 followers. I'm getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it. SO. GRATEFUL.

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LH: What is the best part of the Instagram community?

MD: Hands down, meeting other like-minded folks. I can't tell you how many times I've been travelling and someone wants to do a "meet-up" or take a yoga class together or even host me in their home. It's absolutely heartwarming and mind-blowing, all the compassionate people that are out there. I'm actually getting to host one of my best Instagram friends from Dubai, @jessicaolie, in October. She will be staying with us for a week. It will be our first time meeting each other in person and I couldn't be more stoked about it!

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LH: How have you connected with other Instagrammers?

MD: I think I really started to make lifelong connections when I began to get approached about actually hosting online yoga challenges. That was a turning point for me in my journey. The realization that somehow I was doing enough to where people wanted to learn from ME. Little Morgan from Kentucky. Now I host anywhere from one to three challenges a month with people all over the world. It's just incredible.

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LH: On the other hand, what is the worst?

MD: Oh man. One of the hardest parts of being on Instagram and specifically doing what I do, is you quickly become a public figure. 90% of followers are amazing and so encouraging. But there is that 10% that feel they have to make EVERY conflicting opinion you have with them an argument. I truly wish people realized love has nothing to do with sharing the same beliefs. We can still all respect and show compassion towards one another without holding the same values.

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LH: Do you ever feel pressure to fit in to the image that has been created about you?

MD: Absolutely not. The cool thing about my Instagram, and from the feedback I've heard from others, is it's real. That's me, Morgan. What you see is what you get. I share my quirks, my yoga bloopers, my goofy husband, and all three dogs with the world. If someone met me in person I'd hope they would feel like they've known me forever just from what I post on Instagram. That is my first and foremost goal on social media, stay true to yourself.

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LH: How have you dealt with negative feedback you've gotten?

MD: Negativity over Instagram is dealt with very simply, if you don't like what I'm posting, don't follow me. No one is forcing you to look at my photos and read my captions. Negativity from friends in my everyday life was very hard on me the first year. I believe there was a lot of confusion on why I had suddenly started posting yoga photos of myself every day. At the end of it all though, I believe a friend can see when you are really happy, and if they can't support what you are doing than they weren't ever a true friend to begin with. A lot of it is learning how to trust the process, trust yourself, and leave those negative opinions in the dust.

- LH: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to change their lifestyle to a more healthy and active one?

MD: Well first my question would be, what is holding you back? Is it the world's view of what "fitness" looks like? Because there is NO definition for that. You define YOU. I 100% believe exercising should be something you look forward to. There is no standard for what women should or shouldn't do. You like Crossfit? Do Crossfit. You like Zumba? Start taking Zumba classes. You want to do HIIT workouts? Do it!! To keep me motivated I wake up every day with the mindset that fitness is a gift. It's not something we are entitled to. There are thousands of people across the globe who are unable to exercise because of medical conditions, nutrition or illness. I bet they'd trade shoes with you in a heartbeat. When you start thinking of it in that capacity it will totally change your outlook.

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LH: What are some things your hustle has taught you?

MD: That you are capable of SO much more. Everything you do is mind over matter. If you believe in yourself, and stop allowing fear to take hold, you open the door to infinite possibilities.

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LH: Who is your current favorite lady hustler?

MD: Definitely @amandabisk. I dig her outlook on being an athlete and combining it with yoga. I'm currently doing her 12 week ebook guide called Fresh Body, Fit Mind and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

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LH: Define a lady hustler.

MD: A woman who recognizes and takes hold of her own power. She needs no confirmation from others. She blazes her own trail with 100% confidence and never looks back.

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Be sure to follow Morgan on Instagram @The_Southern_Yogi to stay up to date with her #LADYHUSTL